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It’s not just guns

Per the AKC, members of Congress are preparing the Puppy Protection Act by Rick Santorum, of all people. Tough on gays but likes dogs.

The AKC opposes the legislation for the following reasons:

While the PPA is advocated as legislation to regulate “puppy mills”, its real purpose is to restrict the breeding of purebred dogs. The HSUS has historically opposed the breeding of purebred dogs. Several years ago the HSUS conducted a nationwide campaign to persuade municipalities to completely ban purposeful breeding of dogs. The campaign was spectacularly unsuccessful.

The Animal Welfare Act currently does not regulate breeding practices of any species of animals. The PPA will, for the first time, thrust the federal government into a whole new arena of animal regulation. The federal government should not be in the business of specifying and regulating breeding practices of dog breeders. Furthermore, and very importantly, there is no scientific basis for the specific breeding restrictions included in the PPA.

The USDA’s Animal Care regulations already require commercial dog breeders to follow a program of veterinary care developed and supervised by a licensed veterinarian to protect the health of all animals in commercial breeding facilities, including the breeding stock. Breeding decisions should be made by breeders and their veterinarians. The PPA would co-opt the judgment and discretion of breeders and veterinarians.

As a practical matter, it will be impossible for the USDA, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act, to police breeding practices without imposing overwhelmingly intrusive burdens on persons who breed dogs.

The “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” approach to enforcement of the animal care regulations will undermine rather than enhance compliance with USDA’s regulations. Rather than providing incentives to admit and promptly correct violations, it will create incentives to contest alleged violations, and bog down the USDA’s enforcement process in litigation.

Compliance with the Animal Welfare Act has improved substantially in recent years. Congress has increased appropriations for USDA enforcement by more than 50 percent over the past several budget cycles, and the number of USDA inspectors has nearly doubled. Industry groups such as the AKC also conduct educational programs and kennel inspections. The AKC alone conducted more than 4000 kennel inspections in 2003, about half as many kennel inspections annually as the USDA.

Current USDA Animal Care regulations, including the veterinary care standards, strike an appropriate balance in protecting both the welfare of dogs in commercial breeding establishments and the public who purchase those dogs, without being overly intrusive or injecting the federal government into decisions which should properly be the province of individual dog breeders and owners. The PPA would upset this balance, and impose excessive burdens on small business owners without improving the welfare of animals.

Again, the gist of the argument of the AKC is to enforce existing laws and don’t create new ones. I do find it odd that the Humane Society opposes purebred dogs. I agree with the AKC to an extent but I also place some of the puppy mill blame on them. They don’t do enough to stop it. While I admire the AKC’s legislative history for pet freedom, their lack of effective incentive for higher breeder standards (and breed standards based on something other than just appearance) is abysmal.

There are many bad breeders. I think a better plan of attack would be an ad campaign that informs the American people about bad breeders, what to look for in good breeders, and an independent body (not affiliated with the government) that provides certifications to breeders who comply with their standards (like the Better Breeder Bureau, catchy name eh?). The AKC does something similar to this but they do a terrible job. They did 4,000 kennel inspections this year but out of how many breeders? It is easy to register any dog with the AKC and it is easy to get papers on a puppy mill dog. I think the AKC should step up it’s kennel inspections and not grant papers until an inspection is done. A standard would be better than legislation. They could even charge for it. A good, ethical breeder who cares would be proud to have such a certification.

The big thing here is education. These puppy mills are atrocious but this legislation will needlessly infringe on many reputable breeders’ rights and will affect the numbers of people who can breed quality dogs in humane conditions.

And does anyone think for a moment that the government can successfully legislate effective socialization standards?

This legislation is unnecessary and puppy mills are and will continue to be a problem. Don’t buy from pet stores either.

3 Responses to “It’s not just guns”

  1. Guy Montag Says:

    Umm, I guess I am not “hip” to doggiespeak. I thought “doggie mills” were how hot-dogs were made.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    That’s what they should be 🙂

  3. Stormy Dragon Says:

    Anyone else having mental images of 2004 campaign adds accusing Congressmen So-and-so voting to kill puppies?

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