Tuesday, June 30, 2009

California and mandatory spay-neuter laws

Neither California's SB 250 nor any other mandatory spay-neuter or anti-breeding bill we've seen yet will greatly reduce the number of dogs. Primary enforcement mandatory spay-neuter will greatly reduce the number of purebreds because it will drive away the best intentional breeders, among them most of the breeders of purebreds who sell to the general public. But the resulting reduction in the pet dog supply will be made up by 'moonshine' breeding and importing from other states.

California's bills isn't even primary enforcement mandatory spay-neuter: You'll only be forced to spay or neuter if you are caught violating some other law. As a practical matter that means that nearly all victims will be well-intended people who slipped up once and got caught. OR people who are targeted for some reason: If animal control wants to find a violation, they will find one.

Most violators of the law will shrug their shoulders and abandon the dog.

It's only the BEST breeders who are at risk from such bills. There'll still be plenty of dogs and plenty of business for pet sitters.

As a practical matter this is dog population control by doubling the risk that the dog is struck by lightning. Yes, spay-neuter will happen, but it'll be on a semi-random basis, too rare to have an effect on eproductive statistics. The largest effect will be due to increased abandonment in the first year or two by people who believe that the law actually requires spay-neuter of all pets and who cannot afford that.

You have to wonder about legislators who cannot think through how such a law would work. How can they possibly figure out a state budget?

Oh -- wait ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dispelling the Term "Puppymill"

This is a post from the Pet-Law email list reproduced here with permission of the author. Karen Strange is president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners (Mofed) and was among the handful of people in this country who saw the animal rights juggernaut lumbering towards us years before the rest of us recognized it for what it was.

I wrote the following to present to legislators who attended a breakfast we co-sponsored at our state capitol with the Missouri Pet Breeders Association and the Professional Pet Association in the spring of 2009. The term "puppymill" is one of the most disgusting words used in our time, and is one we are working to eliminate from being socially acceptable in our language. We are encouraging breeders to include it in puppy packets and to get it in as many hands of the general public as possible. While it was written for Missouri, it can be revised to suit each state. I strongly encourage educating the public with every opportunity that the "pm" term is grossly misused, is an animal rights term, and has no legal definition.


There is no legal definition for the term "puppymill".

The term "puppymill" is a phrase coined by animal rights activists and supporters against anyone who breeds dogs, regardless of the care the animals receive. The name-calling is a means to turn the unknowing public against all dog breeders and to raise endless funds for continuous propaganda and money-making schemes by animal rights activists and organizations.

There is a difference between professional kennels and sub-standard kennels.

Professional breeders operate legal kennels, licensed by the state department of agriculture as well as USDA, and meet or exceed all guidelines pertaining to the health, care and well-being of their animals. They are active members in good standing of state associations, attend seminars, and earn continuing education hours for lectures on such topics as pre-natal and post-natal care, nutrition, health care, socialization, grooming, kennel management, tax preparation, ventilation, incubation and reproduction.

Substandard kennels are illegal, unlicensed facilities that produce animals with no regards to their health and well-being.

No one supports neglect or abuse of animals. Calling legal, licensed, professional breeders "puppymills" and claiming that they abuse their animals is grossly unfair and unjust, and is not acceptable.

The term "puppymill" is a derogatory word used by animal rights activists and supporters against anyone who breeds dogs, and is no more acceptable than using slur names for those of different ethnic backgrounds. It is as degrading and offensive to professional breeders to call them "puppymills" as it is to call our fellow man slur names. It is not socially acceptable to call our fellow man names, nor is it acceptable to call breeders slur names.

We ask that you refrain from using the term "puppymill", and that you correct others that use the term to describe dog breeders. Animal rights activists use the term to garner support for fundraising, and those funds are being used to eliminate all agriculture, use and enjoyment of animals. Please help us to stop the spread of animal rights issues. Let's all begin by eliminating the term "puppymill" from our vocabulary.

Karen Strange, President & Lobbyist


A Letter to AKC

I've been communicating with the AKC both privately and otherwise since 2003, when I wrote President Dennis Sprung a letter. I wrote Chairman Ron Menaker the next year. Those letters were polite if forceful: I figured they were just not seeing the big picture.

I have tried to be reasonably polite in public since then, although recently I've started to call their leadership 'incompetent' because they still don't seem to get it and this failing seems to me to be willful. It looks like "Yeah, we know we're helping to ruin the future of purebred dogs but so what? We're very well paid and that is what matters to us."

Well, maybe it's something else -- maybe it's "This board of directors is just so bad that we can't do a thing."

