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Saturday, February 23rd 2008

10:22 AM

Connecticut: Spay, Neuter...and Lie

Connecticut Spay and Neuter

Task Force a Study in Irony

 

by JOHN YATES

American Sporting Dog Alliance

http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

 

HARTFORD, Ct – There is a grim irony surrounding recent discussion of a task force to study a mandatory spay and neuter law for Connecticut.

The alleged reason for such a mandate is to cut down on the population of unwanted dogs and cats in animal shelters, and to reduce the necessity for euthanasia of animals that are not adopted.

 The irony is that Connecticut animal shelters are begging for dogs to adopt, and in fact are hauling in dogs from as far away as Georgia, Oklahoma and even Puerto Rico to meet the demand, an investigation by The American Sporting Dog Alliance shows. There are not enough unwanted dogs in Connecticut to go around because voluntary spaying and neutering has cut the number of adoptable puppies to a fraction of their former number, research at Tufts University has shown.

Moreover, ASDA has uncovered evidence that pet overpopulation is not the real issue. One of the most vocal leaders in the push to mandate the sterilization of dogs makes no bones about his real goal: the elimination of purebred dogs. This is a major platform of the most extreme animal rights groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Connecticut Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Executive Director Fred Acker defended his organization’s program of bringing in dogs from other states in a 2004 article reprinted on Petfinder.com.

"People will get the kind of dog they want, even if they have to go to a breeder for it," Acker said. "So why not save a dog from somewhere else, rather than breed another dog."

Acker said that the Connecticut SPCA goes on designer shopping trips to shelters in other states in order to bring the kind of dogs people want back to Connecticut. Popular breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, small breeds and puppies are high on the list because the demand far exceeds the supply in Connecticut, Acker said.

The Connecticut SPCA shelter charges people $295 to adopt a dog or puppy, which an article in USA Today said effectively places them in the pet store business.

Why aren’t there enough unwanted homegrown Connecticut dogs to meet the demand?

A study by the Tufts University says that many people, especially in the northeastern states, are voluntarily spaying and neutering their dogs. This has virtually eliminated unwanted puppies for adoption, and even older dogs of the more popular breeds, the study concluded. Most of the dogs that are not being adopted in the northeastern states are elderly, ill or of an unpopular breed, such as pit bulls. 

This vacuum of supply and demand has left a lot of empty kennel runs in Connecticut animal shelters. Rather than close down and claim credit for accomplishing their mission, the shelters are going elsewhere to find dogs to fill the vacancies – and meet the demand.

On a trip to Oklahoma, reported by KFOR News in Oklahoma City, Acker and two other people from Connecticut shelters took 31 dogs from the Oklahoma City shelter, and planned to pick up more dogs from shelters in Bethany and Moore, OK, and also from a group called Pets and People.

"This is going to make a lot of people happy,” Acker told KFOR. “The little dogs are few and far in Connecticut. The demand is great so we're just connecting the dots throughout the United States." Acker told the reporter that he planned to make a trip to Oklahoma every month to get a truckload of dogs.

But he’ll have to get back from Atlanta, GA, first. Acker’s website reported that one trip to Georgia required two vans, and that 20 dogs would be taken from a shelter there.

Another Connecticut animal shelter, the Danbury Animal Welfare Society, reportedly picked up six puppies and an adult dog from the Atlanta shelter.

"You've got small dogs and we don't," Acker told KFOR in Oklahoma. "We'll probably have homes for half of them before we get back…Every single small dog goes home with 20 back up applications easily."

The Connecticut SPCA website also details a program to “rescue” dogs caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast. These dogs also are being used to meet the insatiable demand for adoptable dogs in the Northeast.

USA Today reported that 14,000 stray dogs from the streets of Puerto Rico were adopted in the United States over a seven-year period, and Connecticut got some of them.

In neighboring Massachusetts, the “underpopulation” of unwanted dogs is so severe that one shelter literally is scouring the globe for dogs to sell for adoption. The Northeast Animal Shelter told USA Today that it imports 800 dogs a year from the South and 200 from Puerto Rico. This shelter goes as far as Taiwan and Mainland China to come up with enough dogs to meet the demand.

The situation is similar on Long Island, NY, which reportedly brings in dogs from several distant states, and then hauls them to Connecticut for adoption in special vans.

The Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut groups participate in two networks to import dogs from elsewhere. The first is called the “Puppies Across America Program,” which focuses on southern and midwestern states. The second is called “Save a Sato,” which brings in stray dogs from Puerto Rico. Sato is the Spanish word for a stray dog.

A similar situation exists across the continent in California, which also is considering mandatory spay and neuter legislation. A reported 10,000 dogs a year are brought to California from Mexico to meet the demand that animal shelters in that state can’t fulfill.

Data from the California Veterinary Public Health Section of the state Health Department shows that there has been a 43-percent decline in the number of dogs euthanized in animal shelters over five years, and a 75-percent decline since the mid-1970’s. Connecticut does not publish similar data.

(The American Sporting Dog Alliance is a grassroots organization to protect the rights of owners and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. You can learn more about us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org .)

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Saturday, February 2nd 2008

10:48 AM

ASDA's Comments On Draft Pennsylvania Kennel Regulations

 

By John Yates

Executive Director

The American Sporting Dog Alliance

Oil City, PA

 

Here are The American Sporting Dog Alliance’s formal comments on draft kennel regulations that are proposed to accompany and implement new kennel legislation.

 

First, it is not accurate to say that non-commercial kennels will continue to follow existing regulations. There are many MAJOR changes in the kennel regulations proposed in the draft version that will apply to all private, boarding, training and hobby breeding kennels. Moreover, the draft regulations must be considered within the framework of the draft legislation.

 

Here are ASDA’s specific comments. They are not prioritized in importance, but instead follow the text of the draft regulations from top to bottom.

 

