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26 April 2010


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Gina Spadafori

Uh ... did you miss the point that one of those people fought the breeding ban and the other kept the HSUS from endorsing it?

If you can't understand how hard many people are trying to find a solution that respects reputable, ethical breeders without encouraging puppy-mills, then you really are wasting everyone else's time.


Comment 107: Who builds that foundation? Is there an organization out there that can do it? Or do we need to start from scratch?

Let me preface my comments by saying that I'm a 23-year-old college student with close to no real life experience with dogs, other than owning one.

But I've been following this discussion for its duration and in the past few months I've read (or better yet, researched) some of the debates and discussions across the dog blogging/animal welfare world. One day I would love to run a rescue for MY favorite breed, and I want to be well-informed (or as well-informed as I can be). At the present I do not pretend to fully understand the issue here nor do I claim to have a valid solution.

With that being said, it seems to me that the HSUS is a divisive entity in the dog world, splitting up people and groups who could otherwise work together (as the original post observes, responsible breeders could be supporting the HSUS anti-puppymill work, but many aren't). I don't personally agree with many things the HSUS does, but that doesn't stop me supporting a good cause ie anti-puppymill awareness (if not legislation).

Gosh, I'm being more long-winded than I intended to be :)

What I'm really trying to say, so I'll just say it: I would support and applaud you, or someone else, who founded an organization who fought puppymills, ENCOURAGED responsible breeding (much like you've already outlined, Gina), and educated the public about the many adoptable pets in shelters and rescues.

Why don't people like you, Christie Keith, H. Houlahan, etc., people who have experience, know-how, and passion, start something up? I'd support you.

Or am I being too naive?


If we assume that the HSUS carries just too much baggage to build a foundation for people who care about animals, aren’t against “family pets from family homes” breeders and want to see an end to puppy-mills

Who builds that foundation? Is there an organization out there that can do it? Or do we need to start from scratch?

That's a really good question.

The influence that large organizations like HSUS have would not exist without a large stream of income. And yet the income stream of HSUS in particular, and similar groups to a lesser degree, is almost entirely based on misunderstandings about where their money goes, as well as misleading but effective fund-raising campaigns.

Most donors to HSUS believe that the bulk of HSUS's money goes to hands on help for shelter and rescue pets -- they falsely believe that a donation to "the Humane Society of the United States" is a donation to their local humane societies. Not true, and public records that HSUS files with the IRS show that less than 1% of HSUS's money goes toward that end.

AKC has some influence with policy makers but considerably less than HSUS, etc. AKC has a significant income stream from dog registrations.

Some animal owner advocacy groups gain income from industry donations, though from what I've seen this amounts to a tiny fraction of what is generated by HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA.

If one looks at other animal advocacy organizations that are not misleading donors and don't rely primarily on money from dog registrations or industry donations, one finds very small groups with considerably less influence.

Observing what's out there, I am not seeing a sustainable public advocacy model that can generate influence on par with HSUS etc. and does not rely largely on one of these income streams.

In theory pet owners and hobby dog breeders should be willing to support a large, effective, and influential advocacy group that can represent their interests with policy makers.

But instead what I see is absolutely monumental apathy, where even 95% or more of dog breeders who would have their breeding practices destroyed by pending legislation that's advancing through a legislative process won't get off their butts to write a letter or make a phone call to their legislators, and literally 99% can't be bothered to attend a seminar on this legislation scheduled at a dog show they are already attending.

We see the apathy when those who try to spread the word are censored or ignored on dog discussion lists and forums by moderators and membership who get tired of calls to action about dog legislation. Trying to generate the donations required to sustain an organization to carry out an effective public policy campaign is even more difficult.

An exception is Maddie's Fund, a fantastic group that exists largely thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars donated by one very wealthy individual. But Maddie's Fund steers far away from legislative battles and sticks to a mission of funding grant campaigns to hands on programs that reduce shelter killing. Billionaires willing to support public advocacy for hobby dog breeders and pet owners seem to be in short supply, even when their goals overlap considerably with those of groups like Maddie's Fund.

I don't think the problem can be distilled down to leadership. I think this is more fundamental, and speaks to human nature.

People make animal-related donations when they feel *sympathy* toward abused pets like Faye/Fay, or heart-wrenching stories about other shelter dogs in need, or dogs affected by hurricane and earthquakes. That emotional tug is why the HSUS fund-raising model works.

While I too would like HSUS to stop their deceptive fund raising, the inevitable collapse of their fund raising and organization if they stopped the deception means that's not going to happen.

Dog owners also send money that supports animal advocacy because they want to register their dogs for breeding or so they play in dog show or sport events.

Donations with the explicit purpose of preserving our right to have purpose-bred dogs and cats, and to advocate for effective policy measures -- even though it has a corollary in things like NRA's effective model -- doesn't generate anything like the same widespread emotional response. So it doesn't generate the same fund-raising response required to support influential organizations.

If you don't think money matters you don't understand how public policy making is done.

[In case anybody is wondering if this is self serving, despite a smear campaign by Mancuso and her minions, my group Save Our Dogs has never accepted any donations and has no intention of changing that model.]


Pretty usre Heather doesn't play Farmville. (Or if she does, she hasn't replied to my neighbor request, damn her. I am SO addicted.)

When the MSN law was passed in Dallas, we had the core of a group of folks dedicated to fighting it- and without, I think, anyone who was willing to condone puppy mills in the process.)

However, once we got a little more distance, everyone sort of got busy. We all had lives, and dogs to train and classes to teach and stuff to do, and the idea's faded away. Inertia's our enemy, there.

