One of the problems facing the dog fancy today is that our political opponents, HSUS and PETA have millions of dollars and some assumed stature to impress important people in power. And they are mounting an all-out attack on the American way of life using those assets.
All we have are some statistics that say there is $41 Billion spent on pets annually in the United States. Sure, we also have a good estimate on the number of households that have cats, and those with dogs, the percentages of compliance with dog licensing, the average percentage of spayed/neutered dogs in the communities and the FACT that dog shelter populations have been reducing their annual populations by 5% to 11% every year for a number of years – over a decade, in fact.
We even can prove that no-kill shelters are immediately achievable.
Still, it does no good to demonstrate all these facts in the face of politicians who do not listen to us because their eyes are blinded by money thrown into their campaigns for re-election. They go selectively deaf, also. In some cases, it is simply party affiliation that robs their minds of learning and independent thinking.
But…… What if there were a way to amass all the LOCAL information that could help us make our case? Part of the problem is that politicians may see that $41 Billion is spent nationally, but they are just actors a town somewhere in Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida or California. Or anywhere. THEY are not “nationally.” And that much money is too damn much for them to comprehend anyway. They can’t think further than that. That is why they became politicians, right?
Maybe we have a way to get it all together. But we will have to work on it, hard and quick.
The owner of this websight has been wanting to expand “nationally” from the very first. This is a good sight, and has served the community of San Diego County very well. But it has been limited to San Diego County, and duplicating it for each and every community in the country would have just about equaled the national debt. So, brains went to work and have built a basic structure for most of the country, and, with your help, can cover it all. It is called www.allcitydogs.com .
This site will take self-posted listings for dog clubs of many categories, dog-related businesses (relationships must be stated in the self -description, like in the posting of a garage or carpet cleaner or resturant to go to after the shows), kennels,veterinarians, breeders, trainers, and many other categories. Clubs can post links to their own web site . Events per area can be posted. And all of this is free,FREE!!!
Now, for those communities having legislative problems, soon to be everywhere, how do you show those knuckleheaded doo-gooders how many folks they are hammering? Well, one good way would be to show them this web site with all the listings crammed full of self posted stuff for their community. The related business do contribute sales taxes and most business owners vote! And the citizens sure do vote. So, how many are going to get re-elected when they vote to outlaw sixteen breeds of the most popular dogs in town and affect all those people? Or that they will eliminate 36 years of selective breeding that is currently one of the best three lines in North America? But, you have to show them in terms they understand and make offers they cannot refuse.
And to do that, you have to get everybody involved NOW. All dog clubs, associations, activities, related businesses (show me one that just isn’t related and I will tell you that you have no imagination), dependent businesses and interests need to list on this site NOW! Build up your numbers. Numbers do mean both influence and money! Even if that money comes indirectly from taxes, it is still easily associated. Some politicians are only dumb in the direction of who they think are pre-destined losers. Though, most are so ignorant they appear dumb and dumber and swallow lies easily through practiced association with their own kind.
The only obstacle I can see holding anyone back from doing a listing is the years of paranoia learned from being in the dog fancy. And we must overcome it. We can do that if we will just realize that the ARFs (Animal Rights Fascists) are both cowards and clever. They are clever enough to not quite expose their true agenda while promoting these horrible unconstitutional laws. And they know they can retreat for awhile and gather more money from the gullible all-the-timers and fight again. So, gather that info on www.allcitydogs.com and gird yourselves for a small skirmish and win. Then it will be time to prepare for the big battles.
The ARFs have only to lose some time and maybe some face – and maybe future money from contributions.
We stand to lose a lifetime of good work, a whole social sub-set, years of future enjoyment and some of the most basic of our freedoms.
We have more to lose than they do, let’s fight like it!
This post has been modified to eliminate some possibly offensive language.
This would be a cross-post, but it wouldn’t work that way.
So just go to this site to see how much the stupid virus has affected Europe and already reached our shores.
Happy reading everyone. We need a fence at all borders. No one in or out. Mental quarantine, immediately!!!
Dear Readers and Commenters:
While it may seem that we have been negligent and lazy lately, posting infrequently and using cross-posts rather than original thought, we have been extremely busy.
The purpose of SanDiegoDog.com was to be a prototype sight for all dog owners, to assist them in their life with dogs – and to improve both the lives of the people and the dogs. Then, the site would be replicated for all major cities in the United States. That was the plan, and it was as expensive as it was bold.
Then, advanced Internet technology was revealed to us, as well as some really top notch expertise in the form of two engineers. And the cost came down to reasonable, while the expansion became possible.
Within a short, but indeterminate, period of time this site will encompass all of the United States. Some outlying areas of cities will necessarily be included with the larger areas, rather than have their own intense information area. That is an economy we still have to perform. Some things just cost too much for what they do
This new format of our site, All City Dogs, will be as complete as you can make it.That’s right-as YOU can make it. You will be able to upload all the info about your clubs, businesses and events as concern your area right from your computers. Once we review the info it will be posted immediately.
And we will still have the Blog, but with easier comment posts – and more original content than recently.
So, Dog Fanciers and Civil Rights Advocates keep tuned and be ready to participate to the Nth degree. We are sure you will enjoy the new look, feel and bark of our sight.
San Diego Dog
Please Contact Supervisors Before May 6 Public Hearing
by JOHN YATES
American Sporting Dog Alliance
SANTA BARBARA, CA- The Santana Barbara County Board of Supervisors has set a May 6 public hearing on a proposed mandatory pet sterilization ordinance as the culmination of a biased and flawed planning process that pointedly excluded advocates for dog ownership rights.
The result is a stacked deck based only on the preconceived notions of animal rights activists and their allies in the sheltering and rescue communities.
Because of this bias against the real stakeholders in this issue (that is, people who own, raise, breed or compete with dogs), the entire justification behind the proposed ordinance has been invalidated.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to scrap this biased effort and start fresh with a fair and balanced investigation into pet population issues at the county’s three municipal shelters. Only then would it be appropriate to search for effective strategies to solve any problems that may be found.
A strategy based on biased findings is doomed to failure, and will involve the supervisors and county residents in a pointless, bitter and divisive controversy that will end up before the courts.
As an alterative to rejecting the ordinance outright, we asks the supervisors to create an animal control advisory board with balanced representation of all interested groups within the community, and then to charge this board with examining pet issues and recommending solutions based on the facts.
Current recommendations contradict the facts contained in a 2006 report to the supervisors, and advocacy for mandatory pet sterilization is based on an “Old Boy Network” of animal rights activists and supporters. This report will examine this network and the flaws of its preconceived conclusions.