  1. We understand the necessity to include a person’s home or residence in the regulations, but only to the degree that a kennel owner’s home or residence is used as part of the kennel business. A blanket inclusion simply is too invasive, violates a person’s right to privacy and compromises constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. By including a person’s home in the definition without further clarification means that a dog warden, either working alone or with other law enforcement or animal cruelty enforcement officers, is given unlimited access to search a person’s home, personal records and financial records. ASDA believes that a search of a person’s home should require a warrant issued by a court of law,  follow the standard of requiring probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of the law, and also limit the search to the subject of the alleged violation.
  2. Definition of  “rest board.” A requirement for a waterproof rest board requires a platform made of lumber that is treated with highly toxic chemicals to waterproof it. Water sealing chemicals carry warning labels saying that they are toxic, and kennel owners should not be required to expose their dogs to toxins, which may be chewed and ingested. Using the term “resting surface” would give kennel owners the option to use heavy plastic, fiberglass or other materials. There also is no justification to require the resting surface to be waterproof in a facility designed to house healthy dogs, when extreme sanitation measures are not required.
  3. Under 21.21 (b), regulations for interior building surfaces are excluded for dogs kept in private homes if the homes themselves are the primary enclosure, as long as the dogs are not kept in cages. The problem is that many people allow their dogs to have free access to their homes for much of the time, but also have cages for sleeping quarters for their dogs or to use as a tool for housebreaking. For example, many people confine their dogs to airline shipping crates for sleeping, housebreaking, protection when a dog is in heat, or for short periods when they are out of their homes (i.e. a trip to the store). This practice is almost universal among dog owners. However, under the draft regulations, it could be interpreted that a person’s entire home would have to meet kennel requirements.
  4. The requirement for waterproof interior surfaces carries the same concerns as for waterproof resting boards. The state would be requiring kennel owners to expose their dogs to unsafe toxins on all wooden surfaces that are treated for waterproofing. Water sealing chemicals are poisonous, and many dogs will chew and ingest them. We understand that the reason for this requirement is to enable thorough sanitation and to prevent bacteria and other “germs” from seeping into wooden surfaces. However, we can see no compelling reason for this requirement for healthy dogs if it exposes them to dangerous toxic chemicals. The dangers far outweigh the alleged benefits.
  5. In addition, the requirement for all inside surfaces to be waterproofed means that all surfaces that are not accessible to dogs would have to be waterproofed. This would include ceilings, storage areas, shelving, exposed structural posts and roof joists, and other areas that are not accessible to dogs. There is no evidence to suggest that extreme sanitary measures should be required for areas that are not accessible for dogs. This is unnecessarily burdensome to kennel owners and serves no legitimate purpose.
  6. For outdoor or sheltered facilities, an absolute prohibition against pooled or standing water does not take into account the reality of winter in Pennsylvania. When outdoor kennel surfaces are frozen or covered with ice, a winter thaw will result in small pools of water on top of frozen surfaces. A winter rain on top of snow can make this happen in a matter of minutes, and there is no way to prevent it. In most cases, water pooling is of short duration and the kennel owner can take corrective measures to protect the dogs in a reasonable period of time, such as by manual drainage of the wet areas or by using straw or other absorbent material. The kennel regulations must take these temporary weather conditions into account, and should not penalize a kennel owner for this kind of situation.
  7. All kennels are required to be equipped with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. ASDA supports the requirement for fire extinguishers, but opposes requiring smoke detectors for outdoor kennels or the outdoor portion of sheltered kennels. A smoke detector simply won’t work in an outdoor area and makes no sense. Thus, this requirement accomplishes nothing to protect dogs, and is an unnecessary and costly burden to the kennel owner.
  8. For sheltered facilities, a requirement for protection against cold and heat for the sheltered portion of the facility is problematic. The legislation defines protection from heat as requiring auxiliary ventilation when the temperature rises above 85. This is clear. However, there is no such clarity for protection from the cold, except for bedding requirements. This section could be interpreted as requiring auxiliary heat in cold weather.
  9. For outdoor facilities, the space requirements for primary enclosures makes no sense. A typical outdoor kennel consists of an open kennel run that contains an enclosed sleeping area or “dog house.” If the term “primary enclosure” applies to a kennel run, then the requirements of the legislation do not give the dog enough room for exercise. A typical beagle, for example, could have a kennel of only two feet by three feet, or a typical English setter could have a kennel only three feet by four feet. That is far too small for a kennel run for these dogs. However, if the term “primary enclosure” refers to a sleeping area or “dog house,” those examples are far too large to allow retention of body heat in the winter. To retain body heat in the winter in outdoor facilities, the sleeping area or “dog house” should be as small as possible (consistent with the comfort of the dog) in order to hold in heat. A more appropriate size for a beagle would be 20” by 30”, or 24” by 36” for an English setter. These sizes allow a dog to lie comfortably, stand and turn around, but are small enough to conserve body heat.
  10. ASDA supports the requirement to provide shade for dogs that are housed in an outdoor facility, but opposes the section that would prohibit the use of tarps for this purpose. If the purpose of the regulation is to provide shade and protection from rain, snow and wind, the use of a tarp would accomplish this as effectively as a solid surface. The definition of a tarp also would include awnings and commercially manufactured plastic shading and roofing material. A properly installed tarp, awning or flexible roof covering would accomplish the purposes of the draft regulations, while providing more flexibility and cost control for the kennel owner. ASDA has a particular concern that requiring kennels to construct “permanent fixtures” would have the effect of putting many kennels out of business because necessary zoning approvals could not be obtained. Many kennels were approved or grandfathered under local zoning ordinances at the time they were built, and thus are in full compliance now, but may not be able to comply with revisions or changes in zoning ordinances that have occurred subsequently, if new construction is required.  A roofing cover made from a tarp or awning may protect kennel owners from being forced into this “Catch 22” situation by the proposed kennel regulations.
  11. In outdoor facilities, or for the outdoor portion of sheltered facilities, there is no way that a roof to provide shade can protect dogs from wind, or from blowing rain or snow. You are demanding the impossible, as wind would enter the kennel through its sides, and not through its roof. In windy conditions, snow and rain also could be blown into the kennel from its sides. The only way to prevent the effect of wind would be to enclose all four sides of a kennel in solid walls, which would defeat the purpose of outdoor kennels and eliminate the beneficial effects of exposure to sunlight. Thus, this is a totally irrational requirement.
  12. A requirement that urine and feces from one kennel would not be allowed to enter an adjacent kennel during cleaning operations is not workable, and even minimal compliance would require major reconstruction of most kennels. A typical kennel consists of a row of adjoining kennel runs on a concrete (or other) base. It is impossible to hose down one kennel without some of the water (and thus urine and fecal material) entering adjoining kennels, and it also is impossible to clean the chain link fencing or weldwire fencing that divides the kennels without some of the water getting into adjoining kennels. Again, you are asking for the impossible. There is no valid reason to justify why this restriction is necessary, and the vast majority of kennels in Pennsylvania would not be able to comply with it.
  13. For outdoor facilities, the shelter structure (that is, the sleeping area or “dog house”) would have to provide for a wind and rain break at the entrance. In essence, the regulations are calling for doors or flaps covering the doorways of all sleeping areas or “dog houses.” This requirement makes some sense in the winter, to help conserve body heat, although even then it is rarely necessary for dogs that have become acclimatized. However, it is dangerous in warm or hot weather, as it does not allow adequate ventilation to remove excess heat. A fully enclosed sleeping area or “dog house” would become dangerously overheated and remain dangerously overheated even after the surrounding outside air begins to cool.
  14. The requirement for outdoor facilities to be fenced is ambiguous and also not workable. It is unclear whether the fencing requirement applies to the kennel runs themselves (which usually are constructed of chainlink or weldwire fencing), or whether it applies to a requirement for a fence around the entire kennel structure, in addition to the kennels themselves. If the requirement is meant to be for fencing around the kennels, this may not be workable because of terrain, neighboring property lines, zoning requirements for fences, adjacent buildings, driveway locations and a variety of other limiting factors. In terms of the stated purposes of this requirement, the kennel runs themselves are designed to prevent escape. For the stated purpose of preventing ingress by “vermin, animals and other vectors of disease,” you also are asking the impossible. In all standard commercial kennel fencing, the holes in the fencing (typically at least two inches in diameter) would be large enough to allow small rodents to pass through, and would do nothing to prevent access from “vectors of disease” such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. You would seem to be requiring that the area around a kennel must be fenced with small-diameter window screening on all four sides, and roofed with the same material. This is both impossible to do and totally unnecessary.
  15. ASDA completely opposes the prohibition against tethering in the draft regulations. We do understand the potential danger of incorrectly tethering a dog, such as when a tethered dog can get entangled in surrounding objects or climb over a fence and strangle. However, tethering can be done with complete safety for the dog, and current regulations thoroughly address safety concerns. ASDA believes that most objections to tethering really boil down to an emotional response that a chain appears to be more restrictive than a kennel run. In truth, a dog given the length of chain required under existing regulations has far more available space and freedom of movement than a dog confined in a kennel that meets the minimum space requirements of the draft regulations. A typical 45-pound English setter could be confined in a four-foot by six-foot kennel run, but the same dog would be given a circle with a 10-foot diameter on a chain, under current regulations. The tethered dog thus would have about four times more space for movement than the kenneled dog would have under the minimum requirements of the draft regulations. Moreover, the prohibition against tethering would eliminate kenneling methods that give a dog great freedom of movement, such as when a chain is attached to a long cable with a “slider” device that allows it to move for the entire length of the cable. Even if a kennel does not tether dogs routinely, there are many situations when tethering might be used. In working with very shy or aggressive dogs, for example, a tether allows more control over the animal and thus much more frequent human contact. Tethering also is a practical and cost-effective method to isolate dogs from the rest of the kennel, for example when it is being treated for parasites or a disease.
  16. The current prohibition against using drums for primary enclosures is maintained in the draft regulations. The definition of a drum is based on its shape, regardless of its construction. This eliminates one of the highest quality commercial dog housing systems on the market, because the units are shaped like a drum. These units are insulated for Arctic conditions, provide a flat surface for the dog to lay on, and are virtually weatherproof. They are among the most expensive units available, because of their exceptionally high quality. The definition of a drum should be based on how it is constructed, rather than on shape.
  17. The requirement that potable water be available “at all times” simply isn’t workable and shows great ignorance of the actual reality of keeping dogs in a kennel. Dogs routinely soil, foul or upset their water, and water can freeze very quickly in cold winter weather. For instance, the presence of a stranger in a kennel, such as a dog warden, will cause a great deal of excitement among the dogs. This will cause many of them to step in or upset their water bowls. Simply taking a dog out of a kennel, or bringing in a new dog, will cause similar excitement levels and cause water to be spilled or dirtied. Many dogs also paw at their water bowls, or are inclined to deliberately urinate in them, or carry them around their kennels as a form of play. In cold winter conditions, a layer of ice can form over water in an hour, and water can be frozen almost solid in two hours (how long does it take you to make an ice cube in your refrigerator’s freezer?). ASDA believes that any regulation must take reality into account. ASDA’s position, based on practical kennel management experience, is that fresh water must be available to dogs in all weather at least twice a day, and for several hours, and that more frequent watering is required during exceptionally hot weather. Thus, ASDA would maintain existing regulations when air temperatures are less than 85 degrees, and require that water must be available at all times when air temperatures exceed 85. Proof that water is available at all times should not be based on every run in the kennel, as the excitement of a dog warden’s presence (or normal behavior of dogs) can cause water to be spilled or fouled in seconds. Instead, it should be based on an observation that clean water is available to the majority of the dogs in the kennel. This should be considered acceptable evidence of compliance. In addition, dog wardens should be trained (it takes less than five minutes to do this) to recognize dehydration as a sign that a dog is not receiving adequate water. A single dog that shows signs of dehydration may reflect a medical condition that is being treated, but several dogs showing signs of dehydration would be sufficient proof to show that watering is inadequate. If dehydration is observed in a single animal, the dog warden would have cause to ask the kennel owner for proof that a medical condition is being treated, or be subject to being cited for not providing adequate water for a particular animal. Dehydration is a factor in the winter, too, as some dogs will not drink cold water in very cold weather. In this case, dehydration would lead to hypothermia and possible death. Thus, for a single dog, the availability of water in the winter does not determine adequate watering. To get them to drink, some dogs must be given warm or flavored water in very cold weather. A dog warden’s enforcement tool should be the observation of signs of dehydration, and not the availability of water.
  18. There is no reason to require food and water bowls to be protected from rain and snow at all times. Rain and melted snow does not contaminate water, and empty food bowls can get filled with snow or rain water in a matter of seconds without harming the dogs in any way. It also is impossible to assure that water and food receptacles are protected  from “pests” at all times, as small rodents can get through all standard forms of kennel fencing, and insects are not deterred at all. The important thing is to require basic cleanliness, and to make sure that supplies of food are protected.
  19. Storage of bedding material in a building should not be required. Many (if not most) kennels use straw for bedding. Straw typically is stored in a barn or open shed, and then moved into the kennel as needed. To require storage of straw in a building would serve no purpose and be very costly for the kennel owner. Moreover, it is completely irrational to require a kennel owner to store straw in a building, as the source of the straw (farmers and feed stores, typically) would not be required to store it in a protected building. In essence, this requirement would not provide significant protection for the straw, which may have been stored for many months in an open loft by the supplier, while penalizing the kennel owner, who would use it quickly after purchasing it.
  20. While indoor storage of feed often is desirable, the requirement for containerized storage of opened bags of feed defeats the purpose of the regulation. Containerized storage exposes feed to higher temperatures and greater humidity levels, thus hastening spoilage. In actual practice, most opened bags of feed would be used the day after they are opened. In contrast, containerized storage would tend to leave feed at the bottom of the container for longer periods of time before it is used. This would further increase the chances of spoilage and contamination. Vermin infestations are best prevented through routine procedures, such as trapping and baits. There is no evidence that would indicate that more strict controls are required.
  21. It also makes no sense to prohibit the storage of potentially toxic materials in the same building or room as feed, as long as there is no possibility of contact between the two. Many substances commonly used in kennels are potentially toxic to dogs, including flea control products, worming medicines, antibiotics, dishwashing products, bleaches, germicides, and chemicals to sanitize runs, primary enclosures and bowls. Most of these potential toxins are purchased in safe containers, and there is no realistic possibility of airborne contamination of feed. All that is required is physical separation and storage in an area that cannot be accessed by dogs.
  22. When sanitation of primary enclosures is done with water and steam, it is irrational to demand that they be completely dry before they can be accessed by dogs. Pennsylvania typically has a very humid climate, and it might take several hours for surfaces to dry completely. This proposed regulation, in essence, would require a kennel owner to provide two primary enclosures for every dog. No evidence has been shown to justify this requirement.
  23. The requirement for maintenance of surrounding grounds is vague and ambiguous, and might be interpreted as all of the land owned by the kennel operator. For example, a kennel on a farm might be on the same property as barnyards, corrals, machinery storage areas, barns, gardens, pastures and agricultural fields that would not meet this requirement. The regulations should specify an exact area surrounding the kennel to define the maintenance requirements (for example, all areas within 50 feet of the kennel). Also, land that is not owned by the kennel owner should be specifically excluded from this requirement. It is irrational responsibility for the maintenance of a neighbor’s property if it is located close to the kennel structure.
  24. Overall, it must be emphasized that even technical violations of the regulations have great importance that is magnified by the extreme penalties, provisions for license revocation, and possibilities for confiscation and seizure of dogs that are contained under the draft legislation.

