Sunday, January 29, 2012

PUPS - "What Can We Do"?

PUPS (Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety) is the federal proposal that anyone who owns (or co-owns) even ONE intact bitch be brought under commercial regulations, if he also sells (or offers for sale) fifty dogs in a year. 

This measure is sponsored by the HSUS, so we know that the number "50" is arbitrary and will be reduced with future amendments. No need to reduce the number of intact bitches because anyone with an ownership interest in ONE intact bitch (as young as four months old) would be automatically included. Co-ownerships are specifically mentioned; it's possible that such things as breeding rights and puppy back contracts may also "count" in one way or another as your sales numbers are tabulated.

PUPS erases the line between those who sell at wholesale and those who sell at retail. Currently, retail sellers are regulated locally. PUPS is an effort to bring those who sell at retail (like anyone who advertises with a personal website) under the auspices of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Contrary to the claims of PUPS supporters it does NOT apply only to internet sales. PUPS includes breeders who place pets "via any means of conveyance"; internet ads/websites, newspaper, telephone, dog show contacts and so on.

Requiring hobby breeders to follow USDA rules would force many people to give up hobby breeding entirely. Commercial rules forbid keeping dogs in your house, and instead require that an expensive kennel facility be built. Carpet, grass and upholstered furniture (like a couch or chair) is forbidden in the dog areas. Raising pups in your bedroom instead of a kennel would not be allowed. Dogs must be kept in runs with cement floors, roof-style covers, an adequate ventilation system and floor drains for sanitation protocols which are also regulated. The cost of building such facilities would be out of reach for the vast majority of breeders.

Other rules that would be difficult if not impossible for hobby breeders to meet include submission to unannounced inspections and meeting ambiguous exercise requirements.

The USDA is currently criticised for lax enforcement of existing law. In 2008, the USDA had 99 inspectors who conducted 15,722 inspections or re-inspections on facilities including 4,604 licensed breeders and 1,116 licensed brokers. The numbers of facilities/homes that would be added by PUPS would be in the thousands, adding additional strain on the existing system. PUPS would result in fewer inspections of the large, commercial breeders the AWA was intended to regulate in the first place.

Along with many other canine groups, AKC opposes PUPS, stating:
The AKC also has a number of serious concerns with the bill as introduced and does not support this measure.
(You can read their concerns and the full alert at the link below)

One of best PUPS opposition statements belongs to the national cat registry association, CFA, even though PUPS doesn't even apply to them (doesn't apply YET - which is the whole idea of why they oppose):

There is a version of PUPS in the Senate, and a version in the House of Representatives. Presumably, this makes it easier to get it pushed through quickly once the votes are there. And, at last count, there were 196 congressional sponsors for PUPS; more are signing on every day. Once they get around 220 or so they will have enough votes to pass and it just might be brought up at that time. There is talk that PUPS may never come to a vote because the USDA may amend the AWA and then it might be a moot point. We can hope!

There's a new legislative site that allows you to contact your legislators quickly and let them know when you support or oppose proposed legislation.

Click on the two Popvox links below to urge your legislator to oppose PUPS in both House and Senate:

US Senate PUPS

US House of Representatives PUPS
https://www. bills/us/ 112/hr835

The entire rationale for PUPS is to try to "catch" people who are breeding commercially and selling directly to the public via the internet. However, people who attempt to skirt the law now will not be more likely to comply if a new law is passed. Instead, we will lose many conscientious breeders who are the best sources for healthy, well-bred dogs in this country. The language of PUPS would also bring rescue groups and other resellers under onerous federal rules. Many of these groups use the internet (websites or puppyfind-type services) to find homes for their animals. All retailers who sell directly to the public should remain under local regulation.

Please take a minute to contact your senator and congressman. Popvox makes it quick and easy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Institutionalized Cruelty - the AlphaTex case

Disability as a result of a toe amputation surgery left Mark Smith with some challenges in the day-to-day upkeep of his family-run kennel. Mounting medical bills made life difficult for the Smith family. A soft economy had hurt sales recently and helped to swell the numbers of Collies, Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers at the Smith's AlphaTex Kennels, based in Texas. 

The Smiths had all their dogs seized. The evidence for the warrant? Video of a limping puppy. Less-than-perfectly clean conditions were found when the Humane Society of West Texas entered the premises.

Dogs rescued?

Well, not exactly. 

When the Humane Society of West Texas entered the property to confiscate the dogs, they killed the puppy that was featured on the video. Reason for the limp? The pup had injured it's leg after tangling with a fence and was recovering. He was due to be adopted by one of the kennel's former employees. Instead of having a chance at a full and happy life, the puppy is now dead.

