Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Voting for K-9 Rights
Tea Party against the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act

The Tea Party has been all over the news lately for all sorts of political reasons. But now the infamous party is organizing an opposition to the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act in Missouri.

Earlier this year, Lisa Wogan wrote about the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, or Prop B, which will be on the Missouri state ballot next month. The legislation requires large-scale dog breeders to provide sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, housing that protects dogs from the elements, enough space to turn around, stretch, and lie down, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will also limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility. 

Yes Prop B will cut down on breeder profit, but it isn’t exactly asking for anything that they shouldn’t already be providing. Although the bill seems so basic, many groups oppose the legislation. Lisa talked about the argument that Prop B will make it more difficult for middle-class American families to have dogs. I hope she’s right that higher priced puppies may encourage more families to choose adoption. Also considering how many health problems puppy mill pups often have, I think that regulating breeding conditions may actually help make pet care costs go down.

Most recently, Prop B critics have gained the support of the Missouri Tea Party, which is holding a “Vote NO on Proposition B” meeting tomorrow. Tea Party advocate, Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher believes that the government should not limit the number of dogs a breeder can own, like the government would not limit the number of cattle a rancher can raise.

I wouldn’t exactly compare dogs to cattle, though I believe that all animals, whether bred as pets or as food, should be treated with humanity. Considering that these breeders have the dogs to thank for generating an income, the least they can do is meet the basic needs of these animals.  

Any reputable breeder knows that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to make a decent living off of breeding dogs in a truly responsible manner. Dogs deserve more than just their basic needs met, but puppy mill dogs don't even get that. Unfortunately, I don’t think that puppy mills will ever be shut down (though I would love to be wrong!), but hopefully Prop B will at least improve conditions for dogs across Missouri.

Visit the Missouri Secretary of State website to read the exact Prop B proposed statute.


News: Guest Posts
Tea Partiers for Puppy Mills?
Joe The Plumber fights reform

The Tea Party has finally crossed the line from an annoying fringe group who back incompetents for high office to one that can only be labeled insane. Here is all the proof you need: On October 5, a conservative outfit calling themselves the Alliance For Truth and led to the charge by the infamous Joe “The Plumber” (a remnant from the McCain campaign, whose name is not Joe nor is he a plumber, still plunging the remaining seconds of his 15-minute fame ride) picked up the backing of the Tea Party as they sought to prevent … wait for it … The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from passing what they consider “radical anti-puppy mill legislation.”

  You read that right. The Tea Party backs puppy mills. With passage of the bill—“Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act”—the HSUS will eliminate as many as 3,000 puppy mills in the state of Missouri, a state that contains 30 percent of all the mills in America.   Now, if you’re even remotely close to a sane person, you would applaud this bill instead of putting on your spiffy Revolutionary War outfit and look to block its passage. And even if you had doubts as to whether the bill makes any sense at all, those would evaporate like morning mist soon as you heard the words of Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the HSUS. “The measure would provide common sense standards for care of dogs,” he said in a recent Talking Points Memo article. “That includes sufficient food and clean water, vet care, regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.” The measure, he concluded, would only apply to “commercial dog breeding facilities that have more than 10 breeding females used for producing puppies for the pet trade.”   Seems like something we ought to be doing. If you’ve ever seen a puppy mill you would not even hesitate to put your stamp of approval on such a bill. So, what could possibly have the intellectual elites of the Alliance for Truth so agitated about this measure? Are you ready? Joe the fake-Plumper says that HSUS is “cowardly hiding behind animal cruelty, lying to our citizens and taking our constitutional rights away, one state at a time.”   Anita Andrews of the Alliance for Truth goes so far as to claim that the HSUS “don’t like animals.”   Perhaps these freedom-loving patriots should put down their muskets and get a taste of life in the real world. Puppy mills are cruel and evil places that do nothing but cause suffering and pain to dogs. The sooner we rid the country of them, the better off all pets will be. Pass the law, Missouri. Don’t waste a second listening to someone too incompetent to get a plumber’s license or a group of people with so much time on their hands that they are planning a protest march AGAINST puppies. It will be held at Coach’s Pizza World and will include members from the newly formed Mexico Tea Party. Yes, you read that last line correctly.   As the great writer George V. Higgins once said, “Life is hard. Very hard. It is harder if you go through it stupid.”   I hope Missouri ignores the rodeo clowns surrounding them and makes the bill law. It’s the smart move.   In truth, it’s the only move.


News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Mixed Message
Does it support all dogs or not?

Earlier this year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) invited mixed breeds to participate in select activities, such as agility, obedience and rally. But are mutts only welcome at AKC events if their owners pay for the privilege? That’s the message some mixed breed owners are receiving after the AKC said no to adoptable animals as part of its annual “Meet the Breed” event in New York City.

For seven years, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) allowed the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to bring homeless cats and kittens to its New York City Cat Show at Madison Square Garden. This generous partnership enabled the Mayor’s Alliance - a nonprofit coalition of 150 animal rescue groups and shelters – to find homes for hundreds of adoptable cats.

