Saturday, February 21, 2009

HSUS Bludgeons Heartland Dog Owners

Legislation Up For Vote Now In Indiana & Oklahoma, Hearing In Illinois by JOHN YATES American Sporting Dog Alliance The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched a 34-state offensive against people who raise dogs, and the heat has been turned up to high in Indiana, Illinois and Oklahoma. In all three states, actions are scheduled for this week that may have a profound impact on everyone who loves purebred dogs It is imperative for dog owners in all three states to take a stand now and play an active role in working to defeat this legislation. HSUS claims the legislation is meant to regulate “puppy mills,” which is the derogatory term used by animal rights groups to describe commercial kennels. In fact, however, all of this legislation actually is aimed at high quality avocational breeders of purebred dogs who are not involved in any way with the wholesale pet trade. The targeted breeders are the people who work the hardest and care the most about improving their chosen breed of dogs. Action is scheduled this week on: · An Indiana bill that will make anyone who sells even one litter of puppies a year into a pet dealer. This bill was snuck through committee with no notice given to dog owners, and has gone to the full House for a vote. Many serious hobby breeders also would be classed as commercial kennels for very intense regulation and a prohibition of outdoor housing that is dangerous for hunting and working dogs. Many rescue groups also would be destroyed. · An Illinois bill snags up everyone who owns three intact breeding females under commercial kennel rules, and sets a 20-dog maximum on the number of sexually intact dogs that can be owned or possessed. Many trainers, handlers and serious hobby breeders would be harmed needlessly. We also urge dog owners to sign our online petition to stop this bill (see below). · And an Oklahoma bill passed through committee by an 11-2 vote and is headed toward the full House for a vote. This legislation targets anyone who sells, offers to sell, gives away or adopts out 25 or more dogs or puppies a year, by subjecting them to truly totalitarian enforcement measures. Some rescue programs would be destroyed. Each of these states will be profiled separately below. The American Sporting Dog Alliance recently released reports that have covered HSUS initiatives this year in Maine, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, California, Montana, Virginia, Colorado and Oregon. Updates and new reports will be released this week about legislation in California, Montana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Florida, Washington and Texas. HSUS-sanctioned legislation is expected soon in Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico and Wisconsin. HSUS is an extremist animal rights group with the long-range goal of eliminating all animal ownership in America. It recognizes the political impossibility of doing this immediately, and thus has adopted an incremental strategy of tightening the noose. Its strategy also is to develop and exploit sensational emotional issues, such as “puppy mills,” and then to extend the definition and impact far beyond the stated goals. HSUS, which has annual revenues in excess of $150 million and dozens of employees and professional lobbyists in many states, is the political arm for the animal rights movement. It does not operate a single animal shelter anywhere, despite its name. HSUS has vowed to strike dog owners in 34 states early in 2009. Organizations that defend the rights of dog owners are, quite frankly, being overwhelmed by this concerted attack. HSUS learned a lesson last year, when dog owners were able to defeat them in almost every fight, because they were spread out over many months and allowed us to focus our limited resources. This year’s HSUS strategy is to attack everywhere at once, and use its army of highly paid employees and lobbyists to push through legislation quickly. It has the money, personnel and organization to wage this blitz attack, but dog owners simply lack the resources to effectively combat it. We have been placed totally on the defensive. Thus, we are urging dog owners to get off of the sidelines and take a very active role. We also are urging you to support at least one organization that advocates for dog ownership rights with both donations and a sincere commitment of your time and talents. We also urge dog owners to form alliances of mutual support with farm organizations, sportsmen’s groups, firearms rights advocates, landowners groups, and people who defend property rights. These diverse organizations fully understand the ramifications of the animal rights movement on American traditions and life. Indiana House Bill 1468 was snuck into the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee last week as an unannounced amendment to an animal cruelty bill relating to convicted felons. This kind of political dirty trick is used to eliminate opposition to controversial measures, by denying opponents the opportunity to read the legislation, contact elected officials and testify at the hearing. Dog owners thus were robbed of the opportunity to participate in the process, and not given a chance to try to convince the legislators to vote against this amendment. The amended legislation was approved by the committee by an 11-1 vote, and sent to the full House of Representatives with a recommendation for passage. It is IMPERATIVE for every Indiana dog owners to immediately contact their legislators and explain your reasons for asking him or her to vote against HB 1468. Without a very strong response from dog owners, we expect this measure to be approved and sent to the Senate, which will be our last chance to stop it. Rep. Ralph Foley (R-47) of Martinsville, IN, was the only committee member to vote against this legislation. Please take the time to contact Rep. Foley and express your gratitude for his support of the rights of dog owners, and his opposition to the animal rights agenda. Also, please ask him for his continued support. Click here to link to Rep. Ralph Foley's email contact form . Here is a summary of the impact HB 1468 will have on dog owners: · It will destroy the rescue network in Indiana. While rescue groups are exempt, “a person or organization that breeds dogs” cannot qualify for this exemption. People who raise dogs began the rescue movement decades ago, and remain at its heart today. Almost all rescue groups for specific breeds rely on people who raise that breed of dogs to