On the "Finding A Good Puppy Shouldn't Be This Hard" post, we'd talked about the idea of a Puppy Yenta. Thta never happened, either. But I *do* think that ethical dog folks need to organize and get the word out. And I'd like to volunteer to help however I can. I just don't know what I can do.


In California (actually, Sacramento, where I happen to live) the only two people I came out with respect for after the last legislative battle were Laura Sanborn(....and Jennifer Fearing of the HSUS


Well, there ya go. No need for anyone else to get involved, you've named your players and set the stage.

I really don't see the sense in wasting any more time here

have a good day.

H. Houlahan

So Mr. Losey, who plays Locutus of Borg for the association of puppymill operators in one of the (the?) largest puppymill states, tells us -- actually USES THE PHRASE -- that we must all hang together or we will hang separately. The exact phrase that I and others so often trot out when MOCKING the scare tactics of the puppymill industry.

Life is getting harder and harder for a habitual parodist.

And so coy. Won't use the term puppymill (or puppy mill, if you must). As if he was avoiding spelling out G-d or M---er F---er, or hiding Truth from Google. It's a dirty, dirty "HSUS" term. Right. Coined last week by Wayne Pacelle, not in any way in common currency among dog people since the 1960's or early 70's (sorry, that's as far back as I can remember -- perhaps the term is much older).

It's very nice that the association of allegedly "clean" puppymills says they are against the nasty dirty puppymills. Now attend carefully to what comes next:







The "clean" puppymills where grandma would gladly spend her last years because of their ever-so-stringent regulation ARE THE SAME THING as the "dirty" puppymills that he claims to repudiate. Same abuse and exploitation, with KennelSol and a written business plan.

And I will continue to do all that I can to put all of you out of business. Starting with exposing your lies and the way you abuse and exploit the mothers and fathers of the overpriced animals you so cynically peddle as pets to the ignorant and vulnerable. Because ultimately, it will be consumer choices that put you out of business; you know that too, don't you? That's why you are so adamant about trying to control the language. Well guess what? You can't control language.





As for hanging, I'm very good with knots.


H Houlihan's post is why breeders are afraid of HSUS.

Not only are animals threatened to be taken away but they get death threats. Those are the kind of people that hide behind HSUS so called educational efforts.

You want to me to talk after a statement like that is allowed to remain?

sheeze ...

I don't think so.

Eden Springs

Know how to tell when an HSUS/PETA staffer is lying? Their lips are moving.

I don't think anyone supports the irresponsible breeding or care of any animal. I know I don't. And if these organizations actually DID anything constructive I would support them as well.

However, their agenda is NOT helping animals. That's just their cover story. Their real agenda is "one generation and out"--the end of all domestic animals. Guess that's why in every state where they try to pass anti 'Puppy Mill' laws they redefine that term to anyone who keeps 3 or 10 or 25 intact animals. Which, basically, is where you find the real proof of their deception: they want to legislate ALL breeders out of business.

To them, there's no difference between a responsible or irresponsible breeder. To them, there are ONLY breeders, and they all must go.

So the reason *I* fight for the rights of commercial breeders is because I'm fighting for my OWN rights as a breeder and owner of dogs. Once restrictive laws are passed, it's easy to make changes to what the law defines as being a 'commercial' breeder.

HSUS only wants us to stop opposing their fake attempts against 'bad' breeders for two reasons: 1) we're effective at stopping their unconstitutional legislation, 2) they want to paint us as being part of the problem, not part of the solution.

But here's where their whining falls apart. They take in $100M/year. Over the last five years, that's HALF A BILLION DOLLARS. And if they haven't been able to fix the 'overpopulation' problem in 54 years with well over a half billion at their disposal...then either they are utterly incompetent at what they're doing, or maybe Nathan Winograd is right and there is no overpopulation problem in the first place...

Sorry, but when the choice these folks offer me is giving up either my dog OR my civil rights, the answer is NEITHER ONE!

Gina Spadafori

The hatred and fear run deep on BOTH sides, Susi. I have the "privilege" of being vilified by people whose dogs are probably three rings over from my own at a show, as well as by the "all breeders are scum" people like those behind the breeding ban proposals in California.

Lucky me, huh?

In California (actually, Sacramento, where I happen to live) the only two people I came out with respect for after the last legislative battle were Laura Sanborn(Laura S here), who never stopped lobbying against a breeding ban, not only to preserve a future for working dogs and heritage breeders but also by pointing out that such laws counter-intuitively kill more pets than they save, and Jennifer Fearing of the HSUS, who kept the group neutral on the last breeding-ban bill, after it was in favor of the one before. Why? Because she listened, and learned, and was looking for a better way.

And Laura ... well, I'm pretty convinced AB 1634 would have passed without her. Period.

Gina Spadafori

To them, there’s no difference between a responsible or irresponsible breeder. To them, there are ONLY breeders, and they all must go.

So the reason *I* fight for the rights of commercial breeders is because I’m fighting for my OWN rights as a breeder and owner of dogs.

Comment by Eden Springs — April 29, 2010

Do you see the problem here? Now, how on earth are people supposed to see the difference between YOU and a puppy-mill when you stand up and say you ARE the same, and you are on their side? Because to you, the high-volume manufacturing of puppies (which, as a good breeder, you well know to be in opposition to everything you have worked hard to learn about socialization and the development of a good companion) is OK-fine with you because the HSUS says it's not.

They're lumping you in with the puppy-millers because you just did it yourself.

As for the HSUS (or PETA) inventing the term "puppy-mill" ... Heathers's right: It dates at least to the '60s, and a Life magazine expose that first introduced the country in a big-way to the filth and cruelty of these operations.


Susi ... Heather is a farmer. A real one. And a search-and-rescue handler, breed rescue worker, dog trainer and breeder. If that helps you with context for her remarks. She also lives in Amish puppy-mill country, so she has a fair amount of knowledge of the subject.


