You Decide… Tomorrow Is The Last Day.

Guest blogger Vicky Von Busse has an urgent message for everyone who owns, breeds, or hopes to ever again own an animal in the United States.

Vicky writes:

Tomorrow is the last day for comments. After that, Fate will tell YOU where you can buy, what you can buy, how you can sell or even if you can sell. Below is a repost from Walt Hutchens, a well-known animal advocate, who has consistently fought AR laws over many years. He has given permission to crosspost this to wherever anyone believes it will do any good. He mainly discusses how this will affect breeders, but it will affect buyers too. A buyer’s ability to obtain an healthy, well-bred animal will disappear if this goes through. A buyer will be left with animals with a “suspect” past, be it behavioral or health or even imported from countries such as China, Taiwan, Mexico where conditions are beyond the buyer’s and the importer’s control. Costs of a pet will rise no matter what title (i.e. adopt) gets attached to that animal. Long story short, APHIS also needs to hear from buyers, especially if they cherish their ability to choose. For breeders – the fox has offered to guard the hen house. HSUS has stepped up to the plate to help APHIS out in monitoring and inspecting sellers.

Choices.
Not many left to make.

Vicky

*********************************************************

The animal rights wars have reached a new and critical phase. I am going to ask for your help.

In short, breeding dogs as we do, in a home setting, may be about to get new and more difficult FEDERAL rules and since there’s a major organization — the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) — devoted to destroying pet breeding, that would make it a whole lot more dangerous. This is unfortunately a long
story.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was amended in 1971 to bring the breeding of dogs under federal regulation. USDA is the enforcing agency and it shortly wrote regulations saying who had to be licensed and that licensees must operate a commercial-type kennel with facilities and practices spelled out in detail. There are inspections, discrepancies must be corrected, and having too many discrepancies leads to fines.

That first set of AWA regulations established seven exemptions from the licensure requirement. The most important of these was the ‘retail pet store’ exemption: People, businesses, etc. that sell only at retail (never through middlemen such as pet shops) are considered RPSs and are not required to be licensed. The theory was that RPSs are mostly very small, thus inspecting them was not a cost-effective use of government resources and that in any case they’re inspected by customers.

The reason we can breed dogs in our home, whelp puppies in a spare bedroom, bring them to our living room, take them out to romp on the (unfenced) lawn, and allow them supervised play with our adults is that the federal government considers us a Retail Pet Shop and thus exempt from licensing which would forbid all of these things.

The practice of sight unseen purchase — at the time by phone/mail from ads in major national and pet publications — caused no special concern back in 1971 or for the next 40 years.

HSUS is the leader of the animal rights (AR) movement. They make their money by convincing the public that they ‘protect’ animals but in fact only about 1/2% of their roughly $150 million/year income helps any animal: Most of the money goes to fundraising, excellent salaries for top officers, lobbying for more restrictive laws, and litigation in support of their lobbying work. You may wonder how a 501(c)(3) charity can do big time lobbying and so do many other people, but it doesn’t bother the IRS.

A long time dream of HSUS and the animal rights movement in general has been the licensing and inspection of all pet breeders. From 1997 to the present they have initiated at least four bills in Congress that would dramatically extend the reach of the AWA; they also fought a court battle based on their claim that Congress’ intent was the regulation of all breeders. They won in District Court but USDA appealed and the Court of Appeals found that USDA’s exemption of very small breeders based on the fact that they sold at retail only was a valid exercise of regulatory judgement. (DDAL v.
Venneman, decided 2003)

From ’97 until now, HSUS has gotten NOTHING. Their bills generally don’t even get a Congressional hearing. And USDA supported the ‘retail sales only’ line.

Now for the first time they have an Administration that is supportive of their goals. Through APHIS (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA) there is a proposed rulemaking, APHIS Docket 2011-0003, that would shrink the Retail Pet Shop exemption to those breeders who require every
buyer to come to the location where the animals are maintained at least once for every sale. The claimed reason is that with the growth of the Internet there is no longer assurance that breeders locations are seen by the public; this is now proclaimed to be a ‘loophole.’

There are changes to the other exemptions: The most important of these is the elimination of the ‘fancier’ exemption covering those who breed for show.

Our normal practice is that buyers come here, so the new regulation wouldn’t seem to affect us very much. However we have shipped a rescue dog whose ideal home turned out to be in Wyoming and we have a few times met the buyer of a second puppy who was a member of the Timbreblue family, halfway.
Furthermore, we sometimes buy dogs from other breeders, meeting them halfway or at a dog show. We need that freedom.

