Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Breed wars: Imports
As states crack down on puppy mills, imports spike and so do health concerns
Mar 1, 2010
By: Rachael Whitcomb

NATIONAL REPORT At last count, in 2006, 287,000 dogs crossed the
United States' borders, and veterinary officials fear the problem is
getting worse.

Consumer demand for pure-bred and cross-bred puppies coupled with strict
new domestic breeding laws is believed to be driving importation numbers
even higher than four years ago. To exacerbate the problem, federal
regulators have no real way of tracking exactly how many dogs are
brought in the country, where they come from, where they are going and
whether importers are following up on vaccination requirements for
underage puppies.

"One thing that really concerns veterinarians is, underage puppies come
in and not only are they at greater risk of zoonotic diseases, but also
other canine diseases," says Nina Marano, DVM, of the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Global Migration and
Quarantine. "It is a concern. It's a consumer issue; it's a public
health issue; it's a veterinary issue. Really, it's a moral and ethical

CDC has a rough idea of how many puppies are crossing United States
borders, but only anecdotally, Marano says.

"The fact is that we have a very big country and many, many ports of
entry to monitor," she explains. "We've been looking at this closely
over the last five to six years and ... the takeaway message is that,
anecdotally, we do believe there has been an increase in imported animals."

No definitive data is available on the number of dogs and puppies
imported to the United States each year since no single agency is
required to keep track of those numbers. The United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) monitors only commercial breeders who sell animals
through pet stores, brokers and research facilities. The CDC monitors
rabies vaccinations in imported pets, but its regulations neither
require a health screen for dogs prior to arrival to the United States,
nor an evaluation for specific zoonoses of concern. Enforcement of
regulations are "problematic, because there is no federal requirement
mechanism, or capacity for documenting compliance," according to a 2008
article in the journal Zoonosis and Public Health by Marano and fellow
CDC veterinarian G. Gale Galland, DVM.

Plus, CDC can't man all the nation's ports of entry, leaving Customs and
Border Protection, whose officers have no veterinary training, as the
first line of defense to ensure all imported animals meet federal agency

CDC has taken "snapshots" of data to gauge dog import trends and found
that 287,000 dogs were imported in 2006. About a quarter of them were
too young to have rabies vaccinations. Their importers were required to
sign agreements stating the dogs would be confined until the vaccine was
administered, but enforcement is passed on to local animal-control
agencies once the dogs are in the country. And critics contend most
imported dogs are sold as soon as the dogs are brought home from the
airport, not after the agreement is fulfilled.

More than 5,100 confine agreements were signed between January 2006 and
September 2007 at just 15 of the 20 quarantine stations monitored by the
CDC, but about 4,000 of those agreements were violated in 2006 alone,
with the puppies being sold before the confinement period ended. There's
no telling if any had been vaccinated at all.

"Based on import trends suggesting that the annual number of
unvaccinated puppies being imported into the United States increased
substantially from 2001 to 2006, imported dogs pose a risk for
introducing zoonotic pathogens such as rabies into the United States,"
Galland and Marano wrote.

At John F. Kennedy International Airport, reports of unvaccinated dog
imports doubled from 2003 to 2006. Reports of unvaccinated dogs imported
into California increased by more than 500 percent from 2001 to 2006,
the article adds.

But dogs aren't the only imports on the rise. According to another
article co-authored by Galland that appeared in a May 2009 edition of
Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, the volume
of live animal imports to the United States has roughly doubled since 1991.

"From 2003 through 2006, annual increases in wildlife trade ranged from
6 percent to 11 percent. From 2000 through 2004, approximately 588,000
animals were imported into the United States each day," the article
states, adding those are just the animals that border agents find.
"Interpol estimates that wildlife smuggling ranks third on the
contraband list of items of value, behind drugs and firearms."

Some blame falls on federal regulators, who lack the time and resources
to follow up on every animal import.

"In 2000, most imported dogs were single import," Galland wrote in the
2009 article. "In 2003, the number of imports of multiple puppies per
shipment began to increase. The number of puppies imported into
California through airports increased from 110 multi-dog imports in 2003
to 365 in 2004. Each shipment contained as many as 40 puppies. A similar
increase was seen nationally ... As the number of shipments containing
more than one dog increased, tracking puppies became increasingly

But the problem also can be attributed to market demand, uneducated
consumers and puppy millers turned irresponsible importers.

"It's getting tougher to raise dogs in the United States. The USDA is
requiring more of commercial breeders," Marano says, adding many former
puppy millers are believed to have turned to importing to increase profits.

In Pennsylvania — a state known for its concentration of puppy mills —
256 kennels were closed in 2009 compared to just 65 kennels closed in 2004.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) tracks anti-puppy
mill legislation and saw a huge jump after 2008, with 90 bills
introduced across 33 states — five of them adopted in 2009. "There's a
campaign, clearly well-organized, to bring these bills forward," says
Adrian Hochstedt, AVMA's assistant director of state legislative and
regulatory affairs.