Comment by Susi — April 29, 2010 @ 4:32 am


Heather Houlahan neither threatened anyone's possession of their dogs, nor their lives, nor--anything.

She made a strong statement against the puppy mill spokescritter who thinks that confining dogs to small cages for their entire lives and breeding the females every heat until they stop "producing", is just hunky-dory as long as the "facility" is "clean."

Do you think that's an acceptable way to produce pets for family homes?

H. Houlahan

Yah, death threats.

Threatening them with rash actions like consumer edjimicashun. Quite a fatwah.

Straight from a well-known HSUS shill like meself.

Susi, you are indeed a type-specimen of what Christie was talking about. As is "Eden Springs," whose courageously anonymous tracks on teh interwebz include, as far as teh googles could find, ONLY bitching about proposed laws and (my fave) equating protesters outside a puppy-mill retail outlet with Hitler.

I'm trying to figure out how to clean sprayed rant spittle from the inside of a laptop screen.

Christie asked "why," and I know this was an honestly-posed question.

I've spent a lot of time compulsively asking "why" about the behavior of my favorite animal-abusing convicted felon and her supporters, and have finally concluded that dwelling on the inner workings of some minds is a pathway to frustration and disorder. I leave it to a court-appointed therapist with great courage and robust ego boundaries, should any such exist. It's above my pay grade. I just fix the animals as best as I can, and work with the humans of good will.

I'm getting there with certain of the doggie Black Helicopter crowd and their single-note screeds. (And this is coming from someone who really did have an unmarked black helicopter come hover low over her property this fall.)

However, this discussion has inspired me to volunteer to protest Pittsburgh Petland this Saturday. I've written to ensure that an ethical breeder with her own sign will be welcome. I intend to bring Cole, my puppymill survivor foster. Maybe I'll bring his home-bred probably-uncle, Moe. They look nearly identical, except Cole is 2/3 Moe's size. That's not from genetic variation. That's from starvation in infancy.

Gina Spadafori

So ... here's what I'm thinking while I'm sleeping ...

If we assume that the HSUS carries just too much baggage to build a foundation for people who care about animals, aren't against "family pets from family homes" breeders and want to see an end to puppy-mills ...

Who builds that foundation? Is there an organization out there that can do it? Or do we need to start from scratch?

And before anyone says "Best Friends," I gotta say that based on their last couple of "anti-breeder" features -- including a loving profile of the venomous breeding-ban advocate Judie Mancuso -- I'm not exactly feeling the love for that group right now.

See ... I believe that good breeders who whelp puppies in their bedrooms and raise them lovingly and carefully, and stand behind those puppies for life would dump the puppy-milling scum in a second if they had a third way.

So, thoughts?

H. Houlahan

It does seem as if we'd have to start from scratch.

The community is there, it just doesn't know itself.

It's not just disjointed individuals. There are breed clubs, breed rescue groups on the old model (lots of breeder-volunteers). So there are some already-organized building blocks, but it doesn't add up to a whole picture.

It seems that any organization that is already BIG is also already compromised. AKC/UKC are in bed with the millers because without them, they'd go bankrupt. HSUS and ASPCA are fundraising mills first, even if they were willing to get on-message, they are a waste of money and time.


As for hanging, I’m very good with knots.

Comment by H. Houlahan


You know what Houlahan. A real farmer doesn't have time to sit on a computer and drum out remarks like you have been the past few days.

I grew up in the south during the civil rights period. I know hate/threats when I see it.

You're nothing more than a cyber bully and probably the only farming you do is on farmville. This may be ok with some of you folks but it's not ok with me.


Susi, Heather Houlahan has a real track record here, is posting under her real name, and is personally known to a number of the regulars here.

Unlike your anonymous self.

Gina Spadafori

Susi ... Ms. Houlihan really is all that I said in Comment 104.

She uses her real name, has a real farm and is really well-known in SAR and English Shepherd circles.

Use Teh Googles, girl.

Now ... can you get back to the question I asked in 107? I'd like to know what is the way out of it. Because aside from a few crazies, I really have a hard time believing that any real dog-lover and reputable breeder stands with puppy-milling scum for any reason besides distrust and fear of the other side.

So how do we get past that?


The spittle and hate flying around here between people who don't know each other, but are more than happy to fill in the blanks with their imaginations, makes me wonder if there is any hope for thoughtful fact-based dialogue.


Not from me, LauraS. No wonder breeders aren't interested in conversations. I had no idea the hatred ran so deep but I'm really glad I finally got to experience it. I agree it's a real shame.

mary frances

I was impressed with Ciccia's comment #118 as well - and thanks for the background history as to the work LauraS has done - maybe a new third way as described will happen - KC Dog Blog has an informative blog today re: HSUS - it's true in my area Kennewick, Washington the local Humane Society just broke ground and is renaming itself "The Roger James Animal Adoption Center" (No Kill) after a wonderful 90 year-old retired chemist who donated big time -

Just hope I don't have to be 90-plus to see a No Kill nation - as well as rights preserved for purpose bred dogs and cats.


Laura, I mostly agree with you- the degree of Apathy IS frustrating. However, I think there's just as much "What money?" (I think a lot of people are in my position- I write letters, I'll volunteer, but money is in short supply.)

I think there's also some frustration from various dog groups that were proactive but have really gotten spammy in recent months. (SOD isn't one of them, but some of the others that were active in the 1634/541/whatever it is now fight are). there's the overlap of getting the same "Urgent update!" forwarded to 9 different lists, all of which I'm subscribed to, by one person- plus the original update itself!

