In these days of government over-regulation it still might surprise you to learn that a government agency could determine the next puppy you get. But if the Obama Administration and Tom Vilsack at USDA have their way, that's exactly what will happen.
The USDA's APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) agency announced a proposed rule in May that would devastate small-scale purebred dog breeders who raise dogs in their homes. This includes most breeders of show dogs, people who breed K9 search and rescue dogs, police dogs, and protection dogs, many hunting dog breeders, and people who breed dogs for the disabled, as well as people who produce good pet dogs.
The rule proposed by APHIS would result in a serious change in direction to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) which they administer. The Animal Welfare Act was originally passed in the 1960s to protect laboratory animals and it was later altered to allow USDA to oversee the care of breeding animals in large commercial facilities. For the past 15 years the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights groups have been seeking to change the Animal Welfare Act so that it covers more than animals raised by wholesalers as it does currently. They have been trying to stretch the act to cover retailers, which would include breeders who raise a litter at home and sell directly to a buyer.
The Doris Day Animal League, which has since been subsumed by HSUS, sued USDA (DDAL vs Ann Veneman (Secretary of Agriculture) in 1997 in order to try to force USDA to apply wholesale breeding regulations to retailers, i.e., to treat home breeders the same way USDA treated large commercial breeders. DDAL initially won in court but the case was reversed on appeal by the Washington DC U.S. District Court of Appeals. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-dc-circuit/1362167.html One of the things that's so interesting about this case is that USDA opposed the animal rights position at this time. They claimed that the Animal Welfare Act should not be applied to retail breeders, who are typically small-scale breeders. According to USDA at this time, it would be a waste of the agency's inspectors and other resources to try to oversee these entities.
But things change and with the Obama victory in 2008, regulations were seen as the way to accomplish many things that could not be accomplished legislatively. Today USDA is supporting the animal rights position and trying to force small-scale breeders, as retailers, to live under commercial breeding or wholesaler regulations.
HSUS, which is NOT the same as your local humane society or animal shelter, has been trying each year to pass repressive legislation against pet breeders. So far they have failed, despite the fact that they have lured many first term congressmen to support the PUPS bill (Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety, Senate Bill 707 (S.707) and House Bill 835 (H.R. 835) which would apply onerous restrictions to small-scale dog and cat breeders. Even some Republicans who should know better are supporting this bill which would do many of the same things that the proposed APHIS rule would do. It would label many small-scale breeders as commercial breeders and they would be forced to become USDA-licensed and inspected.
Just to make sure you get the picture, we are talking about your Aunt Susie who has a few Yorkies and raises some puppies. She would have to get a USDA license and have inspectors come to her home. But, it's not that simple. In order to become USDA-licensed, she would have to make her facilities (her home) USDA-compliant. That means having non-permeable surfaces that can be cleaned at temps of 180 degrees, proper ventilation in the areas where the dogs are kept, drainage for that cleaning water, insurance as a commercial business, possible approval by her homeowner's association, zoning approval, and a host of other requirements under AWA rules. She would go from being a hobbyist to a small business, whether she liked it or not. It's kind of hard to do these things if you're a small breeder living in the suburbs. And that's where many of our best home-raised puppies come from. When you want a good, home-raised puppy, you go to someone like Aunt Susie. But Tom Vilsack and the USDA would like to have small breeders put their dogs in kennels so they can make everyone be USDA/AWA compliant. Or, perhaps it's safer to say that USDA would like all of us small breeders to just disappear.
Are you wondering why the Humane Society of the United States would support the PUPS bill or the proposed APHIS rule when they would send our home-raised dogs out to the kennels? Aren't they the folks who are supposed to care so much for animals? Despite the ubiquitous ads with sad-faced kittens and puppies, HSUS does not support local shelters. The money they raise goes for lobbying on animal rights issues; lawsuits against agricultural interests; and their own salaries and pensions. Less than 1 percent of the money they raise goes to the animals. It would suit HSUS just fine to get rid of small hobby breeders who have been resisting them. The Humane Society of the United States opposes all animal breeding. It is easier for them to control breeders if they have breeders thoroughly regulated under the APHIS proposed rule and/or PUPS. They have won over USDA to a great extent now, at least under Tom Vilsack. HSUS, through it's lobbying arm the Humane Society Legislative Fund, is a contributor to the campaign of Vilsack's wife, Christie Vilsack, running for Congress in Iowa. And HSLF has contributed more than $100,000 to oppose Christie Vilsack's opponent, none other than Rep. Steve King, who has been a vocal opponent of HSUS-sponsored bills in Congress. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2941250/posts Earlier this fall, eight Iowa TV stations refused to air Humane Society Legislative Fund ads against King because of their sensationalism and dishonesty. The ads had to be re-worked before stations would accept them. When's the last time you heard of TV stations refusing ads? Well, PETA comes to mind.
The upshot is, the Humane Society of the United States is no friend to animals, whether they are pets or in agriculture. Over-regulation and animal rights-supported bills are hurting all of us, even the people who raise pets. Don't be fooled when you hear that something is “good for the animals.” If it comes from HSUS or if it smacks of over-regulation, just say no.