Browsing "Animal Policy"
Apr 15, 2015 - Animal Policy    1 Comment

Asian Canine Influenza Outbreak: A Reminder of the Importance of Responsible Animal Transport

An outbreak of canine influenza* in the Chicago area has killed six dogs and sickened 1,300. It comes from a strain of the virus that has previously only been seen in Korea and China.

We do not yet know the specific source or the scenario that led to this outbreak, but regardless, it is a painful reminder of the importance of responsible animal transport (especially in regards to importation), and why we support it so strongly at NAIA.

Of course there are no guarantees in life, no way to ensure that your pet will never come down with an illness, but employing responsibility and accountability when transporting animals — something that is, unfortunately, not always standard operating procedure — is a great way to improve those odds for everybody’s pets.

Our hearts go out to the families who lost pets due to this illness, and we wish a speedy recovery to all who were affected!

 

 

*while this is referred to as “Asian Dog Flu” it can affect cats too!

Apr 10, 2015 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Academic Study: NY Carriage Horses are Stress-Free

So did you read the news that an expert in equine medicine tested New York’s carriage horses, and discovered their stress levels are probably lower than yours or mine? That work doesn’t raise the stress or angst of these magnificent animals — that they are living pretty darn contented lives?

If not, hopefully you have now!

Of course this won’t affect the opinion of anybody in the anti-carriage horse brigade — their minds are made up and impervious to dissent (and when faced with irrefutable facts, they’ll just move the goalpost). This information won’t affect the opinion of anybody who supports carriage horses, either — it merely confirms something we have long known:

“Like many New Yorkers I could see that joy and vigor in their eyes. Now we have scientific proof as well.”

But for everybody else, studies like this are meaningful. Horses and humans have been partners for thousands of years, and most people can look at a carriage horse and just know on a general level that the animal is content. But without data to back up our perceptions, it can be written off as just that: a perception — a feeling. Well, here comes the back up!

Anti-carriage horse activists have been telling the public and legislators to “ignore your lyin’ eyes” for years — that we need to trust them when they insist these animals are miserable and unhealthy. And unfortunately, along the way, they have managed to convince some people that they are right. Data like this lets us respond with authority; it lets us say “Sorry guys, but our eyes were working just fine all along… these carriage horses are indeed happy, healthy animals!”

The carriage driver appears to have remarkably low stress levels as well.

The carriage driver appears to have remarkably low stress levels as well.

 

 

Apr 1, 2015 - Animal Policy    2 Comments

Placing Dangerous Dogs Undermines Everybody

From an alarming article by the Albuquerque Journal:

In more than 100 cases last year, the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department has allowed [aggressive] dogs to be adopted by families or returned to their owners even though they flunked nationally recognized standardized tests that showed the animals had dangerous tendencies.

One dog was so aggressive he couldn’t be tested, but was still adopted out. Some volatile dogs were even taken to the Lucky Paws adoption site in Coronado Center.

These are among the explosive allegations in a complaint filed with the city’s Office of Inspector General by the Animal Welfare Department’s second-in-command and its behavior specialist, who said Monday she has resigned out of frustration and alarm for the community.

Go ahead and read the entire article then come back. It’s important. We’ll still be here.

UnfriendlyPup

——-

We have written about mission creep in dog rescue and sheltering before, and its unintended consequences (disease, dog bites, how it actually enables irresponsible breeding practices, etc.), and this is as prime an example as any.

These allegations are simply stomach churning. When ideology trumps duty like this, it undermines everybody: the public, responsible rescues and shelters, behaviorists and others who work to rehabilitate dogs (done responsibly, many dogs with behavioral problems can be rehabilitated and placed with appropriate owners), and of course the dogs themselves. In the end, it always comes back to the dogs. If we had a dollar for every time good intentions untethered from knowledge (or basic reality) ended up hurting the dogs they were meant to save, we’d have more funding than HSUS…

So just how on earth is the public going to trust an Animal Welfare/Animal Services/Animal Control department if it has a record of adopting out vicious dogs that lunge after children or kill other pets? Dogs that were too aggressive to even take behavioral tests? Who, exactly, are they looking out for by allowing these dogs to be adopted? Certainly not the people whose communities they are being trusted with!

But they are also doing an incredible disservice to dogs and the rescue community, as well. Shelters and rescues have done a great job over the last few decades of marketing themselves as the place to get your next pet. Numbers from one of our recent surveys show that respondents believe the healthiest, best-tempered dogs come from rescues or shelters, and list them as first choice among people expecting to acquire dogs in the next 5 years. Do you think these people would be so quick to choose rescues and shelters as their top choice if the first thought that pops into their mind isn’t “saving the life of a great dog” but rather “will the dog we find be safe for the family?” Is it so hard to see how adopting out just a few aggressive dogs in order to “save them all,” or improve euthanasia numbers can hurt the prospects of all dogs in need of a home?