Apathy is definitely a problem. All I can see that we can do is keep offering the opportunities to get involved.


actually I did not catch that.. whenever I see BREED BAN ( my caps.. not yours) I see NO.. as I have a breed that is often in the cross hairs..

I never miss Laura's posts.. they are the ones with the most sanity.. and logic.. and I agree.. this one was a "straw man"


I wasn't tying to suggest that any particular person donate to any particular group, and I understand that many cannot afford to donate. Besides, effective volunteer time is more valuable than most donations. Alas, most who do spend their time on these issues don't do so very effectively.

If people would spend less time venting on email lists and discussion forums and more time writing respectful, effective, fact-based letters, making similar phone calls, and (this is really important) doing the footwork to build long-term trusted relationships with legislators and their staff -- and successfully urging their friends, family, and associates to do the same -- we'd be a lot better off.

I was thinking more of the big picture, and why the kind of advocacy groups that some wish existed do not exist.

HSUS & PETA --> still raking in tens of millions of dollars a year despite the Great Recession. Again, their fund-raising models work because they effectively and misleadingly leverage our compassion for defenseless animals. I won't use those tactics myself and don't have an answer for how to ethically compete with it.


warning.. off topic...

"Actually, as has been well-documented recently, the nutrition problems of poor children in America have nothing at all to do with “going to bed hungry” and everything to do with eating crap and ending up with the problems caused by obesity.

The cover article in the current Atlantic Monthly may bring you into the current century,"

says Gina..

well I am in this century and when I work the "table" ,a daily food bank at the local church I see kids who are NOT fat.. and ARE hungry.. if you really think that no child goes to bed hungry and that they are "choosing" to eat junk and then get fat and cause society and our military all sorts of problems them you are mistaken.. along with Atlantic Monthly. It is truly shocking to see someone in your position to say "the nutritional problems of poor children have nothing to do with them going to bed hungry"

Grace Episcopal is pretty near you.. why not take a trip down there and see all of the "fat kids' lined up to eat "junk food"

Gina Spadafori

It's not about "choosing": It's about the lack of choices.

Programs designed decades ago to fight Great Depression starvation were geared to provide kids with calorie-dense, over-processed products -- that was needed then. Now, these kids need to eat healthy -- but that's not what school lunches and food stamps push. Add poor neighborhood with no food options except fast food and liquor stores (and no transportation) also dig these kids into a deeper health crisis.

Now, the proportion of kids overweight correlates precisely with their socio-economic status: Poor kids (especially black girls and all Latinos) are more likely to be obese than middle-class kids are, and more likely that white kids (who are also more likely to be middle class).

And despite what you "see," it is well-documented that the No. 1 malnutrition problem of poor American children today is not going hungry, but is, in fact, obesity and related health issues, such as diabetes. Have you not noticed the unending stream of news coverage of this? Have you not noticed that first lady Michelle Obama has made ending childhood obesity -- not childhood starvation -- her mission? Have you not noticed that there's even a reality TV series on fat poor kids?

Frankly, this point is not even debatable, it's so well-documented. I have no doubt that some kids some where go to bed hungry. But the facts are that more will go to bed after eating processed crap and soda for dinner. The multiplication of "anecdote" is never "data."

This does go back to the thread here, that assumptions aren't what you base arguments on: Facts are.

Your data is more than 30 years out of date.

Do your homework. I have, since food, nutrition and the politics of agriculture is the only interest that trumps pets for me.

But don't worry: Given the fact of limited resources and the continued growth of the human population, starvation may yet win in America.

In any case: You are off-topic, and this line of digression is closed.


HSUS neutral on a "breed- ban bill"?? which one? I wasn't aware of a breed ban bill.. that would override the current law that disallows banning by breed in the state of California..

If you are speaking of SB 250, that was a MSN bill.. and yes HSUS was "neutral".. while supporting other bills that allowed for limits on the number of intact animals one could own.. and a few others like AB 1122.. looks to me like they "picked their fights" and knew that SB 250 was a losing cause.. so far.. let's see if it is resurrected.. what they do then..why isn't a bill ever really dead??? Some of them are like "night of the living dead"..

Gina Spadafori

As you guessed, I did indeed mean breedING ban, which was clear in the context. Yes, SB 250 was the one in reference. And yes, the HSUS did not support it, and considering they supported its predecessor, that was probably the best they could do was go neutral.

They didn't "pick their fights": It's quite possible with their support SB 250 would have passed.

Anyway, Laura S's comment above may be the best of the entire thread. If you missed it, go back. And Ciccia's makes me think that maybe those of us of a certain age will not be able to solve this -- we're too vested in our points of view and carrying too much baggage and too many scars -- but maybe her generation can take a fresh look and find a new way.

In the meantime ... I won't stop trying.

mary frances

And just another 2 cents - Raised by Wolves is always excellent to read - try it Susi you might like it.

H. Houlahan

She also lives in Amish puppy-mill country, so she has a fair amount of knowledge of the subject.

Comment by Gina Spadafori — April 29, 2010 @ 6:16 am


Actually, no.

Pennsylvania Amish puppymills are concentrated in Lancaster County, over four hours east of here. They have easy access to east-coast urban pet stores there, and also sell direct to tourists. (I've got some stories about THAT ...)

There are a lot of puppymills, Amish and English, in rural eastern Ohio, an hour or two away. Some of those sell direct at a perpetual "puppy fair" in the Youngstown area, but I believe that they mostly ship to retailers via Hunte or other brokers.

But here in Western PA, notsomuch. There are some Amish communities in the next county north, but I haven't yet heard about large-scale milling. I could be behind the curve there.

(To add to confusion, my township is called Lancaster Township, and my farm is just outside the wee village of Middle Lancaster -- but we are nowhere near Lancaster COUNTY that is famed for its beautiful farmland, Amish and Mennonite plain folk Anabaptists, and puppymills.)