 

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Thursday, January 17th 2008

5:28 AM

A Portrait of the Sporting Dog Community

Statistics sometimes serve a valuable role of putting "reality" into focus, and I was very interested in today's news story showing the AKC's annual list of the most popular dogs (as ranked by AKC registration). My main interest was from the perspective of The American Sporting Dog Alliance, in order to better understand where sporting dogs fit into the entire picture of American dog ownership.

For 2007, three sporting breeds ranked among the top 10 - Labrador retrievers were in first place on the list, golden retrievers were fourth and beagles came in at fifth. Cocker spaniels came in 17th (most of these dogs are pets, but some also are used for hunting and trials), German shorthaired pointers were 18th, springer spaniels were 27th, Brittanys were 29th, Weimaraners were 30th, vizslas were 42nd, Irish setters were 66th, German wirehaired pointers were 70th, Gordon setters were 91st, English setters were 93rd, and pointers were 106th. Individual registration data was not available on the AKC website.

Exact American Field (Field Dog Stud Book) data could not be located, but they reportedly register in excess of 11,000 pointer and setter litters a year. The FDSB also registers smaller numbers of several other breeds, and a growing percentage of FDSB-registered dogs also are cross-registered with the AKC. Data for the UKC and NKC registries was not available at this writing.

Here are AKC's actual LITTER registration numbers for 2007. The number in parenthesis is the actual number of 2006 individual registrations of dogs (2007 data was not available): 

In 2007, there were:

Labs - 41,132 litters ( 123,760 dogs registered)

Beagles - 15,969 litters (39,484 dogs registered)

Golden retrievers - 14,885 litters (42,962 dogs registered)

German shorthaired pointers - 3,550 litters (12,822 dogs registered)

English springer spaniels - 3,017 litters - (8,205 dogs registered)

Weimaraners - 2,816 litters ( 7,720 dogs registered)

Brittanys - 2,456 litters - ( 7,560 dogs registered)

Vizslas - 1,049 litters ( 3,509 dogs registered)

Those are just a few of the breeds used for hunting that are registered by the AKC, but you can see that a lot of sporting dogs are registered each year. That translates into a lot of people!

In terms of political clout, that force has not been successfully mobilized...but the potential is there! In spades!

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Thursday, January 17th 2008

5:20 AM

Animal Rights Focuses On Local Issues In Florida

It is arguable that animal rights activists will be turning to local government more often in the future to accomplish their anti-dog agenda. Here is an example from West Palm Beach, FL, that was sent to me this morning by an American Sporting Dog Alliance member. The article comes from the Sun-Sentinal newspaper's Jan. 17, 2008, edition. Here is part of the article:

WEST PALM BEACH - Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday tentatively approved a controversial ordinance to encourage more dogs and cats to be sterilized.

The decision came over protests from dog breeders and veterinarians who said the measure won't reduce the number of pets destroyed at the county's animal shelter and who said it interferes too much in their businesses.

Republican Bob Kanjian was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote, arguing that the measure is unconstitutional.

Before the measure can take effect, it must be voted again by commissioners at another public hearing, likely in February.

Under the ordinance, breeders would be mandated to obtain a breeder permit, which some could receive for free. They would be banned from breeding more than two litters of puppies and kittens each year, and would be required to give county officials the names, addresses and phone numbers of the people who buy the pets.

Breeders would have 90 days to register with the county. After a 90-day grace period, a breeder permit would cost $150, and $75 per animal for an unaltered license tag. If found in violation, breeders could lose their permits and face fines.

Breeders, veterinarians, animals-rights activists and others testified to commissioners at Tuesday's hearing.

But there is some good news, too!

The newspaper polled its readers, and the vast majority opposed this measure.

Do you agree with the Palm Beach County Commission's idea of banning animal breeders from breeding more than two litters of puppies and kittens each year?