The irony of this situation is that Santa Barbara County has one of the very best animal control programs in the nation by any measure of success, and that the purported goals of a spay and neuter mandate already are being accomplished with truly praiseworthy success. This is not just our opinion. This is the conclusion of the lengthy report sent to the county supervisors in March 2006 by the same people who now are crying out that the sky is falling.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance also is urging all dog owners from Santa Barbara to play an active role now through contacts with the Board of Supervisors, and attendance at the May 6 hearing. We also are asking all of our members and supporters to lend assistance to Santa Barbara County dog owners in any way they can.
Santa Barbara is in the eye of the animal rights storm. Several national and California animal rights groups, such as Judy Mancuso’s pro-mandate movement, have launched a massive email campaign to bombard the Supervisors with their extremist agenda. Mancuso played a major role in failed legislation last year calling for a statewide spay/neuter mandate.
The Santa Barbara ordinance has been on the table for more than a year, and has been the subject of serious planning and discussion in recent months. This process has been almost entirely “under the radar,” and has been dominated by animal rights activists who are philosophically opposed to raising or breeding dogs.
Ordinary dog owners, people who raise, show or compete with dogs, and hobby breeders of purebred dogs, have not been invited to the table. Dog owner advocacy groups, breed clubs, local dog clubs, and canine registries also have been effectively iced out.
The president of the Channel City Kennel Club was invited to the group’s first meeting, but was not asked to come back after she said she opposed the ordinance. Mary Ann Morrison, a former Santa Barbara resident who now lives in Colorado, has played a major role in drafting the ordinance. While she breeds and shows dogs, and belongs to the club, her position on the ordinance has been disavowed by the organization.
What this means is that the regulated parties in the proposed ordinance have been effectively denied the ability to participate in the planning process that leads to the May 6 hearing. Even though the vast majority of Santa Barbara County dog owners would be severely and adversely affected by the ordinance, their ideas, opinions and knowledge have been cut out of the process.
It further means that only organizations that are philosophically opposed to the beliefs of the regulated parties have had a voice in crafting the new ordinance.
How could this happen?
It happened because animal rights activists have discovered how to use quasi-official backdoor strategies to stack the deck against animal owners. In the case of Santa Barbara, the action seems to center around individuals closely associated with national and statewide animal rights groups, rescue movement activists, and animal shelter employees. Shelter managers who echo the national animal rights agenda have been in control of the entire process, and also have written the proposed ordinance.
In theory, the May 6 public hearing is supposed to begin the process of seeking input from everyone in Santa Barbara County. However, a proposed ordinance already has been drafted and submitted to the supervisors.
Instead of being part of the process, dog owners thus are reduced to a defensive role of arguing against the existing draft. A letter in the supervisors’ agenda package describing the hearing shows that the same people who excluded dog owners from the process now are put in charge of seeking public comment.
A summary in the Santa Barbara County supervisors’ agenda tells how this animal rights “Old Boys Network” works, and also who wasn’t invited to the table. It also says clearly that the conclusion was accepted before the study began.
“For a number of years, concerned community members, animal volunteer groups, and animal services professionals have expressed interest in a local spay/neuter ordinance as a means of reducing the number of unwanted animals currently housed in animal shelters and elsewhere in the Santa Barbara County.
“As a result, the Animal Services program of the Public Health Department in collaboration with animal volunteer groups from across Santa Barbara County, undertook research on spay/neuter ordinances in other jurisdictions with the objective of bringing a local spay/neuter ordinance to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. An ordinance has been drafted and County Counsel has reviewed the initial draft. The goal of the local ordinance is to reduce pet overpopulation and arrest the growth of the associated costs.”
Their “study” had a predetermined conclusion – the ordinance, which was admitted in the above announcement – and thus completely failed to meet tests of objectivity.
The first thing the study group overlooked was their own municipal animal shelter, where the stated goal of reducing shelter populations already is being accomplished in dramatic fashion.
Between 1990 and 2005 (the last year for which complete data is available), the number of dogs entering the Santa Barbara municipal shelter fell by 33-percent, and the number of dogs euthanized dropped by 58-percent, according to official data submitted by the county to the California Department of Health Services. The trend is continuing at an even more rapid annual rate, the data shows. Between 2002 and 2005, the number of dogs entering the shelter has declined by 14-percent, and the number euthanized by 24-percent.
In any other endeavor, those kinds of statistics would be used as evidence of overwhelming success. Instead, animal rights groups that have a larger agenda are trying to convince the county Board of Supervisors that their efforts have failed, and sterner measures are needed.
A March 2006 report to the supervisors clearly shows the bias of the current recommendations.
Over a 10-year period, the county’s human population grew by 7.7 percent, while the number of animals entering the shelter decreased by 15% and euthanasia rate fell by 50 percent, the report said.
“The accomplishment of the drastic lowering of the number of animals being euthanized in the county shelters is a commendable achievement that the staff and volunteers are very proud of,” the report said.
We concur, as does the evidence shown from other counties profiled in the report.
No other county in California can match the success of the Santa Barbara animal control program, and we know of no other county in the nation that has done a better job.
The measure of this success goes beyond the animals. It includes fiscal responsibility, costs of operating the system, increases in non-tax shelter revenues and donations, and the involvement of many caring people and organizations in the county. The report conclusively demonstrates success on all counts.
Less than six months later, the same people who reached that conclusion changed their tune. Success was turned into crisis, and suddenly a sterilization mandate was promoted and passed in the City of Lompoc (located in Santa Barbara County), even though that branch shelter was a major part of the success story in the March report.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the nation’s largest animal rights group, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), appeared frequently in the county during this period, through consulting work at shelters, giving a national leadership award to Santa Barbara state legislator Pedro Nava, praising Shelter Director Jan Glick for her work on issues ranging from wild horse rescue to dog fighting investigations, and working closely with activist and local veterinarian Dr. Ron Faoro on failed statewide mandatory spay/neuter legislation.
HSUS has nothing to do with local humane societies or helping animals. Instead, it is a national political lobbying group that pushes the animal rights agenda. Its head, Wayne Pacelle, has been quoted repeatedly expressing opposition to animal ownership and breeding in any form.
Santa Barbara shelter officials suddenly began to claim that there was a crisis requiring a mandatory pet sterilization ordinance, even though contradictory evidence was – quite literally – barking in their ears.
