Oct 4, 2019 - Animal Rights    1 Comment

Justin Bieber Tells PeTA to “Suck It.”

After buying two Savannah kittens, Justin Bieber was criticized by PeTA, who predictably came at him with one of their very favorite false choices: if you don’t get your pet from a shelter, you don’t care about animals!

When you hiss upon a star…

Oh my. The claws are out! But refreshingly, instead of grovelling, vaguely promising to “do better” in the future, and/or donating money to PeTA, Bieber told them to go suck it. Hey, now that’s the spirit! Considering the number of animals PeTA’s “shelter” has killed, and their views on pet ownership (spoiler: people shouldn’t have pets, period), they really don’t have the moral authority to lecture anybody on pet ownership or the requirements one must meet to “care about animals.”

Bieber went on:

“Every pet we get must be a rescue? I believe in adopting rescues but also think there are preferences and that’s what breeders are for.”

While that likely won’t be good enough for PeTA, it echoes what approximately 95% of the world believes. Would we have phrased it exactly as such? No — but we’ll take it!

Here are the scandalous kittens, by the way:

$35,000 on two cats is probably not something a typical pet owner even considers, but the choice of where to get your next pet is a universal concern. And for many potential pet owners, the predictability of temperament, size, coat, health, and other factors that come with a well-bred pet are preferable — as are the guarantees and education one receives from a quality breeder. If seeking out a companion that is an ideal fit for your family and lifestyle isn’t a demonstration of caring about animals, then nothing is!

Jun 24, 2019 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Sometimes you need rescuing from the rescuer…

Ill will between various rescue and shelter groups isn’t uncommon or unique. Given enough time and participation, virtually any group that works with animals will sprout factions that argue over best practices, philosophy, budgeting, events, and anything else you might imagine. But no matter how nasty the cliques get, no matter how heated the disagreements may be, it’s hard to imagine things getting this extreme and terrifying:

Officials: Animal rescue president threatened to shoot shelter staff

For a little background:

Out of the Box rescues animals, mostly dogs, from shelters that have deemed them dangerous. The Citrus County Animal Shelter stopped providing dogs to [Robert] Schweickert earlier this year after one of the rescue’s adopted “dangerous” dogs escaped from its owner’s enclosure.

In response, the rescue president allegedly made a threatening phone call to the shelter, saying if he had a gun, he would shoot the director and shelter staff. According to the community service director, he also sat in his car in the shelter parking lot, just “waiting to talk” to the shelter or service director. Unsurprisingly, he is currently being trespassed from shelter property.

Rescue and adoption issues can certainly be heated, but this is some seriously scary stuff!

A public animal shelter has to protect the public health and safety first and foremost. Whatever one’s feelings are on what constitutes a truly “dangerous” dog,* and whether it is appropriate to adopt a “dangerous” dog out, if the shelter felt that providing dogs to a particular rescue presented too great of a risk, trusting their judgment in this matter is a good baseline position. Given the behavior of the rescue after being told no more dogs would be provided, it would appear that position has been validated.**

 


*Citrus county allows citizens to keep dogs deemed dangerous, but they must be secured, properties must post a “dangerous dog” warning, the dog must be on leash and muzzled while on walks (and only walked by an adult), and there is a hefty $500 annual licensing fee.

** The issue of adopting out aggressive dogs is a problem NAIA is vocal about while also offering reasonable solutions (see: Virginia).

Apr 16, 2019 - Pet Care, Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

Heartworm Awareness Month: Are Your Pets Protected?

April is National Heartworm Awareness month — are your pets up on their preventative treatments?

The Companion Animal Parasite Council’s (CAPC) March report is out with a rather ominous top-10 list: the cities with the highest percentage increase in positive heartworm tests last month.

Portland, Oregon made the top 10. This is important to note, as Portland had no native cases of heartworm prior to the introduction of irresponsible dog rescue operations that relocated dogs from distant states and countries to the Northwest. The idea that living in a “heartworm free” region of the country is all one needs to keep their pets free from this parasite, is alas, no longer a safe bet.

Unfortunately, the current most common standard preventatives for heartworm are controlled poisons with known side-effects (especially ivermectin) and potential ecotoxicity issues, as well, but making sure your pet is protected is far better than the alternative. Are your pets up on theirs?

