Saturday, December 29, 2012

ASPCA Pays $9.3 Million in Landmark Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Settlement

Feld Entertainment RICO Lawsuit Will Continue against the Humane Society of the United States, the lawyers, and other remaining defendants

VIENNA, Va., Dec. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, announced today that the company has reached a legal settlement with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in connection with two federal court cases. Under the settlement, ASPCA has paid Feld Entertainment $9.3 million to settle all claims related to its part in more than a decade of manufactured litigation that attempted to outlaw elephants in the company's Ringling Bros. ® Circus. This settlement applies only to the ASPCA. Feld Entertainment's legal proceedings, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering, will continue against the remaining defendants, Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, Tom Rider and the attorneys involved.

"These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe. Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses. This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric," said Kenneth Feld , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

The parties filed dismissal papers today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as a result of their settlement. The settlement covers only Feld Entertainment's claims against ASPCA for attorneys' fees and damages in the initial Endangered Species Act (ESA) case filed in 2000 by the animal rights activists and the resultant racketeering (RICO) case brought by Feld Entertainment in 2007. Discovery in the initial lawsuit uncovered over $190,000 that these animal activist groups and their lawyers paid to Tom Rider who lived off of the money while serving as the "injured plaintiff" in the lawsuit against the circus.

"Our firm has been defending Feld Entertainment against this onslaught of misguided litigation brought by animal activist groups for years. As their attorneys, it is gratifying to finally have a settlement that begins to make up for the harm inflicted on this company, the family who owns it, and its employees," said John Simpson of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., lead counsel for Feld Entertainment in all of the cases covered by the settlement with ASPCA.

Background of Case

The original complaint was filed in July 2000 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals and Tom Rider , who is a former Ringling Bros. employee. The case was dismissed in 2001 but was reinstated in 2003 after an appellate court ruled that if Tom Rider could prove that he was injured by Ringling Bros.' treatment of the elephants, the case could proceed. The Animal Protection Institute joined the case in 2006.

The trial began on February 4, 2009 and lasted approximately six weeks. The case is ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., No. 03-2006 (D.D.C.)(Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan presiding).

On December 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court ruled in Feld Entertainment's favor (published as ASPCA v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., 677 F. Supp. 2d 55 (D.D.C. 2009)). In its ruling the Court stated that, "the Court finds that Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony regarding the matters discussed herein, i.e., the allegations related to his standing to sue." Opinion

That decision found that the plaintiffs' litigation was based on the untruthful testimony of a paid plaintiff and witness who the Court found received at least $190,000 in payments as his sole source of income over an eight year period by animal special interest groups, including ASPCA, their lawyers and an entity founded and controlled by those lawyers, the Wildlife Advocacy Project.

The Court also ruled, "that ensuring Mr. Rider's continued participation as a plaintiff was a motivating factor behind the payments to him, and that these payments were a motivating factor for his continued involvement in the case." The Court also ruled against the other plaintiffs in the case: "because the organizational plaintiffs have not established an injury in fact, traceable to FEI's actions that can be redressed by the Court, the organizational plaintiffs have no standing to sue under Article III of the United States Constitution."

Furthermore, the Court ruled that "based upon his failure to complain, the Court finds that Mr. Rider either (1) did not witness elephant mistreatment when he was employed by FEI or (2) any mistreatment he did witness did not affect him to the extent that he suffered an aesthetic or emotional injury." The Court's December 2009 ruling was affirmed in its entirety by the Court of Appeals on October 28, 2011.

Based upon what was revealed in ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Feld Entertainment brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against ASPCA, HSUS and other animal rights activists and their lawyers alleging violations of the RICO statute and Virginia Conspiracy Act, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process. The court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss that case on July 9, 2012. Complaint

Additional information on this litigation, including Court rulings, filings and elephant care information can be found online at Information on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® and the company's international elephant conservation programs is available online at

Ringling Bros. Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. legal team is led by John M. Simpson and includes, Michelle C. Pardo , Stephen M. McNabb , Kara Petteway and Rebecca Bazan .

About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment has produced Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for over 45 years. Ringling Bros.' elephants, the treasured symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth® and the subject of the litigation, continue to be healthy and well-cared for by a team of full-time veterinarians and an animal care staff that works to ensure that the animals have a safe and positive environment. The company meets and exceeds federal requirements on the care of its Asian elephants, tigers and other animals. Its animal care practices are commonly accepted and well known to federal, state and local government regulators who routinely inspect Ringling Bros. in almost every city it visits.

Feld Entertainment, Inc. is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment that lifts the human spirit and creates indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 70 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Monster Jam, Supercross, Areanacross, Nuclear Cowboyz and IHRA drag racing. More information on Feld Entertainment is available online at

SOURCE Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Election Wrap Up November 14, 2012

Dear SAOVA Friends,

Sportsmen’s concerns were overshadowed again by pressing national issues, with the state of the economy ranked at the top of every exit poll. Voters basically kept the same government in place, although there will be 12 new Senators and 70 some new members of the House.

From the list of races that SAOVA highlighted previously, our endorsed candidates won 13 of 20 contests or 65%. Two of these races were among the most expensive in this election cycle for the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) spent $752,000 in campaign advertising against Incumbent Congressman Steve King (R-IA), throwing their money and muscle to support Christie Vilsack, wife of Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. HSLF also spent $100,201 against Congressman Jeff Flake (AZ) running for senate and an additional $48,256 in support of his challenger Richard Carmona.

Other SAOVA endorsees who defeated HSUS endorsed and funded candidates were: Dean Heller (NV Senate), Jim Renacci (OH-16), and Sean Duffy (WI-7). SAOVA endorsed Congressman Dan Benishek (R-MI), co-sponsor of HR 2834 Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, won re-election in a very tight race.

The 2011 edition of “PUPS” (HR 835/S 707) reached an all-time high number of cosponsors in the 112th Congress, including a handful of conservatives on both sides of the isle. A total of 40 PUPS cosponsors retired or were defeated either in primaries or the general election. Another 5 left office to run for Senate with 4 wins and 1 loss. Those 4 wins offset 4 PUPS cosponsor losses in the Senate: Scott Brown (MA) (defeated); John Ensign (NV) (resigned); Joe Lieberman (CT) and Herb Kohl (WI) retired.

Sportsmen and animal owners scored 100% in ballot initiatives. Four states, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming passed Right to Hunt and Fish amendments. Voters in North Dakota defeated Measure 5 an HSUS backed initiative to change animal cruelty penalties.

Perhaps the best kept secret during this election was Measure 3 — the “right to farm” constitutional amendment measure spearheaded by the North Dakota Farm Bureau. The measure was a proactive effort to defend against outside groups, especially HSUS, attempts to undermine livestock and agricultural practices. The amendment, approved by the state’s voters, guarantees farmers the right to "modern” agriculture and prohibits laws limiting their right to “employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices."

Another bit of good news - HSUS/HSLF could not find any congressional candidates to endorse in Arkansas, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Utah, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, or Wyoming.

Cross posting is encouraged.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Animal-rights groups see Measure 5 as a hoof in the door

Daniel Mock, Braddock, N.D., column

BRADDOCK, N.D. — Don’t be fooled into voting for the largest animal rights organization in the country and its handiwork this election cycle. Vote no on Measure 5 if you want to protect the rights of North Dakotans to write our own laws and do what’s best for animals.

Measure 5 uses inflammatory terms to pull at our emotions, yet deals with only three species and is silent on the most common kinds of mistreatment actually seen in the state. Odd? As confirmed by a March story in the Jamestown (N.D.) Sun, promoters have explained that they needed something “passable” and can add to it later. What might those additions be?