A key figure in the Santa Barbara “Old Boys Network” is County Animal Services Director Jan Glick. Glick is a major player in the unofficial group that is pushing for this ordinance, and reportedly is the person who played the lead role in drafting it.
Although the March, 2006, report to the supervisors praised her work, by August, 2006, Glick was singing the HSUS tune of “pet overpopulation” and pressure was put on Lompoc local officials to enact a city spay and neuter mandate. In mid-2006, Glick pushed Lompoc officials to adopt a mandatory pet sterilization ordinance, and indicated strong personal support for the concept in an August 17 letter to City Administrator Gary Keefe.
Glick informed Keefe that County Health Department Deputy Director Michael Harris directed her to “convene a work group” to study an ordinance mandating pet sterilization “as will be implemented in Los Angeles County….” The draconian Los Angeles ordinance will be a model, she wrote to Keefe. The American Sporting Dog Alliance gained access to this correspondence.
The “work group” was and is the “Old Boys Network” that excluded dog owners, breeders, competitors and associations that represent them.
The work group also is a classic example of how the bias of personal belief can distort and falsify the facts to reach a preordained conclusion. It has been obvious since August, 2006, that the conclusion was going to be a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance, and the facts were not going to get in the way.
In defiance of both fact and logic, the work group concluded:
- That there is an overpopulation of unwanted pets in the county that is of crisis proportions – despite the documented success of the animal control program in Santa Barbara County, and despite Glick’s demonstrated superb managerial ability in the program. It appears that Glick has discounted her noteworthy professional achievements as an administrator in order to push for her personal beliefs.
- That this alleged problem is caused by unwanted puppies – despite abundant documentation that almost no puppies enter the shelter system. In fact, the California Veterinary Medical Association has concluded that it is almost impossible to find an adoptable puppy at any shelter in California. Puppies are so rare that the Los Angeles shelter has been criticized in news reports for auctioning them off to the highest bidder for as much as $1,000 apiece!
- That dog breeders cause the alleged overpopulation and should be regulated and restrained – despite the overwhelming evidence that hobby breeders and people who raise purebred dogs almost never contribute to shelter populations. Research has shown that the inability to find homes for puppies ranks 10th on the list of reasons why dogs are taken to shelters.
- That mandatory sterilization will make an improvement in shelter admissions – this ignores the conclusion of the 2006 Santa Barbara County report that the current program of voluntary pet sterilization, combined with existing low-cost and no-cost clinics and local programs, will allow the county “to accomplish 100 percent adoption of adoptable and treatable animals…by the Year 2010,” which is only two years away. It also ignores the fact that a reported 66 percent of the dogs entering California already are spayed or neutered.
- That mandatory pet sterilization is a viable strategy – despite overwhelming evidence that it has backfired in every community that has tried it by causing increases in shelter admissions, higher euthanasia rates, greatly increase animal control costs, and much lower compliance with licensing requirements.
- That spaying and neutering is beneficial to the health of pets – despite a preponderance of recent research that concludes that health risks may outweigh the benefits, especially if sterilization is done at an early age. A recent survey by Rutgers University of the 50 latest peer-reviewed research findings concluded that there are significantly higher risks of several serious and potentially fatal conditions.
- That shelter admissions indicate that many dogs are not wanted by their owners – despite research conclusions that eight of the top 10 reasons are that wanted pets must be given up because of social reasons (landlords, job moves, divorce, etc.), and data that shows up to 30 percent of the dogs entering the shelter are brought there for the specific purpose of euthanasia because of untreatable illness, severe injuries or old age.
- That adoptable animals in Santa Barbara County cannot find homes – when, in fact, an American Sporting Dog Alliance investigation documented that thousands of pets are imported into Santa Barbara County every year to meet the insatiable demand for adoptable pets in rescue shelters. These imported dogs often are brought in to California from distant states and foreign countries.
- That current programs are not working – despite ample data in the 2006 Santa Barbara report that shows little enforcement of current regulations. In 2004-2005, animal control officers made only 414 license checks in the county and issued only 855 citations for unlicensed dogs, dogs that were allowed to roam, and rabies vaccination requirements. This shows only a minimal attempt to enforce existing laws and ordinances. Although the report didn’t mention it, there is a high probability that many of these citations were issued at the shelters, when people reclaimed impounded pets.
Animal ownership advocates maintain that mandatory pet sterilization laws have nothing to do with reducing the number of dogs entering or killed at animal shelters, but instead are part of the animal rights agenda to drastically reduce the number of dogs in society as a major step toward the eventual elimination of dog ownership.
The biases and factual errors contained in the Santa Barbara work group’s recommendations for a spay and neuter mandate point strongly to this hidden agenda.
This hidden agenda also is shown by comparing the current recommendation to the numerous recommendations contained in the 2006 report to the Santa Barbara County supervisors. None of these 2006 recommendations included a mandatory pet sterilization ordinance.
In looking at what is happening now in Santa Barbara County, it is impossible to ignore the presence and influence of Dr. Faoro, a prominent local veterinarian who has achieved national stature with animal rights groups for his advocacy of mandatory spay and neuter laws.
Faoro is the former president of the California Veterinary Medicine Association (CVMA), and used this position to place the organization in support of legislation for statewide mandatory pet sterilization.
Faoro’s actions created an immediate firestorm of protest from veterinarians, and the association subsequently reversed his actions and then completely disavowed them.
San Diego practitioner Dr. Patricia Ungar described the result of Faoro’s animal rights stance: “CVMA at this point ought to feel uneasy because they’re partnering with groups that have known PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) connections.”
According to Ungar, a poll of regional veterinary medical associations throughout the state revealed a majority opposed the pet-sterilization mandate and CVMA’s sponsorship of the initiative.
“CVMA was out of line doing what they did without consulting members,” she says.
Dr. Charles Hjerpe, professor emeritus of veterinary medicine at the University of California, Davis, also led the opposition among veterinarians. Dr. Hjerpe is a member of the American Sporting Dog Alliance’s veterinary advisory board.
Hjerpe wrote that Faoro and his cronies “helped to write a controversial bill in secret, without any input from rank and file CVMA membership, or any broad consultation with the animal lovers and their organizations that would be adversely impacted by the bill.”
The same tactic that was used on the statewide legislation now is being used in Santa Barbara County, with similar results.