Some other hobby breeders never bring people to their homes to buy. For reasons of either (or both) personal safety and fear of an AR ‘sting’ buyer looking for probable cause to set up a raid, they meet in public places. And the practices of shipping dogs and meeting at shows or elsewhere are very common.

Most breeders won’t be able to comply.

Some 10 million dogs are sold each year. The majority are casual sales by people who have no clue that the federal government regulates such things. Under the proposed regulation if you trade a dog that won’t hunt for a box of shotgun shells in your church parking lot, you will be in violation and subject to a fine of up to $10,000. There is no applicable ‘too small to care about’ exemption. So how many violations would there be? A million a year? More?

Most, of course, will never be noticed because APHIS can’t be everywhere and most people won’t care. However we can count on HSUS to set up a ‘tip line’ and funnel reported violations to the feds. Will that be 10,000 reports a year or only a thousand? Will another breeder who dislikes you or an animal rightist who hates all ‘greeders’ call in a tip and force you to try to prove to an inspector that you didn’t sell a dog at a flea market? (How do you prove where a dog is sold?) Will HSUS sue APHIS if they don’t process these reports?

Did Carter grow peanuts?

You’d think that the required cost/benefit analysis would have shown this to be a bad idea however APHIS counted only costs to the few hundred breeders they expect will become licensed, completely ignoring the expense when millions of other people must change their actions to avoid licensure, and the costly consequences of forcing more breeding underground and offshore. (If breeding illegally why would one pay taxes? What’s the cost of attempting enforcement against hidden breeders? Would there be costs resulting from lower animal quality?)

We’re now nearing the end of the public comment period on Docket 2011-0003, though there is talk of an extension. With about 6500 comments submitted so far, ‘opposed’ outnumbers ‘support’ by about 2:1 and the quality of the ‘oppose’ is far the better. HOWEVER, telephone conferences with APHIS give
the impression of an agency that has been told to “Do it!” and intends following orders. They’re now simply LYING about what’s in the regulations: In spite of plain language saying that a retail pet store must be a structure that each buyer physically enters, APHIS personnel are saying “All that’s really required is face-to-face contact” (for example at a show or other meeting place). And though existing regulations make very detailed requirements for licensed facilities such as that all surfaces contacted by animals must be sterilizable with water at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, APHIS is telling us “If you have a home breeding program you wouldn’t be expected to meet those requirements.”

Docket APHIS-2011-0003 is USDA’s ‘fast and furious’ — an agency action so stupid on its face, handled in so corrupt a manner and with such consequences that it should be a long term stain on Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the Department. However because pet breeders have no equivalent to the NRA, the public narrative is controlled by anti-pet interests whose view is “Breeders don’t care about animals; they do it to make money; abusing animals is profitable; and more regulation is better, regardless of how that’s achieved.” This story will never be on TV or in the newspapers.

Should these rules go into effect the less common breeds of dogs will be gone within ten years as the home breeders who sustain them close down. Breeding of the more popular breeds will shift toward large commercial kennels who will have to direct ship because pet shops are being shut down by local laws and boycotts. As the shortage of dogs develops there’ll be more direct sale importing (importing of puppies for resale is already illegal) and an increase of black market breeding.

Pedigree cats, pet rabbits, birds, and many of the smaller pets will fade more quickly; numbers in these species are already very small and many are not as easily bred as dogs.

We are of course deeply in the fight against Docket APHIS-2011-0003 and we still hope to win but we could use your help.

1. Comment to APHIS. Among obvious things to say is that you’re plenty smart enough to check out a pet breeder for yourself and you’d like to keep the choice of where and how you buy a dog rather than having the government do it for you. Be sure to say that you oppose these new regulations (or some equivalent) so the official reader won’t make a mistake. To make a public comment online, go here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

You can read the Federal Register announcement there (if you wish) and using the search function for ‘Walter Hutchens’ will show you my eight or so comments. If you change the address above by replacing ‘0001’ with any four digit number up to about 6500 you can read individual comments by others. The first thousand or so are nearly all animal rightists; to get a more balanced selection use numbers 1000-up.

To have your say, click ‘COMMENT.’ There’s a 2000-character limit, although you can upload larger files referenced by a comment. (Blanks ARE counted.) You must give your name and city; your name and comment can be read by anyone. It may be easier to draft comments with a word processing program that counts characters and then copy/paste them to the regulations.gov site.

