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Category: Puppy Mills

Missouri governor signs compromise on voter-approved Prop. B, 'Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act'

Puppy mill rescues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri officials pushed through new regulations for the state's dog breeders in a flurry of legislative activity Wednesday that started with Gov. Jay Nixon signing one bill repealing sections of a voter-approved dog-breeding law and ended with the governor signing another measure that implemented a deal between dog breeders and welfare groups.

The maneuvering was needed to pass a compromise on new rules for Missouri dog breeders that was brokered by Nixon's administration and supported by several state-based agriculture and animal-welfare groups. Nixon called the new legislation "a dramatic, important, significant step" that would improve the care of dogs while ensuring breeders can continue to operate. The industry has an estimated $1-billion impact in Missouri.

In the end, Nixon and lawmakers eliminated parts of the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" passed last November by voters, including a limit of 50 breeding dogs per business. Other portions were changed. The new law seeks potential middle ground on the specifics of the living-space requirements, and it gives breeders more time to comply with the new rules.

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Distemper outbreak in large-scale breeding operation in Kansas leads to mass euthanasia of dogs

OBERLIN, Kan. — An estimated 1,200 dogs at a Kansas kennel were euthanized after an outbreak in Wyoming of the highly contagious disease distemper was linked to the large-scale breeding operation.

Kansas Livestock Commissioner Bill Brown said the state started investigating the Beaver Creek Kennels near Oberlin in September after being contacted by Wyoming's state veterinarian about distemper cases at a pet store in Cheyenne.

Brown said Wednesday that the Kansas Animal Health Department quarantined the kennel twice after investigators confirmed several cases of distemper in puppies that were being sold out of state. When breeder Jeff Fortin couldn't sell dogs because of the quarantines, he ran out of money to pay staff members and take care of the animals.

"It became an economic situation, and consequently became a health, safety and welfare issue for the puppies," Brown said. "The owner couldn't feed his dogs, his help left, and health, safety and welfare became an even bigger issue."

Distemper, which is usually lethal, can be spread through contact with wildlife, as well as through other infected dogs.

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Missouri voters have their say on the state's controversial puppy-mill proposition

Puppy As voters across the country go to the polls, many animal lovers are watching one state in particular: Missouri, where debate has been raging for months over a proposition that would impose new regulations on large-scale dog breeding operations.

Proposition B, if approved, would mandate breeders who keep 10 or more female dogs "for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet" to provide for each:

-- Sufficient food and clean water;
-- Necessary veterinary care;
-- Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
-- Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down and fully extend his or her limbs;
-- Regular exercise; and
-- Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

It would also require that breeders keep no more than 50 unaltered dogs over the age of 6 months. (Read the full text, including definitions of the terms "sufficient," "necessary," "regular" and "adequate" for the purposes of the proposition, at the Missouri Secretary of State's website.) If approved, violations by breeders would be considered misdemeanor offenses and could carry a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine, according to the Associated Press.

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Tea Partiers barking mad over puppy-mill humane measure in Missouri

Pomeranians

The state of Missouri is known throughout the humane community as "puppy mill central," a state which by some reckonings is home to nearly a third of the nation's wretched breeding factories that churn out litter after litter of puppies that can be high-priced and sometimes less than healthy, from mothers that are kept like brood sows and wind up exhausted and ailing after delivering endless litters -- I know; I've adopted one or two of such poor exploited ladies.

Dog-loving groups have been hopeful that Missouri's Prop. B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, would help to put a stop to some of this, by requiring commercial breeders with more than 10 breeding females who produce puppies for the pet trade give those dogs clean facilities, enough food and water and exercise, and what I would call decent intervals between pregnancies.

Simple, right?

Well, not according to some. As reported on Talking Points Memo, Tea Partiers are claiming that this is a manifestation of the Humane Society's sinister plan. Some, including people who either can't read or won't read -- to paraphrase Mark Twain, the latter has the same disadvantage as the former -- are applying Tea Party politics to this, declaring that the Missouri measure saving animals from misery and exploitation is part of a "radical" agenda.

The group calls itself the Alliance for Truth -- don't you love the grandiose labels these groups bestow on themselves? -- and one member, astonishingly, told the TPM site that Prop. B supporters "don't like animals."

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San Francisco's proposed ban on sales of most pets creates a furor

Puppy and kitty

SAN FRANCISCO — As Philip Gerrie tells it, the idea of banning pet sales in San Francisco started simply enough, with a proposal to outlaw puppy and kitten mills.

West Hollywood had done it, with little fanfare. Why not the city of St. Francis, patron saint of animals, which prides itself on its compassion toward all creatures great and small?

So Gerrie, a beekeeper and secretary of the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control & Welfare, a seven-member advisory board on animal issues to the city's lawmakers, decided to suggest adding the idea to the commission's agenda.

"Then we came across the idea of adding small animals as well," Gerrie recalled, "since all these animals are being euthanized" by animal shelters.

The proposed ban on puppy and kitten mills became a proposed ban on the sale of just about every animal that might end up in a shelter: gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, hamsters, turtles, snakes, rats. Sales of rabbits and chicks are already banned in the city.

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May in animal news: Five questions with ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres

We're pleased to introduce a new feature here at Unleashed: Five questions with prominent members of the animal-protection movement. This month, leaders of several well-known organizations agreed to answer our five questions about what they view as the most important animal news in May and what animal lovers can watch for in the coming month. First in the hot seat is Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Sayres Unleashed: What do you view as the most important development in animal news to happen in May?