Writing about the statewide legislation, Dr. Hjerpe wrote: “The bill proposes to deprive more than half of the citizens of California of what to believe, and have every right to believe, is a basic civil and constitutional right: that every citizen has the right to decide if they want to spay or neuter their animals and, if so, when they would like to do it. CVMA has jeopardized the reputation of the entire veterinary profession, by supporting a piece of legislation which has enraged millions of animal owners and promises to enrich one segment of the veterinary profession. Now that the legislation you have helped to create has been hijacked by some of the most extreme elements in society, CVMA remains absolutely silent, aloof from the problems and concerns of ‘the huddled masses’ and, seemingly, powerless or fearful to try to ‘fix’ anything. Meanwhile, thousands of rank-and-file veterinarians and animal lovers are being forced to become involved in things that we hate doing: writing letters to politicians, rallying support from breed organizations, meeting with our elected representatives and attending legislative hearings.”
The evidence is clear: The campaign for a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance in Santa Barbara County shows an extreme bias toward the animal rights agenda, and completely excludes opposing viewpoints and contradictory information from the process and recommendations.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges dog owners to contact the county supervisors to request an immediate halt to this process. We believe that the ordinance should be scrapped as being without merit. Barring that, the only reasonable alternative is for the supervisors to create an animal control advisory board to study the issues and make recommendations, and to assure that membership in this board fairly and evenly reflects all viewpoints and interests in the community.
Here is contact information for the supervisors (faxes or phone calls are more effective than emails):
- lst District: Salud Carbajal, Chair – Phone: 805.568.2186, Fax: 805.568.2534, E-mail: SupervisorCarbajal@sbcbos1.org
- 2nd District: Janet Wolf -Phone: 805.568.2191, Fax: 805.568.2283, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 3rd District: Brooks Firestone – Phone: 805.568.2192, Fax: 805.568.2883, E-mail: email@example.com
- 4th District: Joni Gray – Phone: 805.737-7700 or 805.346.8407, Fax: 805.346.8498, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 5th District: Joseph Centeno, Vice Chair – Phone: 805.346.8400, Fax: 805.346.8404; E-mail: email@example.com
- Also: Michael Allen, Chief Deputy Clerk of the Board, 105 E. Anapamu, Rm 407, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 – Phone: 805.568.2240 Fax: 805.568.2249, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, hobby breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. Please visit us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by the donations of our members, and maintain strict independence.
PLEASE CROSS-POST AND FORWARD THIS REPORT
What if the animal rights movement wins?
Walt Hutchens, Timbreblue Whippets
Reprinted with permission from http://www.ukcdogs.com and United Kennel Club, Inc.
Your Total Dog Registry Since 1898
What does the future hold for U.S. dogs? We’d like to think that pets will be healthier and happier, that more dogs will come from the best breeders and fewer from the others, that laws will punish only the real offenders and at least not discourage good ownership and breeding. Is that where we’re going, or is the future darker?
We will try to predict the future, looking twenty years ahead to what dog ownership and breeding might look like in 2027 if the Animal Rights (AR) movement continues to win. This exercise will not be fun, but it may be useful: If what we see in the future is bad enough, maybe we can do more today to avoid going there.
We will assume current trends will continue. If you assume trends get worse – for example, that money is found for muscular enforcement of bad laws – you get a worse picture, while if owners and breeders become concerned about the loss of their rights at a rapidly increasing rate, or if someone very wealthy decides to help defend our rights to keep and breed pets, things will be much better.
Trying to predict the future can help us take control of that future. I hope this will be taken in that spirit.
What Are The Trends Today? Currently, a few good things are happening. More animal lovers are learning that there is a serious problem and starting to work against it. We are winning a greater fraction of the lawmaking battles than was true even five years ago, and some lawmakers are catching on to the goals of the animal rights movement. The Center for Consumer Freedom provides very useful anti-AR public education, The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), and the NRA make small but significant contributions.
Several other organizations – The Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance (SAOVA), the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), and the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) – also play roles. The new company ‘My Dog Votes’ may help in spreading the word. There are more and better blogs on our side. There are several lawsuits trying to overturn some of the worst laws, and some of these may succeed. Laws against animal-related terrorism are improving, and we can expect strong enforcement.
The Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS, S. 1139 and H.R. 2669) would have extended federal Animal Welfare Act rules to retail-sales-only breeders who are currently exempt, thus forcing a year-by-year defense of the six litter/25 puppy exemptions to protect home breeding. PAWS seems to be dead and the sponsoring Senator, Rick Santorum, was defeated in the 2006 elections.
However, some very bad things also are going on. By far, the most important trend today is the increasing power of the animal rights movement. There’s no question the AR movement is winning, steadily taking away our rights to own and breed pet animals.
The most obvious of the AR trends is the number of cities and counties that are passing anti-pet laws. Southern California is passing mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) laws with complicated and expensive breeder licensing provisions in one county after another. Albuquerque’s ‘HEART’ ordinance is even worse – it includes not just MSN and breeder licenses, but also close regulation of dog ownership and all forms of pet animal business. In some of these areas, there have been efforts to fight back to undo the bad laws, but none have been successful yet. I believe California and New Mexico will pass MSN with some form of breeder licensing at the state level within five years.
Pet guardianship replaces the rights (and full responsibility) that go with ownership with a government-granted privilege. The idea is just starting to edge its way into laws, most often by substituting ‘owner/guardian’ for ‘owner’ (as the state of Rhode Island has done) and accompanied by assurances that, “We think this will help people be more responsible for pets.” However guardianship is a familiar concept elsewhere in law. When a nosy neighbor points out that your dog is limping, is a bit overweight, or hasn’t yet been spayed, an owner can smile sweetly and say, “Thank you.” A guardian is subject to direct government supervision and in practice, that supervision depends less on clear cut rules than on interpretation. As usage spreads and legal battles necessary to pin down the meaning of “guardian” for pets are fought, costs and risks of ownership will go up.
Rhode Island also has passed MSN with no exceptions for cats, meaning the lawful breeding of cats is over there. This will do nothing to reduce the number of cats, but will eliminate any possibility of sales of purebred cats, helping to stem the tide of at-large feral and ‘outside’ cats breeding on their own, as has happened with dogs over the last half-century. I’d expect restrictions on dog breeding in Rhode Island within a few years.
Pennsylvania‘s Governor Rendell is in the pocket of hardcore AR interests and is pushing rules and enforcement changes there that would eliminate home breeding within a few years.
Georgia has statewide breeder licensing; North Carolina and Virginia both have ambiguous state laws that are being interpreted by counties as allowing licensing. These are only a few examples of increasingly restrictive state and local lawmaking trends; there are many others.