Anybody who adopts out an aggressive dog is abdicating their responsibility to public safety and undermining literally decades of hard work improving the image of and outcomes for shelter dogs.

Imposter Service Dogs! Fiesty Comfort Animals! (It Only Takes a Few Bad Apples)

When somebody brings their untrained “comfort animal” to a place pets are not typically allowed and the inevitable disaster ensues, our first reaction is often a grin, because — lets’ face it — these stories can be pretty amusing. Unfortunately, tales of out-of-control comfort pets and fake  service animals also have a very real insidious effect: people start questioning the legitimacy of the service animals they come across.

This is especially troubling for the growing number of people without visible disabilities or injuries who receive assistance from service animals, or those with non-standard service animals (e.g. a Chihuahua), who are more likely to feel the “raised eyebrow” that questions their honor and legitimacy.

Service animals are quite simply, amazing, and the Americans With Disability Act recognizes and protects the essential role service animals play in our society:

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

We follow animal trends at NAIA, and while we can safely say there is no epidemic of out-of-control comfort animals and imposter service animals, it is definitely a growing issue that we take seriously, and one we will work to find positive solutions for!

 

ExeterBob

Exeter, a service dog trained by CCI, helps Bob cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of Huntington’s disease.

Seized Pups Returned: Change on the Way?

Remember that story we talked about last week where a man was arrested for “illegally breeding Bulldogs” without a $25 license? Where instead of a clear explanation of the law followed by a warning or citation, eight beautiful (and completely healthy) puppies were snatched away from their rightful home?

Well, we are happy that we can say the puppies were all returned to their home yesterday!

In response to this fiasco, Alderman Harold Beadling suggested making changes to the breeding ordinance, saying “I think we can craft a much better ordinance than what we have,” and hey — we couldn’t agree more!


When it can take weeks to see official action taken on a shivering, short-haired dog, kept outside virtually 24/7 during a cold snap, yet you have people lining up from all around the country to help seize puppies that are in no imminent danger, you really do have to wonder where people’s heads are, if not their hearts.

Logo

Dec 30, 2014 - Animal Policy    6 Comments

(Puppy) Theft Under Color of Law

If what we are hearing is true, the family that had eight puppies confiscated after being arrested for “illegally breeding Bulldogs” will be getting them back. Reaction to this “theft-under-color-of-law” has ranged from incredulous to outraged, though many of us familiar with the politics of animal extremism were sadly unsurprised.

But at the end of the day, reason may indeed win in Waukegan.

The family at the center of this story is a young couple, who by all accounts were taking proper care of their puppies. There is no evidence of cruelty to animals or that they were deceiving their buyers. Their sin was not obtaining a $25 breeding license and offending the sensibilities of somebody who saw they had puppies for sale on the internet.

For the family, we are heartened, and hope for a happy ending to this ordeal. We are also delighted (and thankful) at the education, pressure, and shaming that has come forth from so many quarters of the responsible animal community (check out some of the comments here!). But at the same time, the setup of these dog owners and confiscation of their puppies shines a searing light on those whose zeal causes them to see any and all sorts of animal breeding as a sort of “puppy mill.”

This is major story for anybody who keeps animals, who breeds animals, who cares about animals — or simply anybody with a lick of common sense and belief in the rights of their fellow citizens. We will keep you updated as the story develops!

 

Logo

Horse Carriage Ban: The Human Cost and Animal Welfare Misinformation

Two New York state senators, Democrats Diane Savino and Jose Peralta, have come out strongly against New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to ban horse carriages. In a letter, they illustrate how the horse carriage industry provides great, unionized work for hundreds of people, that it is a major tourist attraction, and that it is safe and highly regulated — all very good things.

Bravo to Savino and Peralta for standing up and publicly recognizing the human cost of banning horse carriages!

But while this is an important message to get out, the anti-carriage horse activists will not be swayed by talk of jobs and tourism lost; their argument has always been that the horses are being treated cruelly.

This is a serious charge — we all love horses and want to see them treated well. So do these claims of abuse stand up to scrutiny? Not according to the experts who love and heal animals. In a letter to Mayor de Blasio from the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, they state emphatically that opponents of horse-drawn carriages are misinformed about the “inhumane” working conditions for horses, and that:

Carriage horses generally live a long life during which they are ensured regular examinations and treatment by equine veterinarians, live in structurally sound and safe stables, have adequate supply of food and water, and ample opportunities for socialization with others of their species. Existing New York City Regulations offer extensive guidelines that require ample rest periods, moderate driving paces, and protections from extreme weather conditions.

The equine practitioner members of the NYSVMS, both within the City of New York and elsewhere, have familiarized themselves with the conditions under which these animals live and work and find they are healthy, happy, well-fed and sheltered. They are the recipients of the best level of health care possible.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Equine Practitioners have weighed in as well, and their accounts of clean stables with healthy, well-fed, and mentally sound horses are also very positive — a far cry from what the anti-carriage horse activists are claiming.