Measure 5 cleverly disguises terms used for animals in food production. For example, the measure’s full text bans “exsanguination,” but this is problematic because it likely would block any reinstatement of horse slaughter. So, even though promoters say the measure protects agricultural and other lawful activities, it will not. Read more .......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sportsmen Endorse Dean Heller for Nevada Senate

The Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) endorses Senator Dean Heller for re-election. Heller will be a strong advocate protecting the rights and livelihoods of hunting sportsmen, animal owners, and livestock producers. This election may determine the future of our traditions and hunting heritage. It is clear that Heller will work to protect and support our freedoms. In contrast, Shelley Berkley has a history of working with animal rights extremists who would end the rights of sportsmen and animal owners.

Make a difference in Washington.
Support and vote for Dean Heller!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SAOVA updated 2012 election website

Dear SAOVA Friends,

The Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance (SAOVA) today unveiled it’s updated 2012 Election website at . The site contains our endorsements of more than 200 candidates running for Congress November 6, 2012. In addition, we have analysis for a number of state legislatures. SAOVA ENDORSED candidates understand the animal rightist, anti-hunting threat and have voting records or exceptionally strong values that demonstrate their commitment to protecting our interests and not burdening us with unnecessary, restrictive regulation. Animal Rightist Endorsed politicians are the problem. They are formally endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and they consistently vote for legislation to strip us of our rights to hunt, fish, and own pets and livestock.

Important SAOVA candidate endorsements include:

Jeff Flake (R-AZ Senate)
Dr. Ted Yoho (R-FL3)
Jason Plummer (R-IL12)
John Archer (R-IA2)
Thomas Massie (R-KY4)
Hayden Rogers (D-NC11)
Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Heather Wilson (R-NM Senate)
Dr. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH2)
Randy Weber (R-TX14)
Roger Williams (R-TX25)
Tommy Thompson (R-WI Senate)

Key incumbents endorsed include:
Jim Costa (D-CA16)
Steve King (R-IA4)
Dean Heller (R-NV Senate)
Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY24)
Jim Renacci (R-OH16)
Francisco Canseco (R-TX23)
Jim Matheson (D-UT4)
Sean Duffy (R-WI7)

Please take the time to visit and review our election site. We make no pretense of evaluating candidates' positions on national security, taxes, education, health care, or social issues which we know weigh heavily on everyone’s mind during an election. To the degree that hunting and animal ownership are important to you, we offer this review to be combined with other, personal considerations to determine your vote on November 6, 2012. Visit SAOVA on Facebook for selected candidate endorsements, news, and legislative updates.

The world is governed by those who show up.

Please distribute this message widely.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SAOVA on facebook

Visit SAOVA now on facebook. Share more news on candidates, legislation and issues that affect you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sportsmen and Animal Owners Endorse Robert Pittenger for Congress

The Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) today endorsed Robert Pittenger for district 9 open seat congressional race. SAOVA’s Director Susan Wolf indicated that Pittenger is a candidate who could make a substantial difference in Washington for hunting sportsmen and animal owners.

Pittenger took the time to complete and return SAOVA’s non-incumbent candidate questionnaire. North Carolina residents will be well represented by Pittenger who shares our concerns regarding the need to protect our rights and livelihoods from overzealous regulation.

NRA endorses Romney

By Jonathan Easley - 10/04/12 06:16 PM ET

The National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsed Mitt Romney for president late Thursday.

NRA Executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and NRA Political Victory Fund chairman Chris Cox will formally announce the endorsement at a Romney rally in Virginia later Thursday evening. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will also be on hand.

“In this election, there is no debate,” LaPierre said in a statement. “There is only one choice – only one hope – to save our firearms freedom and our way of life.”

The endorsement is not surprising — the NRA has a history of supporting conservative candidates, who traditionally support strong gun rights.   Article at The Hill

Thursday, October 4, 2012

HSLF 100+ Congressional ratings

The following members of the 112th Congress not only received a perfect score from the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) - the PAC for HSUS - they received “extra credit” (100+) for either being prime sponsors of HSUS initiated bills or for taking the lead on letters to agencies on behalf of HSUS.

Blumenthal, Richard (D-CT)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
Howard Berman (D-CA)
Lois Capps (D-CA)
Susan Davis (D-CA)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
George Miller (D-CA)
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Brad Sherman D-CA
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) not running for reelection
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Mike Quigley (D-IL)
Janice Schakowsky (D-IL)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Edward Markey (D-MA)
Gary Peters (D-MI)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Gary Ackerman (D-NY) not running for reelection
Steve Israel (D-NY)
Edolphus Towns D-NY) not running for reelection
Betty Sutton (D-OH)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
James Langevin (D-RI)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
James Moran (D-VA)

The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 Advances

Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2012

On Saturday, September 22, the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 (S.3525) advanced as the Senate voted 84 to 7 on the motion to proceed for a November vote. Introduced by CSC Co-Chair Senator Jon Tester, the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 is a package of 19 separate bills including the majority of CSF’s sportsmen's legislative priorities for the 112th Congress. (Click here for a full description). In April, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) was passed by the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 276 to 146. If S.3525 is passed in November, it will then move to conference with H.R. 4089, which includes several of the same bills.

Eventual passage of this unprecedented pro-sportsmen's legislation will promote, protect and preserve our nation's hunting, shooting and conservation heritage for generations to come. CSF will keep you apprised as this process moves forward.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sportsmen and Animal Owners Endorse Jason Plummer

The Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance (SAOVA) endorses Jason Plummer for Illinois congressional district 12. SAOVA’s Director Susan Wolf indicated that Plummer is a candidate who could make a substantial difference in Washington effectively advocating for the rights and livelihoods of agricultural producers, sportsmen, and animal owners. "We can be assured that Illinois residents will be well represented by Jason Plummer."

Monday, September 24, 2012

HR 835 PUPS Call to action September 24, 2012

A SAOVA message to sportsmen, pet owners and farmers concerned about protecting their traditions, avocations and livelihoods from anti-hunting, anti-breeding, animal guardianship advocates. Forwarding and cross posting, with attribution, encouraged.

Dear SAOVA friends,

Members of Congress are returning home to campaign for the upcoming November election. We know that the HSUS and its animal rights allies never stop lobbying for their agenda, but lately they have been working overtime.

This past week HSUS secured 8 additional cosponsors for the PUPS bill (HR 835):
Rep. Peter Roskam (R, IL6) - 9/14/2012
Rep. Karen Bass (D, CA33) - 9/19/2012
Rep. Frank Guinta (R, NH1) - 9/19/2012
Rep. Lamar Smith (R, TX21) - 9/19/2012
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D, LA2) - 9/20/2012
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R, CA50) - 9/20/2012
Rep. Jim Cooper (D, TN5) - 9/20/2012
Rep. John Culberson (R, TX7) - 9/21/2012

The total number of cosponsors now stands at 213. As of this writing, there are still 32 cosponsors on the companion Senate bill, S707, with the most recent cosponsor added January 2012.

The HSUS byline for PUPS is that the legislation will close a loophole in the AWA that allows thousands of commercial breeders to go unregulated. HSUS also disingenuously tells members of Congress and the public that “the bill will not affect small breeders and hobby breeders … the bill is crafted to cover only large commercial breeding facilities.”

PUPS is NOT what supporters claim. HSUS/ASPCA promote PUPS as reasonable, but examination of the bill easily shows it is unneeded, overarching in scope and will adversely affect dog sportsmen, responsible breeders, rescue organizations, hunting and field dog trainers, and working dog kennels.

Bill supporters justify the bill by pointing to known AWA violators described in the May 2010 Office of the Inspector General’s report. Like the proposed APHIS rule, PUPS would overextend limited USDA/APHIS resources by regulating small, private kennels rather than concentrate on a solution to the cited problem.

