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.

 

Jul 30, 2018 - Animal Law, Animal Policy    1 Comment

NAIA at NCSL: Opening Day

We’re all set up and ready to go at the 2018 National Conference of State Legislatures in Los Angeles!

This year, our booth is in a perfect position, seen by everyone as they walk in to the event. NAIA is proud to speak for (and with) everybody who loves animals, and to help preserve the human-animal bond.

NAIA’s booth. Hello, George!

 

Will will be back with a full recap later this week.

Big thanks to NAIA Board Member Patte Klecan for running our booth and helping to get our message out!

Foxhound Hunting Operation Vindicated in Colorado: a Roadmap for the Future

On Friday, July 13, Dr. Alison Brown, whose rural American foxhound hunting operation had been attacked and vilified by two county residents was awarded more than $550,000 in defamation, reputational damage, lost revenue, and additional security costs incurred due to threats she received after being defamed.

Based in rural Chaffee County, Colorado, Dr. Brown’s operation became the target of two other residents, Chris Vely and Laura Barton, who wanted Brown’s dogs either silenced or removed entirely. Vely and Barton filed civil suits and criminal complaints, handed out fliers, and posted a Change.org petition against Brown. The online petition and flier were the items containing false and defamatory claims.

Also important here, is that her operation was deemed agricultural in nature; while Brown’s pack of American foxhounds do not kill coyotes, their presence reduces the presence of coyotes, which is a service to local ranchers. Several ranchers also testified that Brown’s hounds were not detrimental to their livestock, contrary to claims made by her opponents. The reason this is important is that it protects Brown’s operation under Chaffee County’s Right to Farm and Ranch ordinances. It also led to one of the more humorously apt statements made during the case:

“People move to rural areas and then expect that the manure pile next door wouldn’t smell, the farm equipment should have mufflers, that farm dogs don’t bark – that kind of thing. Rural zones are expected to have rural uses.”

It is highly encouraging that the parties using lies and defamation didn’t simply fail to win: they were held accountable for their harmful statements and countersued. As more and more honest people stand up for themselves like this (something that, unfortunately, takes time and money), the fewer frivolous and opportunistic cases like Brown’s we will see. For too long, organizations like PETA and HSUS have happily painted their targets as nasty caricatures, while using grossly outdated and inaccurate information in their campaigns. And for too long, the targets of these organization have been left too financially and emotionally spent – and intimidated – to fight back. But the now very real threat of counter-litigation changes the playing field dramatically; at the very least, animal rights organizations will be forced to do some actual fact checking before attacking an individual, hobby, or industry. And this is a huge, and positive change.

Alison Brown’s American Foxhounds. Image used with permission.

Notes & Quotes

A few final notes: While Col. Dennis Foster, former executive director of Masters of Foxhounds and board member of NAIA Trust, doesn’t particularly like seeing his name praised in print, we are going to praise him anyway!  We are immensely grateful that Dennis recognized the importance of this case, felt compelled to get involved, and used his years of experience to support Dr. Brown, all at his own expense. His expert testimony was no doubt a huge factor in Brown’s victory, and for this, we can’t praise him enough!

We also contacted Dr. Brown, and she had this to add:

I also want to say how grateful I am to Col Foster and the many other witnesses who came forward to give testimony at this case. I am incredibly proud of my Chaffee County neighbors and friends in the foxhunting community who were appalled by the actions my neighbors took and who helped me fight and win this landmark case.

Click here for an interview with Dr. Brown offering more personal and detailed information of this case.

Jul 9, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    2 Comments

Careless rescue importation exposes people to zoonotic disease

More troubling news from the wild world of rescue import has been picked up by the Worms & Germs blog: a rescue dog with a known history of chronic health issues is imported into a private U.S. shelter from Thailand and tests positive for Melioidosis, a nasty zoonotic bacterial disease. This discovery leads to several potentially exposed people receiving blood tests (one showed signs of exposure, but none got sick), and ultimately the euthanasia of the dog.

 

Melioidosis is bad news.

The plea for common sense from Worms & Germs author, Scott Weese (Ontario Veterinary College – University of Guelph), could have been written by us:

Logical importation practices are needed. How much time and expense went into shipping a paralysed dog transcontinentally from one shelter to another, when it was ultimately euthanized in the end anyway? I realize everything is done with good intentions, but thank about what could have been done for local homeless animals with the time, effort and expenses that were incurred here.

Dr. Weese generously labels the shelters and importers as well intentioned. But honestly, there must be a point where, when operations are carried out with such casual disregard for the health of shipped and local dogs (and adopters), where intentions can not be labeled as “good” — or at the end result is so damaging as to make intentions irrelevant.

Rescue importation, fueled by a lack of adoptable local dogs in many parts of the U.S. and the power of social media, has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades while U.S. dog import laws have not been updated since 1956. As a result, we are seeing dogs arrive here with everything from canine brucellosis, rabies, and the canine flu, to parasites and other vector-borne diseases. These are very serious issues, which is why NAIA has been working to modernize dog import laws for the last several years. For more information, contact Patti Strand, NAIA President, at naia@naiaonline.org.