Last year, Madison Garden was unavailable, so CFA paired up with AKC’s “Meet the Breeds” event at the Javits Center.  CFA continued the tradition of inviting the Mayor’s Alliance to hold its Adopt A Cat program. However,  AKC said no adoptable dogs or puppies would be allowed.
On April 1, 2010, AKC officially opened some companion and performance programs to mixed breeds. A one-time $35 registration fee allows them to enter agility, obedience and rally trials. Each event requires additional entry fees. Apparently, the inclusion stops there. The nonprofit organization, whose mission statement includes “promote responsible dog ownership,” told the Mayor’s Alliance that no adoptable dogs or cats will be allowed at this year’s “Meet the Breeds” event.

In response, the Mayor’s Alliance and Best Friends Animal Society will present an adoption event  December 18-19 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. CFA will be participating.

News: Guest Posts
Meet Calendar Firefighters...
... and help dogs, Oct. 2, Miami

You know how the classic image of a burly fireman rescuing a frightened kitten from a tree is so familiar, it’s a cliché. Well, a crew of shirtless Southern Florida firefighters are breathing new life into the old idea by coming to the aid of animals in need.

  All thanks to radio/television personality Jade Alexander, who decided to think outside the box and connect two charities with whom she’s been involved over the years, often as an emcee at their events. She asked Lieutenant Luis Espinosa, who created the calendar, to include Friends Forever Rescue (a Florida not-for-profit working to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless and unwanted dogs), as one of the charities to benefit from the sales of the calendar.   “Luis and Dee Chess (of Friends Forever Rescue) work tirelessly in helping the community in their individual efforts and I thought it would be a marriage made in heaven,” Alexander says. “Besides, can you imagine the cuteness factor of a firefighter holding a homeless dog? Of course, there’s the whole other audience that can’t resist a bunch of shirtless firefighters in bunker gear! Bottom line, the more calendars that are sold the more money we raise for abandoned and abused dogs.”   Details: Meet the South Florida Firefighters Calendar Men, Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 am–3 pm at Petsmart, 13621 S Dixie Highway, Miami.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Does The Punishment Fit?
Accused animal beater ordered to work at SPCA

Derrick Chambers allegedly beat his Miniature Pinscher to death with a pipe. Authorities found the dog in a garbage bag in Chambers' truck less than an hour before the dog died. Chambers has been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

  The defense requested that the case be dropped if Chambers agreed to volunteer 50 hours of community service at the Maryland SPCA, and the judge agreed to this offer. Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the Maryland SPCA will deny this volunteer service. She says this action is based on the fact that it is their job to protect the animals in their care, and that because of the violent nature of the case, they do not want the accused man near their animals.   Caroline Griffin of the Animal Abuse Task Force expressed frustration that Chambers will not be prosecuted. She also said that there are better options than putting a person who has been violent towards animals with animals.   Officials of the state say there is not enough evidence to convict Chambers, especially in light of evidence that his behavior was a result of serious bites by the dog to his wife and to himself. They also say that police failed to read Chambers his Miranda rights, which would make a conviction impossible.   Without access to the facts of the case, include specifics of the conduct of the police etc., it’s hard to know whether a conviction is likely or even possible. I do, however, feel very comfortable taking a stand against assigning community service with animals to anyone accused of violence towards them. What’s the justification for putting MORE animals at risk?
News: Guest Posts
Adopt Less Adoptable Pets
Make a special difference this week

I adopted what qualified as “less adoptable pets”—middle-aged, black mutts. They’ve been, no surprise to most Bark readers, amazing companions. So I was thrilled to hear about PetFinder’s initiative—Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week (which started yesterday)—to bring dogs like mine together with loving, responsible families. The idea is that Petfinder member shelters and rescues nominate a special, hard-to-place companion animal for a little high-profile push. Meanwhile, we all make the effort to spread the word about these future star pals.

  I went to peruse the gallery of specially designated pets and discovered Nicholas in the Ozarks, a dog who’d been dumped on the street and suffered intestinal trauma but managed to live a fairly normal, fairly pain-free life thanks to a special diet and a foster home. I clicked through the links to his profile, planning to do my part to get him the home he richly deserved, and discovered he “crossed the Rainbow Bridge” on September 15.   Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week came too late for Nicholas. But there are other dogs (and cats)—old, sick, injured, shy, reactive, or just breeds with bad reputations—who need special attention, patience. This is their week. Rest in peace, Nicholas.


News: Guest Posts
One man’s plan to stop stray sex

I thought a woman hanging upside-down to raise awareness about puppy mill cruelty was edgy—until I met Joey Henry. With his plan to stage elaborate raids on fornicating cats and dogs, he’s my new gold standard for the wacky frontier of animal welfare activism.

  His strategy is simple to describe and probably a lot more challenging to execute: Stake out strays, wait and watch from a hidden location, and when the unwanted animals set about creating more unwanted animals, leap out and make a heck of a lot of noise, convincing the parties involved to knock it off.   Of course, Joey Henry knows one serious scare does not a celibate canine make. That’s why his cameraman will be nearby. The videos will be posted at HelpJoey.com, which launched last week. The aim is to use humor to spread the important spay/neuter message—and all the better for cats and dogs if that message goes viral.