PUPS is based on ownership of just ONE “breeding female dog” which is defined as an intact female *4 months of age or older* and sales of 50 dogs or puppies per year regardless of age or whether they were bred by the seller.

PUPS changes the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and USDA responsibility forever by granting authority for federal regulation to extend beyond commercial dog businesses and into private homes.

PUPS sets precedent by mandating specific exercise requirements in private homes exceeding those currently required for laboratory animals. Setting government controlled exercise standards lays the groundwork for regulation of socialization and breeding standards and is an unwarranted federal intrusion into the private husbandry practices of dog breeders. Agricultural organizations raised a loud alarm over the HSUS initiated Egg Products bill which would set cage sizes and standards, calling this a “farm takeover bill” that would open the door to government regulation of farming operations. PUPS exercise mandate represents this same unreasonable level of government over-regulation and should be strongly opposed.


The upcoming election will decide many national policy issues that are at the forefront of conversation and current campaign speeches. Sportsmen and dog breeders must make government overreach into our homes, hobbies, and businesses part of that conversation. Download the SAOVA Congressional handout for talking points

Call your Congressman or visit him at your local office while he is home before the election. Find contact information:

EDUCATE your Congressman on the true impacts of HR 835. This is NOT a bill your Congressman should support. Full analysis at the SAOVA website

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Saturday, September 15, 2012

State Hunters Face a Future of Restriction

Note: The Governor has until Sept. 30 to veto the bill.

By John Wildermuth. Journalist and Political Commentator
Friday, September 14th, 2012

Patience is a sadly unappreciated virtue in politics. Just ask the folks involved in the current slow-motion effort to restrict hunting in California.

Not ban hunting, mind you, because there’s no way animal rights groups like PETA, the Humane Society of the United States and their allies can find the votes for that.

But, like the old story about the frog that never realized he was being boiled because the water was heated bit by bit, small changes can make a big difference, if you’re patient. Full article

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Salazar announces national increase in hunters, anglers

By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel - Aug. 15, 2012 1:42 p.m.

Reversing a decades-long downturn, the number of hunters and anglers in America increased by about 10% over the last five years, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday in Milwaukee by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” said Salazar.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9% while anglers grew by 11%.

Salazar made the announcement at the Urban Ecology Center's facility near Riverside Park. The Secretary's visit is part of a four-state swing through the Midwest to highlight recent conservation achievements as well as activities related to America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a program started under President Obama.

As part of the trip, Salazar is scheduled to announce the formal creation of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,500-acre project in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Salazar called the results of the outdoor recreation survey "outstanding news."

At the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted the national survey every five years since 1955. It is viewed as one of the nation’s most important wildlife-related recreation databases and the definitive source of information concerning participation and purchases associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.

The preliminary report shows nearly 38% of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is dedicated to connecting people and families with nature,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We look forward to continuing to work with the States, non-governmental organizations, and additional partners to help keep recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching going strong for people across America’s great outdoors."

Among the results announced Wednesday:

- In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6% of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34 billion on trips, equipment, licenses and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter.

Read the report here

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Exposing the Lies: United States Working Dog Foundation Editorial

Exposing the Lies Which USDA/APHIS Have Used to Attack America's Supply of Working Dogs.
by United States Working Dog Foundation. on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 3:57pm

Happy Sunday. Here's a gift of evidence. From the United States Working Dog Foundation. To everyone who is fed up with the deception, obfuscation, and flat-out lies which have permeated the USDA/APHIS rulemaking process otherwise known as “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Docket No. APHIS-2011-003 Proposed Rule."

Also known by true subject matter experts as this: The RADICAL REVISION of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) relentlessly lobbied for by the animal rights activist group the "Humane" (insert your own joke here) Society of the United States (HSUS). Which has gotten shot down twice in Congress, and once in the courts.

All SMART decisions. But you know HSUS. They just won't take no for an answer. And God knows, they won't let morality, truth, or the system our Founding Fathers constructed get in their way. No way. As a matter of fact, here's what the "Humane" Society of the United States does best.

They take our Bill of Rights. And set it on fire. Burn it to the ground. And keep moving on. Talk about a scorched earth policy.

If you aren't outraged by the "Humane" Society of the United States yet, it's time you wake up. Would you like to know how many places and ways they have torched the Bill of Rights? And the list of legislators who were their accomplices? We'll come back to that.

More at facebook link

Investigate USDA/APHIS and Stop Proposed Rule to Regulate Pet Sellers

Friday, August 3, 2012

APHIS Rule Update - Sign the NEW petition

SAOVA friends,

We’ve been beating the drum since May to raise awareness and opposition against the APHIS Proposed Rule which will severely impact tens of thousands of dog, cat, and small animal breeders.

A number of ag sites, including Drovers/CattleNetwork news source and the Pork Network, have recently carried the commentary and opposition statement from the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Their statement reads, “The Animal Agriculture Alliance opposes the proposed change to the definition of “pet retail store” as it has the potential to expand burdensome regulations on some farm operations, negatively impact youth agriculture programs, and expand federal inspector access beyond the scope of USDA’s authority on livestock farms.” Read more..

Also this week The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, as part of its Sporting Dog Defense Coalition, posted their intent to submit comments to APHIS concerning the proposed rule. Jeremy Rine explains that the rule matters to sportsmen “because it is part of the BIG animal rights "divide and conquer" strategy. Each effort by these groups is meant to regulate more and more dog owners, not just the "puppy mills" they claim to be after. Their next move could be removing the hunting dog breeder exemption altogether.”

The comment period for the proposed APHIS rule regulating retail sellers ends on August 15.

Sportsmen and hunters please do not sit this one out! After decades of battling the HSUS anti-hunting agenda you should know this animal rights game by heart. HSUS will not rest until sportsmen, houndsmen, animal owners and producers alike are crushed by regulation. Surely you remember the quote from HSUS leader, Wayne Pacelle, “Our opponents say that hunting is a tradition. We say traditions can change.”

Considering how furiously the animal rights lobby is attacking from all sides this year, the quote could just as easily read, “Our opponents say that animal husbandry is a tradition … we say traditions can change.”

Post comments against the rule directly at the federal portal.

Add your organization to the SAOVA Opposition List. Send an email signed by an officer of the organization stating opposition to Susan Wolf: Please include organization's address.

SIGN THE NEW PETITION. Ask Congress to INVESTIGATE APHIS and the process by which it submitted this Proposed Rule to regulate pet sellers — and request this Proposed Rule be withdrawn. APHIS did not fulfill its statutory duty as required by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to perform an adequate assessment of the impact of the Rule, consult with the appropriate agencies, or provide reliable information to the public for purposes of a public comment period. Petition is at

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USDA Threatens Small Business Owner with $450,000 in Fines

Without much fanfare, Dean Moyer has raised gerbils and hamsters for 12 years. He’s sold them to distributors who, in turn, have sold them to pet store owners across the country. Chances are good that the pet hamster your neighbor’s kid always carries in his hand came from Moyer’s Sand Valley Farms, Inc. But that could change soon if the folks at the USDA have their way.

“Basically, the USDA just wants me to close up,” Moyer said. “They just want me to get out of the hamster business.”

After an inspection by two individuals, including one veterinarian, from Youngstown, Ohio rather than his local inspector, Moyer received a letter from USDA advising him they found 45 violations for which he could be fined $10,000 each - or $450,000.

Full story at Bob

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran calls foul on USDA Meatless Monday effort

DC Caller. By Caroline May

On Wednesday, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran called on Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to explain why the agency’s employee newsletter encouraged them to not eat meat and participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative for the environment.

