Monday, March 1, 2010

IN: Lawmaker still hopeful for pet store legislation

IN: Lawmaker still hopeful for pet store legislation
Updated: Mar 01, 2010 2:34 AM PST

Indianapolis (AP) - A state lawmaker says she's not giving up on trying to get legislation passed that would require pet stores to give buyers information about a pet's background and medical history before selling a dog or cat.
The House passed such a bill by Democratic Rep. Linda Lawson of Hammond earlier in the legislative session, but it was not considered in the Senate.
Lawson says she will try to get the language of her bill inserted into another bill in a House-Senate conference committee this coming week. She says the legislation is critical to protect consumers looking for a family pet.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

OK: It’s long past the time to address mill problem

Lawmakers kept a tight leash last year on a bill that sought to regulate puppy mills. Pet lovers in Oklahoma  should hope a renewed effort to enact change is successful this session.

Senate Bill 1712 by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, is among the bills being considered by the Legislature. It would regulate as professional occupations those commercial breeders who have 11 or more female dogs or cats being used for breeding. Last year’s bill, which failed to get out of a Senate committee, targeted people who sold at least 35 dogs or cats in a year, and sought to establish minimum standards for housing and breeding animals.

That measure was widely opposed by breeders and this one likely will be, too. But something needs to be done to combat the flow of sickly animals sold each year, and to reduce the number of surplus dogs — about 60,000 annually — and cats that wind up having to be euthanized in shelters.

Oklahoma presently has no minimum state standards for such breeding operations and is the No. 2 dog-producing state in the nation, behind Missouri. Proponents of this bill fear that if Missouri voters approve regulations later this year via referendum, it will only serve to drive more puppy mill operators in our direction.

Opponents of Anderson’s bill — indeed, of most any effort to put some rules on the books — say regulations only wind up punishing reputable breeders. A comment from a breeder interviewed by The Oklahoman’s Vallery Brown is an example: "I think the bad breeders need to be stopped, but how do you do that without stopping the good ones?” In other words, butt out.

Anderson’s bill would, among other things, establish a board to set the regulations and fees for commercial breeders. Perhaps revenue from those fees could be used to help crack down on the sorts of operations that all too frequently in Oklahoma make news for the wrong reasons — puppies and kittens malnourished and sick after being found in cramped, filthy quarters.

The bill would make breeders subject to annual inspection, and would require them to provide the board with health records of their animals each year. Shouldn’t reputable breeders welcome efforts to put such standards in place?

Some have argued through the years that private property rights would be violated. But hair dressers who work out of their home are regulated by the state. So too are day care operators. Why not dog and cat breeders?

Kitten and puppy mills have been a problem in Oklahoma for decades. It’s past time for lawmakers to take steps to change that, and SB 1712 provides one opportunity.

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OH: Chicago shelter employs array of approaches to spare dogs

Chicago shelter employs array of approaches to spare dogs
PAWS euthanized less than 1% of animals in its care in 2008

CHICAGO - In the animal control world, the difference between numbers and names can signal a lot about chances for life or death.

Naming is standard practice at one of the Midwest's most prominent so-called "no-kill" shelters, PAWS Chicago, which euthanized fewer than 1 percent of the formerly unwanted dogs and cats it took in during 2008 from the city's animal control agency or got through owner surrenders. All the others - 1,751 dogs - it adopted out to new homes.

It's strictly a numbers operation in Toledo at the Lucas County pound, where even the healthiest dogs and cutest puppies are organized by digits printed on their metal cages. The county-run, open-admission shelter killed 1,951 dogs last year, or 72 percent of all dogs that entered and weren't reclaimed by owners.

To be sure, it takes more than name tags to run an effective and humane animal-control operation. Yet the effort to name the dogs up for adoption at the Chicago shelter is one simple step among an array of best practices encouraged by animal welfare advocates to help save shelter dogs from needless deaths.

Now, after decades of overkill at the Lucas County Dog Warden's Office, the pendulum of fate could swing the other way for the many hundreds of dogs that each year enter the pound on the outskirts of downtown and ultimately leave in body bags.