2. Use your comments as the basis to write to your Congressmen. That’s easy to do by going here:

http://the-cavalry-group.rallycongress.com/6980/urge-congress-take-action-to-support-cavalry-group-mission/

There’s a sample letter but it should at least be substantially customized as form letters are counted as just one. Congressmen do NOT disclose any of your personal info or communications.

The importance of sending to Congress is that since APHIS seems to have been told ‘do it, regardless’ our best hope is that Congress leans on them either informally or via a Government Accountability Office investigation of the corrupt process for this rulemaking. (This plainly is a ‘major rulemaking’ in which GAO should be involved; it has been made to appear otherwise by ignoring nearly all of the costs.)

We will appreciate any help you can give us.

Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue

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5 thoughts on “You Decide… Tomorrow Is The Last Day.

  1. Bigger government is not what America needs. BUT, if the AFDC did not have the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in place to INSPECT manufacturers and servers of food to the public, WHERE WOULD YOU EAT-OUT, OR TAKE YOUR FAMILY out to eat? There ARE some extremely important Federal programs in place FOR OUR BENEFIT. Even with the regulations and inspections in place, I’ve been in one (and more) McDonalds that literally smelled like the dumpster outside… literally. There are no ‘easy’ choices when it comes to ‘government involvement in our lives.’ But, there are quite a few “Federal regulations” that BENEFIT the people, and for which I am thankful. Regarding oversight and inspection of pet ‘kennels’ and pet breeders — If there aren’t any activities going on that are harmful to animals, why would it be a problem if there were inspections? How many of YOU are willing to inspect (as a private individual) pet breeders and/or kennels and stores? In some cases, how would you even know pets were being bred (and mistreated or treated well)? There have been countless reports of large numbers of pets being “housed” in quarters that are only adequate for two dogs, at the very most. But, some (because they know they CAN GET AWAY WITH IT and, frankly only for the $$$) keep breeding and cross-breeding in despicable conditions; then the puppies get “cleaned-up” to offer for sale? While the poor, worn-out mama dog has been bred (for the $$$) and bred (again, for the $$$), and mixed-bred again (for the $$), until the poor mama dog grows old and dies? And, the puppies, later, develop all sorts of propensities to disease . . . heart diseases, skin diseases, etc., etc. I am no specialist in animal care; we do the best I can to adequately care for 3 dogs (shots every year, flea/tick/heart worm meds every month, twice-daily medication for my [dearly loved] Cocker Spaniel that MUST be professionally groomed at least every two months, and two other ‘who-dunits’ that don’t require as much expensive care. But, I had them all “fixed,” (or as one person put it, “their reproductive organs mutilated) because research has shown a dog that is nutured and/or spayed has a longer, healthier life. My goal is NOT to gain $$$ from my full-bred Cocker Spaniel; it could be lucrative: Purchase a few female and one or two male Cockers that were “registered” and breed them as often as possible, register the puppies when they are born, maybe get their first shots, and sell them for $250-350 a “piece,” (and more, I’m sure). But, to love and care for my Cocker, provide for her as she deserves, and be loved by her — COSTS MONEY. IT IS MY CONVICTION THAT IF THESE BREEDERS, STORES, AND KENNELS had love for their animals and were genuinely committed to care for their animals properly, there would be no fear, fight, or postings regarding how we need to — fight to keep Federal officials out of kennels, stores, and private breeders domiciles.

    • You’re right. America does not need an increase in government. It’s ineffective and costs taxpayers more money. With the debt that Americans already owe, it’s wise for the individual to start thinking of shrinking the government that spends endlessly and start being responsible themselves.

      You’ve effectively pointed out that government involvement obviously doesn’t help the smell you’ve experienced in the fast food restaurant. So what really is the point other than to give the consumer the *illusion* of something being done while it pulls money out of the taxpayers’ pockets?

      To your question: “If there aren’t any activities going on that are harmful to animals, why would it be a problem if there were inspections? ”

      First off, all pet owners including dog breeders must obey state animal welfare laws. Every state has these laws and anyone can report anyone who isn’t giving good care. Should the taxpayer be burdened with spending more money on a federal program too?

      Secondly, no where in the proposal has it been stated what is considered to be “harmful to animals”. What one individual may see as being exemplary treatment, another may see as being harmful.

      Thirdly, how many people are willing to have government come into their homes and inspect their bedrooms? Their kitchens? Their bathrooms? Their ability to raise a family? Shouldn’t be a problem, should it? It shouldn’t be a problem for the pet buyer either. After all, how does the government know how a pet owner treats the animal? Does “adequately” suit the government’s definition?