The "Humane" Society also killed an adult Collie that day, claiming "mange" reality, she had hypothyroidism. Coat loss is a common side effect of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is fully treatable and should not be a death warrant for anyone, man or animal. Come to think of it, mange is also a treatable condition. Makes a handy excuse to kill, though.

Another dog had previously been kicked by a horse, suffered a broken leg, and Mark had sought veterinary care. The vet had put a pin in her leg. She was improving. Improving, that is, until the "humane" society raided the premises and decided to kill her that day.

The Smiths did not give permission to the Humane Society of West Texas to kill any of their dogs, or to take and farm them out to foster homes across the state of Texas. But that's exactly what happened.

A litter of eight puppies was taken into custody. Great! They would get proper veterinary care and attention. Right?

Wrong again. Under the "loving" care of the Humane Society  veterinarian, seven of the eight puppies subsequently died of parvo.

With adequate veterinary care and IV hydration/nutrition, the death rate from parvo is very low; certainly nowhere near the 88% from this litter that perished.

Unless, of course, you are a veterinarian employed by the state-sponsored raiders, who, once in court, will try to deflect the blame for the deaths onto the breeder.

The prosecuting attorney presented only limited evidence that seemed to be extremely biased. It must have seemed that way to the jury as well, because they threw out all the charges. All the dogs are now slated for return to the Smiths.

The jury was instructed by the judge that they could assess each case of cruelty individually. The jury still found no evidence of cruelty.


No credible evidence that even one dog was abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated.

Except, that is by the Humane Society of West Texas. Unfortunately, they were not the ones on trial.

In typical animal extremist fashion, the prosecuter tried to turn the trial into a referendum on breeding.

"They kept big dogs alive so they could have little dogs to sell"

he stated in court.

So now, the not-so-subtle implication is that SELLING DOGS is a criminal offense. Since when, exactly?

The prosecutor objected to a binder of photos and information showing the conditions and care provided in the kennel over the 18-month period prior to the seizure.

Incredibly, this prosecutor also belongs to a Facebook group devoted to publicly libelling the Smiths. Further proof of the animal rights extremist lynch-mob mentality in this case. Not to mention, a breach of ethics.

But why expect any ethics here? You see, it was never about good care for the dogs, it was always about removing them from a "greedy, evil breeder". At any cost. Hang the consequences.

The defense attorney admitted that conditions were not tip-top in cleanliness, but felt that the Smiths should have been given some sort of warning to improve prior to the situation devolving into a raid.

Obviously, killers don't like to give any advance notice or fair warning.

The lawyers who defended the Smiths did so on a pro bono basis, and there is a federal case pending. PLEASE dog lovers, dog breeders, and dog owners, dig into your pocketbooks and send a donation via Paypal to:

Next time you may need someone to help get YOUR dogs back.

Or maybe, just maybe, these renegade animal raiders will think twice in the future before trampling all over someone's human rights, and nabbing and killing their dogs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Your Right to Own a Pet

There exist umpteen internet websites expounding on the responsibilites of pet ownership. And many of them loudly proclaim that "pet ownership is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT."

Standing at the helm of this "Pets are a Privilege" movement, we find the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA Executive Board recently approved new guidelines for responsible pet ownership. The guidelines are prefaced with this statement:

"Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship."  (1)


The devil, you say. Really? A privilege?

A "privilege" is defined as a "right or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most; the condition of enjoying special rights." A privilege is a special right granted by those in authority; something for which you must obtain permission. A right is something for which you do not need permission.  

Pets are property, in both a technical and a legal sense. (More about that in a future post). Our right to own a pet is the same as the right to own any other property and must not be considered a privilege; something  by definition "beyond the advantage of most."

The UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" states:

 "Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.  No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."

Six of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution refer directly or indirectly to personal property rights. (2)

Owning an animal is a right, as is ownership of any other property. It's not a privilege.

To further bolster the case for the pet ownership, consider the vital role pets play in out lives. Let's look to current research studies. Pet ownership provides health benefits such as reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and reducing allergies. Pets provide companionship,  promote exercise and improve our social skills by helping to reduce shyness and isolation. (3)

We have a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", so said the founders of our nation in the Declaration of Independence. Pet ownership definitely falls under the category of pursuit of happiness. Not to mention, it's good for our health.

Considering the postive health benefits of pet ownership, that right should not be abridged. If pet ownership becomes a "privilege" there would then exist an unreasonable usurpation of our rights. We have a right to pursue our dreams, and a right to pet ownership.