It’s nearly certain that a new PAWS bill will be introduced next year. With Congress having been taken over by Democrats, we will lose some valuable allies in stopping the new bill. The so-named Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) has a political action committee, The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), that is channeling large amounts of money to animal-rights oriented lawmakers and they’re doing well at electing their favorites and taking out some of our supporters.
Most of the current AR mischief comes from just a few very-well-funded organizations – HSUS, PETA, and others who are less well-known – but the ‘Best Friends Animal Shelter’ is now turning to promoting anti-dangerous dog laws that could eliminate some breeds and we can expect growing trouble on that front.
A combination of ignorance, under-funding, laziness and animal rights orientation on the part of animal control and other public officials is putting limits of three or four pets into even tiny and far out rural places, one after another.
An additional factor is suburban sprawl. City dwellers and close-in suburbanites follow the interstate highways to newly-developed farmland, but are offended by all those animals so they join county councils to enact limits; while farmers generally can defend themselves, home breeders of dogs, cannot.
Because good breeding is a multi-year project (you must keep animals from each generation for possible future breeding), you cannot have a quality breeding program within a four-pet limit. When a kennel license, allowing more is available; it generally comes with ‘any reasonable time’ inspections of your home, a single opposing neighbor may be able to keep you from getting it, and you may be required to get a business license that will bring another group of laws into play.
For most people, if an in-home hobby of perhaps twenty years can be inspected by a high school graduate with no felony convictions, a clipboard, a day or less of training in animal husbandry and perhaps an AR chip on his shoulder who may bring disease from another kennel he visited that morning, it isn’t a hobby anymore.
Other requirements – one current proposal would require a written record every time every animal is fed – will complete the conversion of a hobby (something you do for satisfaction and fun) to a money-losing business. How many home breeders will continue?
Except for the large animal vets, most veterinarians and most vet organizations remain clueless about animal rights. The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s position on the state’s worst bill last year (requiring rabies vaccinations to be reported for dog licensing purposes) was, “We can’t oppose a law that just enforces another law.” That bill passed by a hair. At the national level, the AVMA stopped short of a decision to form an alliance with HSUS, but continues to support the first steps toward national mandatory micro-chipping of all pets.
As I write this, the ‘Coalition To Reunite Pets and Families’ made up of HSUS, the National Animal Control Association and several other organizations that would like to see close regulation of pets or expect to profit from mandatory micro-chipping, are pushing hard for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make a rule requiring Animal Welfare Act dealers (commercial breeders) to use European microchips instead of U.S. ones. The USDA too would like such a rule. The story is too long to tell here, but this rule will put us firmly on the road to a law requiring all pets to be micro-chipped and registered in a government-accessible database. A federal bill for that purpose might be introduced around 2009.
The court interpretation of laws is likely to turn more strongly against us. The ARs effectively own about three dozen law schools, and retired game show host Bob Barker is buying them a new one every few months. Five years from now, many new lawyers will have specialized in animal law and all of them will have come from AR-oriented programs. By 2027, many of those lawyers will be judges and some will be lawmakers.
The media prints anti-AR letters to the editor, just as they do stories of alien abductions and that CIA conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Mainstream magazines seem to be AR-leaning, and articles on AR-related topics in other publications take the AR side. Other than an article in The Atlantic Monthly in the 1990s, I cannot think of an exception.
There are three books exposing the AR movement but all are seriously out-of-date; we are promised a revised edition of one of them this year.
With so few (and small) useful organizations on our side, much of the anti-AR work is being done with irregular forces – e-mail lists and other loose organizations – and the less-than-a-handful of state federations of clubs and individual larger clubs that really do ‘get it.’
Significant awareness of the AR agenda among the general public is still well in the future; the same is true of home breeders of dogs. Both creating awareness and the rest of what must be done to keep home breeding legal and pet ownership free of impossible restrictions are very slow going with irregular forces.
Where will these trends and forces take us in twenty years?
Let’s Fast Forward Our Time Machine to 2027. Much of what follows may seem impossible if you’re not in the middle of the fight. However all of the laws needed to create the situation I’m about to describe have been seriously proposed, and nearly all of them are in effect in some places; current trends give no reason to think they won’t spread. The rest is just predicting how people will react as that occurs.
The good news is there are still pets in 2026. Not quite as many as twenty years ago, but most families who want a pet dog or cat do have one. However…
Only about one dog in three is legal. Legal dogs come from large-scale commercial breeders and importers, plus a handful of wealthy individuals who still breed dogs as a hobby. Because of the many demands the law makes of breeders (expensive licenses and ‘puppy lemon’ laws, strict liability for attacks by their dogs, socialization requirements, detailed and extensive kennel and husbandry standards), legal dogs are too costly for most people to own: upward from $5,000 for a pet shop dog. A ‘sort of home bred’ purebred starts at $15,000; maybe a bit less for an imported animal. (All prices guessed in 2007 dollars.)
You can also get a legal dog at the animal shelter for about $2,000; most of these are dogs who have been seized from illegal breeders or because they were illegally owned. Larger shelters either import in quality or – since shelters are exempt from the anti-breeding laws – operate their own breeding programs.
Except for commercial breeding stock and animals belonging to wealthy individuals with very expensive licenses, legal dogs are all sterilized. All are micro-chipped and tracked by the government from birth to a required vet-signed death certificate. The enforcement risks (what if your dog escapes, your ACO finds him without food and reports you for poor care, or your vet turns you in for missing a required routine checkup) add to the fear factor and the cost of owning a legal dog.
This is, of course, the future that the animal rights movement wanted for ALL dogs, on the way to completely eliminating pets. However, because Americans really do love dogs, the AR movement hasn’t been able to get strong enough enforcement of the laws creating this grim ‘legal’ pet status to make it even close to 100%. Two out of every three dogs now are illegal.
Illegal dogs come from a vast cottage industry of “back in the woods” or “over there under the pile of boards behind the garage” very-small-scale illegal breeders. Who is this ‘puppy moonshine’ maker? Your neighbor, your aunt, or the guy who takes care of your car – and possibly all three.
Because demand for pets has remained high, but most people can’t afford (or are afraid to own) a legal dog, even illegal puppies are expensive – a minimum of $1,000 for a just-weaned pup with no shots, do your own worming. At these prices, people can make good money breeding a single litter a year, and they do, even though they don’t have the required licenses, comply with the kennel requirements, micro-chip their puppies, report names of new owners, or any of the rest. They are thus completely outside the law, subject to severe penalties if they get caught. The good news is these folks are willing to take the risk in exchange for the added income, so middle class folks can still have dogs; the bad news is most of them don’t know much about dogs or dog breeding.
