Steve Dale writes an excellent, sensible commentary on the Durbin/Vitter/HSUS PUPS 2010 anti-dog breeder bill. He reinforces again SAOVA's position on this bill - enforce the current law and deal effectively with violators and do not try to punish the entire dog-breeding world with new expansive regulations.
Steve Dale on 05.26.10 at 7:54 AM
If puppy mills dogs are living in horrific conditions, conditions which are not anywhere nearly United States Department of Agriculture legal standards - how can these places operate?
Federal investigators have uncovered grisly conditions at puppy mills where dogs were infested with ticks, living with gaping wounds and in pools of feces, according to a disturbing new report that placed the blame on lax enforcement.
We've known all this for years, decades maybe. From Oprah Winfrey show's report to dozens of other media reports, including stories I've written. YES! This is no secret - It's about time someone might be paying attention. Some say a part of the answer is to beef up legislation. Not necessarily - that could be a waste of time and money....though good PR for politicians. You see, in most places, they could enforce what's on the books right now. One big problem with new laws - some animal rights groups want to put all breeders out of business, placing legitimate and responsible breeders in the same basket as puppy mills and commercial operators. Not only is this unfair - it doesn't benefit anyone, consumers or dogs.
According to this new report, investigators say the Agriculture Department agency in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. those are state department of agriculture's, often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs. First time violators are often given a pass. Never mind, in many states, a lack of inspectors.
In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.
The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found more than half of those large kennels--known as puppy mills--had already been cited for violations flouted the law again.
The report recommends that the animal care unit at the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service immediately confiscate animals that are dying or seriously suffering, and better train its inspectors to document, report and penalize wrongdoing.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday the department takes the report seriously and will move to immediately improve enforcement, penalties and inspector training. He noted the investigation was conducted before his time in office and called it troubling.
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and David Vitter, R-La., said Tuesday that they are introducing legislation to close the loophole in the law that allows breeders to operate online. That might not be good - depending on what they mean by breeders. Limiting bad guys, of course...but this could be what I mean by handcuffing the good breeders. Both Senators said they will work with USDA to ensure changes are made throughout the agency. But what kinds of changes?
As long as people want pedigreed dogs - and they do - then I don't seen any benefit to anyone to make life tough for responsible breeders. These breeders, who generally operate from homes, are not the problem. Drive these breeders away (which is now happening) and pure bred dog prices go up, and some breeds could even disappear. Consumers don't want that to happen - but they're sometimes fooled by legislation which sounds good because it is cleverly called 'a puppy mill law.'
You might be cheering - "Whooo-hoo" this will increase shelter adoptions - maybe...But in reality, in many places around America, there really isn't a dog over-population problem. That is a myth (depending on where you are), or fine - if you want a Pitbull-looking dog, or a larger sporting breed type dog.
No one wants puppy mills. However, I'm increasingly convinced the animal rights lawyers who write these bills want to see all breeders go away.
Let's just enforce the laws we already have. No one answer this question: "Why aren't we doing that?"