Read more

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

USDA “Meatless Mondays” Uproar

Ag Wired. Posted on July 25, 2012 by Cindy

An internal USDA Greening Update newsletter that promotes “Meatless Mondays” caused a bit of an uproar on Wednesday.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a news release linking to the newsletter and questioning USDA’s commitment to the livestock industry. The newsletter talked about various “greening” initiatives by the agency and suggested that “one simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative.” But it didn’t stop there:

The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.

Within an hour after the NCBA release went out, USDA pulled the newsletter from the initial link and a statement was sent out by USDA press secretary Courtney Rowe. “Today, we have received a number of inquiries regarding a rumor that USDA is encouraging “Meatless Mondays,” she wrote, adding a statement from an unnamed USDA spokesperson that “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

The offending document was found on another link, and you can read the whole thing here where we uploaded it to our server. Just deleting the document from the link does not address this issue at all, since this is an internal newsletter that was sent to USDA employees. That makes this more than a “rumor.” While the Secretary may have been unaware of this gaffe and it may not be “official” USDA policy, the message has been sent to USDA employees that meat is bad for the environment. Not only does this have to be pulled, action should be taken against whoever wrote it and an immediate retraction should be made in a new “Greening Update.”

This is animal activism in a government agency that should be supporting all of agriculture and it is unacceptable.

Sacramento restaurants find loopholes in foie gras ban

Banning foie gras ended up being a boon for its popularity.

The state's July 1 ban on foie gras was supposed to prevent the fatty goose or duck liver from being served at California restaurants. Instead, foie gras has become more popular, and enforcement of the new law has been nearly nonexistent.

Sacramento chefs and others from around California are exposing loopholes in the law, making foie gras fairly easy to find in restaurants despite its blacklisted status. You can find it served at such restaurants as The Kitchen in Sacramento, where foie gras is treated as a complimentary item – not officially for sale and technically, some say, not illegal.

"There's more interest in foie gras now than ever," said Randall Selland, executive chef and owner of The Kitchen. "If you ask to try it, we'll let you have some. It won't be on the menu and there's no extra charge."

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese with a funnel and long tube to create an engorged liver, a process known as gavage. Though foie gras has deep roots in France's culinary traditions, gavage has been outlawed in a number of European countries. The California ban was instituted in 2004 with the passage of SB 1520, and given a 7 1/2-year sunset for the law to take effect.

Some California chefs stocked up on foie gras before the ban took effect, with plans to offer it after July 1 as a complimentary item and duck the letter of the law.

"We know what the rules are, but we have enough to last a couple of months," said Selland. "We're waiting to see how this pans out and how it can be done. There's a multitude of ways to do it." Full story at Sacramento Bee

Thursday, July 19, 2012

APHIS rule update

SAOVA friends,

We should never underestimate the resolve of animal rights organizations to bring an end to animal ownership and breeding as we know it today. I trust all our readers have been following the progress of the APHIS proposed rule for regulating retail pet sellers. The rule is widely promoted by HSUS, ASPCA, PETA, ALDF and others as merely closing a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and a means to run puppy mills out of business. Never forget that in the eyes of these radical groups and their brainwashed followers we are all irresponsible puppy mills. More than two decades ago, HSUS developed campaign materials promoting a moratorium on breeding cats and dogs and guidelines for mandatory spay/neuter laws. PETA stated long ago, “There is no such thing as a responsible breeder”; and went on to say, “Simply put, for every puppy or kitten who is deliberately produced by any breeder, an animal in an animal shelter dies.”

This week the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) weighed in on the APHIS rule. Their submitted comment should be a wakeup call to anyone who holds the illusion that any part of this rule is necessary or that a compromise should be negotiated.

After the tried and true AR-speak statement that “puppy mills produce an estimated two to four million puppies each year often in deplorable and inhumane conditions”, ALDF proceeds to support the rule as a beginning and highlight their ideas for additional steps needed. To summarize, ALDF opposed any expanded exemption from three to four breeding females for dog, cat, and small animal breeders; requested automatic license suspensions for repeat offenders; requested automatic confiscation of distressed animals.

Finally, ALDF requests the AWA be amended by Congress to allow private right of action for enforcement with fee shifting provision. ALDF suggests to APHIS that allowing third parties to file suit against violators would enhance enforcement process and at the same time remove some of the agency’s cost burden. The ALDF comment can be viewed online at the Federal Register.

The comment period for the proposed APHIS rule regulating retail sellers has been extended until August 15. If you value your right to own and breed dogs without federal restrictions, please continue to submit comments and encourage clubs and businesses to do the same.

Again, encourage organizations and businesses to join the SAOVA Opposition List. To add your organization's name, send an email signed by an officer of the organization stating opposition to: Susan Wolf Please include organization's address.

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Video targets hog production practices

An expert panel viewing the video stated that much of the narration was not supported by the video footage, the animal handling practices were humane and supported by both the American Veterinary Medical Assn. and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the animal behavior that the video asserted was evidence of abuse was actually natural behavior.

7/18/12 Rod Smith. Feedstuffs

Mercy for Animals, an animal protection organization which promotes vegetarianism, has released an undercover video filmed at a hog production farm in Hanska, Minn., showing alleged animal abuse, including sows housed in individual stalls, piglets being killed by workers by slamming their heads against concrete flooring and piglets having their tails cut off and testicles ripped off without pain killers.

The video was filmed with a hidden camera at the Christensen Farms operations in Hanska and was narrated by Bob Barker, an animal welfare advocate and former host of "The Price Is Right."

The video was posted at Mercy for Animals' web site July 16 and a public announcement was made July 18.

It prompted the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) to pull together an expert panel of animal scientists to review the tape and narration.

It was timed to coincide with an announcement by Costco Wholesale Corp. and Kmart that they are implementing new procurement policies to purchase pork from only stall-free suppliers by 2022, and it was used to encourage Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to implement a similar strategy.

Animal protection organizations say sow stalls are a particularly abhorrent production practice that confines gestating sows in stalls large enough for the animals to only lay down and stand up and leads to health and welfare problems. Full story

Saturday, July 14, 2012

APHIS Comment Period Extended to August 15

7/13/12. APHIS ANNOUNCEMENT. "We are is extending the comment period for our proposed rule that would revise the definition of retail pet store and related regulations to bring more pet animals sold at retail under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). We are also announcing the availability of a revised factsheet regarding our proposal. These actions will allow interested persons additional time to prepare and submit comments."

Links to the Docket, suggested comments, various articles, and the SAOVA Opposition List can be found at the SAOVA website. Please continue to spread the word. The rule needs to be withdrawn in its entirety. Comment at the Federal Register portal, write your Congressmen, and join the SAOVA Opposition List.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kudos to Rep. Steve King's Amendment to the Farm Bill

In more specific news about the House Ag Committee markup earlier this week, Chris Clayton reported yesterday at the DTN Ag Policy Blog that, “In a shot against state ballot initiatives on agricultural production standards, the committee adopted an amendment thatprevents states from denying the trade of an agricultural product from another state based on its means of production.

“Committee members got into the details of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution and the way it may be usurped by state ballot initiatives on issues such as pork gestation or egg production. The amendment goes after the spreading use of such state ballot measures.

“Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who introduced the amendment, characterized it as a ‘protect interstate commerce amendment’ by prohibiting states from regulating the means of production over a particular farm product. King cited issues such as pork production, eggs and cages for hens and expressed concern that states adopting such laws on production standards would restrict shipping of those products from other states.”

Speaking on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams, Senior Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, Mary Kay Thatcher, indicated that the King Amendment was “the Amendment of the Farm Bill yesterday.” To listen to a portion of Ms. Thatcher’s remarks on this issue from yesterday’s AgriTalk show, just click here (MP3- 1:27).