You know what? When good people at the top are hamstrung by an incompetent board (or whatever), when they've worked year after year and gotten nowhere, they resign. When you stay at the top of a rotten organization you are part of the problem simply because you are still there. You are keeping the organization from confronting its problems and it begins to look like the only thing that really matters is your paycheck.

At this point I don't think the AKC or its top people deserve our support. We are going to have to live without the AKC anyway, ten years from now: Either they'll have shrunk to where they just register a few thousand purebreds a year for the wealthy, or they'll be working for HSUS. Or -- if they can't downsize fast enough and HSUS doesn't want them -- they'll have vanished. The sooner the dog fancy comes to understand that grim future, the better.

Here's my latest letter to them. I have changed a very few words to clarify and added definitions in one place.


Dear Doglaw:
You really STILL don't get it, do you? If the breeding of purebred dogs is made impossible, then there isn't going to be an AKC. PLEASE, go back and re-read that last sentence. It is difficult for you, I know, but it is the key to everything else, especially YOUR FUTURE.

If the COMMERCIAL breeding of dogs is made illegal -- five states now? Six? And California likely to join them within a few weeks? -- then your efforts to bring commercial breeders back into the AKC fold will have been a total waste of time and money. Illegal breeders may occasionally register with you now, but as the enforcement net tightens, breeding operations go 'moonshine,' and purebred dogs fade, they will stop doing so.

Federations of dog clubs are no more than federations of DOG CLUBS. They start out utterly clueless about legislative matters and the result is that they all fall into the same traps, one by one. When you sit back and say "Oh well, we're just here to support the federations" you are being grossly negligent.

What? Your toddler is playing in your front yard and you let him run into the street because "We're just here to support our kids"?

Probably not, and it's the same for the federations. You should offer training in legislative matters -- not just a cheerful seminar on how useful the AKC is, but actual nuts and bolts of the AR strategy and tactics and how they can best be countered. Then if a federation insists on being at the table by hopping on the table and spreading its legs, you do not have to simply say "Oh, we're just here to support the federations." You should take your own (AKC) position which reflects your own broader concerns, and perhaps knowledge ... well, you could have broader knowledge.

Shame, shame on you for your performance in Tennessee. Enablers, that's what you are. "Federation Honey, I'm so sorry you're an alcoholic. Here's another case of Clueless Lite beer for you." A suggestion: Have someone in the legislative group join the NRA and donate to the NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF as well. That'll get you on the mailing list for everything they do and you'll see how serious organizations do what you dabble in.

[NRA-ILA = Institute for Legislative Affairs -- the lobbying arm NRA PVF = Political Victory Fund -- the PAC]

You know who is more hated than dog breeders? Gun owners. And you know what group has not a single national level candidate in either party who has run recently on a program of restricting its rights? GUN OWNERS.

You know why? Because the NRA has made restriction of gun rights such a hot potato that politicians don't mess with us. We gun owners are actually winning new rights from year-to-year. "Must issue" concealed carry licenses (unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise a locality must issue a CC license on request) are one frontier. (You think you could ever wrap your thinking around a "must issue" home kennel license allowing 10 dogs regardless of local pet limits? No ... I thought not.) 'District of Columbia vs. Heller' established that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms: You think that would have happened without the NRA?

I get mailings from the NRA telling me what to do at least weekly. It's a damn nuisance, but you know what? I DO IT -- at least the part that doesn't cost money -- because I know they are effective and I want to see our rights preserved.

Having to defend breeding rights without substantial help from the AKC because you are too lazy to help yourselves really pisses me off. What will you do when the whole works craters? Are all the resumes there up to date? Or will you be happy working for HSUS, assuming they want your name badly enough to put in the money to keep you afloat?

Or are you counting on us to save your chickens? Hahahaha ... Well, we'll try.

Don't give me that "We don't have the money to defend breeding" rubbish. The NRA MAKES a lot of its money defending gun rights. Dog breeders are crying out for you to do the same and if you could ever get past the clueless stage, you could.

Given the elephantine pace of change at the AKC it's unlikely you could get there in time to save the breeding of purebred dogs but if us grassroots folks are able to do it for you, you could help immensely in the mopping up phase, five or eight years from now.

Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets

Friday, June 19, 2009

Evil is Still Evil

AR apologists often defend their support of PETA and HSUS by saying, "But some of what they do helps animals!"

Adolf Hitler built the Autobahn and got the VW into production with an innovative financing scheme something like S&H green stamps that let many middle class Germans buy an automobile. He restored German prosperity following a much more serious economic crisis than this country has ever faced -- following the crash of '29 they had hyperinflation and the middle class was financially wiped out. I hear he also loved animals.

