Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence
The Future of Pets in America
Carole Raschella
Director, California Federation of Dog Clubs

For the past three decades or so, unlike any other country in the civilized world, the United States has been brainwashed into believing that the only good pet is a sterilized pet. No one with even a rudimentary knowledge of biology has ever thought to question the outcome of this bizarre idea, and we are now beginning to suffer the consequences.  There is now a shortage of pets in many parts of the country, although so far, this truth is obscured by several factors. Shelters with an overflow are transporting animals to fill the demand, as are rescue groups, many of which are also bringing in strays from other countries. In addition, hundreds of thousands of dogs are imported every year from third world countries, and thousands more are smuggled in across the border.

The source of this ideology is the Humane Society of the United States, the best known of several extremist animal rights groups, all of which have the same agenda, to eradicate animals from our lives. Their strategy is to work within the political system to lobby for seemingly innocuous, seemingly beneficial, laws, which are designed to make pet ownership more difficult, more expensive and ultimately out of reach. The irony is that, under the guise of helping animals, these groups are funded by those with the most to lose. America’s misguided pet owners.

The most obvious of these laws is the popularity of mandatory spay/neuter legislation. In a country which is already conditioned to spay or neuter its pets, encouraging laws to make sterilization a requirement and not a choice has generally been well-received. Owners who pay a discriminatory high fee to keep their dogs intact find they no longer have a choice. If these owners also breed their dogs, permission to do so now requires an expensive permit, as well as stringent kennel requirements, which, if the current APHIS proposal to the USDA is enacted, will be impossible to meet, and will end most home breeding of healthy American dogs.

Many other regulations are becoming common due to HSUS pressure. Certain breeds, usually pit bulls or any dog that resembles one, are now banned in many areas as dangerous, and other breeds are gradually being added to that list. In addition, an increasing number of apartment owners and housing associations refuse to allow pets, and recreational areas that once welcomed them are no longer doing so.

The latest, and possibly most oppressive, attacks are on the sale and transfer of pets. Most pet shops are no longer allowed to sell live animals at all, which removes an option for pet buyers, and the most recent attempt is to forbid sales of pets sight unseen, supposedly intended to prevent internet sales by suspected “puppy mills,” but also affecting breeders who sell their puppies to buyers in other states.

Last year in the California legislature, Senator Ted Lieu introduced AB1122, a bill which would prevent the sale or transfer of animals in public places, a law which would, among many other things, create difficulties for those who prefer not to allow strangers into their private homes. Fortunately, although the proposal passed through the various committees and was approved by both houses, Governor Schwarzenegger refused to sign it, saying that he was “concerned with the scope and unintended consequences of this bill and that it does not assure the humane and ethical treatment and welfare of animals.”

Undeterred by our former Governor's comments, Senator Lieu revived his proposal the following year as SB917, and this time got it pushed through successfully. In the meantime, Los Angeles Animal Services has devised its own way of creating obstacles to the process by imposing a newly created “Transfer Permit” of 120.00 on anyone who sells, transfers or gives away an animal. So, if  Susie wants to give a kitten to her dear aunt in San Diego and arranges to meet her halfway at a restaurant, it will cost her 120.00 for the privilege of doing so. Her other option, I suppose, would be to leave the cat at her local shelter, which would cost her nothing. They’ll even kill it for free. Unintended consequences.

Where will it end? Will we continue to fumble along, ignoring what is going on around us, perhaps expecting someone else to take care of it, until the day comes when we are ready for that next obedience prospect, that conformation hopeful, or just a new pet for the family…and instead of the charming squeals of a puppy, all we get is a resounding silence?