Browsing "Animal Policy"
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!

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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.

Aug 15, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

New USDA regulation: a boon to public health and safety

The USDA’s new health requirements for dogs properly limits dogs from being imported into the US from foreign countries and territories for resale. These dogs, which are often sold from the back of vans in parking lots and adopted from rescue groups often come from parts of the world where humane standards are non existent, and where diseases and parasites eliminated in this country long ago are still prevalent. Many dog traffickers will figure out a way around this law (thousands are being smuggled across the Mexican border into the US each year) but at minimum it will serve as a warning to the people who now peddle these dogs to an unwitting public.

This is big news and we are thrilled at NAIA. Imported dogs pose serious health threats to US animals and people, and we have long supported reasonable import regulations and enforcement as part of a solution.

 


Note: this will not affect the ability of individuals to import dogs for their own use; this affects only dogs brought into the United States for resale.

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Aug 11, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Summer 2014 Animal Policy Review

The Summer 2014 Animal Policy Review is now live, and can be found on naiaonline.org here:

NAIA Animal Policy Review, Summer 2014

This edition’s top stories:

  • Dog rescues and animal shelters risk public health and safety
  • Charity watchdog dings HSUS after $15 million settlement
  • Circus $25 million, animal activists zero in fraud and racketeering case
  • NAIA conference information: Those who aren’t at the table are on the table!
  • Carriage horses and drivers face extinction in NYC

 
Animal Policy Review Summer 2014

Bolstering the Black Market in Dogs

A raid of a very disturbing breeding operation recently took place in Jacksonville, Florida.

Not only were the breeders selling people sick pets, they were deceptively operating under five different business names, operating without a license, illegally importing dogs from South America, and forging documents. A quick online search reveals numerous complaints from people who had bought sick puppies from them, as well. Dishonest, inhumane, the type of operation that sickens and enrages decent people everywhere.

Every time a breeding operation like this is raided, there are calls for new regulations to “put these awful people out of business.” The fact is, virtually all of the recent raids we have tracked at NAIA are of breeders who are operating like this: illegally without a license (when required) or inspections, or with lapsed license and serious prior violations (where were the follow up inspections?). If current laws aren’t being followed or enforced, what makes anyone think newer, stricter regulations will affect anybody other those who are already complying: licensed, transparent, inspected breeders?

We have taken our share of flack at NAIA for taking a “Why not enforce existing laws first, before passing new laws?” position. Some people confuse this with an opposition to all regulations. Without enforcement, you’ll never get rid of the bad guys (who couldn’t care less about animal care regulations), while knee-jerk legislative responses simply place additional burdens on those who are already complying with the law. Taken to its logical conclusion: in the end all you’ll have left is the black market.

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Jul 9, 2014 - Animal Policy    12 Comments

So we’re gonna outsource dog breeding too?

We have long known that when it comes to dogs, the term “pet overpopulation” is a misnomer, and that we’ll most likely be facing a shortage of dogs in the near future — more potential owners than there are dogs available.

For the millions of American households that won’t feel complete without the companionship of the “family dog,” this could be a serious problem. So how do we head off this impending shortage at the pass? Well, one blogger has an idea! Just import them from foreign puppy mills!

Yes, I’m serious. Of course, the author does suggest raising standards to make them humane and respectable:

[…] we should look at an alternative strategy, which was employed by the high-end coffee industry, where American interests (private and non-governmental organizations) work with foreign organizations and countries to institute basic humane standards for animal welfare as it applies to breeding of dogs. Rather than an import ban of questionable utility (given all of the ways that commercial breeders/distributors can sneak dogs over the border in large volumes), why not target four to five countries and provide them with tools to enforce meaningful animal welfare standards and best practices?

You can be sure that dogs imported into the United States for resale will not be flying first class.

You can be sure that dogs imported into the U.S. for resale will not be flying first class.

People love animals, and they are going to get pets from one source or another. Nobody is questioning that. So the challenge of meeting that demand with dogs from humane, responsible sources is very real.

But just think about what it means that somebody is suggesting — with a straight face (we assume?) — going into countries with virtually no animal welfare standards, instituting “basic humane standards for animal welfare as it applies to breeding of dogs,” then putting those puppies through the stress of being shipped into the United States, and calling that part of a solution. This might work for coffee beans…

NAIA opposes the importation of dogs into the United States for resale, and finds the notion of sourcing our dogs from foreign breeding operations to be ludicrous.

