We love Westminster and the dedicated breeders who preserve our cherished breeds!
Great news: the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates (AVMA HOD) has passed a resolution amendment that supports responsible breeders!
“To maximize the health and welfare of companion animals, the AVMA supports research in genetic and inherited disorders to better educate the profession and breeders on identifying and minimizing inherited disorders in companion animal breeding programs. To assist with this, the AVMA encourages veterinarians to pursue continuing education in the emerging area of genetic disease in companion animals. The AVMA also encourages veterinarians to educate breeders, companion animal owners, and the public on the responsibilities involved with breeding and selecting companion animals.”
This resolution amendment replaces an earlier breeder proposal that, while no doubt well-intentioned, was problematic due to its imprecise language and potential for unintended consequences.
Education, cooperation, and trust between animal experts will lead to happier, healthier animals, and this resolution amendment expresses that ideal admirably. We thank the AVMA HOD and all people involved who helped — the AKC and various AKC dog clubs, NAIA supporters and board members (with a big hat tip to Drs. Arnold Goldman and Marty Greer, and to Julian Prager), as well as individual letter writers!
While acknowledging that dogs are treated as members of the family, a Saskatoon (Canada) Judge has emphatically refused to view a divorcing couple’s dispute about pet ownership as a child custody case.
The judge said this sort of case should not be chewing up precious court time “in a justice system that is incredibly busy, where delay has virtually become systemic.”
“To consume scarce judicial resources with this matter is wasteful. In my view such applications should be discouraged,” he added.
The judge also wisely got in front of the old “Dogs are property under the law, viewed just like an old table or can opener!” canard by pointing out that we are most certainly not legally entitled to treat them (or other pets) in a cruel or neglectful manner.
Of course we all love our pets and consider them part of the family, but from a legal standpoint, we couldn’t agree more with the judge that claims like this are a waste of time, talent, and resources.
If you are reading this blog, you no doubt know at least a few veterinarians (or hey, maybe you are a veterinarian!), so do a quick mental survey and ask yourself: do you know anybody — anybody — who pursued the profession out of a desire to “butcher” or “mutilate” animals? Think hard now! OK, didn’t think so. As with any profession, veterinarians differ in skill, experience, and temperament, but you are going to be extremely hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t care deeply about healing animals and improving their quality of life.
The simple fact of the matter is, if somebody is willing to commit the kind of time and energy it takes to become a veterinarian, they probably like animals. This doesn’t stop detractors from assuming bad intentions or cruelty on the part of veterinarians, or even smearing their reputation, however: according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 20% of AVMA members report that they have been cyberbullied or received false reviews.
Cyberbullying and false claims doesn’t merely harm on a professional level, they are psychologically damaging, and in at least one tragic instance, harassment was a contributing factor in a veterinarian’s suicide. This is a lot more serious than a snarky Yelp review. So to address this growing issue, the AVMA has responded by launching a new hotline and reputation management service to help veterinarians fight back against cyberbullying.
Having worked for more than a quarter century educating the public on the difference between animal rights and animal welfare, having exposed deceit and hypocrisy on the part of animal extremists, it’s safe to say we know a little something about how nasty and personal things can become in the world of animal ethics. It remains to be seen how effective these programs will be at protecting veterinarians from abuse and false reviews, but addressing the issue itself is essential, and we hope the AVMA is successful.
We asked NAIA board member Arnold Goldman, DVM, MPH, his thoughts on these new programs, and he was decidedly enthusiastic in his response:
As veterinarians serve animal owners and their animals in the public square, they are just as vulnerable to malicious behavior by those with an agenda, as is anyone else. While thoughtful people may disagree on what constitutes good public policy, or proper animal care, no one should be subject to personal attacks online or otherwise. Unfortunately there are those in our society who may act thoughtlessly or unkindly towards those they may disagree with, or those who they feel may have wronged them. In today’s digital world, cyber-bullying is a favored tactic for those individuals. I am proud that the AVMA, my national professional society, has been and continues to be a leader in providing its members, my colleagues, with the resources necessary to protect themselves from unfair and unkind online attacks. As such, AVMA provides its members a hotline as well as on demand reputation management counseling. For this reason, and so many others, every veterinarian should be a member of AVMA. AVMA stands up for the veterinary profession.
Big congratulations are in order for Nova Southeastern University (NSU) professor of pharmacology, bioethicist, and NAIA Board Member Dr. Robert Speth, who just received NSU’s Sixth Annual Provost’s Research and Scholarship Award!