It is telling that people who take the time to visit the horses in their stables confidently declare them “happy and well-cared-for,” while people who have never visited the stables remain convinced that the horses are abused and suffering. Apparently, facts do not matter when you have already made up your mind.

Fortunately, most people do allow reason to shape their opinions. While jobs are obviously very important, it is also important we combat the misinformation about carriage horses that persists despite expert opinion and the facts!

Carriage Horse Central Park

Oct 27, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

If you can’t debate the experts, silence ‘em!

What is an anti-hunting animal activist to do when educated, hands-on experts wearing *gasp* uniforms come out in opposition to their upcoming anti-hunting referendum?

Why, they run to the courts and try to silence the experts, of course! In Maine, the HSUS-supported coalition group, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting filed an injunction that would order the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) to butt out of the discussion before the election — despite their background and expertise on such issues, despite the fact that being involved in such issues is kind of their job.  If the injunction succeeded, there could be no opinions on Maine Question 1 on the IFW website, no campaigning or participation in television ads. No voice for the trained experts on one of the very issues they are supposed to be involved in.

It may sound ridiculous, but when you’ve poured more than million dollars into the state trying to push your referendum, winning at any cost probably becomes second nature. Fortunately for the sake of common sense and freedom of speech, Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler did not support the injunction:

“Restricting speech on contested public issues is directly contrary to the public interest, which favors a robust and dynamic public discourse,” Wheeler said in her 15-page decision. “It is [for] the voters, not the plaintiffs or the courts, to assess the relative merits of conflicting speech.

[…]

Wheeler said that DIF&W is “mandated to ‘encourage the wise use of [wildlife] resources.’ Thus, DIF&W is statutorily required ‘to attempt to persuade’ the public to make wise use of these resources, or to make wise use ‘more appealing or more likely to happen.’”

Regardless of how you may feel about this particular referendum or even hunting in general, attempting to silence those who disagree with your viewpoint before an election is pretty low down behavior. And in this case, given the IFW’s background and expertise, it belies a fear of honest debate — something you should never be afraid of if you are running a campaign based on substance, facts, and the public’s best interest.

Sep 2, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Report on 2014 NCSL Conference

By NAIA Board Members Patte Klecan and Caren Cowan

That famous line from Field of Dreams – “Build it and they will come” is the best way to describe our experience at the 2014 NCSL. NAIA took the plunge and purchased a booth display that was without a doubt one of the most attractive in the Exhibit Hall. The bright colors, the logo front and center and the message all worked together to draw people in. Of course, George Washington was strategically placed and people were forced to stop to admire. This allowed us the opportunity to explain that George was the originator of the American Foxhound which he needed to pursue his hunting adventures. The Legislators from Virginia were especially intrigued and one even took my card and asked if we could help him promote the American Foxhound which is the official dog of Virginia!

ncslboothonly

It was somewhat amusing to watch the reactions of our visitors when they realized that NAIA was not affiliated with HSUS or any of the other radical fundraising groups. Once we explained that NAIA was the “reasonable alternative to the extremists,” the Legislators and staff members breathed a visible sigh of relief, relaxed, and said they were excited to know we were available to assist them. One staff member, who is the Research Director for his state’s Ag & Natural Resources Committee, asked if we could come and testify before the committee on animal issues!  All those that we were able to engage in conversation eagerly accepted our literature. A Senator from Mississippi returned the next day to tell us that he had read our material and was going to check with his staff to see if he was available to attend our conference. A behavioral researcher also returned the next day to say how much she learned from our handouts, delighted that we were a research based group and that she was also considering attending our conference.

Our visitors weren’t just Legislators and staff. We had other exhibitors come by as well. Two women were quite upset when they realized that the tote bag they were carrying with the elephant on it was from Ringling Bros. until we explained to them the facts about Feld’s conservation efforts on behalf of the Asian Elephants. They thanked us and left with a different opinion.

The biggest reaction was to our handout about the unregulated importation of stray dogs. Nearly every visitor was impressed to learn the key roles NAIA plays with state and federal agencies in developing regulations to protect people and pets.

Granted not everyone was thrilled we were there. One woman passed by and in response to Caren’s greeting said she didn’t know about NAIA, but, she didn’t agree with us. Can’t win them all!  The most amusing encounter occurred Thursday afternoon when the MN Director of HSUS stopped by. He stood just outside the booth, read our values statement and snickered. He then proceeded to verbally assault me with his ranting about anti-trapping of Bobcats in MN. I explained to him that trapping was not my area of expertise and I wasn’t interested in standing there debating with him. He proclaimed that we weren’t interested in facts. I responded that we were indeed interested in facts, just not emotional rhetoric. After a second invitation, he left.

2015 NCSL will be in Seattle. Having a booth at these types of events is extremely important so that we can provide Legislators and others with an alternative perspective on the issues. They want to hear from us and NAIA needs to consider expanding its presence at other venues in order to spread our message.

Pages:123»