foster homeless animals. In addition, many of the highest quality breeders of dogs for show and performance take a very active leadership role in the rescue community. · Anyone who sells five or more dogs to the public in a year will be classified as a pet dealer. Thus, in many cases, even having a single litter of puppies will require extensive record-keeping of all dogs sold and all veterinary records, and require the dog owner to make that information available to law enforcement officials and potential pet buyers. This provision also will allow animal rights activists to go on legal “fishing expeditions” by posing as puppy buyers. · The definition of “commercial dog breeder” will entrap many serious hobbyists who are working hard to improve the breed of dogs they own. Anyone who produces 10 or more litters of puppies will fall under this category. It also will be illegal for anyone to possess more than 30 dogs that have not been spayed or neutered. Many serious breeders keep all of their retired dogs for the rest of their lives, and also are working with and evaluating several young dogs. Having 30 dogs does not indicate that a kennel is commercial. These breeders would be required to microchip all dogs and puppies, and to obtain veterinary certification before breeding a dog. The legislation also would create a strict puppy “lemon law.” · Outdoor housing will be banned for these kennels, which is hazardous for dogs that are used for hunting, herding and other activities. The bill requires temperatures between 65 and 78 degrees at all times. Most human homes in Indiana could not meet that requirement! Working dogs do their jobs in all kinds of weather, and it is dangerous for them if they are not acclimated to the conditions they will face. It is cruel, absurd and reckless to pass a law that forces people to keep sled dogs, hunting dogs or herding dogs in a heated environment, when those dogs will face winter weather extremes. · And the legislation specifically allows municipalities to pass laws that are more strict or detailed than the state law. Click here to read the text of HB 1468. This is the amended version that passed the committee. Earlier versions may not contain the amendment. The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging every Indiana dog owner to immediately contact his or her representative, and as many other representatives as you can. This is urgent, because this legislation can be brought up for a vote in the House at any time. Because time is of the essence, please email, phone or fax the representatives now to express your opposition and to ask them to oppose HB 1468. Then, please follow-up with a letter through the mail or by fax. Click here for the representatives’ email contact information. And click this link to go to each representative’s home page, which contains full contact information . Illinois House Bill 198 targets even the smallest hobby kennels with a legal designation as a commercial kennel. Anyone who sells a single puppy would be classified as a “puppy mill,” if they own more than three sexually intact female dogs. In addition, no one would be able to own or possess more than 20 sexually intact dogs, if they also have three intact females and sell at least one puppy. This would destroy some of the best breeding programs in Illinois, because serious dog fanciers routinely keep older and retired dogs for their entire lives, keep several puppies for evaluation, and have several dogs actively engaged in competition. This provision also would effectively prohibit most professional handlers and trainers from raising even a single litter of puppies. HB 198 was scheduled for a hearing last week before the House Business/Occupational License Committee. The committee met as scheduled and the bill remained on the agenda. However, it wasn’t discussed and several supporters of dog owners made a long drive to Springfield, IL, for nothing. The committee has again scheduled this legislation for a hearing, on Thursday February 19, 2009, at 2 p.m., in Room C-1 Stratton Building at the Capitol in Springfield. The American Sporting Dog Alliance is strongly urging Illinois dog owners to attend this hearing and show your opposition to HB 198. Please also consider asking to formally testify about this legislation by contact the Chairperson, Rep. Robert Rita, at (217) 558-1000. Last week, only about 30 people attended the hearing. Quite frankly, this was not a strong showing by Illinois dog owners, and the low number of people in attendance delivers the wrong message to the representatives. Please attend this week’s hearing, if at all possible. Please also sign the American Sporting Dog Alliance petition in opposition to this legislation. In it’s first week, 1,670 Illinois residents have signed, as have 874 residents of other states who visit Illinois with dogs, for a total of 2,544 voices in opposition. Please add your name to this petition. For residents, sign the petition by clicking here. Nonresidents, please sign the petition by clicking here. These petitions will be hand-delivered to the committee. Prompt and aggressive action is required from all Illinois dog owners. If you do not act, there is a strong potential for irreparable damage to be done to everyone who owns a dog in Illinois, and to the dogs themselves. HB 198 says that: · Anyone who owns more than three intact females and sells puppies would be classified as a commercial breeding kennel, subject to high fees for licensure, rigorous inspections, the forfeiture of several constitutional protections, mandatory fingerprinting and criminal background checks by the state police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, forfeiture of the right to redress in a court of law, heavy loads of paperwork, unworkable standards of care, and the forcible invasion of personal and financial records. · In addition, no one would be permitted to keep or own more than 20 dogs that are not spayed or neutered. No dog could be bred unless it is examined by a veterinarian. Also, people would not be able to raise a litter of puppies inside their home if other adult dogs are present. It would be illegal to keep more than three dogs together, which would apply to the number of dogs kept inside a home, ban the common practice of kenneling a pack of hounds together and eliminate large fenced lots to allow young dogs to get plenty of exercise. · There also is an ambiguous provision that requires the state to pass judgment on the “qualifications” of a kennel license applicant before issuing a license. This would be an