Reports from two animal-related trade organizations provide insight into the current status and goals of animal rights organizations intent on eliminating the use of animals by humans, without regard to how humanely those animals are treated.

Based on these revealing comments from activists it remains vitally important that the public is exposed to the differences between animal rights activists and animal-related industries whose goals are to ensure that animals under the care of humans are treated humanely.

Members of the National Association for Biomedical Research and the Animal Agricultural Alliance attended the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference held on August 3-6 in Alexandria Virginia.

As advertised on the website

The Animal Rights National Conferences have been organized since 1981 by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) with some breaks between 1987 and 2000, then every year since 2000. They are typically co-sponsored by more than a dozen national organizations.

Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) is a national non-profit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism. We believe in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.

Speakers at the conference talked about the “Power of confrontation in advancing animal rights,” and alleged abuses of animals used for all human purposes including: animals in Entertainment (circuses, rodeos, zoos, aquariums), animals in science (education, product testing, drug research),animals in Fashion, Companion animals, food Animals, and animals in the wild.

Kay Johnson Smith, Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO described this year’s conference:

The speakers at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference made their goals clear – ending all forms of animal agriculture, regardless of how well animals are cared for . . . Their persistent focus on pressure campaigns targeting restaurant, retail and foodservice brands is of great concern to the Alliance and our members. We encourage anyone with a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, to read this year’s report and hear how determined these groups are to eliminate food choices and make our society vegan.

The alliance reported that speaker encouraged attendees to protest and conduct rescues from farms without permission, and that “[b]reaking the law can often be a good thing to do.”

The Alliance also reported that one speaker, David Coman-Hidy with the Humane League encouraged attendees to damage the reputation of food companies.

Consistent with previous years, another key message from conference speakers was for attendees to focus efforts on eliminating farms of all types and sizes, not only the large-scale, modern operations (declared to be “factory farms”) that have historically been targeted.

National Association for Biomedical Research reported about the following speakers and their comments at the conference, intent on eliminating the use of animals in research:

  • Justin Goodman, lobbyist for the White Coat Waste project (WCW), an animal rights group that promotes itself as a fiscally conservative consumer watchdog group, spoke about WCW’s “defund” campaign to “take money away so [research institutions] can’t buy the animals to do the testing.” He continued to focus on making sure universities and other institutions that conduct animal research “don’t get their money.” 

  • Michael Budkie explained [Stop Animal Exploitation Now] SAEN seeks to end animal research by “hanging them with their own paperwork.” We understand this to mean the group attacks the reputations of research institutions and individual scientists by deliberately misusing or mischaracterizing written statements provided by the institutions to government agencies like the NIH and the USDA.

  • Speaking again on behalf of SAEN, Michael Budkie explained his approach to stopping animal research by targeting researchers: “We like to paint them as idiots. They are criminals. SAEN’s job is to let people know animal research is meritless. We will ruin their reputation and credibility. We are coming after them…It becomes news and we’re changing public opinion of what labs do.”

  • A celebrated figure in the animal rights world, Richard Couto conducts undercover investigations of factory farms and food enterprises that use animals. He gains access by working as an employee while filming and documenting abuse for later use in criminal prosecutions of his erstwhile employers. Joined by other so-called “undercover investigators,” they encouraged attendees to join their ranks by stating, “anybody in this room has what it takes to be an undercover investigator.”

Clearly, the goals of animal rights organizations, on display at this conference, should concern those who are involved in animal-related industries where animals are owned and cared for by humans.

I recently reconnected with colleagues at the annual meeting of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture in Columbus, Ohio on April 6, 2017 where a special session was held, titled “Animal Care Standards: How Laws, Commitments, & Public Perception Have Changed the Landscape.”

A special shout out to the attending former and current State Veterinarians, including Dr. Glauer-State Veterinarian Ohio (ret.), and Dr. Tony Forshey-State Veterinarian Ohio.  State Veterinarians are a state animal health officials charged with protecting the health and well-being of animals in their state.  I served as the New Jersey State Veterinarian for nearly a decade.

Also attending were presenters, including: (1) Dr. Janet Helms, National Director of American Humane; (2) Chelsea Good, J.D., VP government and industry affairs, Livestock Marketing Association; (3) Candace Croney, Ph.D., Director, Center for Animal Welfare Science, Associate Professor, animal Behavior and Wellbeing, Purdue University; (4) Judge Linda Chezem, Indiana Court of Appeals (ret.) and others representing retail, private and public organizations.

One topic discussed was how governmental and private animal care standards of care benefit animals and consumers.  There is some concern that consumers, unfamiliar with the different certifying standards available, may be confused by labeling at the point of sale.  This is compounded by the fact that most consumers are unfamiliar with animal agriculture―fewer than 2% of the US population is directly involved with animal agriculture facilities that provide food and fiber to the rest of the US population and much of the rest of the world.