Sadly, you can’t make this stuff up (more rescue importation madness)…

As if on cue, a few minutes after we put out yesterday’s blog on imported Korean rescue dogs introducing a new strain of canine distemper into North America, our inbox was awash with this APB:

Officers looking for rescue dog in Leawood that escaped, possibly exposed to rabies

The escaped dog was in a group of 26 dogs imported from Egypt, in which one got sick and tested positive for rabies. The dog that escaped has not shown any signs of the disease itself.

Yes, by all means let’s displace our domestic dog population with pets from a part of the world where the CDC recommends rabies vaccines for anybody who might interact with the local animal population. What could possibly go wrong?

One final note: the rescue group says they followed proper protocol in importing the dogs, which if true, is a very strong argument in favor of modernizing our current importation laws, which have not been significantly updated since the 1950s. Situations like this, which threaten our animals and ourselves, shed still more light on why NAIA and the NAIA Trust are working on a federal bill to rein in irresponsible international rescue.

 

Last seen wearing purple sweater. May have been exposed to rabies.

 

Another Day, Another Strain

Here’s another example of why NAIA has been working nonstop on the issue of irresponsible dog importation for nearly 20 years:

New Imported Distemper Strain in Dogs

This is not a long read, but to summarize: 12 week-old puppy (yes, 12 weeks!) was imported into North America from Korea by a rescue. The puppy showed signs of illness 12 days after arriving, grew sicker, and had to be euthanized. Tests indicate the imported pup had a new strain of distemper.

The excerpt below captures the dangers of irresponsible rescue importation (trafficking, if you don’t want to mince words), and its wanton disregard for the domestic dog population:

While we have been most concerned with the importation of canine influenza virus from Asia to North America by improper procedures by various “rescue” groups, the importation of CDV may be more significant in that CDV once it enters an ecosystem cannot be eradicated even with effective vaccines. Once again the North American dog population is being put at risk by those who have no regard for the importation of foreign animal diseases.

The threats to public, animal, and economic health that are posed by importing unscreened livestock into the country are generally understood. The fact that we have a reasonably strict screening process for importing livestock is evidence of this. Yet for the last two decades, rescues shipping in dogs from parts of the world that have not even gotten rabies under control has rarely elicited anything stronger than “but at least their hearts were in the right place” in response. Sadly, it seems to take incidents such as the canine flu, rabid puppies, and new (or reintroduced) diseases for the public to take notice, but awareness is spreading.

Dog Food Recalls and Now a Class Action Lawsuit

Less than three months after an FDA recall of several brands of dry pet food with potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is now facing a class action lawsuit claiming hundreds, if not thousands of pets were sickened or even killed after being exposed to toxic levels of Vitamin D in their canned food:

“The lethal nature of Hill’s Specialty Dog Foods has been compounded by Hill’s excessive and unwarranted delay in warning consumers and regulatory agencies of the dangers posed by these products and caused untold numbers of pet owners significant emotional distress and financial loss,” noted the court filing, which detailed the cases of three bereaved dog owners.

“As early as February of 2018, dog owners began to complain that Hill’s Specialty Dog Foods were causing their pets to display symptoms consistent with vitamin D poisoning, such as ‘daily diarrhea, excessive thirst and constant food begging,'” according to the suit.

Hill’s is facing an additional, unrelated lawsuit over the issue of “fake pharmacy” prescription foods, as well.

Production issues and legal actions against companies that make the food your pets eat is obviously something we should all be aware of. We will follow this story and post updates as they occur.

Given the recent spate of dog-food related recalls and lawsuits, you can’t blame your pet for being a little wary…

 

Feb 20, 2019 - Animal Law    2 Comments

Three Cheers for the Supremes!

Here’s some good news! Supreme Court says constitutional protection against excessive fines applies to state actions:

“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” Ginsburg wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. . . . Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence.”

As a cherry on top, this was a unanimous ruling, too. But how does this relate to animal issues?

For over 30 years we have watched private nonprofit humane societies armed with state police powers seize animals – primarily dogs – under color of law, with very mixed results. There are definitely cases of horrendous neglect and abuse where animals must be removed from their current environment to protect and save their lives.

However, we have also observed animal confiscations that appeared to be little more than media events designed to provide a poster child opportunity for a humane society’s current legislative or fundraising campaign. We have seen seized animals that were portrayed by the shelter as being at death’s door when seized but made available for adoption within days of confiscation.

