Friday, May 11, 2012

Dogs - Pets, or Livestock?

We often hear from animal extremist groups that pets are not products or commodities, they are family members. They are not livestock and should not be treated or viewed as livestock. After all, dogs and cats are not usually intended as meat for the dinner plate (unless, of course, you attend a party thrown by the Obama family).

Yet, that's exactly how the US government regards dogs, cats and other pets. Our government considers pets as livestock, subject to US Dept of Agriculture rules and regulations.

Here's a description I found online regarding the purpose of the USDA:

The primary purpose of the USDA is to make sure that all American food that is manufactured and consumed is safe, nutritious and sustainable. The USDA thus establishes and enforces regulations about food handling, preparation and manufacturing. It seeks to find ways to make crops healthier, such as growing certain hybrids or reducing pesticide use. It also works with farmers to develop techniques that enable the farmers to produce crops without injury in an efficient and renewable way.

The USDA employs 100,000 people in their effort to regulate farming. So, how did this behemoth agency stray so far from its original purpose? When did they make the leap from protecting our food supply to assuming the moral authority for dictating every minute detail of animal care and pet breeding?

And, despite the USDA encroaching upon the territory of pet breeding, the public perception of breeders remains very poor. USDA regulation seems to be the mark of a disreputable breeder in the mind of the public, and not the reverse.

We “hobby” breeders have fed into that negative stereotype. After all, WE breed for health and fitness and proper conformation, THEY do not. WE lose our shirts. THEY make money! We mindlessly accept the idea that the Other Guy needs regulations. Not us!

But of course, a breeder is a breeder is a breeder. And now, with our willingness to regulate the Other Guy, we may end up sliding down our own slippery slope.

The USDA is concerned that “commercial breeders” are escaping its regulation by selling via the internet. The idea seems to be that selling via the internet is unscrupulous. Gosh, wonder who put that bug in their ear? Why, HSUS, PETA, and other extremist groups, naturally. So now, the USDA is announcing proposed changes to the provisions that delineate who must be commercially licensed and who may be excused. The USDA is entertaining the idea that smaller, hobby breeders should have the doors to their homes open to the public, much like the retail pet stores who are exempt from USDA regulation. If hobby breeders own more than four breeding dogs, or do not have buyers visit their home, they would have to apply for a USDA commercial license and comply with the reams of APHIS regulations.

There are several major problems with such an idea that leap out immediately. Firstly, few hobby breeders sell locally, so a rule requiring every animal to be seen in its home is unreasonable from a practical standpoint. Secondly, our right to privacy in our homes should be sacrosanct. No one should be strong-armed into turning their residence into a public display area. Of course, there are safety concerns involved with allowing strangers to traipse through your home. Assault, rape, robbery and even murder are not uncommon these days. More than one breeder has been unfairly charged with animal abuse based upon casual visitors who entered their home. Meetings between buyers and sellers are more safely conducted in a public location such as a park, a dog show, or a veterinarian’s office. And last but not least, APHIS regulations prohibit raising dogs in your home. They would effectively eliminate the smaller-scale breeders.

The attempt to eliminate internet sales ignores the fact that that this is the internet age. All pet breeders, commercial or otherwise, use the internet as a communication and sales tool.

I must confess, I have bought dogs via the internet myself, using email communication, online pictures and pedigrees. I experienced no problem with my transactions, but if there had been any glitches, I would have considered that the risk that I chose to take in my situation. I much prefer freedom and choices and accepting responsibility for my own actions to having the government micromanage my activities. We have all seen how well Federal oversight works in so many areas – NOT! Just consider the TSA, the Patriot Act, the failed war on drugs, the lack of control of our border. The list goes on and on. But, I digress….

Did we mention that HSUS lacky and animal rights attorney Sarah Conant has been hired as the head of the APHIS enforcement department? I'm sure she is just waiting to pounce on as many breeders as she can possibly find.

This is scarey stuff, folks.
Pet breeding should be regulated at the local level, with minimal rules and inspections related to basic health, sanitation and rabies control That’s it!

US presidential candidate Ron Paul advocates for the elimination of several Federal agencies. The USDA is not on that list. After all, we do need some public oversight of our food supply. But perhaps it is time to put the seriously overweight USDA on a diet. There’s quite a bit of fat to be trimmed in that department.

Here's the link to the proposed changes. Somebody sure has a lot of free time on their hands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Animal Abuser Registry

I received the below forwarded message regarding the nationwide push for "animal abuser" registries in my inbox this morning.
To most people, the idea of an abuser registry sounds peachy. Just register all those convicted animal offenders so we can prevent them from owning animals in the future. Not that registries for child abusers and sex offenders have been shown to work, but hey, such efforts make a nice public show of concern that goes over well at election time.
But if you examine the animal abuser registry issue more closely, there are some definite valid, frightening concerns involved here. 