No (1260 responses) - 86.7%

Yes (167 responses) -11.5%

Maybe (26 responses) - 1.8%

1453 total responses


Those numbers show clearly what is really happening with animal rights issues. The vast majority of people don't want animal rights laws passed, but a small but vocal and wel-organized minority is imposing its will on the rest of us.

 


 

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Thursday, January 17th 2008

5:17 AM

Tail Docking Ban Fatal To Thousands of Dogs

PA Tail Docking Legislation

Will Kill Thousands of Dogs

 

 

By John Yates, Director

The American Sporting Dog Alliance

http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

 

Draft legislation in Pennsylvania to require proof of tail docking by a veterinarian would result in the needless and cruel deaths of thousands of dogs a year. The American Sporting Dog Alliance strongly opposes this legislation, which would shut down rescue groups for breeds of dogs with docked tails and make these breeds of dogs ineligible for adoption from animal shelters.

 

The legislation would make it illegal for a breeder to dock the tails of newborn puppies, and requires people who own dogs with docked tails to either prove that the work was done before the law takes effect, or prove that a veterinarian performed the procedure. Dog owners who cannot provide this evidence would be guilty of a summary offense under the state’s Criminal Code simply for possessing a dog with a docked tail.

 

Many recognized breeds of dogs traditionally have their tails docked shortly after birth, including poodles, Yorkshire terriers, vizslas, Australian shepherds, weimaraners, Brittanys, Airedales, schnauzers, doberman pinschers, German shorthaired and wirehaired pointers, and cocker spaniels. Some of these breeds of dogs are among the most popular and numerous in America. Many thousands of Pennsylvanians own dock-tailed breeds.

 

Unfortunately, this also means that these breeds of dogs are among the most numerous in rescue shelters, and with pet rescue groups. These dogs would be sentenced to death if the legislation becomes law.

 

Death would be the only choice, as the law prohibits people from adopting these dogs in the absence of proof that a veterinarian performed the docking procedure or that the docking was not done prior to the law’s passage.

 

People who find a stray dog with a docked tail would be afraid to help the dog or even take it to the local animal shelter, because the mere possession of the dog would make them guilty of a criminal offense. We see the potential for – quite literally - thousands of stray dogs to slowly starve to death and endure incredible agony because people would be afraid to help them.

 

The legislation turns compassion into a crime.

 

In addition, dogs born with naturally short tails, or dogs that have lost part of their tails through an injury, also would be sentenced to death if this legislation is approved.

 

Animal rights groups who support this legislation believe that dogs are better off dead. These groups, such as The Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, oppose the private ownership of animals, even for companionship. PETA, for example, kills close to 2,000 dogs a year at its “shelter” in Virginia alone.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) urges the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and the state Legislature to soundly reject this cruel legislation that would send thousands of innocent dogs to their death every year.

 

ASDA fully supports the rights of dog breeders to make their own choices about docking tails, and to retain the right to choose to use a veterinarian or do the work themselves. Tail docking is a risk-free and painless procedure. Most experienced breeders of dock-tailed breeds are well trained about performing this simple procedure, and there is no evidence that any problems have resulted from it.

 

Please join us to help fight this legislation. Sporting dog owners truly need your support.

 

http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, January 17th 2008

5:14 AM

ASDA Opposes Tail Docking Restrictions

Pennsylvania Draft Legislation

Puts Clamps on Tail Docking

 

A proposed revision of the Pennsylvania Animal Cruelty law makes it illegal for anyone to own or possess a dog or puppy with a docked tail, unless the person can prove that the tail was docked by a licensed veterinarian or has filed an affidavit of proof with a county treasurer that the procedure was done before the law goes into effect. This draft legislation will be presented to the Dog Law Advisory Board this week, prior to being published in The Pennsylvania Bulletin and submitted to the state Legislature.

 

The proposed law also would apply to nonresidents of Pennsylvania who are passing through the state, or who participate in field trials, dog shows, performance events or hunting here. Several sporting breeds routinely have their tails docked, following breed standards designed to prevent severe tail injuries while hunting, including Brittanys, German shorthaired pointers, cocker spaniels, various breeds of terriers and several others. Many other breeds that customarily have their tails docked are as diverse as Australian shepherds, Yorkshire terriers and rottweilers.

 

Animal cruelty statutes carry criminal penalties, and in Pennsylvania are enforced by Humane Society officers, county animal control officers and police officers. The proposed legislation also grants power to state dog wardens to enforce all animal cruelty statutes.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) is actively working to oppose this legislation. We need your support and membership right now to show Pennsylvania lawmakers that sporting dog owners are united in opposition to this arbitrary infringement of our rights and breed traditions. Please visit our website to learn about us and join our fight to protect your rights: http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org.

 

This legislation will be introduced to accompany a major 80-page-long revision of Pennsylvania’s kennel laws. Both bills are supported by Gov. Ed Rendell. ASDA will be issuing commentary about the tough new kennel legislation in the near future.

 

ASDA maintains that this legislation quite literally would create chaos and result in stiff fines for many thousands of law-abiding dog owners every year. While licensed kennel owners may be informed at some point, few pet owners would have a way of knowing about the law until a dog warden shows up at their door with a citation. Perhaps the most vulnerable people would be pet owners and hunters who own one or two dogs, but don’t participate in events or organizations that would inform them of this law. We see the potential for millions of dollars in unfair and unjustified fines to be sucked out of the pockets of law-abiding private citizens to feed the greedy jaws of government.

 

If passed into law, this legislation also would have a devastating impact on field trials, performance testing and shows for many breeds that are traditionally exhibited with docked tails. Nonresidents simply would not be able to comply with a requirement, which would require having a veterinary certificate or registering the dog with a county treasurer in Pennsylvania.

 

Most people who buy a dog or puppy have no way of knowing if a veterinarian has docked the tail, but simply have taken a breeder at his or her word when proof has not been required by law. They also may not be able to contact someone else’s veterinarian many months or years after the fact to obtain proof. Some people also may be trapped by this law if a veterinarian has retired, moved or died, or if the dog’s breeder cannot be located. Even after being cited, these people would have no way to come into compliance in the future, and would be given the painful choice of either facing increasingly stiff penalties in the future or euthanizing their beloved pet and companion. This legislation would turn thousands of law-abiding people into criminals, at the stroke of a pen!

 

In addition, some dogs lose part or all of their tails through accidents and injuries, and sometimes as newborn puppies. This can happen to a newborn puppy if its mother steps on it or accidentally hurts its tail cleaning it up after birth. Older dogs can get their tails caught in doors, or break them by accidentally cracking them against hard objects. Owners of these dogs would have no defense against being charged with animal cruelty.

 

The legislation also would seriously impact both Pennsylvania and out-of-state trainers and handlers, who would be virtually prohibited from bringing a dog with a docked tail into the state for a field trial or to be trained. Dog wardens literally could pass out hundreds of criminal citations at any dog show or Continental breed field trial in Pennsylvania. Also, many Pennsylvania residents also would be effectively prohibited from buying a dog or puppy from a breeder of their choice from out of state, even if the breeder was completely in compliance with the laws of his or her own state.

 

Even travelers passing through Pennsylvania with their pets would be subject to a criminal citation under this legislation.

 

Some conscientious and experienced breeders dock the tails of puppies, after having been advised to do this and trained by their veterinarians. This practice would be prohibited by the legislation. Many veterinarians report that newly born puppies show no signs of pain or discomfort from docking procedures, and some even sleep through the procedure. ASDA strongly supports a breeder’s right to make this decision for him/herself.

 

A particularly onerous aspect of this legislation is that it places the burden of proof on the person who owns a dog or is in possession of it, rather than upon the state. This flies in the face of the entire American system of jurisprudence, which is based on the presumption of innocence for anyone who is accused of violating any law. These vital protections to individual liberties are enshrined in the constitutions of the United States and most states. No crime of any kind is more serious or dangerous to American society than comprising the integrity of the Constitution and basic human rights.

 

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Monday, January 7th 2008

5:57 PM

ASDA Position on Draft Pennsylvania Kennel Legislation

Comments on Draft Kennel Legislation – 1/7/08

 

By John Yates

Executive Director

The American Sporting Dog Alliance

 

Dear Members of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board:

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) is a Pennsylvania-based organization representing sporting dog owners and professionals nationwide, including many Pennsylvanians. We are offering our analysis of draft kennel regulations that now are before the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and will be published in The Pennsylvania Bulletin in early 2008.

 

We wish to commend Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rend ell and the state Department of Agriculture for listening to the concerns of sporting dog owners during the public comment period on the initial version of this legislation a year ago. We applaud many of the changes that have been made in the draft version in response to our concerns.