Is any of this why he is remembered? How many people in 1945 were sorry to learn that he was dead and that the 'Thousand Year Reich' had lasted only about 12 years?

(The BBC's 'World at War' series is an outstanding video history of WW-II. Filmed for the 50th anniversary of the war, it goes deeply into 'how did this happen,' with interviews with many people who were there -- ordinary Germans and of course military men, as well as experts on the period. HIGHLY recommended for kids old enough to watch documentaries that include combat and death camp liberation scenes. Available on DVD from NetFlix and other usual outlets.)

It is hard to do great evil without doing bits of good here and there. But evil is still evil.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Freedom Means

Nobody supports reducing her own freedom, meaning things she is allowed to do.

But flip it around and ask yourself this: How many people have in the last week posted a message saying that they'd be okay with a law against someone else's doing something that the poster disapproves of?

That is where our government gets support for things like mandatory spay/neuter (MSN), no tethering, anti-crop/dock, no-debarking, no use of e-collars or prong collars, no leaving pets in cars, and so on.

Freedom, folks. It means absolutely nothing if you're free to do only those things that Walt (or any other person) approves of. Meaningful freedom is "freedom to do things that many (or even most) people disapprove of."

Only when there is close to 100% agreement that there's no good reason to ever do a thing and very clear reasons not to -- drive drunk? shoot off a firearm in your backyard, in town? -- should freedoms be restricted or eliminated by law. How many of the proposed new laws we're dealing with in pets would pass that test? Okay, no dog fighting ... can you think of even one more that's on the HSUS agenda?

But for every one of the laws on the list above (MSN, no tethering ...) we know people who want their freedoms to do the things they think are okay, but don't support your freedoms for your somewhat different list.

That's why these laws are so hard to fight. Most people in California actually think that all pets should be spayed/neutered. They don't think deeply enough to understand the issues, so because they don't want that freedom, they support laws that will take it away from you, too.

There's no understanding that 'freedom' means 'freedom to do things that most people disapprove of.' And that as a result, we need a very clear reason -- one that just about everyone agrees with -- to pass a law against something. Trying to fine-tune what you (or I) consider good behavior with laws is not just futile but against the very principles on which this country was founded.

The Resources to End Euthanasia of Good Pets

If a small fraction of the effort and money invested in promoting ineffective and restrictive laws were directed at marketing unowned pets, it would end euthanasia of dogs with the potential to be good pets. Cats are more difficult because there's a genuine oversupply coming from the fact of feral populations.

And savings would come out of the woodwork, everywhere: Is the time devoted to fighting those ineffective and restrictive laws by all of us truly worth nothing? The time given by lawmakers to trying to make the right decisions about them? Do we truly divert society's attention to wild claims of evils surrounding dogs and cats and requiring urgent attention at no cost whatever?

HSUS and their supporters have much to answer for. But 'answering' won't happen: The best we can hope for is that they join the Communist Party of the USA, the American Nazi Party, and the KKK in 'do they still exist?' insignificance.

That, however, will happen. HSUS will rue the day their board of directors elected Wayne Pacelle as president and CEO.

The Truth About (Most) Shelters and Pounds

Many of us came to pet-law because of bad experience with animal control or animal shelters. Most of the rest of us know stories that would curl your hair. But there is a danger that we make exactly the mistake that some people at the worst shelters do: assume that everyone with a certain label (like 'breeder,' 'pet owner,' or 'shelter worker') is evil.

First, it simply isn't true. Each such label covers a wide spectrum of people and attitudes. In fact, the majority of breeders, owners, and shelter workers are sincere and good hearted people doing the best they can with their respective duties.

And secondly, one universal truth is that wrong assumptions lead to bad results. Those animal control personnel who believe all breeders are exploitive abusers and/or all owners are irresponsible idiots, cause more damage than they do good through their mistrust. And exactly the same will be true if we make unreasonably bad assumptions.

Virginia's a large enough state to offer a reasonable example. Guessing from the number of counties, we have over 100 public shelters of some sort. There are three or four that are run by hard core AR types and some others that have problematic people or policies but the majority are doing the best they can in the circumstances. Some of them set examples to all of us: The shelter in our area has been getting steadily closer to no-kill since before no-kill was cool.

They haven't done it through tricks like shipping less-adoptable dogs somewhere else to be killed, either. It has been 100% via hard work -- use of PetFinders (mostly outside of paid work hours), participation in shelter transport programs, advertising of dogs, and cooperation with rescue, breeders, and others.