 

Apr 27, 2018 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Friday Kudos: Alaska Airline Adapts Its Emotional Support Animal Policy

Alaska Airlines, adapting to the realities of air travel in 2018, tightened its policy on emotional support animals this week. These changes come in the wake of poorly trained and disruptive animals, bites, and even tragic pet deaths occurring on flights.

“Most animals cause no problems,” said Ray Prentice, Alaska Airlines director of customer advocacy. “However, over the last few years, we have observed a steady increase in incidents from animals who haven’t been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport setting or on a plane, which has prompted us to strengthen our policy.”

Prentice is unfortunately correct about the issue being a growing problem. And as it only takes the actions of a few people to create a chaotic and/or unsafe environment for everybody, it has to be addressed to prevent further harm to people and animals.

Alaska’s policy on emotional support animals just got a little tighter.

 

Given how numerous recent headlines have left animal people involuntarily shuddering at the mere word “airline,” it is great to see the drafting of emotional support animal policy that we believe will ultimately be safer, fairer, and more humane. Kudos to Alaska Airlines.

 

Apr 19, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Open Letter To the Editor (Retail Rescue Exposé)

The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) applauds the Washington Post exposé by Kim Kavin (April 11, 2018) detailing the corrupt practices of rescues and shelters buying dogs at auction from the same breeders they disparage as puppy mills, then transporting them cross-country where they market these same dogs as “rescues.”

Sadly, these deceitful practices are hallmarks of today’s so-called “humane movement,” which at best is well-intentioned but reckless, and at worst, shows an inhumane and potentially lethal combination of misanthropy and greed.

The push by BIG HUMANE (large, wealthy animal rights groups and shelters), to promote rescue dogs as the humane alternative to pet stores and other sources of dogs is a strategic and cynical campaign to eliminate marketplace competitors. While the majority of pet stores are regulated by local and state law, rescues and shelters operate largely without regulation or government oversight.

If the dishonesty, hypocrisy and the inherent conflicts of interest present in this movement aren’t enough to alarm the public, the risks to both people and pets should be. The health and safety threats posed by the unregulated pet rescue marketplace have continued unabated for far too long and have already had dire consequences.

It is our hope that Kavin’s article in The Washington Post, will help foster a more informed dog-buying public and more rigorous scrutiny of the “rescue relocation” movement and BIG HUMANE from local, state and federal policymakers.

NAIA strongly supports responsible pet rescue and community-based programs focusing on education, sensible regulations, and enforcement as a proven means of solving problems related to surplus dogs and dog retention. We believe responsible rescuers have played the key role in solving pet overpopulation in many regions of the United States; they serve as both inspirations and models for the tireless work they have done — and continue to do.


For more information on this and other important animal welfare issues, please contact NAIA:

Phone: (503) 761-8962
Email: naia@naiaonline.org

NAIA believes that to animal welfare issues should be humanely and intelligently solved at the source whenever possible, not exploited for economic or political agendas.

 

Mar 16, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

Adopting Out Dangerous Dogs: Common Sense Shouldn’t Be Uncommon

A $750 fine, and barred from adopting or importing dogs into Virginia for two years. Is that penalty enough for adopting out a dog with a known bite history that ended up killing a 90 year-old woman?

Records showed that before coming to Virginia Beach, Blue had been surrendered to a New York City shelter for biting a child. The records also showed that Forever Home had adopted Blue out to another Virginia Beach woman before the fatal attack, but she returned the dog after he bit her.

The rescue group didn’t report the bite as the law requires. Colvin’s daughter, Linda Patterson, said she also was not told of the dog’s bite history. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Forever Home in August and is seeking $5 million in damages.

When a tragic story like this comes out, it is easy to get caught up in arguments over interpretations of no-kill philosophy, the limits of rehabilitation, or attacking individual breeds of dog.

When we circle our philosophical and ethical wagons, it is easy to forget that there are very simple ways of reducing the occurrences of horrible incidents like these. For starters: keeping better and more open records and reporting a dog’s prior history to the public. So often, when a serious bite occurs after an adoption, it is uncovered after that the fact that the dog has a history of aggression. The last time a dog bites and injures somebody is usually not the first time it has shown aggression, and this is something people (typically previous rescues or owners) are all too often aware of. All adopters, public or private, have a responsibility to keep dangerous dogs from being adopted to the public.

This is an issue NAIA has been on top of for awhile. We have spoken out on this issue and supported sensible legislation that would require adopters to disclose bite histories. Our lives will never be entirely free from risk, but when risk can be reduced simply through behaving responsibly and sharing information, there is no good excuse not to.

Below are a few previous articles on this issue our president, Patti Strand has written or been quoted in:

Patti Strand: More regulations needed for animal shelters and rescues

Massive, unregulated networks move dogs into Virginia to save them from death. Some worry it’s putting people at risk

NAIA supports Virginia SB 571 (disclosure of bite history)

 

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