Additionally, foreign countries make it easier to breed dogs because of
loose animal-health standards, contends California attorney John
Hoffman, who has crusaded against puppy importers on behalf of various
breed groups.

For instance, one French Bulldog group he provided services for claims
there are now more French Bulldogs imported into the United States than
are bred here, because artificial insemination and cesarean deliveries
can be performed cheaper by unlicensed veterinary workers in other

"The sale over the Internet of both commercially bred puppies and
imported puppies has become a big business — and probably considerably
outstrips sales of puppies through pet shops," Hoffman said during
testimony before Congress in 2006 on an importation law that never
passed. "USDA regulations prohibit carriers from accepting animals for
transport without a health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian
and from transporting puppies younger than 8 weeks. It appears that both
regulations are routinely flouted by commercial puppy exporters abroad.
That health certificates are being forged is evidenced by the large
incidence of illness and death among puppies within a day or two of
arrival in the United States."

Many of these imported dogs are irresponsibly bred with a host of
genetic problems and are shipped young — too young to vaccinate — to
meet market demand. Importers often lie about age and health issues on a
dog's records and get away with it, Hoffman claims.

Confinement agreements
"If the form said 8 weeks, nobody questioned it," Hoffman says, adding
that rabies requirements are treated with disdain by some importers.
"There's been no enforcement of (confinement agreements) and the
importers have been thumbing their noses at it for years."

But importers for profit aren't the only violators. One rescue
organization alone imported 295 dogs from the Middle East in 2006,
according to Galland and Marano's article, and even veterinarians can be
pulled into a laissez-faire attitude about pet importation.

Galland's 2009 article reveals a 2007 case of a puppy imported from
India by a Washington state veterinarian. The dog was given to another
veterinarian, bit veterinary clinic staff and another dog while showing
signs of rabies, but wasn't diagnosed with the disease until another
veterinarian brought it to Alaska. Eight people had to be treated for

Several rabies cases in imported dogs have been tracked in recent years,
as well as cases of other diseases long-eradicated in the United States,
like screwworm. Screwworms are monitored by the USDA and could cause up
to $750 million in livestock production losses, the article notes. New
World screwworms were eradicated from the United States in 1966, and Old
World screwworm had never been seen in this country until it was found
in a puppy imported from Singapore to Massachusetts in 2007.

"Veterinarians should be vigilant when examining new puppies" Galland
wrote. "Many imported dogs are never confined properly or inspected for
infectious diseases, and many diseases may not be detected readily in
imported dogs ... a veterinarian could be the one who prevents the next

A lot of imported puppies arrive at U.S. ports dehydrated, but not
really ill. It's a few days after entering the country that they become

"Rabies is of particular concern in imported dogs because of its long
incubation period," wrote Galland and Marano. "Because of this, dogs may
be admitted on the basis of apparent good health, but may be incubating
the virus and could develop disease after entry."

An importation clause in the recently passed Farm Bill could provide
some relief, as it prohibits the commercial importation of any dog
younger than 6 months of age, Marano says. But USDA must write the
regulations to put the Farm Bill into effect, and that has not even been
started, Hoffman says.

"Buyers and veterinarians report that imported puppies suffer from
higher than normal incidences of pneumonia, parvovirus, rabies, ringworm
and severe congenital defects," wrote Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who
supported passage of the Farm Bill, in a press release about the
legislation. "The CDC lacks the staff, law enforcement powers and
resources to ensure each shipment is safe."

CDC is reviewing its regulations — written in 1956 and last updated in
1983, when international travel was less frequent and dog imports
consisted of the occasional family pet — and has found that the general
public would like to see more stringent laws. But changes take time,
Marano says.

"There are only two ways to attack: regulations to dry up supply and
education to dry up demand," she explains.

"Veterinarians are really one of the first lines of defense, and they
need to be educated on the regulations of their state so they can
educate their clients about the risk involved in buying these puppies,"
adds Galland.

Monday, March 1, 2010

KY: HB 517 seeks to establish an Unconstitutional Forfeiture Bond Bill

Kentucky: HSUS Introduces Unconstitutional Forfeiture Bond Bill
Kentucky House Bill 517 seeks to give "ownership" of animals to third parties PRIOR to finding guilt of the accused. It also seeks to force those accused in crimes relating to animal cruelty to post a bond. It does not matter whether or not someone can afford to post this type of bond, the bottom line is that no one has the right to give "ownership" of YOUR PROPERTY to someone else!

What this bill dose NOT address is what happens to the animal if the original owner is found to be innocent? Do you think the "new owners" will REALLY give the animal BACK?

