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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 1/23/11 | Main | Nine year old South Carolina girl dead form dog attack »

January 24, 2011

Comments

Shelley

Brent, as for your comment on the BBB report, the recommendations are:

That the Missouri DeptAg pursue repeat offenders more aggressively.

Proposition B can't mandate the behavior of the department. The laws are in place, it is up to the people of Missouri to ensure the inspectors do their job.

Legislation introduced to streamline the process for penalizing repeat offenders.

Proposition B does add additional criminal penalties that can be used by enforcement personnel without having to wait for the DeptofAg to move.

That the Missouri DeptAg increase the fees. This is something people have been at the General Assembly about for years.

Again, Proposition B's purpose isn't to overhaul the Missouri Department of Agriculture, nor is it to re-write the entire ACFA. It is fine-tuned, specific legislation.

That consumers adopt -- well, I don't think we can force people into adopting dogs. Do you?

Shelley

One other thing, Proposition B does limit the product the breeders sell. As I discuss in the Missourian article, Proposition B does not limit how many puppies a breeder can sell.

It does set operating business restrictions. However, this is neither no nor unusual for business legislation, in this state or others.

Yesterday there was a story about regulating smoking in restaurants. I also mentioned the legislation about the adult entertainment businesses in Missouri. A few years back, there was restrictions on stem cell research and limiting businesses in relation to this.

There are existing regulations about agricultural businesses, such as how much manure can be spread over an area related to confined animal operations, which indirectly limits how many animals can be in these confined operations.

Missouri has been regulating business for decades or more. Why do we single out dog breeding for exemption?

Shelley

Sorry, bad typo:

Proposition B does NOT limit the product the breeders can sell.

Brent

Shelley, I don't even know how you can make that statement? Of course it limits the product breeders can sell. If you limit the number of breeding dogs then you are limiting the number of puppies they can sell. That's just dishonest to pretend that that's not the case.

Of course government has regulations on business -- and no one here is calling for a free-for-all with no regulation at all -- but in the other cases you mention, government in no way limits how much money the businesses can make by limiting how many of their products they can sell.

Remember the dishonesty thing I mentioned yesterday - this falls squarely into that category - -and it's why a lot of people do not trust the people pushing for Prop B to remain as-is...because you're not being honest about it.

Deb

IMO, if it is about the welfare of the animals then the purpose in which they are kept should not exclude them from the regulation. A person that breeds could easily have 25 dogs but only produce 2-3 litters a year, how do I know, we were in that situation raising working dogs, currently we are at 12, expecting 2 maybe 3 litters in 2011, we will keep atleast 1-2 pups from each litter to prove and maybe add back to our breeding program. But, if a law like Prop B was to take place here all of our dogs regardless if they are here for breeding purposes would have to be housed in the same type of housing as the breeding dogs. So, why should it not apply to rescues and shelters? In all reality, if Prop B is a minimum standard care law then there should be no exceptions for anyone, even those that have 1 dog as a pet.

Shelley

Brent, no it is not a limit. People can sell unlimited numbers of puppies...just not all at once.

As for the number of intact adult dogs, this is no different than occupation restrictions at stores, the smoking restrictions in restaurants and bars, the restrictions placed on hours open at adult entertainment venues, and the environmental impact on CAFOs that limits the number of animals they have.

All of these are business restrictions that have economic impact on the business. Are you saying that dog breeders should exempt from business restrictions that have economic impact?

I've provided honest answers and you keep accusing me of deception. You obviously are more interested in pursuing an agenda than a dialog, so we have nothing further to say. Since this is your space, I will resist returning.

Brent

Shelley -- it's completely a limit.

Without Prop B, someone can indeed sell an unlimited number of puppies (for better or worse).

With Prop B, let's assume that they have the max of 50 breeding dogs, 8 dogs per litter and 2 litters a year -- so they are maxed out at 800 dogs per year they can sell. So with Prop B, they go from being able to sell as many as they want to maxing out at 800 dogs per year. That is by every definition limiting the number of products they can sell. This would be unprecedented in government regulation of businesses.

Even in your cited examples, they do not limit the number of lap dances someone can sell, or how many drinks the bar can sell -- but they do regulate some of what can be done in those establishments. There's a very big difference in regulations and limiting how many of a product they sell (which again, I can't think of a single example where this has been done in any other industry).