Ed Sayres: The Office of the Inspector General released a report last week detailing the United States Department of Agriculture's lax and ineffective enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act against licensed large-scale dog breeders and brokers known as "puppy mills."

The report found that despite regular inspections, breeders are allowed to operate facilities where dogs live in inhumane conditions -- kennels overflowing with pools of urine and feces, food laden with dead cockroaches, dogs infested with ticks, and unattended injuries such as a mutilated leg, among other atrocities -- without penalty.

I am not surprised by the findings. Our organization is painfully aware of the cruel conditions to which dogs are regularly subjected at the hands of puppy mill operators who put profit above providing the most fundamental standards of care.

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Government agency hasn't done enough to crack down on puppy mill abuses, report says

Puppy mill puppies

WASHINGTON — An internal government report says dogs are dying and living in horrific conditions due to lax government enforcement of large kennels known as puppy mills.

Investigators say the Department of Agriculture agency in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs. 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 that more than half of those who had already been cited for violations flouted the law again. It details grisly conditions at several facilities and includes photos of dogs with gaping wounds, covered in ticks and living among pools of feces.

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 suffering, and better train its inspectors to document, report and penalize wrongdoing.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that the department takes the report seriously and will force immediate action to improve enforcement, penalties and inspector training. He noted the investigation was conducted before his time in office and called it troubling.

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WebClawer: Original Labradoodle breeder regrets his role in 'designer dog' craze; gray whale spotted in Israel; animal rights advocates decry mouse pain study

Labradoodles

-- The man who bred a poodle with a Labrador retriever and called the resulting puppies Labradoodles now says he regrets his role in starting today's "designer dog" craze that includes Labradoodles, goldendoodles, puggles, Cavachons and other often highly-priced hybrids. Wally Conran, now 81, bred his first Labradoodle litter in 1988, when he was employed as the manager of the Royal Institute of the Blind's puppy program. When a client expressed a desire for a leader dog but was concerned about aggravating her husband's dog allergy, Conran decided to breed puppies that retained many of the behavioral traits of a Labrador but had the shed-free coat of a poodle. The rest, of course, is history. "But now when people ask me, 'Did you breed the first one?' I have to say, 'Yes, I did, but it's not something I'm proud of,' " Conran said. "I wish I could turn the clock back." Many members of the pet-rescue community share that sentiment. (The Australian)

-- A gray whale that has recently been spotted off the coast of Israel is a long way from home, and its presence there "has been described as one of the most important whale sightings ever," according to Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center chairman Dr. Aviad Scheinin. Gray whales once occupied the region, but the population there is believed to have died out centuries ago. Scheinin suspects the whale -- a 39-foot, 20-ton adult -- probably ended up in Israeli waters through the Northwest Passage. "The question now is: are we going to see the re-colonization of the Atlantic? This is very important ecologically because of the change of habitat," Scheinin said. "It emphasizes the climate change that we are going through." Although it ended up off course, the whale seems to be none the worse for wear. (Telegraph)

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Poll: More than half of survey respondents say they plan to adopt their next pet from an animal shelter

Rescue dog Cowboy

Remember that old song, "How much is that doggie in the window?" For most Americans, it seems it's no sale.

More than half of people in an Associated Press-Petside.com poll said they would get their next dog or cat from a shelter, nearly seven times the number who said they would buy their next pet from a store.

And more than four in 10 said they thought store pets could have hidden medical or psychological problems. That's significantly more than those who expressed the same concerns about pets from animal shelters or breeders.

"I believe they overbreed the pets. I believe they couldn't care less about the pets, they're really in it for the money. I think you are more likely to get a pet at a pet store that is ill or has problems," said Sandra Toro, 62, of Colton, Calif.

Just 8% of those polled said they would get their next cat or dog at a store, while 13% said that's where they got the pet they have now. Fifty-four percent of those polled said they would probably get their next pet from a shelter, while 23% went for a breeder.

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WebClawer: Runaway emu captured in S.C.; three-legged dog elected mayor of Colorado town; Katherine Heigl offers reward for animal abuse information

-- A posse of concerned Rock Hill, S.C., citizens and police managed to capture a 6-foot-tall emu that ran wild through city streets after an hours-long chase Tuesday morning. The emu dodged would-be captors with makeshift lassos and even a dog that tried to bite it as it ran past before finally being caught in a net wielded by 70-year-old Rock Hill resident Bobby Mangrum. It's unclear who owns the bird, which was unhurt in the incident. After its capture, it was brought to Mangrum's farm, where he keeps two emus of his own; it'll remain there until its owner can be found. When asked how he would fill out a police report about the incident, lieutenant Joe Johnson quipped, "I am not sure yet, as far as I know the emu broke no laws ... He did run from the police." (Rock Hill Herald)

-- The small town of Divide, Colo., didn't have a mayor, so locals decided to fill that void while helping animals at the same time by hosting a mayoral "election" with 25 dogs and cats as the candidates. Human campaign managers made T-shirts and posters extolling the virtues of the pet contenders, and Divide residents were encouraged to vote as many times as they pleased (at $1 a pop, with proceeds benefiting the local Teller County Regional Animal Shelter). The winner: A three-legged rescued pit bull named Spright who's a big favorite among locals who know her well because she regularly goes on rounds with her owner Lisa Berg, a mobile veterinarian. Spright was found on a roadside last year with a wounded front leg, which was later amputated. But having three legs hasn't slowed her down; Berg reports that she's a star soccer player and an avid runner. Spright was "inaugurated" shortly after the votes were counted, and, according to Berg, "She was in a constant state of full-body-wag." Our kind of elected official! (USA Today)

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