Decades ago, when dog overpopulation was still a problem in most parts of the country, the primary role of humane societies was to house and rehabilitate stray, neglected, owner relinquished and abused animals, and rehome them. But in the modern era, many shelters serve primarily as a major source of pets in their communities, often importing animals from different states and even foreign countries to maintain a steady supply of adoptable dogs. Confiscating pets in this environment is highly questionable and creates the perception of a serious conflict of interest. In addition, NAIA believes that nonprofit organizations should never be granted police powers, and that animal confiscations should only be carried out by duly appointed law enforcement personnel operating under proper legal justification, not by employees of a private nonprofit operating under the mission statement of their organization.

Three cheers for the Supremes and this decision. This applies to seizure of property that is used in engaging in criminal activity and, since dogs and other animals are defined as property, we expect that state legislatures will address their laws to align with this Supreme Court decision.

 

The United States Supreme Court building

 

Generations Change, Traditions Remain

The snippet below is from a fascinating, well-written article that focuses on a millennial couple who have taken on the tradition of hunting – with their own spin:

The number of hunters in the United States has been in a slow fall since 1982, when 16.7 million people had paid hunting licenses. By 2010, that had dropped to 14.4 million, according to United States Fish & Wildlife Service records.

In the past few years, the figure has begun to climb, to 15.6 million in 2018. Still, only about 5 percent of Americans 16 or older hunt, half of the number who did 50 years ago. Supporters of the sport worry about what might happen if their beloved culture fades away.

Hope, they say, might lie with a health-conscious, outdoors-loving slice of the millennial generation who were raised on grass-fed beef and nose-to-tail eating, but didn’t grow up in hunting families, where taking game is about both tradition and filling the freezer.

The difference between 16.7 and 15.6 million in and of itself may not sound like much. But once you consider that there are now 100 million more people in the United States today than in 1982 and the precipitous decline of young people involved in hunting, the decline become more dramatic.

This is why, to us, the growing interest in wild game in the 20-39 demographic is so important and exciting. There are plenty of mocking “Millennials are killing” jokes circulating about the New York Times article, but we think this is great (hunters and anglers form the backbone of wildlife conservation, after all). If we’ve already got teenage dock diving proselytizers and hipster birdwatchers, millennial hunters can’t be a surprise to anybody. While the focus and aesthetics of a tradition may change with the participation of new groups or different generations, this is also what keeps those traditions vital… and alive!

A large number of millennial hunters are women — yet another change in the demographics of hunting.

Feb 5, 2019 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Some little-known important history… and a bright future for 100 rescued dogs!

Last weekend, over 100 dogs were rescued by the Cavalier Rescue Trust:

This past weekend the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Trust coordinated a large intake of Cavaliers from a large breeding kennel required to downsize by animal control authorities.

Photo: ACKCS

This rescue operation was an example of far too many dogs and far too little care, where the dogs needed to be surrendered to people who could heal, foster, and find homes for them. You may notice a distinct lack of sensationalism and heart-tugging buzzwords. And intriguingly, many of the people volunteering in this case don’t hate dog breeders – in fact, many of the rescuers are breeders themselves.

Yes, you read that right. Given the way in which so many conversations about dog breeders and rescues are framed, it may come as a surprise that many of the earliest rescue groups were run by or in coordination with breeders and breed groups – but that is the history. Today, while it is not highly publicized, there are still countless breeders and breed groups (every AKC parent breed club) doing that same good work. And there are good reasons for this.

Aside from fostering and rehoming dogs, breed groups have the additional benefit of knowing their community, which can help solve problems before they spin out of control. In addition, their experience with the health and behavioral quirks of their favorite breed(s) makes them exceptionally valuable in both fostering as well as finding ideal adoptive homes.

This labor of love by the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Trust is a case study of the tight coordination and tireless volunteerism that is vital when your community is suddenly faced with 100+ dogs needing homes. We salute them!

 

Former HSUS bigwig arrested for robbing Subway restaurant twice

Over the weekend PETA and HSUS alumnus Scotlund Haisley, best known to our readers for his work in a dog breeder raid that led to the filing of a $5 million lawsuit against HSUS and inspired a movie, was arrested for holding up a Subway restaurant… twice.

This revelation, once you think about Haisley’s history of banging down doors, is hardly a surprise, and the headlines practically write themselves (“From pretend cop to real-life robber,” perhaps?). But it also occurs in the ominous shadow of Haisley’s serious health issues, which forced him to step away from his last position, and he is apparently “of no fixed address”; this is not something we revel in or would wish on anybody, even if the arrest is something that could have been predicted.

In 2009, a wrongfully obtained warrant and an animal control officer who intentionally misled the court… in 2016, a motion picture.

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