 

However, we also believe that the 2008draft legislation has many serious problems of both a substantive and technical nature. We also see some serious constitutional issues that must be corrected.

 

Our major concern is that ASDA simply doesn’t see the need for additional legislation. In the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement’s most recent report to the Legislature, documents show that, in the year 2006, 598 kennel licenses were revoked, 23,058 citations were issued, 17,796 dogs were seized and impounded, and $355,920 in fines were collected for alleged violations of the kennel law.

 

Those numbers clearly and dramatically show that Pennsylvania’s current kennel laws are working. In addition to those numbers, dogs in Pennsylvania are protected by strong animal cruelty laws, and many commercial kennels also are regulated by very stringent federal kennel regulations. Moreover, Gov. Rendell has announced several times that enforcement of Pennsylvania laws had substantially increased last year, and thus 2007 statistics are expected to be even more dramatic.

 

Those statistics alone completely refute the alleged need for additional regulation. They also clearly substantiate the concern of many dog owners that further regulation will destroy this important part of Pennsylvania’s agricultural and small business economy, and place very unfair burdens on private dog ownership as well.

 

In testimony on last year’s proposed regulations, Department of Agriculture officials testified that not a single one of Pennsylvania’s 2,600 licensed kennels would pass the proposed regulations. Even under the current regulations, the 2006 statistics show that kennel licenses were revoked for almost one-quarter of Pennsylvania’s kennels.

 

This tells us clearly that the intention of the legislation was not to raise the bar of kennel standards in the Commonwealth, and not to eliminate only non-compliant kennels. Those facts strongly suggest that the intention was to shut down the vast majority of kennels, and to use governmental power to forcibly impose an activist animal rights philosophy on private citizens in Pennsylvania. This apparent intention makes dog and kennel owners especially wary of the vastly strengthened police powers contained in the 2008 draft version of this legislation.

 

Please also take note of the sheer volume and complexity of these draft regulations. The current kennel law is roughly 40 pages long. The draft legislation is 80 pages long in PDF format, and 104 pages long in Microsoft Word format…and this doesn’t include several sections that are not being amended! It is unrealistic to expect dog owners, kennel owners and even enforcement officers to absorb, understand and remember the details of such a cumbersome document. It takes detailed line-by-line analysis and diagramming to even see which sections apply or do not apply to various classes of kennels. In a best-case scenario, it is a very confusing document. At best, we see its length and structure as creating confusion if not chaos.

 

A final but extremely important general concern is that the legislation would take effect immediately upon being signed into law. Because of the complexity of the legislation, it is essential that a “grace period” will be provided to allow kennel owners adequate time to come into compliance. ASDA believes that this “grace period” should be at least six months, to allow adequate time for kennel owners to make changes, perform structural work on their facilities, to secure financing for the work, to secure required municipal code approvals, and to actually perform the work given seasonal conditions that may make construction impossible. The lack of a “grace period” is, in effect, setting up kennel owners to be noncompliant, thus resulting in license revocations.

 

The focus of our comments in the remainder of this document will be on specific parts in the draft legislation.

 

There is a contradiction between the first and last sentences of the definition of a boarding kennel. The two contradictory sentences read: “Any kennel available to the general public where dogs are housed or trained for compensation by the day, week or a specified or unspecified time…This term does not include dog grooming or dog training.” As you can see, the first sentence says that boarding kennels include kennels that trains dogs, while the last sentence excludes dog training from this definition. ASDA believes that dog training is a valid part of the definition of a boarding kennel, and suggests removing the words “dog training” from the last sentence to make the wording clear and consistent.

 

The definition of a “commercial Kennel” also is very problematic. ASDA agrees that breeding kennels that sell to pet stores or dealers should remain part of this definition, and that the definition of these kennels as transferring “a total of at least 60 dogs” a year is appropriate. However, the number of litters a year is not realistic and would adversely and unfairly affect many high quality hobby breeders who are serious about improving show, companion, performance and sporting breeds. We suggest replacing the proposed “five litters” definition with “15 litters” a year.

 

In addition, the definition of a “commercial kennel” should not include the word “keeps.” The draft definition reads “or keeps or transfers a total of at least 60 dogs…in a calendar year.” This number is unrealistically low, in that many very small boarding and training kennels would unfairly fall into this classification. For example, a very small home business of a boarding kennel with only a 10-dog maximum capacity would exceed this standard in less than two months, assuming full capacity and an average length of stay of one week (a typical time span for people who board their dogs while on vacation). In addition, many part-time kennels that train or handle dogs in competition on a very small scale would fall under this definition. Removing the word “keeps” would eliminate these problems.

 

ASDA suggests the following definition of a “commercial kennel” to eliminate these problems: “A breeding kennel that sells to a dealer or pet shop kennel, or that transfers at least 60 dogs in a calendar year, or that produces 15 litters or more in a calendar year.”

 

The definition of “primary enclosure” is very confusing. In the definition section of the legislation, it appears to be a description of a dog house or sleeping compartment, although most dog houses allow a dog free egress and ingress, which does not “restrict…a dog’s ability to move.” A dog simply can walk through the door of its doghouse. The kennel run itself is what restricts a dog’s ability to move freely beyond its perimeters.  Yet, the definition excludes kennel runs that are attached to a house (we assume it means a dog house, rather than a dwelling for humans) or a cage (a sleeping area of an indoor/outdoor kennel could be construed as a “cage.”).  Moreover, the regulations for “Class B” license additional requirements (Section 207 parts h. and i.) further this confusion, by seemingly applying to doghouses and sleeping quarters in some requirements, and to kennel runs in others.

 

Here is a much more clear definition of a primary enclosure that is contained in federal law: “Primary enclosure means any structure or device used to restrict an animal or animals to a limited amount of space, such as a room, pen, run, cage, compartment, pool, or hutch.”

 

Under the definition of establishment, subsection 2 excludes “training for

an event such as a field trial, hunting event or dog show.” In other words, training areas are excluded. However, actual dog shows, field trials and hunting are not excluded. It means that these activities would be subject to kennel licensure and inspections. We assume that this error was unintentional. In any event, it should be corrected so that field trials, dog shows and hunting are excluded from licensing requirements.

 

The definition of “seizure” poses some constitutional problems. It says: “ ‘Seizure.’ The act of taking possession of property for a violation of law or the taking or removal from the possession of another. The term shall not include the taking of ownership of property.” We regard the last sentence in this definition as an attempt to evade constitutional requirements that prohibit the taking of private property without due process and fair compensation. Denying the right of possession of private property is a defacto taking of that property, without provision for due process in the courts and fair compensation.

 

Section 200 applies to individual dog licenses sold by the counties. Subsection e.1. is about electronic records. It requires each county to submit and regularly update an electronic data file of all dog license holders to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. We find this troubling, as we can find no legitimate reason to violate the privacy of several hundred Pennsylvanians. It appears to us that this is a “fishing expedition” by the Bureau to create defacto state registration of all dog owners. This subsection should be removed.

 

Section 206 of the draft legislation defines the various categories and classifications of kennels. However, the legislation removes the actual license fees that would be charged to people who apply for each class of license. These fees are contained in the current dog law. We feel that it is vital to continue to include the fees for licenses, as failing to do this gives a blank check to the Bureau to arbitrarily create and/or increase license fees without appropriate legislative oversight and accountability. Fees should be set and changed only through an act of the Legislature. Our concern is that license fees could become prohibitively high, while leaving kennel owners no avenue of redress.

 

Also under Section 206, very high ($500-to-$1,000 per day) fines can be assessed for noncompliance with licensing requirements. While we support the allowance for the Secretary to waive the fines, we also believe that the fines are too high for anything except a flagrant violation of licensing requirements. A single litter of puppies can cause a properly licensed kennel to be out of compliance, or a kennel that is not required to be licensed today can be subject to licensure tomorrow through the purchase of a single dog. We believe kennels should be given a formal “grace period” of no less than 30 days to come into compliance with the proper category of licensure. We also believe that even temporary noncompliance or simple carelessness can subject a kennel owner to truly devastating fines, liens and the potential loss of the market value of real estate for relatively minor violations that have no bearing on the quality of care given to dogs in that kennel. Payment of all fines and penalties is a requirement for licensure. If the kennel owner were not financially able to pay these fines quickly, he or she would be subject to the confiscation and possible euthanasia of his or her dogs. In this case, the punishment clearly does not fit the crime. Bonding requirements for seized dogs would be appropriate only if the dogs are found to be in poor condition or in danger.