The very concept of a "forfeiture" or "seizure" bond greatly undermines the idea that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law; depriving someone (or attempting to deprive someone) of their personal property by their ability (or inability) to cough up huge sums of cash flat-out crushes the 14th Amendment.

Our judicial system is not perfect; however, we are afforded certain protections under the U.S. Constitution. More and more, the animal rights industry (namely the Humane Society of the United States) would have us to believe that animal owners are somehow different; that we are not entitled to those same protections against warrantless searches and seizures, the right to due process, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair and speedy trial, etc.

IA: HF 2280 seeks to provide regulations of commercial establishements for dogs and cats

Iowa Legislative Recap
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[Monday, March 01, 2010]
Recently, both houses of the Iowa General Assembly passed versions of House File 2280, which seeks to provide for regulation of commercial establishments that handle dogs and cats. The now–enrolled version of this bill provides the following:

Major Provisions:

•With only one small change regarding racing Greyhounds, the bill continues to use the definition of "commercial breeder" currently found in Iowa law. While arguably low, the threshold contained in the definition—a person must own or harbor four or more breeding males or females to be considered a commercial breeder—was not under consideration for change by this bill. If an individual was considered a commercial breeder or kennel before this bill passed – they will be considered one now. The exception to this is kennels that raise greyhounds for racing. Henceforth, they will be considered commercial kennels, regardless of whether they sell, lease exchange their dogs for a consideration or offer to do so. As always, we encourage all breeders to ensure that they know, understand and follow the laws of their jurisdiction.

•The bill does not change the current law that exempts noncommercial kennels (dogs for the purpose of hobby, hunting, training, show, field, obedience, and guard dog kennels) from having to adhere to the requirements that commercial establishments must adhere to.

•The bill will permit the Iowa Department of Agriculture to monitor a commercial establishment for the limited purpose of determining whether the permittee is providing the proper standard of care. Such inspections may be conducted only during normal working hours, and only if the Department has reasonable cause to suspect that the permittee is not providing for the required standard of care. Reasonable cause is to be proven only by a written complaint made by an identified person or a USDA report for federal licensees ordering the correction of a breach in standard of care.

•Pounds, animal shelters, research facilities, pet shops, boarding kennels, commercial kennels, dealers, commercial breeders, and public auctions are now required to maintain records. The Iowa Department of Agriculture is permitted to inspect those records.

•The bill empowers the Iowa Department of Agriculture to develop care and conditions standards for commercial establishments.

•A person operating a commercial establishment that violates a standard of care will be guilty of a simple misdemeanor and subject to a civil penalty of up to $500; and will be provided a period of up to 15 days to come correct care and conditions violations. A person operating a commercial establishment without being licensed will be guilty of a simple misdemeanor and subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.

•The fee to license a commercial kennel is $175.

If you live in Iowa and have concerns about HF 2280, please contact Governor Chet Culver and express your concerns. The Governor has three days from the day he receives the bill from the General Assembly to veto the bill.
Governor Chet Culver
State Capitol
1007 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-5211

Is Mandatory spay-neuter what we really want?

Be cautious about mandatory pet spay-neuter legislation

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Periodically, a number of facts seem to fall into place, revealing a truth that might not have been apparent previously.

Something like this happened to me this week. I had been wondering how it is possible for Americans to be so enchanted with dogs as pets, and at the same time, to hold beliefs that, if put into action, would actually eliminate the species in a relatively short time. Let me review the situation, and let's see if you agree with my conclusions.

Roughly 37 percent of American homes include at least one pet dog. Most people at least pay lip service to an appreciation of how much dogs add to our lives and to our culture. While dogs no longer have the job of warning cave dwellers of approaching danger, the jobs they do perform for us could be even more valuable.

Some very special dogs and their handlers search destroyed buildings seeking for survivors, and for the bodies of those who did not survive. Perhaps you noticed the news clips of search and rescue dogs working in the jumble of what used to be homes and businesses in Haiti?

If you ever fly, them perhaps you have seen bomb or drug detection dogs making us safer at airports? Military dogs are described by their handlers as their most valuable and reliable protection against roadside bombs.

The Dover Public Library is just one of many where dogs patiently help children learn to read. Dogs can also predict epileptic seizures, and locate and predict cancers in humans.

Certainly the tasks performed by dogs no longer fit their job description when they lived with prehistoric people, but an argument could easily be made that their modern jobs are even more important.

Studies show that dogs help us maintain good health. They encourage exercise and social contacts. I've been told that walking with a dog is the best way to meet new friends. I think it is safe to say that dogs have earned their place in our hearts and in our society. And yet ...

And yet laws requiring the mandatory spay and neuter of all dogs are spreading throughout the country. I wonder if people have given much thought to the only possible result if the MSN laws become universal? Logically, if all dogs are surgically neutered, then in about 10 years there will be no dogs.