This award is to honor NSU faculty members who have demonstrated “significant achievement in support of NSU’s mission to foster scholarship, intellectual inquiry, and academic excellence.” Provost Ralph V. Rogers Jr., PhD, had these glowing words for Dr. Speth:
Dr. Speth has distinguished himself as a researcher, an educator, and a staunch supporter of the NSU community. He has truly demonstrated what this award is meant to recognize: innovative and sustained activities in support of NSU’s mission to foster intellectual inquiry, academic excellence, research and a dynamic learning environment.
Dr. Speth’s is known for his work studying brain receptors for neurotransmitters and hormones. He focuses on the hormone angiotensin, which causes hypertension. His research has shown that receptors for angiotensin in the brain are strategically located to stimulate nerves that act upon the cardiovascular system to raise blood pressure. He is also widely recognized as a resource on the ethics of animal research. We are proud to have Dr. Speth as a board member, and thrilled to see him receive this prestigious reward!
Just a quick shout-out here for the veterinarians and other experts in Canada who are speaking out on the risks associated with willy-nilly dog importation.
What is so important here are the factors involved:
- Risks have been outlined (exotic illnesses and parasites that can affect dogs, humans, and other animals– e.g. Brucella canis and Leishmaniasis)
- Realistic solutions have been targeted (you can’t stop all dogs from moving between different countries and regions, so what is the “low hanging fruit” that can be plucked and reduce the risks?)
- These goals are cooperative in nature (veterinarians, border security, rescues, and breeders who ship animals are all being called on to do their part)
And also a big “YES!” to Bragg Creek veterinarian Judith Samson-French, who speaks to the importance of promoting local rescue, while solving foreign problems at the source:
“We are actually enabling a problem elsewhere because people need to learn to spay and neuter their dogs and how to help the overpopulation of dogs,” the veterinarian said.
“If we always take care of the problem from the outside, it never brings a solution from the inside… [We should] lend resources, in terms of knowledge and financial help, to do that.”
Of course, solving issues like this is much harder than outlining a good plan, but recognizing a serious issue and taking a firm stand is an excellent start!
If you follow animal issues, you probably know that invasive biomedical research with chimpanzees is no longer carried out unless:
- it is necessary to advance public health; and
- there are no other means for doing so.
You may also be aware of the fact that their has been a concerted effort, spearheaded by HSUS, to remove chimpanzees from research settings and place them in sanctuaries.
But did you know that 69% of Chimpanzees taken from the MD Anderson Keeling Center (MDAKC) to live in a sanctuary have died — most within a few months?
Sadly, the fact of the matter is a “good intention” is not enough, and no US sanctuary is staffed or equipped to care for chimpanzees like MDAKC.
This blog from Speaking of Research touches on this issue eloquently, using Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, NAIA Board Member and Chair of Americans for Medical Progress as a source.
In fact, many of our chimps would fare better if they were allowed to retire in place. And several of these precious creatures have already suffered and died because the NIH would not allow them to do so. The MD Anderson Keeling Center (MDAKC) in Texas has been home to the healthiest, happiest chimpanzees in America for decades. Their living quarters are comparable to, or better, than any US sanctuary, and none of these sanctuaries can compete with the level of care provided to chimpanzees at MDAKC. The MDAKC staff includes ten full-time veterinarians with a combined total of 92 years of experience caring for chimpanzees; 6 are specially boarded primate veterinarians, 3 are specially boarded veterinary pathologists, and 3 are specially certified to provide laser and acupuncture therapies to supplement traditional treatment regimens. There are also 22 specially trained, full-time technicians devoted to the chimps’ husbandry, health and behavioral needs, including 3 night technicians. MDAKC also has a full-service clinical pathology laboratory on site that allows for the immediate diagnosis and treatment of animals with health concerns. No US sanctuary is staffed or equipped to care for chimpanzees like MDAKC, not one! In fact, the sanctuary that the NIH is forcing us to send our chimpanzees to currently is not even equipped to carry out its own diagnostic lab work. This is concerning, given the advanced age of many research chimpanzees. Honestly, it would make more sense for Dr. Collins to retire the nation’s research chimps to MDAKC!
While we may disagree on the details, we all want to see the animals in our care safe, healthy, and happy. But in our view this is a tragic and clear case of ideology trumping animal welfare, and a story that needs to be told.
Dr. Buckmaster’s entire article can be found here, with a subscription.
The Dog Lover, a film produced by Forrest Lucas, founder and chair of Protect the Harvest, was recently released into select theaters, and is available through on demand, and on DVD at Walmart. The story is based off of various real-life events, most notably, an HSUS raid on a breeder, where the judge ruled that the search warrant was wrongfully obtained by an animal control officer who intentionally misled the court, and stars Allison Paige, James Remar, and Lea Thompson.