We have to ask if the author really believes that the breeding of pets domestically, raising standards where need be, and sourcing dogs locally is so taboo that mass importation from foreign, large-scale kennels actually sounds reasonable? Or is this the work of a provocateur — the author just softening us up with an assault on the senses so great that we’ll be receptive to something that makes sense in the next installment?

At least for the first question, let’s hope not.

To assure the future availability of healthy, humanely raised pets in the United States, we need to look closer to home. Contact us at NAIA for solutions!

Jul 1, 2014 - Animal Policy    1 Comment

Police, Dogs, and a Happy Ending (For Once)

Some activists claim that a police officer shoots a dog every 98 minutes, while people in law enforcement often call dog shootings a rarity, and lament the fact that there is never as much (if any) outcry when a person is shot. Where does the truth lie? There are currently no accurate nationwide statistics available for police officers shooting dogs, but we know  it does happen, and any time it is avoidable, it is too often. Last weekend, there was a protest in Salt Lake City, Utah over the shooting of a Weimaraner inside a fenced yard, and earlier this year in Filer, Idaho, things became heated enough to spur a recall effort (which failed), after a police officer shot a disabled man’s dog during a child’s birthday party.

Stories like this are far too common, but negative interactions between law enforcement and dogs are not the rule, and the stories that cause outrage get the most attention. While often late in coming — typically a reaction to pets being tragically killed — more and more and we are seeing police receive training in non-lethal methods of dealing with dogs, and just a few days ago we get this story

After responding to a residential burglar alarm Thursday morning, Sgt. Gary Carter and Officer Heather Gibson were flagged down by some residents walking in the 400 block of North East Street who reported that a dirt-covered, white pit bull was chasing them in an “aggressive” manner. “This dog is so vicious, please get him,” one woman reportedly yelled to the officers.

If you are the type who follows police/pet encounters in the news, you are probably holding your breath right now, given what is typically reported, but what happens next is, quite frankly, adorable:

Carter and Gibson coaxed the hungry and thirsty canine into a patrol car with a protein bar and some head scratches.

Getting some pets from the police

Had the officers been frightened by the dog’s dirty appearance or apparent breed type, this could have ended very differently. Certainly it helps that Sgt. Carter is a dog lover, but even if he nor Officer Gibson had a history with dogs, Arlington has safeguards in place:

The Arlington Police Department implemented mandatory training two years ago to help officers identify the difference between aggressive and nonaggressive animals and know how to respond in situations when a dog is inside a home or roaming freely in a neighborhood.

People in the neighborhood were scared and calling for help, saying the dog was “vicious” and “chasing” them. The officers, who had received the mandatory training recognized that the dog was in fact, merely dirty and hungry, and deescalated the situation in a humane, touching manner. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of knowledge to save a life; we hope to hear more stories that end like this as more police officers receive training in how to properly deal with domestic animals.

May 27, 2014 - Animal Policy    2 Comments

Health Alert Regarding Imported Dogs

A health alert has been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the increasing number of dogs being imported from rabies endemic countries with questionable documentation.

A particularly disturbing line in the alert is this:

These documents state that the puppies are older than 4 months of age and
fully immunized against rabies. However, upon examination, these animals were found to be less than 4 months old and sometimes as young as 4-8 weeks of age. Documentation has also included falsification of birth location and breed registration. 

Clearly they are seeing a lot more than honest, innocent mistakes.

One of NAIA’s longstanding campaigns has been to awaken the public to the threats posed by the irresponsible importation of animals into the American pet marketplace — especially from countries still suffering from diseases and parasites that have been largely eradicated in the United States.

NAIA appreciates the attention the CDC is giving this matter, and looks forward to the publication of the finalized USDA rule outlying the importation of dogs less than 6 months of age for resale (which includes transfer by adoption).

 

PuppyShot

 

Apr 23, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

NASPHV Addresses the Issue of Unregulated Animal Importation

Applause applause! On April 21st, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) released a policy statement recognizing the threat to humans and animal health posed by the unregulated importation of animals — rabies, in particular.

Throughout the last decade, the growth of the importation of dogs for the pet trade, especially by unregulated rescue and black market dog peddlers has been of great concern to NAIA, and it is great seeing these issues addressed.

NASPHV Statement

More Background:

 

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