To listen to the full discussion leading up to the vote on the King Amendment that took place Wednesday night during the House Ag Committee markup, just click here (MP3- 23:00). The clip includes remarks from Reps. Steve King (R., Iowa), Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.),Dennis Cardoza (D., Calif.), Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.), Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), Mike Conaway (R., Tex.), and Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.).
The audio clip is a bit lengthy, but the discussion regarding the King Amendment was interesting and educational. Source:, Inc.

Related: Rep. King statement on the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA) Amendment

Thursday, July 12, 2012

HSUS sends notices of plans to sue 51 pork producers

In its continuing campaign to disrupt animal agriculture, HSUS is now preparing to file suits against a number of North Carolina, Iowa, and Oklahoma pork producers. Does your Congressman understand the real HSUS agenda?

Feedstuffs. Rod Smith 7/11/2012
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) gave notice this afternoon that it plans to file lawsuits against 51 large-scale pork producers in North Carolina, Iowa and Oklahoma for unreported ammonia releases into the environment.

HSUS said it identified the alleged offenders "after months of research" and said the companies emit "hundreds of pounds" of ammonia per day, endangering farm animals, wildlife, the environment and rural communities.

"It was no surprise," HSUS said, that many of the producers who will receive notices are affiliated with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the trade group representing the U.S. pork industry that defends the use of gestation stalls for pregnant sows, a practice that HSUS finds abhorrent and is seeking to end.

The letters of notice are required under the federal Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act before litigation can start.

HSUS recognized that there are producers who are "attentive" to animal welfare and environmental issues, but said some of the wealthiest producers "apparently refuse to comply with critical" public health laws.

In response to "notices" sent today to 51 pork producers by HSUS, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said late this afternoon it is reviewing the allegations, but regardless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is itself still evaluating air emissions data from livestock and poultry operations to develop "a better understanding" of emission rates.

NPPC said it is important to note that HSUS is not alleging environmental harm but paperwork violations of EPA's emissions reporting rule that has created widespread confusion, including one state's claim that EPA notices are "an internet hoax."

NPPC said the notices represent "another scare tactic" to get NPPC "to back off" its opposition to the HSUS-United Egg Producers agreement on hen housing and the congressional legislation that would codify the agreement into law, as well as NPPC's efforts to correct the record on the HSUS "truth-twisting campaign" against producers who use gestation stalls for pregnant sows.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alliance Adds Balance to Antibiotic Resistance Discussion

July 5, 2012 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance joined 15 other agricultural organizations today in submitting a letter to Congress in response to the recent Consumers Union report on the use of antibiotics in animal production. Read the full letter here.

The coalition wrote:
“We strongly believe consumers deserve a choice when it comes to their meat and poultry purchases. However, consumers can make an informed choice through balanced information about the challenges, benefits and realities of the various approaches to raising and processing livestock and poultry. We do not believe it serves the consumer to stigmatize certain production systems to boost others.”

Other organizations that signed on to the letter include the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Health Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the North American Meat Association.

The Alliance previously addressed the Consumers Union report in a blog post dated June 26. Additional resources explaining the role that antibiotics and other animal health products play in producing safe food can be found on the Alliance’s website.

Additionally, on July 5, the Alliance sent a letter to the editor in response to a July 1 Washington Post editorial that oversimplified the complex problem of antibiotic resistance. Read the full letter here.

Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith wrote:
“Calling for “Meat Without Drugs” to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals may sound like a good idea, but the very title is misleading and inflammatory. Our meat and poultry supply is already “without drugs.” When farm animals are sometimes treated to prevent or control disease, a strict withdrawal period is followed to ensure that the end products are safe.

The claim that 80 percent of antibiotics are used on farm animals is unsubstantiated. Fully 40 percent of animal antibiotics are compounds not used in human medicine. FDA has initiated a process ensuring that all medically-important antibiotics will be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for therapeutic purposes.”

The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide consumers with high-quality food products.

About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual farmers, ranchers, producers, organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, scientists, veterinarians and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the importance of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, vitality and security. Find the Alliance on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oppose APHIS proposed licensing of pet sellers

APHIS has proposed regulation for pet sellers who own 5 or more intact females and sell pets remotely by any means. For sellers, this means every transaction must take place with the buyer physically entering your premises. If you sell dogs, cats, rabbits, small exotic animals, or other small pets and cannot qualify for the revised narrow exemptions then you must obtain a federal license and meet set standards.

Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average retail seller. The average house cannot be converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal engineered standards for licensed facilities dictate enclosure sizes, sanitation, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals. Breeding stock is not allowed in your home. This means separate facilities for both breeding stock and puppies. It does not matter how well you think you care for your animals, Federal regulations are not flexible and do not allow for your own discretion. You must strictly adhere to what the regulations and your inspector say are acceptable equipment, care, and husbandry practices.

The rule will penalize many hard-working Americans caught up under this regulation who are not operating as true businesses. If required to hold a license, you can be fined by USDA simply for being at work and not being home to let the inspector onto your property.

Add your organization's name to SAOVA's Opposition List.
Send a strong message to Congress! Ask Congress to help stop this proposed rule.

Foie gras ban triggers California lawsuit

A Canadian duck-farming trade organization, a New York producer of duck delicacies and a Los Angeles restaurant group have joined together in a lawsuit to strike down a new California law prohibiting the sale of foie gras.

The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles maintains the law, which outlaws force-feeding birds for the purpose of enlarging their livers and selling products from force-fed birds, is unconstitutional, vague and interferes with federal commerce laws.

Michael Tenenbaum, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he also plans to ask the court for a preliminary injunction, which would freeze the law until it can be hashed out in court. He said the request would be made soon, but gave no further details.

The foie gras ban went into effect Sunday. More: at SFGate

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peterson Statement: Senate Approves 2012 Farm Bill

The Farm Bill with 73 amendments was approved with a 64-35 vote. Missing from the final list was amendment #2252 proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) which would codify an agreement made by the HSUS and the United Egg Producers. This amendment would have set the precedent to take husbandry standards out of the hands of experts and give control to the federal government.

For Immediate Release: June 21, 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., today made the following statement after the U.S. Senate approved the 2012 Farm Bill, “The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.”“Today is an important step to having a farm bill in place before the current bill expires this fall. I give high marks to Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts who did an excellent job securing bipartisan support and bringing the bill one step closer to completion. I’m not on board with everything they’ve done but think that we’ll be able to work out our differences in conference committee.“It is crucial that we finish the farm bill before the current bill expires in September. Waiting until the mess that will occur during the lame duck session will not only make it more difficult, but could also result in several unintended consequences. If the House Ag Committee passes a bipartisan bill in early July, House leadership will then have little choice but to bring the farm bill to the floor before the August recess. I’m continuing to work with Chairman Lucas and members of the Committee to make this happen.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

STOP the proposed APHIS RULE in Three Easy Steps!


Once again, we face a fundamental threat to our right to animal ownership in the United States. USDA, through its bureaucratic agency APHIS, is proposing a new regulation to require that ALL pet breeders who have five or more intact females and sell pets outside of the area where they were bred (i.e. online or at a tradeshow) obtain a USDA license and come into compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.

That means if you sell even ONE animal outside of the premises of your breeding facility, you will be required to spend thousands of dollars complying with the AWA and to open your business for USDA inspection. As you know, small breeders cannot afford these onerous regulatory burdens. MANY small American breeding businesses will be bankrupted by this rule, and MANY American jobs will be lost. We have also engaged our attorneys and experts at Olsson, Frank, and Weeda to provide a legal opinion and flowchart for your reference.