Not that there aren't mills here, but they aren't the kind of booming industry that one finds in other places -- Lancaster County in the east, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, somewhere in Russia ...

Gina Spadafori

Thanks for the correx. I knew "Lancaster," and from there, well ...

See, in many places, they have the common decency to name the counties after the biggest town in them. Or what was the biggest town, when all the naming was being done.

Like here: Sacramento. Sacramento County.



Lots of good people were involved in the fight against AB 1634.

No one person killed AB 1634 or caused the defeat of SB 250 last year. Other than a senior leader in the legislative majority, it's not possible for any one person to exert that much influence.

My approach is a respectful dialogue with legislators and their staff on policy issues. Policy arguments ALONE could not win, I'm sorry to say, because that's not how it works. Flooding the legislature with tens of thousands of calls and letters, and sustaining that for months -- now THAT helped a lot. And THAT required tens of thousands of people.

That said, if I didn't think policy arguments had ANY effect I wouldn't have kept going back to Sacramento to visit legislators' offices. The effectiveness of policy arguments varied from totally useless to maybe it helped but I wasn't sure to apparently persuasive. It depended mostly on who was talking to, though I got better at it as time went on.

As it was, the person I met with whom well-reasoned policy arguments are apparently the most effective, and is one of the most thoughtful people I met during these visits, is a freshman Assemblymember. What a great discussion we had. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he uttered the phrase "confounding variables". He not only voted NO on SB 250, he was one of the few Democratic Assemblymembers who spoke against the bill on the floor of the Assembly. Better yet, he's now Speaker of the Assembly. Which bodes well not only for a more rational approach to pet legislation, but perhaps a more rational approach to a lot of things in Sacramento.


This whole article seriously insults my intelligence. Commercial and hobby breeders should work together to fight for our rights. Christie is asking us to deepen the division and to base our discrimination against some breeders on the number of dogs that they breed.

Gina Spadafori

"This whole article seriously insults my intelligence."

Your intelligence isn't that keen, "Tom," and you're seriously lacking in reading comprehension. Neither Christie nor any of our staff bloggers have ever supported limit laws. To the contrary, we have argued against them, consistently. This post isn't about "discrimination," but nice try. You'd also think you'd have enough intelligence to not jump in here, but you couldn't stand the idea of anyone questioning your "right" to crank out sick, neurotic, impossible-to-housetrain puppies while keeping their poor parents caged for life without ever knowing the love of a family.

As for deepening the division between "breeders," I sure as hell hope so. Because the puppy milling scum you support do not speak for me. What you support has nothing to do with what a good breeder does. Nothing.

Siding with puppy-mills, even "clean" ones, makes it damn easy for people who want no breeding to say "a breeder is a breeder is a breeder." That's not even close to true, and your high-volume puppy factories are in no way the same as what a reputable, ethical breeder does in bringing a well-planned, health-screened litter into the world, socializing those puppies and standing behind them for life.

Family pets from family homes ... not high-volume commercial operations with no care for anything but the bottom line.


today: Eleven intact female animals.. and viola.. YOU are a PUPPY MILL in OK is that OK with you?? HSUS written and 11 intact bitches.. YOU are PUPPY says the HSUS.. so say all of you who promote them...if this passes WATCH the KILL rate go with it.. but oh well that will just be for a little says the HSUS.. so say all of you who promote them.. Please note that "sportsmen" are not EXCLUDED.. neither are "show breeders".. so if you have a line of hunting dogs.. or you are breeding to show.. and have spent years creating you own show line HSUS say "off with your dogs".. and so say all of you who promote them..

The AKC Government Relations Department expects Oklahoma Senate Bill 1712 to be sent to Governor Brad Henry soon for his signature or veto. It is imperative that all responsible dog breeders and owners in Oklahoma contact Governor Henry immediately and respectfully ask him to veto this bill.

Bill Summary:

Known as the "Commercial Pet Breeders Act", SB 1712 expands government regulation of anyone who breeds dogs or cats and who owns more than 11 intact females of either species. The bill’s vague definition of commercial breeder includes no time frame, which means it will require anyone who owns or co-owns more than 11 intact females over 6 months of age and has ever bred a dog or cat, even if they are not currently breeding their animals, to be licensed as a commercial breeder. The amended bill does not exempt sportsmen, and will also require many of those who maintain hunting dogs to license their hobby kennels as commercial enterprises.

SB 1712 will create the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders to enforce and administer the provisions of the Act; and will adopt rules establishing license fees, procedures and requirements for license application and renewal, conditions under which licenses are revoked or denied, and qualifications for registered breeder inspectors. The Board will also be required to establish minimum standards for proper veterinary care, treatment, feeding and watering, shelter and confinement, grooming, exercise, socialization, transportation, disposition of dogs, and other standards it deems necessary to protect the public health and the health and welfare of animals. Additionally, the Board will maintain a public directory of licensed commercial pet breeders.

Should SB 1712 be enacted, owners or co-owners of 11 or more intact female dogs will be required to be licensed as commercial breeders, regardless of whether those animals are being bred. Licensees will be subject to:

Pre-licensure inspection of facilities, the undetermined cost of which must be paid by the license applicant. Separate licenses for each premise, even if fewer than 11 intact females are kept at each.

At least one inspection annually, during normal business hours but without advanced notice, of each facility kept by the licensee. Additional inspections based on written complaints received by the Board.