In theory, enforcement could be tightened to almost completely choke off the illegal dogs, but efforts by HSUS and friends to get even stronger laws and more money for enforcement seem to have stalled. We pay billions in tax dollars a year for a war on drugs that is only somewhat effective, but there is no chance we’ll vote to spend that kind of money to stop illegal breeding, especially since most of us are getting our dogs from outside the legal pet system.
In fact, even most animal shelters don’t want illegal breeding stopped. As was true in Los Angeles as early as 2005, unlicensed breeding has become a profitable cash crop for shelters nationwide. Every breeder bust yields perhaps $10,000 in shelter income for just a few hours work. Shelters seize and sell the dogs and they fine the breeder, but not too big a fine or too many of the illegal breeders because that would kill the ‘crop.’ No trial is ever necessary because illegal breeders are happy to plead guilty to a neglect charge carrying a $1,000 fine and sign over their animals, rather than face required jail time for an illegal breeding conviction.
Illegal dogs are nearly all mixed breeds, although some do look like specific breeds, and a few of the underground breeders claim they use only purebred breeding animals, but no illegal dog comes with registration papers since registration requires enrollment in the government-accessible micro-chip database.
It is still legal to breed dogs on residential property in most states, but only people wealthy enough to be able to live in a properly zoned area, build a kennel that complies with commercial standards, and employ a kennel master to handle the licenses, paperwork, record keeping, and inspections do it as a hobby and only by importing nearly all their breeding animals. Naturally, their puppies sell mostly to other wealthy folks.
With the end of practical middle class home breeding came the end of most breeds of purebred dog in America. You cannot reduce the numbers in a breed below a certain level before the genetic diversity needed for litters to thrive is lost, and in most breeds, most of the gene pool was in the hands of home breeders. Still more breeds were lost because the increase of inherited problems made many breeders give it up, even in the last places that allowed unlicensed and true home breeding.
There was talk of breeding purebreds in secret, but the networks needed to preserve a breed when few people own more than two dogs are extremely risky. The majority of Americans see good quality purebreds mainly on TV.
Because of pet guardianship and very high values set by courts for a pet’s life, vet care is now several times as expensive as it was twenty years ago. The Pet Guardianship Act of 2012 led to rapid increases in the cost of vet care, which in turn caused many people to cut back. HSUS then promoted and got passed the Healthy Pets Act of 2018, which required all owners to get certain basic care and required vets to report care to the government. Failure to get the required care for your dog can mean fines of $1,000 or more.
The HPA was the final event creating the split between legal and illegal dogs. Because vets are required to report illegal dogs, most of these animals get no care, although ‘see no evil’ vets are out there if you can afford them. There are only half as many vets as there were twenty years ago, but they are making wonderful money.
The nastiest anti-pet laws of 2007 – breed specific laws requiring owners to line up and turn in pets for euthanasia, abusive seizures that ruined people’s lives, and the occasional felony cruelty conviction for a clean-kill of a nuisance dog – zapped perhaps a thousand people a year. I’m not aware there was ever any violence by these victims. If told to give up Fido for that last needle, people cried and did it. In 2007, pet owners crushed by animal control turned their pain inward.
Not anymore. Enforcement of the much stronger laws of 2027 – nearly 40 breeds are banned now and seizure-enforced pet limits are universal – has hurt tens of thousands of people per year for over a decade. The predictable result has been that enforcement nails some owners who don’t take it well, and there has been some violence. One day just before Christmas in 2015, a shelter worker took the leash from the hand of a crying young woman, turned to take her dog back to the euthanasia area, and got a 12-inch butcher knife in his back. Evidently the woman then took the leash away from him and walked out. None of the other four owners waiting in line were able to describe the killer and she was never caught.
In some parts of the country, there are links between illegal breeding and organized crime. Just as happens with illegal drugs, there has been some violence associated with control of sales territories. Payoffs to law enforcement are common almost everywhere, often in the form of free puppies for an officer’s family.
A few shelters have been burned, animal control vehicles have been attacked, and there have been dozens of ‘liberations’ of seized dogs. A/C and shelters have beefed up security but there have been too many victims and there are too many targets; low-level violence of this kind seems to be permanent. Of course (just as in 2007), most A/C workers are decent people, guilty of no more than doing what the law requires. Retention of qualified officers has become a serious problem in some areas.
For a time, snitches played a substantial part in enforcing the laws, but that largely ended after hundreds of cases of serious property damage (mostly burning of garages and automobiles), a number of thrashings and over a dozen killings. Even vets weren’t exempt: Here’s a joke that went the rounds on the ‘net in 2020.
“Know how to make your vet crazy?”
“Take your dog to him for a rabies shot.”
(In the context of most dogs being illegal, you would be forcing the vet to choose between ignoring the law requiring reporting of illegal dogs, thus risking a $1,000 fine, and the possibility of violence if he complies with the law, for a tiny fee.)
Very few of those cases have been solved. As with drug-related crime in urban areas, the list of suspects is often most of the people in the surrounding area, and there are almost never any willing witnesses. After a time, the police (whose pet dogs are, after all, nearly all illegal) simply gave up. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’ (with a wink) became the motto for low-level pet-related violence.
The welfare of dogs is much worse than it was in 2007. While true overpopulation is completely gone (nobody ever turns in a puppy to a shelter) the poor breeding and socialization practices that are normal among illegal breeders mean many puppy homes don’t succeed. The number of stray dogs has increased dramatically, and nobody knows the extent of ‘shoot, shovel and shut up’ occurring in rural areas. However, most strays that make it to a shelter and nearly all owner-surrender dogs must be euthanized as unfit pets, and this adds to the incentive for shelters to seize, import and breed dogs. With the loss of middle class home breeders, there are no longer any breeders helping buyers with problems or taking their puppies back.
Pet health too has gone downhill due to the extreme inbreeding common among unskilled ‘moonshine’ breeders and the lack of vet care for most illegal dogs. Because of the very high costs, even legal dogs often get only the minimum care required by law.
There are only a couple dozen purebred dog shows per year nationwide, and entries are still declining as the cost of purebred dogs continues to rise.
HSUS isn’t doing very well either. Since the 1990s, HSUS’s business model has amounted to strip-mining the goodwill built up by the organization in earlier years when it was an animal welfare organization. From about 2000 on, it still claimed donations were needed to help animals, but actually used nearly all the money to promote anti-animal use laws and enforcement. They have used up all the easy ‘for the animals’ campaigns, and people are starting to realize that they are not helping animals, but are actually part of the problem.