My agenda is trying to come up with a common sense compromise that both sides can deal with -- that improves things for animals but at the same time doesn't cripple the animal welfare groups in this state. That would take compromise at this point -- and neither side seems very willing to do this. One side things "what's good for the goose" and thinks the rescues will get what they deserve, and your side seems to even refuse to acknowledge limits are limits. And when both sides refuse to compromise you'll end up with a standoff between the sides with dead dogs being the victims....

Deb

Shelly, you are giving a good arguement for why it is ok to impose regulation but not one for why shelters and rescues should be exempt from the same regulations.

I may be mistaken but I would expect Goodwill to have to follow the same laws as the retailer next door, or for the local soup kitchen to have the same health standards and inspections as the restaurant down the street.

MichelleD

Folks, let's quit entertaining Shelley and spend our time more wisely. Please go out and buy/borrow "The Political Brain" and it explains how people can SO want to believe in something that they'll twist their logic in any way to prove it the truth regardless of the facts. It acutally releases endorphines in their brain. I'm sure this discussion has sent Shelley into a near orgasmic frenzy.

Michelle

Shelley wrote:

"As for the shelters, there is one significant difference between them and commercial breeders: material gain. The motivation behind the shelters is caring for the dog (or meeting municipal mandates and laws). The motivation behind commercial dog breeding is financial gain.

You seem to trivialize this difference, but it redefines the entire context of how dog care exists in each of these environments."

*AND*

"Regardless, there's a huge difference between dogs in places where the emphasis is getting the dogs into individual homes, and dogs being kept for their entire lives in places, purely for financial gain."

****
I agree with this 100%. I've never read your blog Shelley, until last night, and I *will* be a reader now.

The INTENT does matter to me. ALL dogs do need and deserve this improved care, but the INTENT is really important! I would love to be OUT of the rescue world. To have my weekends, money, free time (and sanity!) back... would be fantastic. To NOT have to do this, to NOT get the endless emails and phone calls and messages about desperate and urgent dogs in need, would be great. I don't know any dog rescue volunteers (as I am, totally unpaid) or shelter workers (paid or not) who WANT to keep doing what they are doing. It would be lovely, in my opinion, to simply have no NEED for dog rescue any more.

The large-scale commercial breeders, which I do call a "puppy mill" or "puppy factory," have the motivation of MONEY, plain and simple. What is the rescuers' motivation? To get these precious souls healthy and rehabbed and into forever homes. Which is sometimes an expensive, heartbreaking task.

Anyway, Shelley - I enjoyed your posts and the spirited (?) debate.

Brent

So, let me be clear on this, because someone's motivation is to get animals in homes they should be allowed, legally, to keep the animals in worse conditions than people who do have the animals because their motivation is money?

Michelle

No Brent, of course not! I agree with Shelley though that the INTENT does matter when looking at the big picture.

You (Brent) have cited KCMO A/C's problems. Of course the dogs staying there need proper vet care, exercise, food, etc - and it does seem like that's not always been the case. (Thank heavens for those dedicated volunteers who are making big changes now!)

But does the KCMO A/C shelter EXIST to make money? To deliberately produce more animals? Well... no. They exist to be a service to the city, right? To take in stray, dumped and/or unwanted pets. Is that right?

It's also different with a city-run "pound" who is open admission, vs a dog rescue who is not open admission. Most rescues I know of are often "full" and simply cannot take in more dogs. Because there IS a limit to how many dogs those volunteers can care for daily, whether that is in foster homes or an actual facility or whatever. A limit to how many the rescue can afford to feed and provide vet care, meet their exercise and social needs, etc. There is a limit... and the (responsible) rescue groups STOP taking in more dogs when they reach that limit.

As comparison, do the puppy millers STOP BREEDING dogs if the market is saturated and they can't find buyers easily and quickly? Do they then PAY for spay/neuter (and fully vaccinate) their adult breeding stock and find those dogs homes? I have yet to meet such a breeder, but it would be refreshing.

More likely - and has been MY experience - if a breeder contacts a rescue group to take "extra" adult dogs, the breeder fully expects the RESCUE to pay for all of that vet care... yet the dogs have been making $$$ for years for the miller! So the rescue takes in an adult dog very likely riddled with worms, parasites/infections (coccidia, giarrdia,) suffering skin, ear or eye conditions, and of course in need of spay/neuter.