If all breeding is stopped — where will you find the replacement for the dogs you love now? If you should want to add a purpose-bred dog to your family — will you still be able to in another 10 or so years?

James Serpell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has said: "The thing about mandatory spay-neuter is that those who are most willing to have their dogs spayed or neutered tend to be responsible people. And often, their dogs also happen to be nice animals in temperament. So what you're doing essentially is taking those dogs out of the breeding population. What will become of dog ownership if only the ill-tempered puppies from disreputable breeding programs are available?"

Dog and cat owners have certainly grasped the idea that responsible pet ownership entails being responsible for the reproductive capacity of their pets. Somehow, the idea is pushed that vast numbers of dogs are roaming around the country, reproducing at any and every opportunity. In actual fact, the reverse is true. Nationally, over 87 percent of dogs have already been surgically neutered.

Our figures here in the northeast are even more impressive. Last August, I asked three friends to help me perform a survey of veterinary hospitals throughout New Hampshire. I was surprised to learn that 98 percent of owned cats and 95 percent of dogs had been surgically neutered. Yes, we have a population of feral cats. But our pet owners have taken their responsibility to heart, as do owners throughout the north-east.

Here is one example of the adage "no good deed goes unpunished." Since this area of the country has a dearth of available dogs, and especially shelter dogs — we have become the repository of dogs, many with physical or behavioral problems that make them difficult for novice dog owners to deal with, from third-world countries and from parts of our South — where laws and programs such as we have are not established.

So — should we welcome these imported dogs, even if in so doing we put some of our own dogs at risk? Or should we help other parts of our country to grasp the lessons we have learned?

Being a responsible dog owner does not mean that all of our dogs should be neutered. What it does mean is that instead of importing potentially problematic dogs here, those groups who are profiting from these imports should focus their attention on changing attitudes in the areas these dogs come from.

So — do you really want ALL dogs to be neutered?

Should You Surgically Debark Your Dog?

In this country it seems we are always faced with how to regulate morality. I put debarking in this class. Although the AR groups claim it is "inhumane", I can not buy that argument. I have witnessed this surgical procedure done and feel that if this surgery is deemed "inhumane"- then there are far more surgeries and procedures that we do to ourselves, our children, and yes- even our pets- that we should also label "inhumane". No, I think that the question of debarking is a moral question- not a "humane" question.

This article addresses the pros and cons of surgical debarking and also addresses the arguments people have that are for or against the procedure. This author concludes it should be a last resort, but still be allowed. I think it should be the decision of the owner. Personally, I think issue of "humanity" involve being a good neighbor. There is a lot of talk about dogs needing to use their bark to warn people of impending danger- but what about the dog who "crys wolf" (you do know that story don't you?)- You know, the dog that barks incessantly at the squirrels at the neighbors bird feeder, the dog barks so much that no one would believes them anyway, even if there was an intruder entering the neighbors house instead of just another squirrel. If a person wants to surgically debark their dog so that they can co-exist peacefully in a residential neighborhood, and still keep the dog they love, well I think that should be their own decision.

Should You Surgically Debark Your Dog?
Linda Cole
February 21, 2010

Debarking, or bark softening, saves lives and helps neighbor relations

By Charlotte Clem McGowan, a dog show judge for the American Kennel Club and author of "The Shetland Sheepdog in America." She has been a hobby dog breeder for more than 40 years.

I have debarked dogs for decades. Debarking has made it possible to keep my dogs in a residential neighborhood and be a good neighbor. A skilled surgeon can debark a dog in a very simple procedure using an adenoid punch to make a tiny hole in each vocal chord. This method is virtually bloodless. The dog recovers quickly and is not stressed by the surgery. The dog will not be silent, but his bark will be reduced in pitch and volume.

Breeds like shelties were used to keep livestock out of gardens, to keep birds of prey from taking lambs and as guards and alarms. They are very, very talkative. Shelties bark for all kinds of reasons, including joy. They also bark with a generally high-pitched, piercing bark that can be extremely annoying. Debarking takes them from annoying to manageable. Since shelties, by nature, will bark at birds and squirrels and while playing and having fun, keeping shelties in any number larger than one is difficult.

Veterinarians provide a valuable service with debarking. A dog that can bark at squirrels and while playing without being constantly disciplined is a happy dog. The urge to bark does not diminish, but the noise level does. The chief reason shelties are dumped in shelters is barking. Sheltie rescuers can easily re-home these dogs when they are debarked. So debarking saves lives.

While some people believe you can train any dog not to bark, I know from 40 years of extensive experience with shelties that this is not true. Some dogs just bark to bark.

More information at http://www.naiaonline.org/body/articles/archives/debark_qna.htm