This is a business built on quicksand and is starting to sink. Annual revenues are down by half from the peak year of 2015. However, continuing lies and a devoted base of hardcore AR supporters (there are as many Hollywood fruitcakes and fanatics as ever) allow them to keep them spewing their garbage and buying up lawmakers year by year.
It does appear that things are starting to turn around. The gradual weakening of HSUS, public attention coming from the violence, the dawning recognition that it isn’t just that you can’t buy the purebred dog you remember from when you were a child, but that there are almost no purebreds or home-bred dogs at all, the views of a growing number of experts that, far from protecting animals, the tangle of laws has reduced their numbers and made them (and humans) less happy and less healthy – all this has begun to bend the road back in favor of animals and animal owners.
However, the turning is very slow. Many anti-animal laws were passed, not just for animal rights reasons, but also because they made things easier for animal control organizations. A pet limit law, for example, can be used as a one-size-fits-all answer to nearly any animal complaint, either by telling the individual whose dogs are a noise nuisance, “You are over the limit – reduce your numbers” or by telling the complainant, “Sorry, he’s within the limit so there’s nothing we can do,” instead of enforcing the noise ordinance.
Bad laws give animal control more power. No enforcement agency willingly gives that up.
If breeding laws were liberalized, animal shelters would have competition for their own import and breeding programs. Seizures might nearly disappear. With so few good quality stray dogs, there’d be no income from adoptions. Where would the money come from? For financial reasons too, shelters are against easing the laws.
There is some talk of a federal law preempting some of the anti-pet and anti-breeding state and local laws, but it hasn’t happened yet. There’s also wide recognition of the general corruption and abuse ‘under color of law’ by animal control organizations, but the corruption comes from the grants of large amounts of power to poorly supervised persons with minimal qualifications. There’s little will and no money to dramatically upgrade animal control organizations so unless many of the laws are repealed to return us to the basic animal welfare and confinement laws of the late 20th century, there seems to be no solution.
The animal rights movement imagined that we could have a large animal police force supervising every detail of breeding and ownership gradually squeezing pets down and out of our lives. Wrapped in their glitter paper, it sounded good and the laws were passed. Americans, however, are only willing to pay for a few dog catchers.
As a result of the very high value set by courts for a pet’s life, veterinarians have their own ambulance-chasing lawyers and their own malpractice insurance-dictated very expensive practice standards. A law limiting awards in pet wrongful death/injury cases would be hard to pass, and even if it did, there would be no immediate unwinding of the staff, equipment and clinic requirements that drove up the price of care. It might be possible to repeal the laws mandating care, but the immediate result would be less care. Discussions of low cost alternatives – for example, publicly-funded clinics and the veterinary equivalent of nurse-practitioner status – meet strong opposition from veterinarians.
In-the-open home breeding has become so unfamiliar that it has the ‘not in my backyard’ problem. When liberalization is discussed the responses are usually, “We don’t allow any kind of farming here – someone who wants to breed dogs should buy a farm in the country.” And, “If we made breeding legal here, our town would be full of breeders: we don’t want all that noise and smell.”
Pet owners still have no effective national voice, and that makes it much harder to pass our own laws.
Mandatory micro-chipping of all pets has made billions of dollars for makers of chips, vet clinics and chip registries and it continues to be a fountain of gold for them. Because it facilitates enforcement of all the other pet laws, the AR movement is determined to keep it. However, making government control that easy guarantees there will be government control. The battle to undo the mandatory micro-chipping laws may seesaw for a decade or more but until they are undone, ownership and breeding of dogs cannot start to return to being a hobby.
In 2027, the situation of pet dogs in the U.S. has hit bottom and will gradually begin to improve. However, undoing the damage of the last 25 years – untangling the maze of laws, each with its own devoted supporters; restarting the practice of in-home breeding; rebuilding the breeds, breeding knowledge and skills; re-establishing the kennel and breed clubs; beginning over again to spread the basics of good dog ownership to the average family – may take a century.
Reprinted with permission from http://www.ukcdogs.com and United Kennel Club, Inc.
Your Total Dog Registry Since 1898
At 8:45 on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in a hotel room at Newark airport. I was getting ready to go to a meeting, scheduled to start at 10:30. I had the TV news on while getting dressed when the newscasters suddenly announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I looked out the window and saw the black smoke coming from one of the towers. My only thought was concern for a friend who worked at the World Trade Center. After assuring that she was okay, I walked down to the meeting, which was delayed because everyone was crowded around a television set, watching the news. None of us thought it was anything worse than a terrible accident. At 9:03, however, we saw the second plane first approach and then burst into flame as it entered the second tower. I turned to the woman standing next to me and said, “We’re at war.”
I’m not writing this month’s column to convince you that we should be at war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather to talk about a war on our own shores, a war where the casualties are piling up. I’m talking about the war between dog owners and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
We’ve been at war for a long time. Like Al Quaeda, the leaders of the HSUS patiently prepared for war. Long before we even suspected their intentions, the current leaders of HSUS were honing their fund raising skills and their talent for manipulating the media. Again, like Al Quaeda, HSUS didn’t start with a big, all-out attack. Al Quaeda attacked some embassies and the USS Cole before 9/11. HSUS skirmished with animal owners in hundreds of local battles. At first, HSUS sought easy targets. Fur farmers, for example, were a common choice. There weren’t many of them, and fur coats were associated with pampered, rich women. Most of us were not affected by the attacks on the fur industry. Circuses, hunters, farmers, and restaurant owners were other common targets, and for a long time, the good guys won about half the time. If we had paid attention, we would have had a preview of the battle to come, but we didn’t.
It’s not like we weren’t warned, but we didn’t listen. Patti and Rod Strand wrote a book in 1993 entitled The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism. Most of us didn’t read it until years later. Sportsmen were the first group of dog owners to recognize the threat. They wisely organized to resist the threat to their rights to hunt and fish, but they ignored the wider threat to all animal ownership. Dog owners who didn’t hunt paid no attention at all to the steady erosion of hunter’s rights. We were all so busy minding our own business that we didn’t even see that HSUS was planning a 9/11 for us – for all of us.
Last year, HSUS rolled out their equivalent of planes crashing into towers – it’s called “Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law”, or MSN for short. The typical MSN law requires all dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered by age four months unless the animal’s owner obtains an expensive breeding permit, allowing a single litter a year. Last year’s California Assembly Bill 1364 sent shockwaves through the country. The scales fell from the eyes of dog owners who suddenly knew that we were at war – at war with a well-funded, politically sophisticated enemy, who has been devising their strategy for decades.