 

In Section 207, subsections b. and c. of the current law are not included or repealed in the draft legislation. Thus, we assume that they still stand and would remain in effect. Section b. covers kennel maintenance and sanitation, and section c. covers required records. We support these sections. However, we also think that a legislative review should be required of any maintenance and sanitary “codes promulgated by the secretary through regulations.” Any regulations should be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and, at the least, approved by the Regulatory Review Committee of the Legislature. If this oversight is not provided, kennel owners would be justified in fearing that the kind of stringent and prohibitive regulations that were contained in the 2006 draft of the regulations would be repeated through administrative edict, and that legislative oversight and accountability thus would be circumvented.

 

Under subsection g. of Section 207, a plan for exercise of all dogs in boarding kennels and kennel classifications I-through-VIII must be developed and approved by the kennel’s attending veterinarian. We fully agree that proper exercise is vital for the health and well being of all dogs. However, we strongly oppose requiring veterinary approval when there is no clear standard for veterinarians to use in granting or denying approval. In essence, each veterinarian in Pennsylvania would formulate his or her own personal standards, and these might differ widely from each other. These differences of opinion thus would impose arbitrary and capricious requirements for exercise needs, have little to do with the actual exercise given to dogs because there is no mechanism to enforce the plan (in fact, it is unenforceable, unless the Bureau is prepared to assign a full-time dog warden to each kennel to observe what happens), and would subject every kennel owner to unfair and unequal treatment under the law. As such, we see this requirement as both pointless and burdensome. It serves no purpose, and adds to the burden on kennel owners.

 

This section also requires a notice with information about each dog to be affixed to the front of each “cage,” or to be in the possession of the kennel owner if “cages” are not used. There is no definition of the word “cage” in the draft legislation, and different people might interpret this to mean a kennel run, doghouse, or even a sleeping area in the owner’s home. It would be difficult to attach any paper notice to an outdoor facility, unless it was laminated for weather protection. We also see this requirement as serving no essential purpose, while burdening the kennel owner.

 

Subsection three requires all kennels to have smoke alarms installed. Thus, this includes outdoor kennels. A smoke alarm is meaningless for an outdoor kennel.

 

Subsections H and I impose additional requirements on Class B kennels, which essentially means commercial breeding kennels. Many of these requirements are important and reasonable, and ASDA strongly supports them. It also is necessary to add that all of these commonsense requirements already are in place under current regulations, and this draft legislation is almost entirely redundant.

 

However, some provisions are quite troublesome.

 

Subsection vii. Requires kennels to “Provide sufficient space to shelter all the dogs housed in the primary enclosure at one time.” The term “sufficient space” is ambiguous and allows for arbitrary and capricious interpretation.

 

Subsection viii requires kennel owners to “Provide potable water at all times, unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian.” From a management point of view, this requirement is impossible. Dogs often spill or dirty their water, and in very cold weather ice can form very quickly. This problem could be solved by requiring kennels to provide clean potable water twice a day under all conditions, and more often if there is hot weather. In actual practice, this requirement would assure that most dogs have access to clean potable water for most of the day, and many will have access for the entire day and through the night. There is no evidence that would justify that dogs always have immediate access to water under normal conditions.

 

In subsection 3, the size of the primary enclosure for litters of puppies should be set by a clear formula in the legislation and should not require veterinary approval. This is not a medical issue if standard industry practices are followed.

 

In subsection 4, the requirement that puppies under 12 weeks of age must not be housed with unrelated adult dogs is unreasonable if the breeder raises the puppies inside his own home. In a home environment, dogs of various ages may be present and frequent human supervision is available. A home environment is the best place to raise puppies, and socialization with other dogs and people is vital to a puppy’s development.

 

The temperature requirements should apply only to indoor kennels, and not to indoor/outdoor or outdoor facilities. Well-insulated houses, natural airflow and shade adequately meet the needs for healthy and acclimatized dogs. There is no evidence that a problem actually exists to justify regulation in this area.

 

Subsection 9: outdoor and indoor/outdoor kennels usually are made of chain link or weld wire fencing, and floors may be gravel or crushed stone. These surfaces allow moisture to freely pass through.

 

Cleaning requirements are specified in subsection 14. The legislation requires cleaning kennels daily “or as often as necessary.” This is vague and subject to arbitrary interpretation, and should be clearly defined.

 

In Subsection 15, the requirement that a piece of paper be attached to the front of the cage is not workable for outdoor facilities, and the term “cage” has not been defined.

 

ASDA understands that euthanasia is inherently controversial, but we believe that the ethics of this issue should be left to the choice of the kennel owner as long as humane procedures are used to cause minimal pain to the animal. Thus, we must oppose the requirement in the legislation that only veterinarians are able to euthanize a dog. This contradicts standard practice in kennels and on farms for thousands of years, and we simply do not believe that people who choose to make their living raising dogs lack compassion for their suffering. In fact, taking an injured or seriously ill dog to a veterinarian’s office might significantly prolong the animal’s pain and suffering, and its owner must retain the option to take the most merciful course of action. In some instances, such as when roads conditions are dangerous, or after hours and on Sundays and holidays, suffering may be prolonged for many hours before a veterinarian can be located and reached. In addition, this requirement often would be unenforceable. A kennel owner who chooses to violate this provision simply would claim that a dog died of natural causes, and only an autopsy could disprove this claim.

 

The formula for determining space requirements in subsection I reads like a problem solving exercise in math class. It is needlessly complicated and will result in confusion. It should be replaced with a clear minimum space requirement based on the size of the dog and the number of dogs in the kennel enclosure.

 

Subsection vii prohibits intact male and female dogs from being exercised together. This contradicts a previous provision that allows them to be kept in the same primary enclosure (subsection 4 above). That subsection allows males and females to be kept together unless the female is in heat (except when she is being bred). It is reckless and irresponsible to prohibit management practices that would allow the kennel owner (who knows the individual dogs in a kennel) from determining the compatibility of kennel mates. There is far less danger of fighting if a male dog is kept with a female dog, and a far greater probability of fighting in same-sex housing or exercising. Prohibiting males and females from being exercised together serves no purpose. Virtually all kennel owners are highly skilled at detecting heat cycles, and there is almost no chance of unwanted pregnancies.

 

Subsection 7 is a requirement that only a veterinarian is permitted to administer a rabies shot. This requirement serves no purpose, and is punitive to kennel owners. The current system allows kennel owners to become state certified to administer their own rabies shots. The current program is working perfectly! There has not been a single documented case of canine rabies in a licensed kennel in many years. In fact, on Sept. 7, 2007, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an arm of the federal government, “formally declared the elimination of the type of rabies previously found in dogs in the United States,” according to a press release from the agency. “The elimination of canine rabies in the United States represents one of the major public health success stories in the last 50 years," stated Dr. Charles Rupprecht, Chief of the CDC Rabies Program. The rabies program is working and, if it ain’t broke, please don’t fix it. There is no evidence that requiring veterinarians to administer rabies shots will be more effective than the current program of vigilance. In fact, there is not one shred of evidence that a problem exists. This requirement is a thinly veiled attempt to use regulations punitively, by greatly increasing the costs of kennel owners and demands on their time, to no logical purpose.

 

Also, rabies vaccination certification for owners of boarding kennels and K1-through-VIII kennels is not addressed in the legislation. ASDA maintains that properly certified kennel owners should continue to be permitted to give their own rabies vaccinations to dogs that they actually own. There is no evidence to suggest that the current program is not working, or that any problems exist in it. This issue must be addressed in the legislation.

 

Subsection 8 requires every dog in a commerical kennel to be examined annually, and at each pregnancy. There is no justification for this requirement. State dog wardens are thoroughly trained to recognize signs of disease, poor nutrition or ill health, and the draft legislation gives them the power to order a veterinary examination for any dog that is believed to need medical evaluation or care. A blanket requirment for veterinary examinations of all dogs in a commercial kennel thus is completely unjustified and must be seen as punitive. It would make great demands on a kennel owners time, and would be very expensive, while serving no legitimate purpose.

 

In Section 209, various restrictions are placed on Pennsylvania kennels about doing business with unlicensed out-of-state dealers. We can see no valid purpose in this prohibition. Health would not be a concern. Under the legislation, no dog can enter Pennsylvania without a health certificate and rabies certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian. This requirement also places Pennsylvania kennel operators in the impossible position of being responsible for the actions and promises of another person, without having the legal authority or ability to verify licensure. It also prohibits an out-of-state dealer from simply transporting dogs through Pennsylvania, even if his operation is fully legal in his home state and in the state that will receive the dogs. This also clearly is an unconstitutional infringement on interstate commerce. The U.S. Constitution reserves the power to regulate interstate commerce to the federal government, and forbids states from interference.