We have the right to purchase and own property. But just because we own something does not mean that we can do with it as we please. Sometimes there are restrictions placed upon the use of certain types of property, like a car, a gun, or an animal. You need to obtain a driver's license to use your car. You can own a gun, but cannot use it for illegal purposes. You can own an animal, but you must comply with animal welfare regulations.

Property ownership is a right, which may not be abridged unless we abuse that right. If ownership of pets is to be considered a privilege, then we must meet special conditions and requirements and may even be denied permission to make our purchase. However, constitutionally and legally, we do not need permission to purchase property.

Some breeders and pet rescuers firmly believe that the best interest of the pet supercedes the considerations of the owner.  

"After working in rescue for many years" a friend recently confided "I sincerely believe that not everyone should own a dog."

And after working in a shelter for battered women, I suppose one might form the opinion that not everyone should get married. Not much of a revelation there. After working for child protective services, one might form the opinion that not everyone should have children. No epiphany there, either. After working in a hospital for many years, one might conclude that life is filled with doom, gloom and misery. But of course, such biased viewpoints are never accurate or balanced.

We cannot deny basic human rights based on the actions of those who abuse such rights. 

True, some people don't give the proper consideration to dog ownership prior to making their decision. But probably, the majority of owners DO. And should the basic rights to ownership of animals for everyone be denied due to a few bad apples?

Owning an pet involves a good deal of responsibility. When you own an animal, you have a moral obligation to provide food shelter, care and kindness. We even have laws in all 50 states requiring humane treatment of animals; laws that forbid neglect and abuse. 

The AVMA further delineates their proposed markers for "Responsible Pet Ownership" which includes such recommendations as keeping your pet for its entire lifetime, limiting breeding to help ease "overpopulation", and other debatable concepts. Of course, the AVMA recommends:

"Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian."

Humans have the right to refuse to seek medical care if they so choose. I suppose if we exercise that option for our animals, then we are not "responsible". In the eyes of the AVMA, in this case, we don't deserve to have a pet! 

Never mind the blatant conflict of interest in the recommendations by so many veterinarians for yearly vaccinations and monthly parasite managment treatments.

Another factor to consider when positing "responsible pet ownership guidelines" is that we may be projecting our own values about pet ownership onto others. We may forget that not all dogs are destined to function as pampered companions. Is it unreasonable to expect dogs to work as service animals for the disabled? What about keeping packs of dogs for hunting, or using dogs for herding, or having an outdoor guard dog?

Then there is the admonition for "socialization and appropriate training for pets." But what if the dog's purpose is to protect the owner? Perhaps the owner doesn't WANT their pet to be social and friendly to any Tom, Dick or Harry. Many breed standards call for an "aloof" quality. Again, the purpose for which some "pets" are kept can vary. That does not make the owner "irresponsible."

But put aside the AVMA's responsible pet owner commandments for a moment. Let's examine how responsible we as a nation have been in regard to pet ownership.

There are over 78 million owned dogs in the US, and over 86 million owned cats. There is also an unknown number of feral cats, and a minute number of unowned, stray dogs. Of the 156 million pets in the US, and the many millions more feral cats that exist, a small fraction of animals, estimated at 6-8 million, transit through shelters each year. Less than 4%. considering a significant number are feral ownerless cats, WAY below 4% of the owned animals in this country.

That means that over 96% of animals in this country are owned in a responsible manner.

Each year in the US, there are 17 million people who will adopt a new pet and haven't decided exactly where to get this new pet from. And there exists an estimated 2-3 million adoptable pets in shelters who are killed. There are 17 million households available to absorb 2-3 million shelter pets. To prevent their deaths, all that would be needed is to effectively use some creative marketing skills. Yet even if every adoptable animal was adopted, we would still need 14 million more pets each year.

Yes, Virginia, we CAN adopt our way out this problem. It has happened in many communities already; communities where the shelters are empty and need to import dogs from other area and even other countries. I'd say as a nation, we have proven our responsibility. We've heeded the call to adoption and emptied many shelters in the process. We are responsible enough to deserve to count pet ownership among our basic rights. 

Yet our cultural zeitgeist remains one of sanctimony toward pet owners. We are regularly subjected to lectures about our "obligation" toward our pets as though we were a nation of reckless kindergartners.

Those 14 million households deserve their pets. Pet ownership - it's a right, not a privilege!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Censorship on Facebook

After yesterday's post "Why Animals Don't Have Rights" was  shared on Facebook, there was a block placed on any messages from the Time4Dogs blog being posted. When you try to use the share button, you will see this message:

Sorry, this post contains a blocked URL

The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:
For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.
I've certainly contacted Facebook to express my displeasure at their blatant censorship. Several times.
The simple truth is so threatening to certain animal extremist groups that they resort to desperate attempts to suppress that truth. Luckily, we still have freedom of speech in SOME internet venues. Just NOT Facebook.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Animals Don't Have Rights

The phrase "animal rights" sounds pleasant enough on the surface. Kind-hearted people the world over love animals and wish to see them treated humanely. Abuse and neglect of owned animals is illegal in every state of the union. We as a society value and promote the welfare of animals.