License display requirements at the licensed facility. License number disclosure requirements on advertisements, sales contracts, and transfer agreements. Annual reporting requirements. Record-keeping requirements for each dog maintained in a licensee’s facility. Under the bill, the Board is required to adopt all rules by November 1, 2010, and licensees are required to come into compliance by January 1, 2011. Licensees who violate the act may have their license revoked, and be subject to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or a year in jail. Those who interfere with an inspector would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or two years in jail.


so?? you don;t support limit laws proposed by the HSUS.. but you DO support "puppy mill" laws proposed by the HSUS.. please make the "pet connection" to the above..


I guess I would like to hear what the version of "puppymill" is (Gina), because I've heard you say more than once it's not numbers...and yet the arguments being made seem to be focusing on that very thing. I'd also like to hear--in contrast--what you believe is a 'reputable ethical breeder' because that's important to the discussion as well. I've read the Shain interview three times now, and have actually gone over to the HSUS site to look at what they say about puppymills and breeders... and I'm about ready to give *my* personal feelings about why some breeders and fanciers are standing alongside commercial kennels and not HSUS...but I think the above definitions are important to the discussion.

BTW, I'm not sure that calling Tom "stupid" (in post 133 his intelligence was questioned) is doing anything to open the discussion here--whether you agree with him or not. Just sayin'.


I've read it ... i/e Houlahan's blog.

Didn't recognize the author at first but yea, I've read it and even at times enjoyed it. Does that mean she's world famous and a real farmer?

I get the feeling that some believe the world to be straight up black and white.

I've seen really well-bred home raised and should've been good dogs ruined by *owners*.

Maybe bad placements, well obviously bad placements but yeesh, I've seen some really sad outcomes.

A friend went to a store in a neighboring community called Just Puppies (no lie, gross place and Just Puppiess) several years ago.

She saw a puppy on the sale rack, half off -- when she told me about it, I about died. I'm like what is that? the bluelight special, on a little clothes rack that goes round and round? --

Anyway, the dog lived to be fourteen, never sick a day in it's life, she trusted it with her grandkids, she got a CDX on it WITH a specialty HIT.

He was a good dog and we all loved him.

Good owner ? ... well yea, she's a friend, so sure.

My own first purebred dog came from a dubious background and was a complete impulse buy out of the newspaper one day. Yep, got sick right away ... misdiagnosed by vet as parvo but it was cocci ... survived it all. Free to good home became one expensive pup quickly but I loved her and she got me started in purebred dogs.

Good owner, gee I'd like to think so.

I'd like to think that my ability to feed her well, train her well, provide love, exercise asprinkled with a belief that good vet care was important was responsible for a lot of that beyond just genes and beginnings of life.

I get that folks hate the Amish. They don't view animals as much more than tools.

I get that folks don't like big. Big automatically means out to do harm ... and in some cases that's true. Thinking Enron, AIG and now, Goldman Sachs.

I picked up another dog on the side of the road one day on the way to work. Skinny, frantic and something really yuck coming out of her bottom

A week at the vet and home she came. Purebred Dobie, appx nine months and 30 pounds. Think it was a tad underweight?

I dunno how she got there but glad I stopped to picked her up. She was a good dog, most drivey bitch I every owned and got me an obedience tournament bid. For those that think that's something cool. I was thrilled. I miss that dog a lot but I've had a lot of good dogs.

I don't advise folks to get dogs like that particularly but I just don't believe that CB bred dogs are innately bad and of ill-health.

Cruel is cruel and should be rooted out flogged publically if I had my choice in the matter but it's probably good that I don't.

I wonder if we're blaming the wrong problem here tho.

I've seen ONE dog come out of ONE backyard, abused, neglected and infirmed. I've seen sport and even show kennels w/50 plus dogs, healthy and well adjusted. How does HSUS educational material protect the latter? Those that are doing things right and are taking care of dogs. And yes, sorry I do believe that someone can love 50 plus dogs. And no, I don't believe that dogs need to live in a house situation to be happy and contented in their dog-dom.

Anyway, last post on the subject from me, I swear so all you *experts* can tear it to shreds.

I don't profess to know the real answer but HSUS isn't it. While their educational materials might be good, their agenda is NOT.

I don't believe that fraudalent behavior is something that I want to support in any form.

I believe that asking for donations to *save* dogs and using the money for something else is fradulent.

I believe that impersonating cops is illegal.

If I kicked down a door, said turn over your dogs or you're going to jail ... I'd be put under the jail and it's amazing to me how HSUS *individuals* get away with it.

I don't believe in supporting that type of behavior so I do NOT CARE how important their education material is ... the rest of *their* garbage is just bad.

Life is very gray these days ... and animals get caught up in that.

When HSUS drives a wedge between us, those that know the difference between good animal care and bad ... well, then that's a problem ... and ya gotta wonder why they do that?

At least I do.

I hope that some of you wonder the same thing.

Have a great weekend all.

Hope it's good to you.

I do appreciate all the GOOD things that *individuals* do for animals.

H. Houlahan

Thanks for the correx. I knew “Lancaster,” and from there, well …

See, in many places, they have the common decency to name the counties after the biggest town in them. Or what was the biggest town, when all the naming was being done.

Like here: Sacramento. Sacramento County.


Oh, I live in Butler County, county seat is the city of Butler.

But Pennsylvania's place-name principle is to reduce, reuse, recycle. My theory is that early settlers were men and women of few words. They didn't know enough different words to give every place its own name.

I've lived in Baldwin Borough and had people get lost going to Baldwin Township -- which is nearby, but not contiguous.

I've lived in Cranberry Township and folks have been misdirected to ... Cranberry Township, 70 miles north.

My postal address is Harmony, PA, which is 100 miles west of ... Harmony, PA

The Lancaster C-F we've been over.

So I often throw up my hands and tell people we live in Zelienople.

Only one of those in the WORLD. And an indie rock band. Which named itself after getting stranded in town.

