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.

Jan 25, 2019 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Partial Government Shutdown Harming Rescue’s Business Model

In most regions of the United States, dog overpopulation as an issue has been solved, and there are more potential owners than there are local pet dogs available. For example, many of the dogs that arrive in Northeastern shelters and rescues come from the southern United States, Puerto Rico, and sometimes even foreign countries.

Ending the dog surplus problem in some parts of the country is a challenge, due to a lack of clear records. To solve a problem, you have to be able to define it. Who is breeding these dogs? Who is surrendering them? Who is adopting them? And more and more, we’re having to ask where they coming from.

One thing we do know, is that fewer dogs are being bred in the United States while the practice of importing dogs from foreign countries for adoption is growing — and fast. So it is little surprise that the partial government shutdown has led to complaints from a group that brings 800+ dogs a year into the U.S., because they can no longer obtain the proper importation permits. This is just one organization of hundreds that are importing dogs in the Southwestern U.S., threatening the health of American dogs and flooding the dog marketplace.

This is why NAIA and our legislative partner, NAIA Trust are working so hard to find legislative solutions to this mushrooming problem.

Jan 16, 2019 - Animal Rights    No Comments

Killing Them with Kindness

No, this isn’t about that guy with the machete, but another, somewhat less viral (but more pertinent to NAIA) story.

An Ohio man declared to police that 15 racehorses wanted to be “free,” after releasing them from their stables. Sadly, one of these poor “liberated” horses fell through the ice over Meyers Lake and drowned.

This is awful, but it also informs — because we’re not sure if you could find a more shining distillation of a specific mindset and its consequences that NAIA is fighting against. Whether someone is…

  • banning breeds or breeders rather than specific behaviors;
  • endangering the local pet and human population by importing street dogs from countries where canine rabies, flu, and/or brucellosis are endemic;
  • fighting against animal research that will benefit future generations while enjoying — or perhaps even maintaining — their lives through the countless discoveries already achieved through *drum roll please* animal research; or
  • demanding radical changes in agricultural policy and practices, despite never having set foot on a modern farm


It’s always the same story: moral certainty and the idea that “We’ve got to do something now!” coupled with limited (often non-existent) first-hand understanding of the issue at hand, which is inevitably followed by tragic, if utterly predictable consequences.

The Outcome Is Predictable

Jan 11, 2019 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Federal Agencies Demonstrate Understanding of Dog Importation Dangers

If you are a passionate dog breeder, concerned about the protection and preservation of your breed, or someone working with a responsible rescue organization, you are probably aware — acutely so — of the dangers posed by the irresponsible importation of pets.*

While the general public lags behind the organized dog community in their understanding of this issue (some even romanticize such importation or tie it to virtue), it is good to see that several federal agencies are working to make sure that imported pets meet the minimum requirements necessary to enter the United States: Pet import laws are severely outdated, but it’s good to see that the agencies take the issue seriously and are doing all they can within their current statutory authority to prevent dogs carrying contagious (sometimes lethal) diseases from entering the US:

CBP, CDC, USDA Eye Puppy Imports**

This is excellent to read. The language is academic, mild even. But it is also quite obvious that they understand the health threat posed to animal and human populations through importing pets — dogs, typically — that aren’t properly health-checked, vaccinated, and old enough. Further, they are aware of importers trying to circumvent the system and falsify records — an issue raised by the shipment of rescue dogs from Egypt that included a rabid puppy, leading to a six-state investigation (and a lot of shots for the people who needed PEP regimen).

 

*For many, the idea of importing a dog from another region or country to “save” it has a gut-level appeal. Unfortunately, the reality of this is that doing so without appropriate health checks and vaccinations — especially when importing from countries with large street dog populations where rabies and other diseases are still endemic — poses serious dangers to local dog and human populations.

** yes, we’re aware this article was written before the shutdown, no we don’t expect the lapse in funding to last forever.

Sep 18, 2018 - Animal Law, Animal Rights    1 Comment

Judge throws out lawsuit granting horse legal standing to sue

In a welcome dose of sanity, Oregon judge John Knowles threw out a lawsuit filed by animal rights activists that would have given a horse legal standing to sue. This is a can of worms the animal rights crowd would love to open up, and it is an ongoing effort. But at least in this instance, the judge recognized the problems it would lead to:

There are profound implications of a judicial finding that a horse, or any non-human animal for that matter, is a legal entity that has the legal right to assert a claim in a court of law. Such a finding would likely lead to a flood of lawsuits whereby non-human animals could assert claims we now reserve just for humans and human creations such as business and other entities.