News: Guest Posts
Cirque de Puppy
Aerial fabric artist spins for dogs

Ever feel like your unique talents couldn’t possibly translate into helping animals? Well, Kyla Duffy could change your mind.


The first time I saw Duffy, who co-founded Happy Tails Books (which publishes collections of breed-specific adoption stories), was a few days ago at the opening reception for BlogPaws West 2010. (Over the next week, I’ll be writing about several of the dedicated and talented folks I met at the pet-centric blogging conference in Denver.)

  When I saw Duffy, she was wearing a pair of artistically torn leggings and dangling upside down from a few pieces of fabric. (See video below.) Seeing and hearing Duffy twist and turn a few yards away, I got a much more visceral appreciation for her talent than I did watching the distant, polished Cirque de Soliel aerialists years ago.   Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the audience didn’t see the slideshow promoting puppy mill awareness that accompanies her performance—and explained what she was doing there. While aerial acrobatics and rescue stories don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly, I’m intrigued by the concept. Calling it “creative volunteerism,” sort of like volunteer vacations, Duffy is trying to do good through her creativity. And, I think it’s possible her performances could allow her to reach beyond the choir (i.e., folks like you reading this blog) to people who don’t yet know the challenges of pet overpopulation.
Duffy says she hopes to take her show and the road, and we’ll keep an eye out for her. Meanwhile, I’m wondering about what other surprising skills and talents are or could be put to good use for shelter dogs.

News: Guest Posts
Congratulations, Temple Grandin
Biopic wins five Emmys

At the Emmy Awards on Sunday night, the HBO biopic “Temple Grandin” took home five prizes (out of seven nominations), including Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie. Grandin may have been an unknown quantity for many in the audience and readers of the Emmy’s Blog but not here at Bark. We’re big fans of her work, including the book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. It was great to see her feted at the Emmy’s in her signature cowgirl shirt and tie.

  Grandin’s influence on the lives of animals and people is considerable. By drawing analogies between the thought processes of animals and people with autism including herself, Grandin channeled her unique world view into benefits for others. She designed humane slaughterhouse corrals for cattle and a hug machine to calm hypersensitive people. She is an outspoken advocate for those living with autism. To learn more about how Grandin sees the world, read Claudia Kawczynska’s interview.  


News: Guest Posts
Five Year Katrina Anniversary
Today, we remember and reflect

When my husband and I evacuated our New Orleans home the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, we assumed that this would be an unexpected, albeit nice visit with my parents in the Chicago area. Surely, we’d head back in a week or so. On August 29, 2005, we learned our fate; there was no going home.

In shock, I took comfort in the fact that our beloved pets – four dogs and two cats – were safe with us. It soon became clear that many other people were not so fortunate and thousands of dogs and cats were in danger of dying due to starvation, heat or worse. Animal lovers from around the country poured into New Orleans and Mississippi, selflessly sacrificing their time and money to save as many pets as they could.

I admired their efforts and yet, I felt for those owners who were unable to bring their pets with them and desperately tried to track them down. In some cases, the pet was found only to have the new owner refuse to reunite them, claiming that the animal had been abandoned, or neglected prior to the storm.

When I interviewed people frantically looking for their animals, I started to have nightmares. The most vivid opened with me sitting in a beautiful old theater and spotting my pets near a woman a few rows away. I called out to her, “Those are my dogs and cats! I need to take them home!” The woman turned toward me and said, “You can’t. You have no home.”

The first time I needed to take one of my dogs to a vet in Illinois, I was asked about his breed and where he was from. I said Louisiana and the tech said, “Oh, a Katrina dog!” No, I corrected her. He is from Louisiana and so am I.

Five years later, and having relocated to the Chicago area, I still occasionally hear people refer to their Katrina dog or cat. Though I am glad that these animals survived, honestly, the label makes me wince. Had we not been able to transport our pets with us, would someone else be calling my 13-year-old Catahoula, Desoto, their “Katrina” dog? Would he have a different name? Would all four dogs, even our Pit Bull mix, Shelby, have been saved? Our cats, Cricket and Bruiser Bear, are siblings. Would they have been separated?

Of course, the alternative would’ve been far worse. In the weeks and months after the biggest man-made disaster in U.S. history, I heard from friends and neighbors what happened to people and pets who were not rescued in time. I saw graphic images on websites and in the news. They are impossible to forget, and they shouldn’t be forgotten.

Fortunately, the lessons gleaned from this tragedy should prevent any animal from being left behind again. Thanks to the PETS Act, people are allowed to bring their pets with them to an emergency shelter. The Louisiana SPCA has since rebuilt, giving safe haven to homeless and unwanted pets in a beautiful, modern shelter. Plus, its volunteer and adoption programs are stronger than ever.

Civic activism became a new, necessary way of life. Local animal lovers and the LA/SPCA persuaded the city council to pass the Intact Dog Ordinance earlier this year, a major victory in the cause against pet overpopulation.

Challenges remain, but as a Katrina survivor once said, New Orleans will always be between storms. The difference is now we are prepared to ride them out.