Gina Spadafori

so?? you don;t support limit laws proposed by the HSUS.. but you DO support “puppy mill” laws proposed by the HSUS.. please make the “pet connection” to the above..

Comment by bestuvall — April 29, 2010

Christie (nor I) have said NOTHING about supporting HSUS puppy-mill laws, because we don't. I've personally said many, many times that only convincing people not to buy from a miller source is the only thing that will end this. Education and peer pressure.

The question remains: Why do good, reputable breeders who love dogs support and side with puppy-millers who do EVERYTHING in opposition to all we good breeders spend our lives learning to do right, in terms of of health testing, raising in a home, socializing, etc., etc., etc.

And Susi ... everyone can point to a puppy-mill dog who "turned out great." The problem is ... what happened to that dog's mother? Do you really think being stuck in a cage for life and used as a puppy machine is a good life for a dog? I can't imagine you do, since you are a reputable breeder who loves her dogs.

And yet, that's what you support when you say you support commercial breeders, and that "we" must stick together.

No. I believe we must stand apart, and make the distinction clear: We are NOT like them.

Gina Spadafori

Love Luisa's post at Lassie Get Help triggered by this one. Follow her links, too -- great reading.

The money quote:

"I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: we dog lovers screwed up big time when we told the average pet owner to forget about breeding his friendly, healthy Lab to the friendly, healthy collie mix down the street. When we did our best to prevent that, with our spay/neuter campaigns and our lists explaining "how to identify a good breeder," we gave up much of our freedom to have the dogs we really want. We granted ideologues and politicians, puppy mills, rescue groups and AKC breeders of functional cripples the power to shape and choose our dogs for us. Which reminds me: where exactly am I supposed to find a nice puppy these days? Hey, let's ask Wayne Pacelle — he knows all about animals!"

That last bit? She make joke. Go read.

Also: Brent's latest at KC Dog Blog:

"If HSUS wants to solve their little PR crisis, they badly need to either a) be honest about what their fundraising dollars go toward or b) change where their fundraising dollars go. But the bait and switch scheme is out -- and if you want to get out of the hole, you have to stop digging."

It's the same playbook that PETA uses when (which is a product of the same PR shop) points out their kill rate: Blame the messenger.

Better option: Clean up your act.

Mary Mary

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: we dog lovers screwed up big time when we told the average pet owner to forget about breeding his friendly, healthy Lab to the friendly, healthy collie mix down the street


Really? Has she looked at Craigslist lately?

Plenty of mixed-breed big-breed puppies out there.

And I don't see how Lab-Collie mixes are relevant to the puppy mill debte.

If I am one of the pet store buyers who wants a 10-pound dog and am willing to use my Visa to afford the $1000+ price tag ... am I really going to settle for a 40-50 pound lab/pit mix instead?

Plus, if you look at the data on where shelter dogs come from, most come from "passive" sources. Free of charge from friends or neighbors.

Yes, there needs to be a third answer, but I shudder to think of what will happen if the average civilian starts breeding for fun and profit or merely "oops."

Gina Spadafori

Luisa has BC and pit bulls, two dogs that aren't exactly rare in shelters, so she's pretty well aware of how hard these dogs can be to place relative to the number of people who want one.

I'm not going to put words in her mouth, but how I read it was that we took a wrong turn, and that led to puppy-mills filling the gap.

Like to go back and take a different route to where we are now -- so maybe we wouldn't BE where we are now.

Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20.

Mary Mary

But I wonder -- go back to ... when? What convergence of variables led to people getting their puppies from puppy mills, via pet stores?

I always wonder how much the "backyard to bedroom" factor plays into this.

Meaning, back in the good old days, people kept dogs outside. And they perhaps were FAR more likely to live in one house for a long, long time. So dogs were less bother and there was less impetus to get rid of them.

AND so what if the dog was a beagle or a German Shepherd. If he lived outdoors, size was not a factor.

This describes my neighborhood and family in the 1960s-1970s. Dogs lived outdoors in pens. Or they roamed a bit, not far from home, greeting me when I came home from school.

So if a neighbor had a litter, he might be able to find homes for all the puppies within the neighbors and family.

But now things are so very different and people are much more choosy, for many reasons.

On the other hand, the shelter manager tells me that in those good old days it was common to get litters of puppies on the doorstep ... and while this still happens, it is far more rare. And while Luisa might not like the spay/neuter trend, the shelter admission rate (or at least the rate of killing) has diminished significantly over the decades, presumably from less home-based breeding, accidental or otherwise.

But the tradeoff, a huge increase in breeding dogs living in mill cages.

Gina Spadafori

It doesn't make much sense to talk about what could have been, I guess. I just wonder if we could have reduced numbers by educating honestly about spay-neuter, and by incentivizing instead of demonizing.

We'll never know.


But the tradeoff, a huge increase in breeding dogs living in mill cages.

Is there data to support this? Because I look at it from a different angle.

It used to be very common to see puppies for sale in pet stores. 20-40 years ago I saw puppies all the time in locally-owned neighborhood pet stores and in mall pet stores. Now, years go by and I don't see puppies for sale in any of the pet stores in my region.

I know there are still some stores like PetLand that sell puppies. But Petland doesn't even exist in most states, including California.

The reduction in casual and unintentional breeding of family pets did cause one key shift -- it was a primary reason why shelter pet kill rates fell from 20+ million in the 1970s to 3-4 million today. If we consider the number of baby puppies killed in shelters -- a better indicator of surplus breedings -- the drop in numbers would be more dramatic because in many regions there is a shortage of baby puppies in shelters relative to adoption demand.

I have not seen numbers but my guess is that there are fewer puppies being breed in large scale commercial operations today than in the past, not more.