 

Section 211 A. 1-4 prohibits issuing a kennel license to anyone who has made a misrepresentation or misstatement on an application, or to a Bureau employee, or who has failed to comply with or violates the Act or regulations promulgated under the Act. This prohibition is appropriate if someone knowingly commits these acts. However, it is far too stringent if the situation was accidental or based on a misunderstanding of the requirements of this extremely complicated legislation. It also refers to regulations promulgated under the kennel law. As noted earlier, it is essential for these regulations to be published in The Pennsylvania Bulletin before they are enforced, and to be subject to the approval of the Regulatory Review Committee. This is essential to make sure that the Department of Agriculture remains accountable to the Legislature, and that the Legislature remains accountable to the electorate.

 

It also is essential that the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement is required to notify all licensed kennel owners and other interested parties of any impending changes in the regulations, in order to allow adequate time for comment on the regulations and particpation in the process. Regrettably, we must note that the Bureau failed to do this a year ago, when the first draft version of this legislation was published, and this was correctly perceived as a blatant attempt to exclude regulated parties from the process. ASDA maintains that any kennel legislation is fatally flawed if the Bureau is not required by law to promptly notify stakeholders when regulations are proposed.

 

Because of the inherently controversial nature of animal issues, ASDA also strongly believes that any future regulations should be in the form of an amendment to the dog and kennel law, subject to full legislative review and voting, and requiring the Governor to formally sign it into law or have a veto overrriden by the Legislature.

 

Section 211 A. 6 forbids issuing a kennel license to anyone who has been convicted of a felony of any kind. We feel that this is unnecessary and overly stringent, unless it can be directly shown that the crime is related to keeping animals or operating a kennel business. For example, someone could have been convicted of a drug felony as a young adult, but completely changed his or her life in later years. When a criminal sentence has been discharged, the convicted person has paid his or her debt to society.

 

Section 211 A. 8 denies a kennel license to someone who is not in compliance with county and municipal laws or ordinances pertaining to a kennel. The Commonwealth has no business interfering in local matters, and the wording of this text, in combination with other language later in the legislation, would place the burden of proof on a kennel license holder. This clearly is unconstitutional, and blatantly contradicts the American system of justice.

 

In subsection C. i., a person is supposed to be given a reasonable amount of time to comply with the Act and regulations. The legislation defines a reasonable amount of time as 15 days. If a kennel must make significant structural changes to comply, 15 days is a very unreasonable period of time. For example, if the kennel is subject to zoing approval, it would take longer than 15 days simply to get zoning approval to make the changes. This timeframe also fails to take into account weather conditions at various times of the year that may make construction impossible, such as during a hard winter. To be reasonable, the timeframe must be contingent on the amount and type of work that must be completed, regulatory hurdles that would delay construction, and weather that would make construction difficult or impossible.

 

Subsection vii authorizes the “forfeiture…without compensation” of all dogs, in excess of 25,  in a kennel that fails to come into compliance within 15 days. This clearly is a denial of constitutional rights, as the license holder would be denied due process under the law, as no redress in the courts is provided, and also would be denied fair compensation for government essentially exercizing powers of eminent domain over private property. It also fails to meet the legal requirement of eminent domain actions, in that the taking of private property by government is permissable only when a compelling public interest can be shown.

 

Section 218 A. and B. clearly transgress the constitutional authority of state government by allowing inspections of private property and records of allegedly unlicensed kennels without a warrant. Whether or not a kennel is unlicensed is a presumption based on the opinion of the investigating officer, who has no reasonable grounds to reach that conclusion prior to an inspection. This provision essentially allows Bureau officials unrestricted access to the property and records of everyone who owns a dog. The Bill of Rights guarantees all Americans protection against searching property and records in the absense of probable cause to believe that a law has been broken.

 

Section 218 C attempts to define probable cause, but does so in a way that clearly is illegal and unconstitutional. The legislation states that there will be probable cause to inspect private property and records if the “inspection, examination or seizure is pursuant to a general administrative plan to determine compliance with this act.” Constitutional rights are individual rights, and not group rights. A plan to inspect the group of dog owners or possible kennel owners fails to meet the test of probable cause to believe that an individual is in violation of the law. ASDA maintains that no possible good from these actions can come close to the importance of destroying constitutional limits on the power of government, or the violation of constitutionally guaranteed human rights.

 

Section 220 b. outlines procedure that will be followed when a dog warden attempts to inspect a kennel when the kennel owner is not home. The dog warden is mandated to give the kennel owner 24 hours in which to be present to allow for an inspection of the kennel. If the warden returns within 24 hours and does not find the owner at the kennel, this will be considered to be a refusal to allow inspection. This is grounds for revoking a kennel license and imposing penalties against the owner. This requirement is completely irrational when it is applied to the vast majority of licensed kennels, and probably to all kennels on occasion. A large majority of licensed kennels are not operated as full-time businesses, and their owners must go to jobs during normal business hours. This often would make it impossible for these license holders to be present at the kennel at the convenience of the dog warden. Some people who hold jobs may not be allowed to take time away from their employment without notice, others may have professional commitments that cannot be broken, and still others might be traveling for business. In other instances, many professional dog trainers and handlers routinely travel away from home for days or weeks at a time, depending on the needs and realities of their business. Inspections are vital, but they also must be respectful of the legitimate needs of kennel owners and their business commitments.

 

Under Section 301 B. 1, housing in barrels is prohibited. In general, ASDA strongly supports this prohibition. However, a barrel is defined by its shape. Some of the most highly regarded, weather resistant, insulated and expensive dog houses on the market are manufactered in the shape of a barrel. In terms of protecting dogs, these are some of the best houses on the market, if not the best. Yet their use is prohibited by this legislation.

 

Thank you for listening to our concerns.

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Monday, January 7th 2008

5:53 PM

ASDA Position on PA Tail Docking Legislation

Pennsylvania Draft Legislation

Puts Clamps on Tail Docking

 

A proposed revision of the Pennsylvania Animal Cruelty law makes it illegal for anyone to own or possess a dog or puppy with a docked tail, unless the person can prove that the tail was docked by a licensed veterinarian or has filed an affidavit of proof with a county treasurer that the procedure was done before the law goes into effect. This draft legislation will be presented to the Dog Law Advisory Board this week, prior to being published in The Pennsylvania Bulletin and submitted to the state Legislature.

 

The proposed law also would apply to nonresidents of Pennsylvania who are passing through the state, or who participate in field trials, dog shows, performance events or hunting here. Several sporting breeds routinely have their tails docked, following breed standards designed to prevent severe tail injuries while hunting, including Brittanys, German shorthaired pointers, cocker spaniels, various breeds of terriers and several others. Many other breeds that customarily have their tails docked are as diverse as Australian shepherds, Yorkshire terriers and rottweilers.

 

Animal cruelty statutes carry criminal penalties, and in Pennsylvania are enforced by Humane Society officers, county animal control officers and police officers. The proposed legislation also grants power to state dog wardens to enforce all animal cruelty statutes.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) is actively working to oppose this legislation. We need your support and membership right now to show Pennsylvania lawmakers that sporting dog owners are united in opposition to this arbitrary infringement of our rights and breed traditions. Please visit our website to learn about us and join our fight to protect your rights: http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org.

 

This legislation will be introduced to accompany a major 80-page-long revision of Pennsylvania’s kennel laws. Both bills are supported by Gov. Ed Rendell. ASDA will be issuing commentary about the tough new kennel legislation in the near future.

 

ASDA maintains that this legislation quite literally would create chaos and result in stiff fines for many thousands of law-abiding dog owners every year. While licensed kennel owners may be informed at some point, few pet owners would have a way of knowing about the law until a dog warden shows up at their door with a citation. Perhaps the most vulnerable people would be pet owners and hunters who own one or two dogs, but don’t participate in events or organizations that would inform them of this law. We see the potential for millions of dollars in unfair and unjustified fines to be sucked out of the pockets of law-abiding private citizens to feed the greedy jaws of government.

 

If passed into law, this legislation also would have a devastating impact on field trials, performance testing and shows for many breeds. Nonresidents simply would not be able to comply with a requirement, which would require having a veterinary certificate or registering the dog with a county treasurer in Pennsylvania.