The Cavalry Group, a member-based organization which supports and defends the Constitutional rights of American animal owners, has prepared a plan of action to DEFEAT THIS RULE. If you do nothing else, please complete Step 1, as political pressure from Congress will have a HUGE effect on the decision made by USDA. Steps 2 and 3, however, are also important parts of our program. These easy steps should take no more than a few minutes of your time and could very well save your business!

Step 1: Contact your Congressman Congress determines the levels of funding for USDA and APHIS. When a Congressman calls, USDA is sure to answer. We need to let OUR Congressmen know that we do not support this rule, and that its passage would cost their district JOBS. The Cavalry Group has developed a sample letter and contact form to make this process as simple as possible. Remember it is always best to customize your letter and make it personal. Follow this link here and TAKE ACTION NOW!

Step 2: File a Comment with USDA APHIS is required by federal law to accept and respond to any comments about the proposed rule that are submitted. The Cavalry Group has provided an easy to use guide to commenting on proposed rules. We need to let the bureaucrats know how this rule will affect our businesses! Follow this link and comment today!

Step 3: Contact Secretary Vilsack Everyone knows 2012 is an election year. We need to let the current administration know that putting pet breeders out of business is not the way to turn this economy around! The Cavalry Group has prepared a sample letter and contact form to get our message to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Follow this link and send a letter today!

The Cavalry Group believes that American citizens have the right to raise and sell animals without federal agents regularly snooping through their property. If everyone follows the above steps and lets their elected representatives know that we can raise our own animals without help from the nannies in Washington DC, we will DEFEAT this rule and deal a major blow to the enemies of American agriculture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not what it's cracked up to be

USA Today
By Bob Stallman

One of America's favorite breakfast staples could soon become a lot more expensive, whether scrambled, poached or boiled. If the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 become law, consumers will have no choice but to pay the price.

OUR VIEW: Deal on hen cages shows the way

Conventionally produced eggs, the most popular type, represent more than 90% of eggs purchased by consumers. U.S. farmers produce eggs in a variety of hen housing systems, from humane, science-based conventional systems to more expensive and labor intensive options such as cage-free, free-range and organic eggs. Farmers who produce for these markets are already providing consumers a marketplace choice.

Eliminating conventionally produced eggs would needlessly raise the price for everyone and deny cost-conscious consumers the opportunity to purchase eggs that are not only humanely produced but also more affordable.

The measure would replace decades of science-based animal care with a strict mandate for on-farm egg production. The bill creates a precedent for pointless federal government intrusion on all livestock and poultry farms across the country, while pre-empting state law and regulation.

This bill is fueled by the ruthless political goals of an animal rights group. The overblown rhetoric deployed against conventional egg production is shameless.

The top priority of people who work with farm animals daily is to raise healthy animals, which results in healthy and affordable food for Americans. Publicly funded research has provided improved housing and animal care standards over the past several decades, and farmers have steadily adopted these improvements.

Heavy-handed government mandates will impose significant hardships on America's egg farmers and raise the cost of one of the most affordable and nutritious foods. There's just no way to put a sunny side on another bad idea from Washington.

Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle farmer in Colombus, Texas, is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Related articles:
Opposition to Proposed Congressional Egg Bill Builds
Ads fly over egg bill
Georgia Farm Bureau Opposes Egg Bill

Sunday, June 10, 2012

RPOA Texas Outreach Alert - APHIS Proposed Rule

From RPOA Texas Outreach and Responsible Pet Owners Alliance
Crossposting is encouraged.
June 7, 2012 Immediate Action Required!

This alert can also be found under the Action Alert Button on our website:

URGE WITHDRAWAL OF USDA "Document ID APHIS-2011-0003-0001," a proposal to regulate home breeding of all species of pets! This is a far reaching proposal that will have tremendous implications for all pet/animal owners, who are the real stakeholders regarding this proposal - not breeders. It is an overreach of the federal government that will result in an exodus of responsible pet breeders and lead to a shortage of healthy, well bred, well socialized pets.

For over 40 years, ANYONE selling, at retail, the following animals from their homes for use as pets has been considered a "retail pet store" and exempt from USDA licensing: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and cold-blooded species. APHIS is seeking comments regarding changes to this longstanding definition of "retail pet store." Large scale breeders selling wholesale to pet shops are already required to be USDA licensed.

ALSO AFFECTED: Rescuers, their foster homes, service animals, guide dogs for the blind, sportsmen, military dogs, and many other groups that "sell" animals. When asked about these recently during the APHIS Teleconference Call, Kevin Shea, with USDA, said: "If they [the animals] are sold, they come under this rule."

Due to a widespread public outcry, the Department of Labor recently withdrew a proposal which would have restricted children's chores on family farms. With your help, we could do the same with this proposal. Per USDA: The sale of "one" pet away from the breeder's home would result in a violation requiring the breeder to be USDA licensed!

HSUS fingerprints are all over this and they are aware that USDA regulations can't be met in the home setting of hobby breeders. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and David Vitter (R-LA), both PAWS sponsors, told media that they had written to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in October 2011, urging USDA to "close this unnecessary loophole through regulatory action, rather than requiring additional congressional action." The "loophole" referred to is selling pets on websites and claiming this is "sight unseen." Not always true! Reputable rescuers and breeders both have pictures, video and sometimes sound on their websites and are already regulated with Animal Cruelty Laws at the local and state level.

CHOICES under the proposed rules to "remain exempt" from the Animal Welfare Act:

1) The buyer MUST ALWAYS come to your home at least once per sale. No limits on any numbers but one violation of a sale off premises, and USDA licensing is mandated.
2) OR "maintain" four or less "breeding female animals." Sell their offspring directly to consumer only. Allows pet sales away from home.
3) OR get a USDA License.

USDA says they have no definition for "breeding females" at the present time. IMPACT: Economic impact would be disastrous to veterinarians, giant corporations, and small businesses that depend upon pet ownership for sales of pet food, pet supplies, pet animals, grooming, boarding, training for pets and much more. These regulations will affect thousands of caring, ethical hobby breeders who will shut down their breeding programs in protest.

1) E-mail your elected U.S. senators and representatives. Find your elected U.S. Representatives from Texas at . Type your address in the Search Box and your U.S. senators' and representatives' names will come up. Click on their name and send an email. Copy and paste any of this information.
2) Separate comments must be made to USDA/APHIS before July 16, 2012 11:59 PM ET. However our elected legislators have more power than our personal comments will ever have:
Go to:!submitComment;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001
Multiple comments may be made. USDA wants to know how this regulation will affect you and mistakenly assumes that breeders are the only ones affected. All pet owners are the "stakeholders" here and healthy, well-bred, socialized pets will be more expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to find. Personalize your message. Involve friends and family.
3) Educate everyone as to the economic impact of this proposal if it passes.
4) Forward this alert to your personal veterinarians and state legislators to expose the national HSUS Legislative Agenda to regulate pet ownership out of existence. Your personal state legislators can be found at: with the Search Box (by address).
5) Contact USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Information Hotline (202) 720-2791 and request that this proposal be withdrawn.

ENFORCEMENT: USDA is under fire for lax enforcement of existing law and cannot support expansion of their duties. APHIS' Regulatory Impact Analysis is heavily flawed and greatly underestimates the number (1500) of new licensed facilities to be caught up in this national net. Christine Jones (USDA) says: "It will be a multi-faceted approach: complaints received, self-reporting and facilities coming forward ..." "Animal Rights" extremists will flood APHIS with complaints!

WHY WE DON'T WANT UNINVITED PERSONS IN OUR HOMES: 1) Unannounced federal employees conducting inspections. 2) Shoes carry diseases (especially Parvo Virus, deadly to puppies). 3) Harassment and vandalism from "animal rights" fanatics. 4) Danger of stolen dogs or property by visitors sizing up facilities and security.