I'm sure much of the problem is that we hear a lot more about problem shelters than we do the good ones, but of course that's exactly the same defense that the problem shelters can offer: "We only see the bad owners and the messed-up dogs they dump on us."

Shelter work is hard in general and doing it right is very hard. It insults the very people and organizations who least deserve it when we talk as if they were all trying to kill as many as they can while making owners walk over hot coals. Can't we do better?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What We Can Do

Postings on blogs and email lists about abusive (most of them do seem to be legal) raids are important. If we don't know what's happening out there, then we cannot act to make things better.

Stopping the 'theft' (it mostly isn't real theft) of private property will happen when animal owners learn what their rights are, and insist on those rights. Informing other owners is one of the most important things that pet-law folks can do.

We have 3000-some people on the Pet-Law list. If one out of every ten wrote a letter to the editor calmly pointing out that the reported facts don't support the actions taken, and that in fact, when animals are sold within a week because 'they're in good shape except for a few ticks' (or similar non-issues) there's evidence that the seizure action was unjustified, we'd be doing something useful. 300 letters on the same subject to the same editor -- that would get attention!

When a judge says "Nobody can take care of 1000 dogs," that judge is disqualifying himself from any proceeding concerning a large number of dogs. One letter pointing that out might not even be printed, but 300 would make something happen at most papers.

My guess is that these letters aren't being written.

But letters to editors aren't the only thing we can do. All of us are active on other email lists for pet owners. Are we doing the education there?

1. Abusive seizures of animals are increasing fast.

2. You have rights; you must know what they are and you must exercise them. (with a summary and links to more ...)

My guess is that very few of us are doing that boring but essential education.

Have you offered to talk about the subject at your local kennel or cat club? Passed out and discussed George E.'s "What to do when ..."?

Of course the best place to stop this rubbish is at the source: Are you involved with your animal shelter? Do you support them publicly when they do good things and try to influence them to change when they get it wrong? Any chance you could become a member of the board of directors? A board member who asks for an explanation of a seizure that smells fishy in the newspaper account can do much to prevent these actions.

We cannot all do all of these things -- none of us have that much time and we have different talents. But all of us can do something -- if not something mentioned above, something else equally good or better.

THERE IS NO MAGIC BUTTON WE CAN PUSH TO MAKE THE PROBLEMS GO AWAY WITHOUT OUR HAVING TO DO ANY WORK. We have our rights; who is responsible when we allow them to be abused?

A guy comes up to you on the street:
"Scuse me, lady, but would you give me your purse?"
"Well, because I need money and I might steal it if you don't give it to me."
"Oh ... okay, here it is."

Would anyone here actually do that?

A cop pulls you over. He walks up to your window and says "You were doing 66 in a 35 mph zone. You can either give me your keys and sign over your title to me, or I'm going to write you up for a whopping fine." Your actual speed was 36. Would you take the cop's deal?

But to judge by the stories here, many animal owners are doing things equally stupid. Stupid actions are a self-inflicted wound and in cases involving the law, it can be near-impossible to heal that wound.

I am not blaming the victim, but when people stand in harm's way (by not knowing and exercising their rights) and they are harmed, they do have some responsibility. What we're seeing repeatedly here is $1000 or $10,000 cases being turned into cases that would cost $100,000-up to fight, by the victim's own actions in the first 15 minutes -- and a frequent response (here) is "There should be someone out there to give us the $100,000."

We can be sympathetic to this person, but we're not likely to find that $100,000, and if we did, there would be ways to use it that would prevent dozens or hundreds of such cases in the future.

Someone wrote, "The only idea I have is to have my shot gun at the door with plenty of ammo. Someone is going to get hurt. But what else can we do?"

This is dangerous to the point of irresponsibility. If a cop sees a weapon near at hand, and you make any movement toward it, you may very well be shot. If that doesn't happen, then (a) you've given that cop justification to make an immediate search, and (b) you're going to be facing far worse than the usual sorts of animal charges.

Of course the cop's actions will be investigated; maybe it will be decided that he overreacted. But if you're dead, that won't be much comfort.

I won't repeat George's advice on handling of authorities coming to your door. But we must stay within the law to avoid making the situation worse and introducing a weapon will make things far possibly fatally -- worse.

No, our constitution is not being destroyed, as some have said. No, it is all about the willingness of many citizens to allow others to ignore the Constitution, because learning your rights and saying "No" is more trouble than saying "Oh, whatever" and then complaining about how you were mistreated.