Yet those health issues will be addressed ASAP by a responsible rescue group, even if the money isn't there... we do what we have to pronto, to get those dogs the health care they need. Why isn't that same logic seen from the breeders themselves? Oh, because it costs money to do that...

I'm not a blogger or writer - just a dog rescuer who has to get back to work. Thanks for the lively conversation!

Brent

And Michelle, I don't even completely disagree with you, but it may not matter.

For the entirety of the campaign,Prop B Advocates referred to these as "common sense standards of care". If I'm a lawmaker, I would seriously question why they should not also apply to shelters and rescues. And sure, shelters are 'full" when they can no longer care for the animals (and for the sake of this discussion, we won't discuss what happens when "Full" happens) but that number is very variable between small shelters and rescues vs large ones - many of which have hundreds of animals they care for. And let's be honest, there are a lot of animals in shelters in this state that when animals get worms, skin infections, or other health issues, they aren't treated, but are simply killed. I know there are a lot of great organizations that are caring for them, but death is a reality for way too many dogs and cats in these situations.

The state legislature has already shown it is more than willing to remove exemptions for shelters and rescues (with the passing of the law that removes the licensing exemption) and may be primed to do it again.

I personally think some compromises may well be neccessary to keep from crippling the shelters -- and also could be used to change some provisions in the legislation that would actually make Prop B a much stronger law (and increase enforcement resources). But in order to do it may require a lot of compromise which I feel too many advocates (like shelley) are not willing to do. And I think if they aren't willing to compromise, they'll either a) lose Prop B entirely or b) cripple the animal welfare community in this state.

I'll post more on my ideas for compromise solutions tomorrow.

MichelleD

"Regardless, there's a huge difference between dogs in places where the emphasis is getting the dogs into individual homes, and dogs being kept for their entire lives in places, purely for financial gain."

So its NOT about their care really its about our disgust with someone using dogs for financial gain? So its ok to keep them in substandard conditions for a little while but not their whole life. Its ok to deny food (which they do in KCMO) for a few weeks...Believe me, I get where you're coming from but "know your audience". This argument is not going to fly in Jeff City with politicians out to protect their constituents livlihood.

At the end of the day: Argue over the "facts" all you want, Prop B is NOT going to stand in its present state.

EmilyS

Why should the state have an interest in "intent" which is impossible to prove, as opposed to actions, which can be observed and tested?

I don't care how many animals someone has, and I don't believe any state has an interest in that number. I care whether the animals are treated according to some appropriate level.

We all know of people who have ONE animal they don't care for properly.

It's perfectly possible for someone to have any "x" number of animals and care for them properly.

And no, I DONT think shelters/rescues should be exempt from standards of care because their (presumed) "intent" is more pure than those who raise animals to sell.

And let's DO ask the question: at what point does a "fee" for a shelter/rescue animal become a "price"?

Shelley

MichelleD and others,

The point I was trying to make is that the existing laws would have been sufficient for everyone IF all of the involved parties had the welfare of the dogs as their first priority.

The shelters do have the welfare of the dogs are their first priority. However, many of the commercial dog breeders do not. The existing laws proved insufficient for them.

So, the laws were tightened to close the loopholes the breeders took advantage of.

Shelley

One last...

Many of the shelters cannot meet one specific requirement: 50 dogs. Why? Because if they don't take the homeless, the abandoned, or the unwanted dogs, who will?

Would it be better to see these dogs on the street? Homeless, freezing, and starving?

Who should take care of the dogs no one wants?

Then there are the laws stating that municipal shelters have to take the dogs. Should they then break the law?

There is a world of difference between a commercial breeder, who adds dogs by choice and for monetary reason, and a shelter who takes a dog because no one else will.

Can you not see the difference?

Shelley

Brent, the time for compromise was any time the last 18 years, when advocated tried to get bills passed to close loopholes in existing laws.

The state representatives shooed the folks away like flies.

It's only now, when the voters have spoken, after an arduous battle to get Prop B passed, that the representatives talk of "compromise".

And what is the compromise? Gut Proposition B.

To talk of "compromise" is a fool's dialog.

Lori S.

I think it's a mistake to presume that shelters have the welfare of the animals as their first priority. There are MANY communities where individuals at a shelter INTEND to have the animals' interests as their first priority, but they do not FUNCTION as if the animals are their top priority.