Surveys for APHIS Comments

The ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) Legislative Committee has drafted (and paid for) two surveys to complete for comments on the proposed new APHIS/USDA rule - one for breeders, one for owners. The surveys are very brief. Please take a moment to participate if you have not done so already. Surveys may be closed on June 15th unless ASCA decides differently.

Survey for breeders (or any owner of intact bitches) and the link is

Survey for anyone who has acquired a dog in the last 10 years and the link for that is

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CALL TO ACTION: Comments needed - USDA/APHIS retail pet seller rule change

As you know by now, APHIS proposes to revise the definition of "retail pet store" to bring more pet animals sold at retail under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensing and regulations. APHIS plans to narrow the definition of retail pet store so that it means a PLACE OF BUSINESS OR RESIDENCE THAT EACH BUYER PHYSICALLY ENTERS in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase. Under the proposed rule no dog or other pet animal will be sold at retail WITHOUT either public or APHIS oversight. This is the critical point.


- For decades pet sellers in the retail sector have enjoyed immunity from federal licensing under the definition of a “retail pet store”. Historically retail sellers were not licensed by the federal government due to the general ability of the public to provide their own scrutiny of pet sellers and government concerns such as duplicative efforts with state or local laws.

- The proposed rule change has been circulated in the media and by HSUS as “closing an Internet loophole” in the AWA that will bring regulation to unscrupulous dog breeders who operate in substandard conditions. Far from it!! The broad scope of the proposed rule could bring hundreds of thousands of pet retailers and rescuers of domestic animals under federal regulation.

- A breeder/seller of any species currently covered under the “retail pet store” definition can potentially lose their exemption and be required to obtain a federal license for even occasionally selling sight unseen via the Internet. “Covered” species includes dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds.

- The proposed rule would require EVERY SINGLE BUYER to physically visit a retailer’s premises. Therefore selling even one pet OFF PREMISES at a show, at a park, or arranged location without the buyer visiting first, will result in loss of an exemption from federal licensing. Rescue organizations are NOT exempt from this proposed rule. Selling pets at an adoption day event away from their base location or traveling to meet potential adopters would no longer be permitted without a federal license. This proposed requirement places undue limitations on buyers as well as sellers.

- Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average retail seller. Spare rooms in homes, porches, covered kennel runs, and barns can never be converted to a USDA-compliant facility. Federal engineered standards for licensed facilities dictate enclosure sizes, sanitation, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals. Most residential environments would not permit zoning variances for such facilities.

- Exemptions from licensing are limited. Breeders of cats, dogs, and small exotic animals are currently exempt if they have 3 or fewer breeding females. APHIS proposes to increase this to 4 or fewer breeding females. However, either limit makes it very difficult to build a breeding program without constantly moving out or spaying older females to make room for the next generation. To have more than this number of breeding females requires a license.

- There is still an exemption for sellers who derive less than $500 gross income from the sale of other animals (this does not include dogs, cats, and exotic or wild animals).

- The massive expansion of regulatory responsibilities into the private sector outlined in the proposed rule is not only impractical but unaffordable for an agency that is currently addressing serious budget challenges. For the past several years, APHIS’ budget has been shrinking; since 2010 the budget has decreased by roughly 10 percent. The 2013 submitted budget calls for an additional decrease of 6.6%.


OPPOSE adoption of this proposed rule. APHIS needs to hear most from those who are likely to be affected by the rule. Are you already licensed under local or state law and would federal regulation be a duplicate effort? Explain briefly how the rule will impose costs on your breeding program and activities and whether this will cause you to cease or limit your hobby or operations.

Suggested comments are available at the SAOVA website and can be customized. Submit a separate comment for each point you wish to make in opposition to the rule. Comment period ends July 16, 2012.

Post comments at the APHIS portal
Send a copy of your comment to Congressman and reference Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003
Directory of Representatives
Directory of Senators

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION can be found at PIJAC and at the Cat Fanciers Association.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Durbin, Vitter urge regulatory action from Vilsack

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and David Vitter (R-LA), long time supporters of HSUS and its agenda, go to bat yet again for this radical animal rights group. HSUS bill sponsors Durbin and Vitter seek to circumvent Congress in order to impose federal regulation on dog - and other small animal breeders - in the private sector.

In October 2011, Durbin and Vitter wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to urge USDA to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) through regulatory action, rather than requiring congressional action.

The proposed rule was announced May 10, 2012. Applauding USDA for taking this step, Durbin states, "Today's announcement by the USDA brings much needed oversight to the previously unregulated puppy mills raising puppies under terrible conditions. This rule will put an end to a loophole in the law that was being exploited by large, negligent puppy breeders ..."

Contrary to Durbin's claims, the proposed rule triggers licensing for anyone with 5 or more intact female dogs, cats and small exotic mammals sold as pets - hardly what anyone other than an animal rights activist could term to be a large puppy mill. The scope of the proposed rule is so broad, it captures thousands of individuals who were never intended to be in the scope of the AWA.

Article: Durbin, Vitter commend USDA rule to regulate online puppy sales

Thursday, May 17, 2012

USDA/APHIS Notice of Rulemaking Posted

SAOVA friends,

Historically retail sellers of dogs, cats, and small animal such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, domestic ferrets, and others for use as pets have been considered part of the “retail pet store” exemption and therefore are not required to procure federal licensing. This week APHIS posted a Notice of Rulemaking to revise the retail pet store definition. According to APHIS, the purpose is to modernize the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and allow federal oversight for pets being sold sight unseen via the Internet. The proposed rule will change the definition of retail pet store so that it limits the exemption to only business and residences where buyers physically enter to observe the animals available for sale as pets prior to purchasing them.

Basically the new rules present breeders with few choices: Sell all dogs, cats, and listed small animals only to buyers who physically enter your premises, reduce and maintain the number of breeding females to four (4) including co-ownerships and dogs, cats, etc. shared with family members; OR obtain a license under the Animal Welfare Act, build a federally compliant facility, and allow APHIS inspectors to inspect your homes and facilities.

Selling even one pet off premise via shipping, at a friend's home, at a show, at a park, will result in loss of an exemption from licensing, placing limitations on both buyers and sellers. The narrow limits of the exemption restrict the ability of hobby breeders to work together remotely, sharing dog/cats from litters in order to implement their breeding programs and/or increase diversity in their lines.

This is a proposed rule by an agency, not a law Congress will vote on. The comment period is only for 60 days and APHIS needs to hear how this affects you.

APHIS cannot make a realistic analysis without understanding the dynamics of conflict with existing state/local ordinances and potential impact to small scale breeders that will be created by revising the current exemption.

The transcript of the teleconference hosted by APHIS as the proposed rule was announced should help explain coverage and limitations presented in the proposed rule. Additional information is available at the APHIS website.

A brief analysis is posted at the SAOVA website.


APHIS is seeking comments on the proposed rule on how best to target enforcement and whether exemptions should be maintained or expanded for smaller breeders. The proposed rule does not seek to change current standards for traditional retail pet stores, which are subject to individual state regulations.

Comments are due July 16, 2012 11:59 PM ET and may be submitted online by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal

Comments may also be mailed to: Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD, 20737-1238.

Please read the proposed rule carefully. We encourage cross posting of this message.

Susan Wolf

Thursday, May 10, 2012

USDA seeks change to regulate Internet and retail pet sales

Dear SAOVA Friends,

This afternoon USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) held a stakeholders conference call to announce a forthcoming proposal to revise its definition of “retail pet store”. APHIS states this proposal restores the definition to its original intent so that it limits the retail pet store exemption to only those places where buyers physically enter to observe the animals available for sale prior to purchasing them and where certain animals are sold or offered for sale at retail for use as pets. The definition of pet includes dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and coldblooded species.