For a brief synopsis:
SARA GOLD is a rising star at the United Animal Protection Agency (UAPA), a major animal rights organization that conducts animal rescues and lobbies for better animal welfare laws. Handpicked for a major assignment, Sara goes undercover as a college intern to infiltrate a suspected “puppy mill” run by the enigmatic DANIEL HOLLOWAY.
Sarah soon ingratiates herself with Daniel and his family, and learns all about the world of dog breeding but is hard pressed to find any sign of animal abuse. The UAPA teams up with local law enforcement and raids the farm, accusing Daniel of the inhumane treatment of animals. Sara finds herself torn between doing her job and doing what’s right, and she awakens to the moral contradictions of her work with the UAPA.
If you have even a passing interest in dogs and a curiosity about the worlds of dog breeding and animal activism (especially the big-name animal-rights fundraising groups), we can’t recommend this highly enough!
On side note, the film asks its viewers to “investigate before you donate,” a message that is essential if we are going to break through the barriers of propaganda and social media outrage and have a serious discussion on issues of animal care and welfare. With that in mind, it is sadly telling how so many discussions in the online community about this film choose to ignore or reject its message in favor of questioning Forrest Lucas’s background and motives (like this LA Times review that seems rather disinterested in covering the movie itself). We know cognitive dissonance is painful, folks, but part of making intelligent, helpful, and adult decisions is investigating all facets of an issue, even if it involves some of your sacred cows.
Many rescues and humane societies are struggling with the same set of issues that dog breeders were 20-30 years ago, as well as the same quandary: what is the best way to confront bad players and practices in an open and honest manner, and to solve the problems they have created while keeping those examples from defining the group as a whole?
On one hand, this task is easier than the one facing breeders, as there are no movements, organizations, or ideologies hell-bent on destroying rescues or shelters. But on the other hand, the task is more difficult due to the age we are living in. Headlines of “Shocking!” “Inhumane!” and/or “Scandalous!” behavior tied to organizations that are supposed to be helping animals are the very definition of clickbait: easy to sensationalize, subject matter that people have a strong emotional investment in, and an example of supposed moral authority figures behaving dishonestly or hypocritically. And on top of that, there is a large — or at least highly vocal — contingent within the rescue and sheltering community that views any form of criticism as an attack that needs to be deflected or quashed, rather than discussed.
So is it complicated and difficult task? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that rescues and humane societies are remaining silent about the way some dogs are being moved and placed today — irresponsibly, without oversight, and inhumanely — and we applaud the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA for speaking out in recent months, and thank them for using NAIA as a resource:
- When it comes to animals, knowing and know-how
- Recognizing and avoiding dog trafficking
- Reputable vs. nonreputable rescues, part 3
Excellent, and much appreciated commentary. And this really brings home the larger truth: that we are all after a culture where animals are treated humanely and responsibility, where you can’t simply change your name or label in order to market yourself and/or avoid oversight.
NAIA Trust is excited to announce the addition of Sara Chisnell as the Legislative Director. Ms. Chisnell is a Michigan based attorney with an extensive background in animal law. Sara’s role with NAIA Trust will focus on expanding state and federal outreach by promoting reasonable laws, policies and regulations to protect animals and the people who care for them.
Sara has successfully petitioned for moderate animal-related laws at a grassroots and national level. She was previously involved with NAIA through National Conferences and various legislative issues where she connected with NAIA President, Patti Strand. “One of Sarah’s greatest assets is that she’s an animal person. She’s heavily involved in the animal world in all aspects of her life. This is an enormous strength when working with animal related legislation,” Patti says of Sara.
Sara graduated from Otterbein College with a BA in Equine Science. She then went on to Michigan State University College of Law, where she focused on animal law. Sara spent nine years with the United Kennel Club (UKC) focusing on canine legislation. She also served as in-house counsel and the representative for pointing breeds. Ms. Chisnell is active in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association, and regularly trains and tests her German Shorthaired Pointers in Hunting Retriever Club. She is passionate about canine performance sport, in particular dock diving. She also trains young horses in basic dressage for a Warmblood breeder.
Sara commented on her new role saying, “I’m very excited for this opportunity to use my education and background to help NAIA in its quest to promote animal welfare, while also protecting the rights and interests of those whose livelihoods are animals. The human-animal bond is a very important and primary part of my life; preserving it is essential. I consider myself quite lucky to have found a position so intricately entwined with my life’s passion of both dogs and horses.”
NAIA Trust is a 501(c) (4) organization. The Mission of NAIA Trust is to promote the welfare of animals, strengthen the human-animal bond and safeguard the rights of responsible animal owners, enthusiasts and professionals through education, legislation and the courts.