With controversial Dog Warden Tom Skeldon out of office, dog advocates say the county has a chance to work toward an admirable long-term goal for both pets and public: a "no-kill" community for dogs. Achieving that mark would require new practices and an about-face from the county's long-prevailing catch-and-kill approach to animal control.

"It is a whole change in mindset that we don't kill animals just because we don't have homes for them," said Jean Keating, county resident and co-founder of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates. "You have to change your focus from the law-enforcement perspective to making the community more humane for people and for animals," Ms. Keating said.

"So you place emphasis on education and spay and neuter programs," she said, "as opposed to your emphasis being on driving around and threatening people to surrender their animal so you can kill it."

The "no-kill" movement actually allows for the limited use of euthanasia for a small percentage of dogs or cats - generally the gravely injured or sick and the truly vicious.

Quest for 'no-kill'
Ideally, up to 95 percent of all dogs or cats who enter "no-kill" shelters will leave, according to Nathan Winograd, executive director of the national No Kill Advocacy Center and author of Redemption, an influential 2007 book on "the myth of pet overpopulation and the 'no-kill' revolution in America."

"The goal is to save all but truly, irremediably suffering animals, and for obvious public-safety reasons, dogs that are truly vicious," Mr. Winograd said in a phone interview from outside Berkeley, Calif.

Lucas County, with its historically high kill-rate, surely has a way to go to reach "no-kill." Yet so did other communities, large and small, that have made significant progress in decreasing euthanasia and increasing adoptions while continuing to perform mandated animal-control duties.

A large-scale example is San Francisco, which in 1994 mostly ended the killing of healthy dogs and cats and whose San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals continues to operate a "no-kill" shelter with annual kill rates for dogs in the low single digits.

Smaller-scale models include Shelby County, Kentucky, which has been a "no-kill" or nearly "no-kill" community in recent years, and Tompkins County, New York.

Mr. Winograd, who once directed the Tompkins County SPCA, described in his book how the shelter went from routinely killing animals once cages got full to not killing any healthy or adoptable ones by the early 2000s.

"While I would like to see many 'no-kill' shelters out there, our goal is to create 'no-kill' communities, which means no shelter is killing healthy or treatable animals," Mr. Winograd said.

Common best practices that help shelters and communities achieve "no-kill" results include:

•Vigorous and widespread spay/neuter programs that are accessible to all income groups. Sterilized pets help to reduce the homeless pet population.

•A friendly and inviting front-desk environment together with an attractive adoption area to encourage the public to visit shelters rather than breeders or pet shops.

•Frequent transfer of dogs to foster homes or rescue groups, especially those dogs proving hard to adopt.

The PAWS example
Two well-regarded Chicago animal shelters demonstrate the results of these practices. While both nonprofit organizations have different missions and funding sources than Lucas County's government-run program, their operations can nonetheless serve as models for what's possible in dog care.

The newer of the two is PAWS Chicago, founded in 1997 by banking executive Paula Fasseas, who with her husband, Peter Fasseas, runs the multibranch Metropolitan Bank Group.

Mrs. Fasseas' inspiration for PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) came after learning that a reported 40,000 dogs and cats were killed each year in Chicago shelters in the mid-1990s. Today, the nonprofit operates a busy spay/ neuter clinic in conjunction with its spiffy new Adoption and Humane Center in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The adoption facility is considered one of a kind in the Midwest, with dogs and cats boarded in spacious window-filled and sound-dampened "suites" rather than the typical cages and kennels. Numerous donors have bought naming rights to the suites, including Oprah Winfrey, whose colorful "Sophie's Room" pays remembrance to her cocker spaniel that died two years ago.

Visitors arrive to a bright and airy lobby that feels more like a coffee house than an entrance to a pet shelter. Greeting guests at the door are smiling desk staff and an overhead soundtrack of classical music that's piped throughout the building to encourage calm among the dogs and cats.

All the animals get a name.  "We name every single one," said Sarah Ahlberg, communications manager. "We treat them as special beings because they are very important to us."