Notice, there are many types of offenses that can be considered "abuse" offenses, including being over legal limits (so-called "hoarding") or failure to license, and technical offenses such as an observed lack of space/food/water readily available. Such offenses are vague and arbitrarily applied. Such offenses could apply to almost anyone. I know of a case from just last week, where the accused "abuser" had animals in excellent condition, and could not have been charged with any neglect, so the raiding agency searched her refrigerator and took any bottles of medications that they could find (including those labelled for the human of the household). They were hoping to find something illegally purchased without a prescription. Never mind that various animal antibiotics, wormers and parasite medications, and even all vaccines with the exception of rabies, do not NEED a prescription when bought for animals. Most of these can be bought 'over the counter' and online with NO prescription. And never mind that if these animal rightist seizing agencies can't find any actual animal "abuse", they will grasp at straws to try to manufacture a technical offense that will stick. Naturally, if anyone is scrutinized enough, an offense can eventually be found...there are so many laws on the books that it is impossible to exist in today's world without being a criminal.
To the AR activists behind such punitive laws as abuser registries, every breeder is a "puppy mill", and every owner of multiple dogs is a "hoarder". There are many, many trumped-up "abuse" cases against animal owners formulated daily in the hope of "getting" animal owners and freeing the animals from their human enslavement.
Are you aware of the agenda of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who formulated this message? They are a radical animal rights group.
Notice the closing motto of the below message: "Animal abusers should be put down". Calling for the killing of humans for "hoarding" and whatever other oddball charges the AR groups can come up with? That is frightening.
Be careful what you wish for. You might be next on the "list".



First U.S. Animal Abuser Registry Makes Convicts Public

Monday, Suffolk County activates the first animal abuser registry in the United States, which will make public the identities of convicted animal abusers. The internet registry will display their names, addresses and photographs.
The law requires pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to check the registry and not sell or adopt animals to anyone on it, according to the Animal Law Coalition. Abusers will stay on the registry for five years each, and will face jail time or fines if they do not sign up for and renew their registrations throughout that period.
The Coalition reports that in Suffolk County, "animal abuse" includes animal fighting; overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failing to provide proper sustenance; aggravated cruelty to animals; abandoning animals; interfering with or injuring certain domestic animals; and harming a service animal.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is leading a nationwide effort to pass more laws like Suffolk County's. If registries like this were widespread, they could make a real difference in preventing animal cruelty. Without them, convicted animal abusers, including hoarders, can easily evade court sentences forbidding them from owning animals by moving to a different county or state. Nationwide registries would make it much harder for them to acquire new animals just by changing their location.
Registries like Suffolk County's could also prevent crimes that hurt humans. A person who abuses or kills animals is five times more likely to commit violence against humans and four times more likely to commit property crimes, according to a Business Week report on a 1997 study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA.
Other counties and states have considered similar registries and some plan to implement them, but last February Colorado voted down a law to create one. Objections to the registries include concerns about the civil rights of animal abusers and the possibility that exposure to the public will make offenders even less likely to cooperate with authorities that otherwise might be able to keep them from harming other animals

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Diamond Dog Food Recall

Many of us rely on commercial dog foods for our pets. Low cost, convenience, and the purported "complete and balanced" feature keep people coming back for more. However, commercial foods are subject to a variety of problems such as imbalances of supplemental vitamins and minerals, aflatoxins produced by the aspergillus family of fungi, and now, contamination with salmonella.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 14 people in nine states have been infected with Salmonella infantis, some cases of which have been traced to to exposure to pet foods produced by Diamond. Five of these people required hospitalization.
So now, unfortunately, another widespread pet food recall is underway. This is a voluntary recall of 14 different brands of pet food sold in more than 40 states due to possible salmonella contamination. These foods are all produced by Diamond at their production plant in Gaston, South Carolina. The plant was shut down April 8 due to the Salmonella crisis.

To determine if their pet food is recalled, Diamond officials say consumers should check the production codes on the back of bags that have a number "2" or a "3" in the 9th or 10th digit and an "X" in the 11th digit. The best-before dates for the recalled brands are Dec. 9, 2012, through April 7, 2013.
Now is a good time to remind ourselves about a simple but essential rule of food handling. Always WASH YOUR HANDS with soap and rinse with water while scrubbing for at least 15 seconds, both before and after handling ANY sort of food, whether it is intended for people or animals. Don't forget to use a nail brush or an orange stick to clean under your fingernails, too.
So far, no reports of any ill dogs. Dogs are better-equipped to handle salmonella than humans are. Their digestive tract is quite acid, and the intestines are much shorter than ours....making illness from bacteria very unlikely.
Delta therapy dogs bans their participating dogs from consuming raw foods, but maybe they should re-think that maxim. Cooked kibbles are just as risky for carrying salmonella (perhaps more so in some cases) than clean, fresh raw foods.