To meet the exemption requirements for the newly defined retail pet store, buyers must be allowed to physically enter the retail seller’s place of business or residence in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase. In addition, breeders must have four or less breeding females and can only sell the offspring of the breeding females that were born and raised on their premises, and sold for pets or exhibition.

USDA/APHIS issued a press release this afternoon: USDA Proposes to Close Loophole on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health and Humane Treatment which can be found at this link:

The notice is scheduled for publication within a week in the Federal Register. The proposed rule and an FAQ are currently available at . Proposed Rule is Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD, 20737-1238.

Once the rule is published there will be a 60 day comment period. The APHIS Factsheet states: under the proposed rule, no dog or other pet animal will be sold at retail without either public or APHIS oversight.

Obviously this rulemaking proposal will have far reaching impacts on sportsmen, dog, cat, and small animal breeders. SAOVA will distribute further analysis and updates as the rule making process continues.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Praise for Domino’s Rejection of HSUS Proposal

US - Domino’s Pizza shareholders last Wednesday rejected – by a majority vote of 80 per cent – a resolution from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) requiring its pork suppliers to stop the use of gestation stalls. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) hailed the move as a vote for common sense.

Animal activist groups recently have influenced several prominent foodservice companies, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, to make poorly informed decisions on sow housing said the NPPC.

“The vote to reject the HSUS resolution was a vote for common sense,” said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. “We appreciate Domino’s belief that America’s farmers, veterinarians and other animal agriculture experts are better suited than activist groups to determine what the best animal care practices are.”

US pork producers care about their animals and rely on the experience and knowledge of animal care experts, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, when designing housing and handling their animals. These associations recognize both gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.

“Removing sow stalls has no demonstrable health or welfare benefits to animals,” said Dr Liz Wagstrom, NPPC chief veterinarian. “In fact, the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills – that is, the care given to each animal. There is no scientific consensus on the best way to house gestating sows because each type of housing system has inherent advantages and disadvantages.”

America’s pork farmers are committed to producing safe, affordable and healthy foods for consumers, using industry customs and practices that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts. Providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the We Care ethical principles to which US hog farmers adhere, said NPPC. ThePigSite News Desk

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Protesting the Circus

Long time HSUS hero, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), is the sponsor of HR 3359 that would prohibit animals from participating in traveling circus acts. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).

K Street Files: Protesting the Circus
By Kate Ackley Roll Call Staff @kackleyZ

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is in town, and so are animal-rights activists who are planning demonstrations outside of the Verizon Center starting today.

The wild animals on the circus circuit suffer from “confinement, physical and social deprivation, arduous journeys, brutal control methods and physical violence,” said a press release from the group Animal Defenders International.

But Ryan Henning, the circus’ assistant animal superintendent, said the animals receive the highest level of care “24-7.”

“We always invite everybody to come and see the show, up close and personal with the animals,” Henning said. “They can see how well all the animals are cared for.” full story

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Santorum the clear HSUS choice

The Marshall County Tribune headline reads, "Republican candidates differ on animal welfare" and contains a summary of the support and endorsements Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum has enjoyed from HSUS. The SAOVA archives list the series of "puppy mill" bills introduced by Santorum on behalf of HSUS from 2001 thru 2005. Santorum was defeated in his senate re-election campaign the year following his push for passage of the 2005 Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS). Archived legislation can be viewed at this link.

Michael Markarian, Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), blogged about the Presidential Candidates in December. Some of the candidates have since dropped out of the race. Regarding Santorum, Markarian says, "Of all the candidates who have served in Congress, Santorum was arguably the most active on animal protection issues."

On to the Tribune Commentary.

Republican candidates differ on animal welfare
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Marshall County Tribune
By Karen Hall
Staff Writer

As Tennesseans prepare to vote in the Republican presidential primary on "Super Tuesday," many are studying the candidates' positions on issues like employment, taxes, healthcare, and foreign relations.

It's also worth considering where they stand on animal rights, as Dennis Foster, executive director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, recently pointed out in an e-mail to members.

"Let me start by stating that the MFHA is not supporting any particular candidate," Foster wrote. "We do, however, believe we should keep you informed on those candidates that have Humane Society of the United States support and that support the animal rights agendas. This information comes right from HSUS's mouth and the candidates' voting records."

Foster goes on to say that HSUS supports President Obama, but they will back "any candidate that supports their hidden agendas."

Rick Santorum is supported by HSUS with money and endorsements. HSUS states he is the most active candidate in animal protection issues. Santorum has been a leader in introducing Pet Animal Welfare Statutes (PAWS), supposedly to eliminate so-called "Puppy Mills." In fact, according to Foster, such laws will have the effect of making it more expensive and difficult to own a dog, and almost impossible to maintain a kennel of hunting hounds.

Santorum was also one of those who voted to stop horse processing for food exports. The USA has thousands of horses let loose, neglected and suffering because nobody wants them and 140,000 horses each year are now going to Canada and Mexico for horse processing. This was brought to Tennessean's attention last month with the wreck of a trailer carrying 38 horses on I-40. Three horses were killed and traffic was at a standstill for hours. The surviving horses were picked up by another transporter and taken to Texas and sold to a Mexican meat-packing company, according to investigation by Nashville's WSMV-TV. Veterinarians refused permission for four injured horses to cross the border, and their fate remains unknown, according to the TV station.

"Santorum is HSUS's clear GOP choice," Foster concludes.
Full story at link

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Supreme Court Blocks California's Downer Livestock Law

by Helena Bottemiller | Jan 24, 2012
Food Safety News

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a California law on Monday that required the euthanization of downer livestock, to promote animal welfare and keep them out of the food supply.

In 2009, California enacted a ban on selling or slaughtering downer, or lame animals unable to walk, in response to undercover footage showing animal handlers abusing cows -- forcefully dragging and forklifting non-ambulatory animals -- in a San Bernadino County slaughterhouse. The video, released by the Humane Society, sparked consumer outrage and led to the nation's largest-ever meat recall.

Non-ambulatory cows are at a higher risk for BSE, or mad cow disease. The packer caught prodding downed animals into slaughter had also been supplying the National School Lunch Program.

California's law required meat processors to remove downed animals -- including pigs, goats, and sheep -- from the herd and euthanize them immediately. Federal law currently only prevents downer cows from being slaughtered.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act prohibits state regulation that goes above and beyond, or is different from the law, which has ruled over the meat industry since the beginning of the 20th century. The National Meat Association challenged the California's law, on behalf of pork producers, and a federal judge in Fresno, CA struck down the slaughter ban. The decision was later reversed by the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco. The judge called the lower opinion "hogwash."

In its decision released this week, the Supreme Court noted that the federal meat inspection law "expressly pre-empts" the California law's application to federally inspected pork facilities.

"The Supreme Court's ruling affirms the supremacy of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and USDA's role in regulating meat process plants," said NPPC President Doug Wolf, a hog farmer from Lancaster, WI. "It also recognized that non-ambulatory hogs with proper recovery time and veterinary oversight do not need to be condemned immediately in all cases."

Animal rights advocates argue that the California law would promote humane treatment and keep sick, weak animals out of the food supply. According to NMA, around 3 percent of pigs are non-ambulatory, or unable to walk, when they show up to the slaughterhouse.

"Non-ambulatory hogs that are allowed to recover pose no food-safety risk to the public," Wolf said. "Such pigs are inspected by USDA inspectors and veterinarians regarding their fitness for processing and entering the human food supply, and strong regulatory safeguards for humane treatment in the processing of animals already exist."

Related articles
North Country Times, EDITORIAL: The correct decision

Supreme Court Squashes California Downer Law