Most of the animals - or 78 percent of canines and 61 percent of felines - at PAWS came from the city's Animal Care and Control Department. According to PAWS, since its founding the number of homeless pets killed in the city has dropped by more than half, from 42,561 in 1997 to 19,288 in 2008.

Records from the city's animal control department - which does about a third of the animal euthanasia in the city - also show its numbers have decreased dramatically in recent years, from 18,058 in 2003 to 11,486 animals killed last year.

PAWS also takes in older animals and those in less-than-perfect health, including cats with the feline version of HIV and a partially paralyzed "pit bull" named Red who gets around on a cart.

Mrs. Fasseas said the shelter only euthanizes animals that are in lasting pain or suffering from serious conditions such as cancer.  "No-kill doesn't mean 'zero-kill' - it means you're not managing by killing," Mrs. Fasseas said in an interview. "You make that decision based on what's best for the animal, not what's best for the shelter."

Anti-Cruelty Society
Across town on Grand Avenue is The Anti-Cruelty Society, an open-door shelter founded in 1899 that offers a variety of services and programs: adoption, boarding, a charity veterinary clinic, owner and youth education, dog training, and a cruelty investigation unit.

The society opened Chicago's first low or no-cost spay/neuter clinic 15 years ago. The clinic performs more than 10,000 surgeries a year with costs as low as $10 for owned cats and $40 for male dogs. Spaying or neutering "pit bulls" is free.  "There's no excuse for anyone in this city not to get their animal sterilized," said Dr. Robyn Barbiers, the group's president.

While the adoption area is not as posh as at PAWS - pets don't recline on wicker furniture and do live in cages - the facility is clean, well ventilated, and filled with lots of natural light.

About two years ago, the society started a "bully breeds program" to regulate the adoption of mostly "pit bull" or Rottweiler dogs. Staff members give extra training to the dogs and conduct home visits of those looking to adopt them.  All dogs - bullies or otherwise - are spayed or neutered, fitted with microchip identification, and given a collar and cardboard carrier by the time they leave the shelter.

And unlike PAWS, the society accepts every animal brought in - from puppies to the sick and aged. It receives a lower percentage of animals - 12 percent of all dogs last year - from the city's animal care and control department than PAWS because it also takes in dogs from the Illinois Citizens Animal Welfare League and other sources.

The society also performs free owner-requested euthanasia, a service that Dr. Barbiers said is important. "I euthanized my own pet last week," said Dr. Barbiers, whose 8-year-old cat had inoperable intestinal cancer. "It's a hard decision, but it's a lot better than letting that animal suffer."

'No-kill' challenges
The varying experiences of PAWS and Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society in euthanasia show the challenges inherent in pursuing "no-kill" goals at a dog pound, such as Lucas County's, that accepts any and all dogs.

Nationwide, some communities and shelters that once set out to become "no-kill" later revised those goals after nearly being overrun with animals. That's what happened in Washington state at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, the chief sheltering facility for its local government, which learned that effective spay-neuter programs are "90 percent" of the key to lowering euthanasia.

"If you don't have any control over the numbers coming through your door, there is no way you can just say, 'We're going to not kill animals,' because where are you going to put them?" said Marguerite Richmond, a spokesman for the society, which pays $10 to "pit bull" owners who bring their dog in for sterilization.

The largest spay/neuter program in northwest Ohio, the nonprofit Humane Ohio, sterilized 3,353 dogs last year, while Mr. Skeldon killed 1,951 dogs last year at the Lucas County dog pound.

Staff writer Claudia Boyd-Barrett contributed to this report.
Contact JC Reindl at: or 419-724-6065.


MO: 'Puppy mill' industry lobbyists stall bill

It's no surprise that puppy mill industry lobbyists don't like the term "puppy mill" and they've filed a baseless lawsuit as a delay tactic to prevent Missouri voters from strengthening protections for dogs ("Lawsuit calls the term "puppy mill" into question," 2/23).