entirely subjective judgment by the kennel inspector, as the legislation does not define adequate qualifications. · Only veterinarians could euthanize a dog, which causes terrible suffering and agony if a veterinarian cannot be located quickly. · Dog owners also could face heavy fines and loss of licenses for irrelevant violations, such as surface rust on wires, a few cobwebs, a knocked over water bowl or chipped paint. Temperature requirements would make it impossible for people to acclimate hunting, herding and performance dogs to weather conditions, thus creating danger for the dogs. Fines and civil penalties would multiply exponentially, and even minor offenses would have the potential to destroy a dog owner financially and cause the loss of her or his home and lifetime savings. · The legislation also contains numerous powers to seize dogs, or to require their owners to turn them over to an animal shelter within seven days of license revocation, or if a dog owner is incorrectly licensed. The bill’s formal name is the Dog Breeders License Act. HSUS and other animal rights groups are nicknaming it “Chloe’s Bill,” for a dog allegedly rescued from an Illinois “puppy mill.” It is sponsored by State Rep. John A. Fritchey (D-Chicago). Its Senate counterpart, SB 53, is sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D- Mt. Prospect). Joint introduction is another sign that this bill is being pushed hard and fast. Click here to link to the actual legislation. The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges Illinois dog owners to immediately contact every member of the House Business/Occupational Licenses Committee. Click here to go to this page, which lists the committee members, with links to their home pages and contact information. Click her to go to this page which lists all of the House members contact information. Please note that the Illinois Legislature does not provide email addresses. You will need to phone, fax, hand-deliver or mail your comments to most of the members. Here are the few email addresses that we have located for this committee: Chairman is Rep. Robert Rita,; Rep. Edward J. Acevedo,; Rep. Daniel V. Beiser,; Rep. Daniel J. Burke, ; Rep. Thomas Holbrook, ; Rep. David E. Miller, ; and Rep. George Scully Jr., Oklahoma House Bill 1332, sponsored by Rep. Lee Denney, is called the “Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act.” Rep. Denney introduced virtually the same bill last year, but it was soundly defeated in the House Agriculture Committee. This year, however, the bill was put before the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee. Convincing leadership to put a bill in an inappropriate committee falls under the category of a political dirty trick. It passed the committee by an 11-2 vote at a hearing that was held on short notice, and gave only a handful of dog owners an opportunity to attend. Only Reps. Lewis H. Moore (R-96 ) and Charles Key (R-90 ) voted to support dog owners. We are asking all dog owners to contact Reps. Key and Moore and thank them for their support. HB 1332 now goes before the full House, and a vote is possible at any time. Co-sponsors have come forth in the House and the Senate. The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges all Oklahoma dog owners to take immediate action, as this legislation could come up for a vote at any time. The legislation allegedly was amended to answer some of the concerns of dog owners, but the latest version falls far short of that promise. This legislation: · Gives any animal control officer, peace officer or animal cruelty investigator unrestricted access to a kennel owner’s home, facilities, animals, records and property. The bill denies kennel owners constitutional right of protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, as no warrants are required. · Effectively prohibits any Oklahoma resident from buying a puppy or dog from another state, as the breeder would have to be licensed in Oklahoma and follow prohibitive requirements. An amendment following our objection to the original legislation says that an out of state breeder may enter Oklahoma only for the sole purpose of attending a dog show or field trial. However, this is far from adequate, and many people train hunting dogs in Oklahoma, simply pass through on their way to other destinations, or make a trip for several different purposes. · Requires every breeder, rescue organization, animal shelter and pet store to be state licensed – not just dealers or commercial kennels – if the sell, give away or adopt out 25 or more animals a year. For a hobby breeder, that may be only three litters of puppies a year for many breeds. Hobby breeders also would fall under the definition of a pet store. · All kennels will be required to follow federal regulations for housing, care and other management issues. · Gives the state the authority to implement complete regulations for the management of all kennels and the care of the dogs, with no provision for legislative approval or input from dog owners. · Requires extensive record keeping, and kennel management and medical practices to be approved by a veterinarian. · Denies a license to anyone who is on probation or parole for any offense, even if they have nothing to do with animals. · Provides fines of up to $2,500 for each violation, while granting the kennel owner only the right to an administrative appeal. Placing liens against a kennel owner’s property is authorized to collect fines, penalties and costs for seizing dogs. Several provisions allow the state to seize, confiscate and euthanize animals. Here is a link to the text of HB 1332, just click here. The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges every Oklahoma dog owner to contact her or his own legislator, and as many representatives as possible, and as quickly as possible. Please let them know that you oppose HB 1332, tell them why, and ask them to vote against it. Click here to link to information about each legislator’s phone, surface mail and email contacts . Email addresses are on this page. Please click on each legislator’s name to be taken to home pages with complete contact information. This legislation appears to have a lot of support in the Legislature, and we cannot emphasize enough that it will take a strong response from dog owners to block it. Anything less won’t be good enough. The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence. Click here to visit American Sporting Dog Alliance on the web. Click here to email us.

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