I suspect that there are even quite a few shelters (pounds) that exist not for the betterment of the homeless animals in a community, but so the community can "resolve" a problem - get stray animals off the streets (by any means - who cares what happens to them after they are off the streets).

Even the best intentioned shelter, often is underfunded and understaffed (both with respect to paid staff and volunteer staff) which results in poor quality of care. Why are shelters allowed to continue this way just because they "mean well"? I would argue that for these shelters, existing laws are just as insufficient as you find them for commerical breeders.

Brent

Shelley, I put together my thoughts on what I think would be good compromise solutions for Prop B.

http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2011/01/a-compromise-solution-on-missouris-proposition-b.html

I don't think talk of compromise is a fool's dialogue. In case you haven't noticed, the state legislature hasn't been terribly open to the ideas of the animal rights groups and is probably more likely to throw out Prop B entirely than they are to keep it as-is. So deciding to not talk compromise will likely lead to having nothing -- or worse, having the law applied to the rescue groups as well.

I think you over-generalize the good intentions of many shelters -- many of which are run by cities and run by people who don't really care about animals at all (and their euthanasia rates reflect that). Certainly the majority of rescues really do care about the animals, but I think that is less true (sadly) when it comes to many city-run shelters.

I think the point that I (and others) have been making is if your point on the 50 dog limit is that a breeder can't care for that many dogs, then the same would be true for shelters and rescues, no? Intentions don't realy change that. My point is that just as a lot of shelters and rescues do a great job of caring for way more dogs than that so too, can breeders. If they aren't caring for the animals, fine. Go after them, but I think grouping them altogether is not wise and actually risks putting many of the better operations in the state out of business (opening up more market share for some of the poorly run shelters). Plus, I think the 50 dog limit is the one that is going to cause rescues problems when these shelters downsize and the dogs start flooding already crowded shelters.

I just think the idea of no-compromise and the dishonest discussion (trying to say limits are limits) are why the people trying to pass Prop B have not been more successful in Jeff City in the past...and why the risk failure even now, in spite of the passing of Prop B.

kmk

I for one will go on record as a huge fan of Senator Munzlinger.

Like many of us he's had it up to his eyeballs with the Missouri Humane Society and all the other AR busybodies in this state. Good for him!

Prop B is just "common sense standards" and it's "reasonable", so certainly the shelters and rescues should be happy to comply. What's the problem here?

Municipal shelters ("pounds" by state definition) do NOT have to take animals unless someone calls them on the carpet for not doing so. I know of one that tells residents they are "full" and puts them on a waiting list or sends them elsewhere to make their euthanasia numbers look better. When I pointed this out to a city councilmember she replied, "Well, if it stops the killing, it's a Godsend". Hey, if we stop letting sick people into the hospitals we'll solve the health care crisis. Somebody somewhere is killing those animals.

Shelly also wrote, "there's a huge difference between dogs in places where the emphasis is getting the dogs into individual homes, and dogs being kept for their entire lives in places, purely for financial gain".

The way I see it the goals are the same. Breeders want their animals in individual homes and they make money doing just that. You don't think the private shelters are in this for financial gain? And you really think their number one goal is getting the animals into homes? I think their number one goal is making money. So does Munzlinger. Trust me, if some of these private shelters and rescues get their hands on the Yorkies, Maltese, Shih-Tzus, and Poms that will theoretically be displaced from the commercial kennels by the 50 dog limit, all those medium and large mixed breeds that are taking up shelter space and hanging out in foster homes will be on their way to the incinerator faster than you-know-what through a goose to make way for the lucrative purebred toy breeds. Why did people that professed to care about animals support a ballot measure that was going to displace dogs that had care? Oh yea, because they wanted to get their hands on them and SELL THEM.

Some of the biggest clients at the Missouri auction houses are rescues. They buy pregnant bitches and sell the pupppies for hundreds of dollars. Is that okay?

And why is it wrong to breed dogs for financial gain? Why is it wrong to do something you enjoy that also makes money?

I liked life better when people didn't consider dog breeding to be a criminal activity and minded their own business.


kdl

Michelle said:
But does the KCMO A/C shelter EXIST to make money? To deliberately produce more animals? Well... no. They exist to be a service to the city, right? To take in stray, dumped and/or unwanted pets. Is that right?