Like Americans after 9/11, we were quick to fight back. We rallied our forces, raised money, wrote letters, attended meetings and forced AB 1364’s sponsor, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, to withdraw his bill. We patted ourselves on the back and congratulated each other on winning the big one. But it wasn’t the big one; it was the first big one. Not long after Levine withdrew his bill, Los Angeles passed an MSN ordinance for all of LA County. Within the first two months of 2008, MSN bills were being considered in New Jersey, Virginia and Arizona. Just weeks after UKC hosted the Canine Registry conference in North Las Vegas, Nevada, that community passed an MSN ordinance.
All across America, HSUS sleeper cells are waking up and invading the homes of American citizens. Disguised as city attorneys, animal control officers, or as representatives of so-called “humane” organizations, these animal rights “true believers” are in positions where they can push for MSN ordinances and dog limit laws. Many of the new animal control ordinances are patently unconstitutional, but they are enforced because dog owners don’t have the resources to fight back.
If recent legislation hasn’t convinced you that we are fighting for our very survival, maybe the story of Robert Attleson will wake you up. Robert Attleson lives in Littleton, Colorado, where he and his long-time partner, Melissa, raise English Setters. In addition to breeding and showing dogs, Bob is active in an organization called “All Setter Rescue.” Bob has lived in his home long enough that his mortgage is paid off, so about 18 months ago, he bought the house next door, partly as a tax shelter. The number of dogs at Bob’s house fluctuates as he raises and sells his litters, and moves the occasional rescue dog in and out. In the decades that Bob has lived in Littleton, not one complaint has been lodged against him for barking, for smells, or for letting his dogs run loose. When the Littleton city leaders passed a dog limit law, Bob thought his second property would keep him within the requirements of the law. The city fathers didn’t see it his way. Instead, Bob became a target for harassment by animal control. Like most citizens who have never had to fight their own government, Bob tried to be reasonable, but he soon realized that he would have to leave Littleton altogether.
He purchased property 60 miles outside of Littleton, but couldn’t move his dogs immediately because he needed to put up fencing. On February 14, Bob told city officials that he would have all of the dogs out of Littleton by February 18. Animal Control insisted on a meeting with Bob on February 19 to verify that the dogs were indeed gone, so they agreed to meet at 10 a.m. Having settled this, Bob and Melissa headed out to the Plum Creek Kennel Club dog show the following morning to show their English Setters, Pig and Jo, in the Best Brace competition.
Meanwhile, animal control, knowing that Bob was out of town at the dog show, requested an emergency court hearing on Friday, February 15. The Court called Bob’s home and left a message informing him of the hearing. When he failed to show, the Court issued a fugitive warrant and authorized animal control to seize Bob’s dogs. According to a neighbor, animal control staked out Bob’s home to ensure that Bob and Melissa actually left the house before the raid. Neighbors told Bob that animal control came to the house, and when no one answered the door, departed quickly. What the neighbors didn’t know was that animal control was going back to the judge to request a forcible entry warrant. About four in the afternoon, four police cars, two animal control vehicles (one from out of town, since Littleton only has one animal control truck), six police officers and two animal control agents arrived at Bob’s two houses. A battering ram was used to break down the front door of the first house and the back door of the second. A window was broken so that officers could hand a litter of nine four-week-old pups through the window to waiting animal control officers. In total, four adult dogs, including the dam of the still-nursing pups, were removed from the two houses, and sent to the Colorado Humane Society. (Note: Just a few months ago, the Colorado Humane Society was the subject of a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General because of questions of financial management and care of the animals. As a result, the city of Littleton actually canceled its contract with Colorado Humane. Interestingly, the current Littleton animal control officer is a former employee of Colorado Humane.)
Melissa came home about 6:00 to check on the puppies. Seeing her doors broken down and windows broken, she raced inside to discover that her dogs were gone. There was a note telling Bob that when he came home from the dog show, he was to turn in his three show dogs to animal control. The note included an order from the judge that none of Bob’s dogs were to be returned to him or to any person who may be a friend of Bob’s. Melissa finally reached Bob on his cell phone. He was happily telling her that their brace of English Setters had won Best Brace in Show when Melissa told him that he needed a criminal lawyer, and fast. Bob took the three show dogs to their home in Strasburg.
Remember, this is Friday evening of a three-day weekend. Still, Bob had a lot of friends and by Saturday morning, he had located an attorney. On Sunday, he met with attorney Susan Martin and began preparing to fight back. Bob wasn’t sure if the court had issued an arrest warrant, so he spent the rest of the weekend in Strasburg. His priorities were simple. First, he wanted his dogs back. Second, he wanted to stay out of jail. Third, he wanted to fight back.
His lawyer set up an emergency hearing on the following Friday, February 22. The charges against Bob were two counts of violating the three-mammal limit law, one count of having an unlicensed kennel, and one count of endangering the animals, based on a single allegation that an animal control officer inspecting in 2007 smelled urine.
During the pre-hearing negotiations, the prosecutor agreed to let Bob have all of his dogs back, but he had to plead guilty and agree to an outrageous sentence. This deal allowed Bob to meet his top priorities – he got his dogs back and he didn’t have to go to jail. However, he got three years deferred jail time, $3,000 in fines and another $1,000 to reimburse the county for the “care” of his dogs. In addition, for the next three years, animal control may make unannounced inspections of his two homes in Littleton, and Bob is not allowed to bring a dog into Littleton, even to go to the veterinarian. Finally, Bob was forced to agree to an inspection of his Strasburg property by the city of Littleton.
None of the above penalties are authorized by law. The penalty for violating the limit law in Littleton is a fine, not to exceed $999. By holding Bob’s dogs as hostages, the city was able to force him to agree to penalties that the court could not have legally imposed.
If California Bill AB 1364 didn’t wake you up, maybe the story of Bob Attleson will do it. As with 9/11, we’re coming late and unprepared to the toughest fight of our lives. Every dog owner must write one letter, make one phone call, and put up some money to stand up for our rights. If you don’t act, you may well be the last houndsman in your family.
Note: Gary Knapp of West Virginia asked me to put in a good word about West Virginia Senator Clark S. Barnes (R-District 15). Senator Barnes is working to protect the rights of dog owners by requiring a high standard of evidence before animal control can confiscate dogs. If you live in West Virginia, don’t forget to support our friends in high places.