Browsing "Animal Policy"

NY City Council Will NOT Vote to Restrict Carriage Horses Tomorrow.

Great news out of New York City: the Teamsters have pulled their support for a bill restricting carriage horses to Central Park, and there will be no vote on it tomorrow.

Predictably, Mayor Bill de Blasio shows no signs of giving up his quest to eradicate these majestic and well-cared-for animals (as well as the jobs and tourism revenue they generate), and has said he is looking for a “new path.”

But with no vote tomorrow and opposition to his plans only growing, things are not looking good for de Blasio. As lovers of carriage horses and the people who work with and care for them, this is news we can cheer!

 

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Jan 28, 2016 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Congratulations, Dr. Goldman!

NAIA board member Dr. Arnold L. Goldman, DVM, MPH was recently presented with the 2015 Bebout Memorial Award for his groundbreaking work in advocating for the rights of responsible breeders and dog owners. In addition to being a proven leader in the veterinary field, Dr. Goldman developed legislation addressing retail pet sales and consumer protection that serves as a model for communities nationwide. All of this while owning and working in his own animal hospital. He is as active and engaged as anybody in the world of animal health and welfare — we are lucky he’s on our side! Please join us in congratulating him on this well deserved honor!

From Left: AKC Gov’t Relations Director Sheila Goffe, Dr. Arnold Goldman, CT Federation’s Laurie Maulucci, AKC President/CEO Dennis B. Sprung

From Left: AKC Gov’t Relations Director Sheila Goffe, Dr. Arnold Goldman, CT Federation’s Laurie Maulucci, AKC President/CEO Dennis B. Sprung

Learn more about Dr. Goldman’s exceptional work in animal welfare policy:

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Apr 23, 2015 - Animal Policy    125 Comments

Irresponsible Dog Importation and Illness: an Expert Speaks Out

In the wake of the Midwest canine flu outbreak that has sickened more than 1,100 dogs, we are getting the straight talk we need about dog importation from a canine influenza expert:

“We have absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, proof that a foreign animal disease has been imported into the U.S.,” Dr. Ed Dubovi said. “I don’t think anyone can look at this situation and say we’re protecting our animal population the best we can.”

[…]

“My concern all along was that someday this virus might make its way here,” he said. “We don’t know how it happened, but it certainly could have come from a dog or a cat. There are multiple international groups who are rescuing dogs from the meat market in Korea and shipping them into the U.S., and we have sketchy quarantine requirements if any at all. Restrictions on the movements of companion animals across borders are somewhat nonexistent.”

Irresponsible importation is an issue we have been concerned about for years. For those who have dismissed or downplayed this threat, the statements from Dr. Dubovi should serve as a wake-up call.

Now the question is: how can these words translate into action?

Saving the lives of dogs is a noble goal, nobody will argue with that. But when good intentions lead to illness and even death, you’re doing it wrong. Try telling somebody who lost their beloved pet that “it’s the thought that counts.”

Humane rescue operation importing large numbers of dogs from the Middle East, 2006. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Shapiro, CDC New York Quarantine Station.

Humane rescue operation importing large numbers of dogs from the Middle East, 2006. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Shapiro, CDC New York Quarantine Station.

Apr 15, 2015 - Animal Policy    2 Comments

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    4 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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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

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