Is everyone forgetting that Halfway Home pet adoptions is a FOR PROFIT facility? So, I am very sorry, but the answer is YES. The shelter may take in "stray, dumped, and/unwanted pets", and many of these animal control drop offs are pitbulls, who happen to have balls still. The fines for attempting to bail out an unaltered dog of any breed are significantly higher vs altered dogs, and if the dog has a blocky head, fees can easily be the same as your rent for a month in a one bedroom apartment in JO. So, yes, I believe the shelter does exist to make money, not CARE for unwanted pets. I believe the dead dog in the plastic bucket I saw in there this weekend would agree with me.

Also, if prop B determines that one person can care for 50 dogs, I say that all pet limit laws in MO change to a 50 dog limit. Whats the difference?

Wiserthansome

Hi, Brent-

I have been following this topic with interest, and there are several things that Shelly said that need to be clarified:
She puts forth the idea that one cannot simply look at a dog to determine if it is getting enough exercise. This is untrue. To the trained eye, proper muscle tone most certainly can be determined by looking, and if the dog appears under-developed, a physical exam is called for. Another point she attempted to make is that it can't be determined if someone is actually an employee or not. Now really. Since all licensed breeders have to submit tax forms with their annual license renewal forms, aren't there going to be payroll records included on those tax forms? Likewise, part of the inspection process involves checking the records of the kennels. Will not payroll, man-hours, and shifts covered be part of the records of a kennel?
One of the most important points Shelly attempts to make is that the motives of a Commercial Kennel are somehow less pure than those of a shelter or rescue because a Commercial Kennel is making a profit. Can we disect that a bit?

The economic status of the State of Missouri is and has been more conducive to dog breeding than just about every other state in the country. Our cost of living is lower than most other states, and that includes vet services. We have several dog food companies located here as well, who supply food to the Commercial Kennels at a significantly lower rate due to bulk purchases. Vets are plenty, and we have two veterinary schools located here, as well. The ACFA Program has been a superior regulatory system that has been in place for 18 years, and has been revised several times so that the welfare of the animals remains top priority. All of this adds up to the fact that Missouri breeders are able to do everything right, cut NO corners, and still make a profit. This is what has allowed the dog breeding industry to thrive in Mo, but because of the success of the majority of these dog breeders to do it right while making a profit, the Animal Rights Movement has labeled us the "Puppy Mill Capitol". Of course, a couple of years ago, when they wanted dog breeding restricted in Pennsylvania, the HSUS dubbed that state the Puppy Mill Capitol, and before that, VA, W.VA, WA, OR, OH, NE, etc, have all been dubbed the Puppy Mill Capitol in an effort to evoke the feeling of shame in zealots like Shelly. This sense of shame spurs them on to volunteer to help push legislation like Prop B all around the country, and specifically in the states I mentioned above.

Are there problems with dog breeding here? Yup. But Prop B addresses none of the currently recognized problems, and in fact, creates far more more issues.

One glaring fact that the proponents of Prop B have ignored is that in discussions of other forms of business that are regulated, they have glossed over the fact that Prop B is Criminal Code, not Regulatory Code. So even if a lap dance is not performed correctly, or the dancer doesn't have her pasties on, the owner of the establishment or the dancer is only written up and fined. Breeders who violate any part of Prop B, no matter if the kennel temp is 1 degree over or under the limit, if the enclosure is 1 inch too small, if the water bowl has even one minute item in it that is not water, the kennel owner MUST be arrested and be charged with Puppy Mill Cruelty. A Municipal Court Judge is the one who decides if the law was broken, and it most certainly is in all the examples I gave above, and a conviction of Animal Cruelty is now leveled against that breeder. Incidently, any conviction of Animal Cruelty in any form against a licensed breeder is going to get their kennel license revoked, and never renewed. Tell me again how accidental it was that Prop B was written so poorly, because THAT is how the HSUS will get dog breeding eradicated in Mo.

I do not believe that people who are ignorant of the details and daily ins and outs of a profession should participate in creating regulatory or criminal code that those professionals should have to abide by. Imagine what would happen if there was a citizen's initiative that passed that decreed that Doctors could only have 50 patients, or that in an effort to curb the effects of the illegal drug trade, pharmaceutical companies were going to be further regulated? Pretty absurd when you look at Prop B from that direction, isn't it?

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