      Fourthly, APHIS’ proposal is asking the hobby breeder to kick their animals out into a kennel. That means no more home grown animals. No more family socialization. No puppies that will have an easier time to transition into their new homes because of continued human interaction. No puppies housebroken. Is this sterile environment better for you, the buyer? For the puppy?

      If breeders are required to raise their animals in a kennel situation, many will quit as the enormous costs of building APHIS sanctioned kennels would be a cost burden many could not undertake in this economy. The buyer will then be faced with purchasing a dog, whose parentage is unknown, from either a commercial kennel (which are already under USDA regulations), or from a shelter. Shelters already import dogs from Mexico, China, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Spain and Korea. Will the buyer know conditions from those countries? Will the buyer be able to pay the cost of a pet imported from these places? Will the buyer know the lineage? Will they know the health tests done? Will the buyer be ready to deal with and pay vet costs for any of the diseases these animals bring into the country? Will they be able to see the parents? Siblings? Remember, shelters have an overhead, salaries and many seek to make a profit to stay open. Corners are frequently cut to achieve that profit. Would that suit buyers better than having hobby breeders breed and raise healthy and happy puppies?

      Service dogs, search and rescue dogs, law enforcement, military dogs, working dogs (i.e. herding), and security guard dogs will become a thing of the past as these dogs have to initially be raised in an home environment and could not comply with APHIS’ proposal.

      Fifthly, every dog costs money daily: Food obviously, but also equipment and care, wear and tear on the home or kennel, and more often than you might think, vet care. You cannot breed a bitch before about 2 (same problems as having a baby too young!), so you have two years of expenses before you have any hope of getting anything back. Then she may turn out to be a poor mother or develop some health problem … two years of care is gone as far as any profit is concerned. BUT you must provide good care because unhealthy animals do not produce the large healthy litters you must have in order to make a profit — or if you are a hobbyist, to not lose as much.

      The new APHIS rules you are supporting will make dog (and other pet) breeding too hard for most honest people. They won’t all figure that out at once but if this does go into effect, a decade from now pets that you could easily buy today will be hard to find and some breeds will be completely gone. Common breeds will still be available but only from commercial or illegal breeders and at high prices. Pedigree cats will be gone and many other small pets will be on the way out. Hobby breeders will be almost all gone.

      The quality of the average dog breeder will be worse, because more breeders will be unskilled people who are willing to break the law for money and who hide from neighbors and animal control. Think about the kinds of people
      who raise marijuana or make illegal drugs now.

      Here’s an important question. Can a law always make things better? If it can, why don’t we make a law requiring every child to be an ‘A’ student? Or a law that requires us all to eat the same food? Or a law that says everyone has to be a great musician?

      Here’s another: If the government inspected how YOU do your favorite hobby and fined you if you did something wrong, would you do it better? Would you have more fun? What if the inspector didn’t know anything about your hobby except what was on his checklist? What if he really didn’t think you should do that hobby? Or was having a bad day the day of your inspection?

      And another: Our country was founded on the idea of liberty, right? Every law gets rid of some liberty, right? For sure there are some things people shouldn’t be free to do — violent crimes for example, or driving while drunk. But America has been a nation for over 230 years, every year passing some more laws and getting rid of some more liberty. Could this go too far? How do you know when there’s the right amount of liberty? Or not enough? What happens to a country if it doesn’t have enough liberty?

      Be careful what you wish for.

      KC

  2. Well put, KC. I really must wonder how many people would like to have armed officials at their door demanding entrance whenever they please with the flimsy justification of “If you had nothing to hide, you wouldn’t object to our coming in and rifling through your home”!!! … And all because you either OWN or are SUSPECT of owning an intact dog, a pair of parakeets, or a few gerbils???!!! The worst thing about this proposal is the huge volume of people who have been duped into supporting it without a CLUE as to what it is REALLY all about!!! It ain’t about “saving puppies”, folks! It’s all about handing over your CIVIL RIGHTS — HELLO!!!

  3. Sadly, people don’t want to put forth the effort to understand what Walt Hutchens calls “a long story”, and the promoters of this proposal understand that very well. People just want to believe the hype; “Sign here to protect pets”! It reminds me of what happened to the Nez Pierce tribe, as recounted by Chief Joseph: “The missionaries came in and taught us how to bow our heads and pray. When we looked up, our land was gone”. When we look up, our pets will be gone. This is very serious indeed, and those who think it won’t happen need to start looking up now.

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