H. Houlahan

I have not seen numbers but my guess is that there are fewer puppies being breed in large scale commercial operations today than in the past, not more.

The rise of the puppymill registries, and their apparent success, seems to suggest otherwise.

I think it would be hard to get numbers that are comparable across time. The AKC could tell us what proportion of pups came from breeders who registered more than X number of litters a year -- if they wanted to. But they've almost certainly lost a disproportionate amount of mill business since starting their frequently used sires program, so those numbers would probably end up meaning nothing anyway.

There are still a lot of pet retail outlets in other places than California.

Yeah, you and I don't hang out in shopping malls so much, so we don't see it.

And the internet has fueled the direct-to-consumer puppymill industry -- the Linda Kapsas (don't forget that she produced pugs for decades before branching off into ES, and had been milling Shelties before they were all confiscated) and Dakota Winds, etc. These kinds of places existed before the internet, but had to spend more money advertising in magazines, and sales were more cumbersome when they had to talk on the phone and handle checks, etc., so there were not as many and they were not as big.

Some also sell at "puppy fairs" like this one:

Are there fewer than before? Don't know. But there seem to still be LOTS.


The rise of the puppymill registries, and their apparent success, seems to suggest otherwise.

That can be explained by the shift from AKC to non-AKC registries by many commercial breeders, and is reflected in the more than 50% decline in AKC registrations since the mid 1990s.

Agreed there are additional outlets such as Internet-based sales that didn't exist in the past, so even if we had a quantitative measure of pet store sales over time it wouldn't tell the whole story.

It's difficult to say.

I wonder if anybody has been conducting population surveys that have tracked over time "where did you get your dog?" Something like that might shed light on this. I checked the AVMA U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook and it does not include this kind of information.

Christie Keith

Yes, somewhere did track this.... wasn't it the National Animal Population Control Council or whatever it's called?


But the tradeoff, a huge increase in breeding dogs living in mill cages.

Is there data to support this? Because I look at it from a different angle.


I have a different angle too.

It is a number's game.

The breed that I adore has a history of large kennels, not so much to produce puppies although they do but to enjoy the sport that the dogs are known for. Dogs that saved a town in this country's history as a matter of fact.

The dogs aren't house-dogs, although they may come inside from time to time and they are bred from antiquity to thrive in extreme weather conditions.

An outsider without much knowledge of the sport or situation would look at them and say they are being abused ... when they aren't. They might also say due to the numbers, they are a puppymill when there isn't even a puppy in sight.

If you aren't anti-hunting or anti-sledding or anti-enjoy the original purpose of the dogs that you choose, Gina, how can one protect these kennels that might have a large amount of dogs because of that sport yet aren't a commercial breeder?

It is a number's game.

I've not seen an anti-puppymill law yet put out by HSUS that doesn't list a set number of dogs ... without any clear definition of what those dogs are to be used for. yea, we get told it won't hurt sport kennels and we get told it won't affect hobby kennels but when it says 11 intact bitches or 6 intact bitches ... how can one support it? Oklahoma is now fighting a bill that speaks to 11 intact female dogs and that does engulf probably a lot of show breeders. So in my mind, those parents of my friend's dog that did so well aren't the real issue to HSUS ... it's everybody with a set number of dogs no matter what they might do with them.

You're right, I could live within those confines well but does that mean that everyone should be forced to? Where does it speak to the actual welfare of those eleven dogs anyway?

So you can have eleven intact bitches and treat them like crap ... and that's gonna be ok with everybody?

FYI, in my area last year, they tried to force all of us to register ourselves with them even if we weren't a breeding kennel, they wanted to make ... err, *give* us a disignation of HOBBY PET OWNER for free except letting them know if we owned more than ten companion animals. Ten *animals* ... not dogs, not even breeding dogs ... just ten *animals* with no mention of their breeding status. How many fosters for rescue would we have lost and how many rescuers period would we have lost with that? Who knows? We successfully beat that to a pulp but lost a lot of other things, too. If they have my rabies records, they know how many animals I have anyway ... what's up with that ?? ... other than a foot in the door for the proposed inspections that we would have to under-go. There was no disgnation for a licensing an actual breeding kennel either ... hul-lo.

Uh,no, thank you!

So while I might feel sorry for dogs in cages, forced to breed (and having lived with intact dogs that I worked very hard at times to control their breeding, I think that's a laughable statement) ... I just do NOT believe it's ALL about *them*.

Sorry but I don't.

I'm know I keep promising no more posts but what the hey. Sorry.


~I think it would be hard to get numbers that are comparable across time. The AKC could tell us what proportion of pups came from breeders who registered more than X number of litters a year — if they wanted to. But they’ve almost certainly lost a disproportionate amount of mill business since starting their frequently used sires program, so those numbers would probably end up meaning nothing anyway.

Comment by H. Houlahan — April 30, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

On another blog I was reading tonight I found this information on "where do those AKC-registered litters come from" -

"The vast majority of persons who register litters with the AKC are hobby and show breeders. In recent years, more than two-thirds of all persons who register a litter with the AKC, registered only one litter that year and more than 85 percent registered only two litters a year. Litters registered by these small hobby and show breeders account for more than half of all puppies in litters registered by the AKC. On the other hand, persons registering 10 or more litters in a year with the AKC, account for only 2 percent of our litter registrants and only about 20 percent of the puppies in AKC registered litters. Constituency of the AKC, therefore, is primarily hobby & show breeders."

(USDA Animal Welfare Listening Session, March 23, 2005)

Whether these proportions have changed significantly over the past 4 years, I can't say. It does seem that AKC has been less forthcoming with such statistics in the past few years. I can think of some possible reasons for that, but all would be speculation.

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