However, upon close examination, we find that the concept of "animal rights" is invalid.

"Rights" is defined as "a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral".

What specific "rights" are animals entitled to claim, under a system of justice? This must be determined in order to discuss the situation intelligently.

Here is a listing of some commonly-accepted "rights":

·        right to life
·        right to liberty (freedom from slavery or serfdom)
·        right to own personal property
·        right to equality of justice
·        right to vote
·        right to free speech
·        Freedom of religion
·        Freedom from torture

We can't reasonably expect for animals to participate in free speech, or in a political system whereby they vote, or in the selection of a religion.

Rights are civil and political concepts. In order for animals to have rights, they must have an established system of government. They must have laws for which there is punishment for infractions, determined by a system of justice.

Animals don't have laws. The concept of justice does not exist for them. They don't live by a moral code.

In order for rights to exist, corresponding responsibilities must also exist. For instance, if one expects the right to vote, then one must abide by societal rules and laws that have been instituted in order to maintain that right. The right to liberty must be balanced with a respect for the rights of others. Animals do not have a respect for the rights of others, and therefore the liberty of wild animals is balanced only by the forces of nature such as predation and the food chain. Animals may have a concept of possession of property, but no reciprocal idea of theft being "wrong".

There are also social rights concepts such as sexual equality, racial equality, rights to education and to health care. These rights are agreed upon by the members of society as beneficial and just for the group. Animals have no understanding of or participation in abstract concepts like equal rights based on gender, race or age.

The concept of "animal rights" ignores the very nature of animals. Animals fight for territory or partners. They hunt, kill and eat each other. They rape, pillage and plunder at will. Humans have established official codes of conduct that prohibit such activities impinging on the "rights" of others. While the very nature of "humane" treatment prohibits any human-caused torture of animals, there is no such natural prohibition against torture in the animal world. 

Animals are incapable of moralizing; and even if capable, should the lion be told that he may not eat the lamb? Should the very process of natural selection and evolution be altered in consideration of the "right" of prey to avoid being someone's dinner? Of course not. 

Most people do, however, believe in the concept of humane stewardship toward animals. The very use of the word "humane" tells us that compassionate treatment of animals and each other is an ideal inherently related to human values, ethics and morals.

We believe that the animals we own should be treated with compassion and mercy. We believe that animals in the wild should be conserved from the effects of mankind that might serve to decimate their populations. This ideal of stewardship of animals (or animal welfare) is vastly different from the concept of animals having "rights".

Animal rights activists have waged a campaign to convince the public that animals ownership is akin to slavery; that breeding is no different than rape; that animals on farms are the moral equivalent of Nazi holocaust victims. Such comparisons are deeply offensive to anyone who cherishes genuinely "humane" ethics and values.

The idea that animals must be "free" from human use ignores our human biology. We are not herbivores, with multiple stomachs and lengthy intestines, who ruminate a grassy diet; we are omnivores who rely on some meat and animal products in our diet to maintain our health. We have evolved in this manner. We co-evolved with dogs, who hunted alongside us and helped us to herd our flocks, so that both our species could enjoy our natural diets. 

Those who believe that the concept of "Animal Rights" is worthy of support may obtain self-satisfaction derived from a sense of moral superiority, but their logic and intelligence is certainly questionable.

Petition the White House to investigate the HSUS

Please visit the official White House petition site and register, and SIGN this petition for the HSUS to be investigated for excessive lobbying.
Use this link:
At the *very bottom* of the screen on the right-hand side, you'll see sign in/create account.  Click. 
If you haven't used We the People before, you will need to create an account.  It will ask for your first and last name and your zip.  Your last name will NOT be shown on the petition site.
Then you'll have to verify the little curly numbers in the box.  If you can't read them, click on the arrow to get another challenge box (might be easier to read), or click on the little megaphone for an audio challenge.  Type in what you see or hear. 
Click on Register.
Wait a minute or two then check your email.  You should receive a confirmation link from the petition site.  Click the link.  YOU ARE NOT DONE YET.  You must click on "sign petition".  You should get a little acknowledgement box once you have signed.
It takes a bit of effort but well worth it to help preserve our rights as dog owners. Don't give up!! And share the link and the instructions please!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Banning pet shop animal sales

I was recently asked this question:
"Why would you oppose a ban on pet shop sales?  One would think you'd support such a ban." 