 

Most people who buy a dog or puppy have no way of knowing if a veterinarian has docked the tail, but simply have taken a breeder at his or her word when proof has not been required by law. They also may not be able to contact someone else’s veterinarian many months or years after the fact to obtain proof. Some people also may be trapped by this law if a veterinarian has retired, moved or died, or if the dog’s breeder cannot be located. Even after being cited, these people would have no way to come into compliance in the future, and would be given the painful choice of either facing increasingly stiff penalties in the future or euthanizing their beloved pet and companion. This legislation would turn thousands of law-abiding people into criminals, at the stroke of a pen!

 

In addition, some dogs lose part or all of their tails through accidents and injuries, and sometimes as newborn puppies. This can happen to a newborn puppy if its mother steps on it or accidentally hurts its tail cleaning it up after birth. Older dogs can get their tails caught in doors, or break them by accidentally cracking them against hard objects. Owners of these dogs would have no defense against being charged with animal cruelty.

 

The legislation also would seriously impact both Pennsylvania and out-of-state trainers and handlers, who would be virtually prohibited from bringing a dog with a docked tail into the state for a field trial or to be trained. Many Pennsylvania residents also would be effectively prohibited from buying a dog or puppy from a breeder of their choice from out of state, even if the breeder was completely in compliance with the laws of his or her own state.

 

Even travelers passing through Pennsylvania with their pets would be subject to a criminal citation under this legislation.

 

Some conscientious and experienced  breeders dock the tails of puppies, after having been advised to do this and trained by their veterinarians. This practice would be prohibited by the legislation. Many veterinarians report that newly born puppies show no signs of pain or discomfort from docking procedures, and some even sleep through the procedure.

 

A particularly onerous aspect of this legislation is that it places the burden of proof on the person who owns a dog or is in possession of it, rather than upon the state. This flies in the face of the entire American system of jurisprudence, which is based on the presumption of innocence for anyone who is accused of violating any law. These vital protections to individual liberties are enshrined in the constitutions of the United States and most states. No crime of any kind is more serious or dangerous to American society than comprising the integrity of the Constitution and basic human rights.

 

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Monday, December 17th 2007

7:28 PM

Ohio Bill Strips Away Dog Ownership Rights

 

A bill before the Ohio legislature takes aim at the concept of dogs as private property, stripping away the right of private ownership of dogs. The legislation redefines owners of kennels as having “custody of or control” over dogs, but does not grant them the right of actual ownership. The bill is designed to regulate kennels having nine or more breeding dogs. It requires additional regulation of kennels that sell more than 25 dogs and puppies a year, which are called “intermediary” kennels.

 

House Bill 223 gives dogs the same legal status and rights as human children or wards of the state, and incorporates many of the basic principles advocated by extreme animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. HSUS and PETA believe that all animals should be granted rights equal to those guaranteed to humans, and the Ohio legislation reflects this position.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) has identified the Ohio legislation as one of its highest priorities for 2008, and is assembling a strong leadership team and legal representation to fight back against this blatant attempt to take away our right of dog ownership and infringe on the vital concept of private property.

 

“It’s not going to be an easy fight,” ASDA Director John Yates said. “The Ohio legislation (H.B. 223) already has the endorsement of 38 members of the 99-member Ohio General Assembly. That is close to 40-percent support, and the bill still is in committee.” The 38 Ohio legislators who endorse the bill will be listed at the bottom of this article.

 

“I ‘smell a rat’ with this legislation,” Yates said. “First of all, it was not introduced into the House Agriculture Committee, even though it would be administered and controlled by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Instead, the bill was introduced in the State Government and Elections Committee. This is a tactic use to minimize the influence of pro-farm legislators, who would recognize the fundamental danger to farmers when animals are granted equal rights with humans, and when the concept of private ownership of animals is destroyed.”

 

Yates said it also seems fishy that numerous sensationalistic and inflammatory news articles, television news stories and National Public Radio broadcasts have appeared in Ohio over the past month. National Public Radio is funded with tax dollars, and ASDA plans to demand equal airtime to counter these biased news stories.

 

Yates urges all Ohioans who have sporting dogs, own dogs of other breeds, who farm or who simply care about basic human rights to take an active role in this fight by joining ASDA and volunteering their time and talent to strike down this legislation and put real heat on the 38 legislators who support it. ASDA also has assembled a list of Ohio organizations that support this legislation, and businesses that support these groups, and will urge sporting dog owners to boycott them.

 

ASDA’s website can be accessed at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org. Frequent updates about the Ohio situation will appear on the organization’s journal blog, which can be accessed through this site.

 

A full political and legal analysis of this legislation will be published on the ASDA website this week, but here are some of the most significant aspects of H.B. 223:

 

·                    All litters of puppies born by regulated kennels must be registered with the state agency.

 

·                    Each kennel operator will be required to post surety bonds and carry insurance to pay for the cost of any enforcement action against him or her.

 

·                    The state will be given the power to confiscate dogs, both for alleged mistreatment and for technical violations of the kennel law.

 

·                    Although violation of any part of this law would be considered a First Class Misdemeanor, subject to the criminal code and possible prison sentences and stiff fines, accused kennel owners are granted only the right to an administrative appeal through the Department of Agriculture.

 

·                    It allows the Department of Agriculture to pass judgment on an applicant’s competence to operate a kennel, without defining what standards will be used to make this determination, and gives the power to deny licensure to anyone deemed lacking “the expertise or capacity” to meet the requirements of the law. Photos of an applicant’s kennel and various affidavits must be filed with each application.

 

·                    The bill requires initial and annual criminal and personal background checks of kennel operators, and of all of their employees and family members who have contact with dogs, and also requires fingerprinting of each person involved. Kennel owners thus will have to meet the same background requirements as people who work with children or adults in schools, institutions, group homes and social service agencies. A kennel license would be denied if the operator, a kennel employee or a family member have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to animal abuse or domestic violence allegations at any time in their lives.

 

·                    Grants complete power to the Department of Agriculture to create and enforce specific regulations about the care of dogs, kennel management, paperwork and facility design. The bill does not require either legislative oversight or public participation, and the specifics of the regulations are not contained in the text of the legislation. Specific information is being withheld from the legislature and citizens.

 

·                    Annual kennel license fees ranging from $150 to $750 are imposed by the bill. Intermediaries (anyone who sells more than 25 dogs or puppies a year) are required to pay an additional $500 license fee. In addition, any citizen can request an inspection of any intermediary facility at any time and for any reason, and the request will be mandatory.

 

·                    The bill also sets up contracts with animal shelters and rescue groups to house and care for any animals that are confiscated by the state.

 

·                    Creates a 10-member oversight commission consisting of two members of the general assembly and eight members “representing various entities with an interest in dog kennels.” There is no requirement for any of these representatives to be stakeholders in the issue, and the door is open for representation by animal rights groups. These eight seats will be held by political appointees who are not accountable to the Legislature or the voters.

 

Here is a list of the 38 co-sponsors of the bill: Ohio Reps. Hughes (the prime sponsor), R. Hagan, D. Stewart, Flowers, Skindell, Combs, B. Williams, Seitz, Okey, Fende, Setzer, Bacon, Beatty, Brady, Otterman, Peterson, Brown, Yuko, J. Stewart, Luckie, Wolpert, J. McGregor, Webster, Evans, Ujvagi, Blessing, J. Hagan, Distel, Heard, Dyer, Celeste, Foley, Chandler, Hottinger, Strahorn, Schneider, Bolon, and Miller.

Yates urges Ohioans and others to contact these legislators both in person and with strongly worded letters of protest aimed both at defeating this legislation, and having the co-sponsors formally withdraw their support from it.

ASDA also is working to save Ohio field trial grounds at the Kildeer Plains and Indian Creek Wildlife Management Areas, which are being closed to trialing this coming April by state and federal wildlife agencies.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, December 12th 2007

4:23 AM

Veterinarians Provide Kennel Regulation Commentary

The American Sporting Dog Alliance that two respected veterinarians in the sporting dog community will lead our efforts to combat onerous proposed kennel regulations in three states.

Californian Dr. Charles Hjerpe will represent us on proposed mandatory "spay and neuter" laws in his state. Dr. Hjerpe hunts and field trials widely throughout the West.

Ohio veterinarian Dr. Lori Hunt will represent us by providing expert testimony on proposed kennel regulations in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Dr. Hunt is active in hunt tests and NAVHDA tests with Italian spinonis, and also raises French Bulldogs.

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