The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will provide standards and penalties for large-scale breeding operations in which the health of dogs is secondary to maintaining a low overhead and maximum profits. "Puppy mill" is certainly not the worst term used by the investigators who remove sick, unsocialized, overbred, filthy, frightened dogs from these facilities.  Opponents of the measure also complain because it requires that kennel temperatures not exceed 85 degrees. But existing federal and state regulations already require that temperatures not exceed 85 degrees for four consecutive hours. Removing the time allowance and making the temperature consistent does not impose additional costs on facilities; it simply makes the law enforceable.

Readers can learn more or support this effort by visiting www.missourifor


Sunday, February 28, 2010

MD - Animal neglect complaint dismissed

Animal neglect complaint dismissed
Shelter head faces theft charge in separate case
By Larry Carson
February 28, 2010

A complaint of animal neglect has been dismissed against Robin Deltuva, director of the private Howard County Animal Welfare Society.

The decision - involving a Chihuahua named Jay-Jay that a volunteer at the shelter felt was near death - was made because of a lack of evidence, according to the five-page decision of the county's Animal Matters Hearing Board released Thursday.

"This is a matter in which the board believes the evidence is evenly balanced on the issue of whether or not Robin Deltuva committed animal cruelty," the decision said.

Deltuva, 36, still faces criminal theft charges in a separate case involving the shelter she runs on Davis Road in Ellicott City, next to the county's public shelter. Deltuva lives on the property.  "I'm ecstatic," Deltuva said after learning of Thursday's decision.

In the case, former center volunteer Kerrie Ater of Catonsville said she found the small dog so listless that he could not raise his head Aug. 6, a few days after he was returned by a family who had adopted it.  Ater said she was so alarmed that she rushed the animal to a Catonsville animal hospital. The dog survived, and she adopted it. The veterinarian who treated the dog said he was in critical condition when he arrived.

Deltuva said the dog was emaciated when it was returned, and she and her staff had been nourishing it, not neglecting it. Shelter employees backed her, as did Dr. Joseph Mancino, a veterinarian who visits the shelter twice a week.

Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun


Saturday, February 27, 2010

LA: Over 180 animals neglected, some dead

A half dozen state and national agencies have been called to help with case of animal neglect that includes more than 180 head of livestock, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office officials said.

“The St. Mary Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a cruelty to animals complaint,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Sonnier said in a release. “In a rural portion of St. Mary Parish, approximately 180 to 200 head of livestock, including, but not limited to, horses and cattle have been neglected.”

Sonnier said several dead animals were found, but the precise location and owner name are being withheld at this time.  The Sheriff’s Office is awaiting results of veterinarian’s examinations of some of the animals.  “The Investigation has identified the owner of the animals,” Sonnier said. “At this time he has been cooperative. It is apparent, that these animals have been neglected as far as feeding, medical and generally care.”

After receiving information and the location, investigators have been in contact with the State Department of Agriculture, A.S.P.C.A., Louisiana Animal Welfare Center, St. Mary Parish Health Department, Animal Control and the Humane Society from Washington, D.C.

Sonnier said several local residents offered assistance but until such time the animals are deemed healthy they cannot be moved.  The District Attorney’s Office will review all information prior to formal filing of charges, Sonnier said.


Friday, February 26, 2010

LA: Farmer Suspected of Animal Neglect

LA: Farmer Suspected of Animal Neglect
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 03:12 PM
A man in Saint Mary Parish could face criminal charges, after an investigation which is going on at his cattle farm.   The man in question is being investigated by the sheriff's office because of pictures of sickly, and dead animals, who some say fell victim to neglect.

While many of the animals on the property do appear healthy, others look sickly and skinny. But the property owner says he's everything he can to keep them healthy.

"I'm doing everything humanly possible to take care of my stock. Dogs get fed, everything I own gets fed. I just got a reputation of doing that."  The Cattle Farmer tells us he's been in the business for more than 40 years, and says he's never seen a winter that's had such a devastating effect on his livestock.

"December, it just flooded and flooded, right now you see the water, and I don't know what else to do. He says some animals died from getting bogged down in the mud, but as for those lying lifeless in the photos, he says he did everything he could.

Sheriff David Naquin says the investigation will take some time, but it will determine if the farmer faces felony or misdemeanor charges or none at all.


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