NAIA strongly supports sensible and enforceable laws against animal cruelty. We also support education and research into animal behavior and conditions that enable better standards of animal care. In the case of legal standing to sue, however, we strongly agree with Judge Knowles.

British Veterinary Association warning on “Trojan dogs”

The United States is not the only country facing the burgeoning problems associated with unregulated international dog rehoming. Canada’s importation system has been described as little more than self-reporting, and has brought diseases that affect humans, pets, and wildlife into the country. Norway has gotten ahead of the issue and banned street dogs from entering the country. Now, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is making its position on the issue clear, using the term “Trojan dogs” — apt and definitely not a phrase you’ll soon forget.

A ‘Trojan dog’ is a stray dog with an unknown health history that has been brought into the UK for rehoming. These dogs are of particular concern as they are very likely to be carrying infections which are common abroad, including in continental Europe as well as farther afield, but which we are free of in the UK. These infections may cause serious and fatal diseases in dogs which may affect not only the imported dog but could be transmitted to other untravelled dogs. In this way the owner of such a dog could unintentionally introduce a new and dangerous infectious disease into the UK to which our native dogs have no immunity. Moreover, some of these infections can infect humans.

The BVA, to its credit, recognizes both the kindness that inspires people to adopt dogs from abroad, while speaking in plain, no-holds language of the threats posed by this type of irresponsible rehoming.

The growing understanding of the dangers surrounding irresponsible pet importation make it a serious issue anywhere new (or previously conquered) infectious diseases can be introduced.

Diseases like brucellosis can be difficult to diagnose and are very contagious.


Aug 31, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Genetic Breed Testing of Shelter Dogs Counters Commonly-Repeated Myth

HSUS and other fundraising groups have repeated the mantra that “25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds” for so long, it has become a commonly accepted truth. Because the statement never matched up with the experiences of our board members, volunteers, and supporters who work in shelters, we felt the need to investigate the issue. This led to our 2015 survey, which found that the number of purebred dogs in shelters is closer to 5% (5.04%).

This week, another study on shelter dog populations was released out of Arizona State: A canine identity crisis: Genetic breed heritagetesting of shelter dogs, and its findings were quite interesting (emphasis ours):

We found that over 100 breed signatures were identified at each shelter in our genetic breed testing with over 91 breeds shared between sites. Breed ancestries ranged from having one to five unique breed signatures identified (7%). On average, purebreds represented less than 5% of dogs tested with individuals most often having three breed signatures identified within their genetic heritage. In order of prevalence at AAWL and SDHS, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, and Poodle were the most common breeds identified.

This is a thorough and well-written study in its own right, but what is so fascinating and valuable about this to us is that two different groups, using different methodologies came to nearly identical conclusions. Finding solutions to the issues facing pets and animal lovers becomes much easier when we know the truth of what we are dealing with.

Dispelling myths surrounding the issues facing animals and the people who care for them makes finding positive solutions much easier!

Oregon Humane Society investigation alleges unethical and unlawful practices

The law-enforcement credentials of the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) have been suspended pending an investigation into mishandled evidence and improper investigative techniques.

Reporting “unethical and unlawful practices,” law enforcement officer and former OHS special agent Ulli Neitch alleges:

…that in the two years she worked for OHS, she saw a failure to maintain a chain of custody on evidence, improper storage of evidence, disregard for officer safety, and violation of Fourth Amendment rights, among other concerns detailed in a 44-page document. 

An especially disturbing accusation in Neitch’s report is that OHS chose to ignore some animal welfare complaints, yet instructed her to seize evidence without a warrant in another. This, in particular, highlights the dangers of giving law-enforcement powers to private organizations.


In the United States, humane societies were originally given police powers in the 19th-century, in large part because animal welfare issues weren’t a high priority with the public at the time. Because of this, there were few animal welfare laws, and few animal control agencies to enforce them. Granting humane societies police powers allowed politicians to focus their attention on issues of greater importance to their constituents.

ASPCA Law Enforcement badge. 1866-2013.

Of course, we’re not living in 1879 anymore. Attitudes and priorities have shifted radically; today, nearly every large city in the United States has a duly-appointed government animal control agency with police powers to handle cases of animal neglect and abuse. In the simplest terms, this assures that animal control is accountable to the public it serves, rather than to a private nonprofit’s mission statement and board of directors.

So long as there are local adoptable homeless pets, NAIA wholeheartedly supports the sheltering and adopting of animals by humane societies. But we consider the suspension of OHS’s law enforcement powers appropriate and overdue. NAIA has long supported the transfer of police powers to government agencies and away from all private nonprofit groups, believing that such groups have inherent conflicts of interest, which are amplified by mission zeal and lack of direct accountability.

 

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