A more interesting question might be why one would think we should support such a ban? 

Two reasons spring to mind.

 (1) You believe that there is an overpopulation of pets, and that the breeding for sale of dogs and cats contributes to this overpopulation, or

(2) You believe that the dogs sold in pet stores (or their parents) are mistreated. 

We know that both (1) and (2) are essentially false. 

The myth of pet overpopulation (1) has been thoroughly debunked. (See links to references below).

As for (2), dog breeding, transportation and sale are heavily regulated --
at the federal level, by the Animal Welfare Act, and
at the state level by the Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act (H&S Code, Sec. 122045, et seq.), 
Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act (H&S Code, Sec. 122125, et seq.) and
the animal cruelty statutes (Penal Code Sec. 597, et seq.). 
As a result, purchasers at pet shops can determine the history of the dogs offered for sale and be assured of the standards of care in which the pet was bred, raised and sold. Violators of these laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties. 

Given the protection and disclosure required for the sale of dogs in pet shops, why would I support a ban on pet shop sales?

Education, not legislation, is ultimately the most effective weapon against impulse buying. While I believe the wisest choice is to purchase a dog or cat directly from an ethical hobby breeder, some people choose to obtain a pet from a pet store. Others may select a pet from a shelter or rescue group.

Sales bans usually exempt animals obtained from "rescues" and shelters. Such bans create an artificial market for "rescued" dogs, to be filled by black market suppliers who breed underground or outside the continental US.

Laws and policies that ban the sales of purposely-bred dogs send an extremely negative message about dog breeding. We would be foolish to perpetuate such negative stereotypes and misperceptions.

Mom-and-pop pet stores find it difficult to compete with the Pet Smarts and the PetCos, and even more difficult to compete without the ability to sell pets. We know that these days it is difficult for any business to remain afloat. We have even seen organized protests, threats and intimidation used against businesses selling pets. This type of activity is in violation of the Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act. There's also a section in the California Penal Code (Section 602.1) that makes it unlawful for any person to intentionally interfere with any lawful business by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on the business or their customers.

Isn't it ironic that anyone would consider banning the sales of pets, yet no one is suggesting that we ban the sale of pet foods containing toxic ingredients that have killed these same pets? What has happened to our priorities? Are we allowing the animal extremist groups like HSUS and PETA determine what our priorities should be? 
We have become a nation bent upon controlling every action of our citizens. When perfectly legal possessions like pets are legislated into contraband items comparable to street drugs, we have to wonder where it will all end. Pet extinction, perhaps?

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." 

"Forever" is a long, long time

"I am a Forever Dog"

There's a warm and fuzzy message! Sounds good, no? If you can't keep a dog forever, then you shouldn't own one! Just fuggedaboudit. 

This sort of black-and-white thinking, this dogmatic mentality (pardon the pun) is further evidence of why we have so many intrusive and oppressive laws proposed.

  • We say, you should spay/neuter your pets; they say, hey, let's make it the law.
  • We say, microchipping saves lives; they say, great idea! let's make it mandatory.
  • We say, to breed responsibly, you should belong to a breed club and do health testing, Hmmm, let's make it a law that ONLY those who belong to breed clubs with enforced codes of ethics can buy a breeder's permit.
  • We say, don't breed too often; they say, OK let's make a legal limit of one litter per year.
  • "Keep your numbers down and don't expect to make any money" we advise each other; they say, if you own a kennel or make money, you are a grubby puppy-miller. 
  • We say, "rescue is noble, let's help make sure our breed doesn't add to the shelter population"; they say, "Don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die" .......... "Adopt, don't shop!" Pet sales become outlawed except for rescues
  • We say, "Make sure when you get a dog it's not an impulse purchase"; they say, "A dog is forever" and forbid pet shop sales, or advertising in newspapers or via the internet. You'd better have your sales and breeding permit numbers displayed, and you'd better not transfer ownership in public.  (Oddly enough, it's OK to impulse purchase rescued animals in pet shops or at adoption fairs.)

Life changes, stuff happens. Sometimes the dog does not work out for the situation. Working dogs go where they are needed. You lose your job and maybe your home, you get sick or perhaps even die....the dog needs to be re-homed. Breeding dogs might be sold to new owners. Someone moves, a friend or relative takes their dog. A serviceman is relocated, and his dog needs a foster home, or a new home. Breeders may place their "retirees" in pet homes.

The "Forever Home" propaganda is just another crafty animal extremist method of discouraging pet ownership, and demonizing pet owners. Don't fall for it!