The Constitution isn't destroyed or even damaged when we allow bad people to violate its protections. It is simply unused. Whose responsibility is that?

I'm thirsty. There's a pump in the backyard: I could go out and work the handle, but I'd rather sit here and complain about my thirst. Please -- tell me how badly I'm being treated!

This all sounds terribly unsympathetic. The problem is, sympathy and armwaving isn't going to do us any good. So we spend a few hours a week agreeing with each other about how unfair it all is ... That might make us feel a bit better -- at least, morally justified in our sense of violation. But it wouldn't do a damn thing to help prevent the next "nobody can care for 1000 (or 100, or 10) dogs" raid.

Got 50 -- Friends who know how to handle an animal control knock on their doors?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Even bad press is good press?

When a self-proclaimed charity like HSUS responds to charges centered on 'lying to get the money' with more lies, that's just plain bad press. But lies are all they've got. If they were actually doing good for animals every one of us would be a supporter.

This is the first year in which the truth has gotten enough traction that they've had to respond. That's the result of a lot of very hard work from people on our side, both on this list and elsewhere, and something we should all be proud of.

There is much, much more to do, but spreading the truth -- that HSUS raises its money by pretending to protect animals but then uses its money to make animal keeping steadily more difficult, dangerous, and expensive (and thus hurts animals) -- is the main route to winning the
AR wars.

One way to further spread the truth is to respond to their responses.
I hope many of us have left comments on the HSUS statement at:



since it is effectively a lie from one end to the other. You can see the whole HSUS propaganda campaign in that one statement: Use words and statements that are 'sort of true' if you know the details but imply something that is absolutely false, and attack the messenger.

Did you know that their only criticism/opposition comes from:

> people who inhabit the domains of cockfighting, puppy mills, horse
> slaughter, trophy hunting, trapping, fur fashion, animal
> agribusiness, commercial whaling, and other animal exploitation
> industries

Gee, I'd say I'm about as outspoken a critic of HSUS as anyone, and I don't recognize ME in there. More like "animal lover and very small time hobby breeder of pet dogs." I'll bet that not 1% of the people on this list are anywhere in that list.

But in the world of HSUS, "If you're not with us, you are a nasty criminal."

Let's use their response to point out even more clearly who HSUS really is.

What Pet-Law is About

The world has made dramatic changes in the way we breed and keep animals over the past decades. Many of those changes are good. Animals in this country, the United States, and in most other civilized countries, have it better than they ever had. Our pets are living longer, healthier lives.

The state cruelty and neglect laws, when enforced, insure that we treat our animals well. Leash laws and voluntary spay-neuter programs have solved the dog overpopulation problem. We still have a "dog distribution" problem in which some areas still have too many in shelters, but that is being addressed by moving those dogs to places where there are not enough dogs. Noise and nuisance ordinances in populated areas prevent dogs from causing problems for neighbors. These changes are good and dog breeders support them. There is still a problem in cat overpopulation, but as I'm a dog breeder, I'll leave that one for the cat experts to address.

A very few Americans want radical changes that are designed to end the human-animal relationship altogether. These are the animal right fanatics. They believe that animals should have the same rights as people, and that to achieve these rights, they must live separately from people. No one should be allowed to hunt, to eat meat or any food produced by an animal, wear clothing made from animal products, use any animals for medical research or even keep pets.

These radicals recruit support from millions of Americans who believe in one piece of the radical agenda and send money to support that "cause." What they don't know is that their checks are used to support the darker parts of the animal rights movement. The money they send to help "poor homeless animals" ends up funding an agenda they would never condone.

Unfortunately, the animal welfare movement has been hijacked by extremists and those who believe in helping animals are doing the opposite by funding national organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA)

But the fight against animal rights is growing as people begin to realize that the humane movement has indeed been waylaid by extremists, as Patti and Rod Strand told us more than a decade ago in their book, The Hijacking of the Humane Movement. Though the book is out of print now, you can still find a used copy occasionally on Amazon. It's well worth the price. Animal rights is not about loving animals. It's about hating people.

If you love animals and want to see them continue to be a part of our lives, join the Pet-Law email list, explore the Pet-Law site, check out the links at that site, and help us fight for the freedom to own and breed pets.

The very first step you can take to help is to send your donations to your local shelter, where the money will be used to help animals, never to a national "humane" organization. The second step is to tell at least 50 other people the truth about animal rights and the national organizations. You can order a Got 50? teeshirt, cap, mug, pin, magnet or bag to help you open the conversation. When people ask what it means, tell them about the animal rights movement and the fight against it.