One of the longest standing third-party certification program, American Humane Certified™, was established by American Humane.  This nonprofit was “f]ounded in 1877 . . . [and] is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals.”

As described on its website “The American Humane Certified™ program is a voluntary third party animal welfare audit program that is rapidly setting the standards for the way that food animals are raised in the U.S.

The American Humane Certified™ Animal Welfare Standards are species-specific and grounded on solid scientific research. The standards were created with input from renowned animal science experts and veterinarians and are frequently reviewed by our Scientific Advisory Committee to reflect current research, technological advances, best practices, and humane handling methods. Our Animal Welfare Standards were built upon the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, which require that an animal be healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express normal behavior, and free from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. American Humane Certified producers are audited for their compliance to the standards.”

There are numerous private and publicly available standards of care for livestock and poultry, but American Humane’s emphasis on obtainable, scientifically-sound practices and its commitment to partnering with livestock producers to provide consumers with safe, healthy, and humanely raised animals sets it apart from many others.

The challenge for livestock producers is to make sure that consumers can rely on labeling or standard certifications to insure that the animals raised are treated humanely and that the food produced is healthy and safe.

I had the opportunity to present an “Animal Law Update” on October 21, 2016 at the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research’s 23rd Annual IACUC Conference – the region’s premier training conference for professionals in laboratory animal research field.  Among this year’s 110 participants were key institution decision makers, Animal Care and Use Committee members, lab animal veterinarians, animal welfare compliance specialists and other lab animal research team members from the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, academic research institutions, and government officials from USDA and NIH.

 

During my presentation I discussed the legal issues affecting animal-related industries, including the biomedical research community and analyzed activist activities that can help the research community predict, prepare for, and defend against such challenges.   I was also re-elected to the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research during the annual meeting, held at the beginning of this conference.

 

Dr. William Stokes, Assistant Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care provided an informative USDA Regulatory Update and Insights.  Dr. Stokes shared USDA Animal Care’s “5-year Strategic Plan” including the mission and vision of the agency, also available on its website:

New to the agency is the introduction of the term “critical noncompliant items” (“NCI’s) which includes all “direct noncompliant items” and certain “indirect noncompliant items.”  Dr. Stokes explained that this term was not really new, and had been used in practical effect, by the agency for a long time.

Dr. Stokes also provided important data from USDA’s inspections authorized by the Animal Welfare Act including:

  • There were over 10,000 unannounced inspections in FY16 of research facilities, breeders, dealers, exhibitors, transporters and intermediate handlers;
  • There were about 1350 inspections of the 1050 registered research facilities;
  • 76% of these inspections had no NCI’s;
  • Of the 561 NCI’s in research facilities, 38% of those were related to activities and conduct of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, and specifically related to the semi-annual reports that are required by the AWA.

Dr. Stokes  informed the attendees about the updated public search engine that serves as the database for USDA licensees and related inspection reports, known as the Animal Care Information System (ACIS3).  USDA  sent a bulletin on  09/22/2016 to stakeholders titled “New Terms Will Appear on USDA Inspection Reports.” As Dr. Stokes explained, there are two new terms that will appear on reports and in search results:

  • Focused inspections
  • Critical noncompliant items.

Dr. Stokes ended his presentation reminding all attendees that the goal of USDA and its licensees is to “optimize welfare.”

 

 

The Animal Welfare Act was amended by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide “the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to determine that animal dealers and exhibitors are not required to obtain a license under the Act  . . . if the size of the business conducting AWA-related activities is determined to be de minimis by the Secretary.”

USDA has proposed regulations that define de minimis and “has determined that de minimis businesses  . . .  are capable of providing adequate care and treatment of the animals involved in regulated business activities.”

USDA proposes that :

“[d]ealers and exhibitors operating at or below the thresholds determined for their particular AWA-related business activity would be exempted from Federal licensing requirements established under the Act and regulations. Our proposed actions would amend the regulations to be consistent with the Act while continuing to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals covered under the AWA.”

USDA performed a “Regulatory Impact & Analysis Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” regarding its proposed regulations, finding that:

“this proposed rule would relieve regulatory responsibilities for some currently licensed entities and reduce the cost of business for those entities [and] [t]hose currently licensed exhibitors and dealers . . . would no longer be subject to licensing, animal identification, and recordkeeping requirements.”

USDA’s summarized the economic impact of its rule:

“The cost of a license for the smallest entities is between $40 and $85 annually. Identification tags for dogs and cats cost from $1.12 to $2.50 each. Other covered animals can be identified by a label attached to the primary enclosure containing a description of the animals in the enclosure at negligible cost.  We estimate that the average currently licensed entity potentially affected by this proposal spends about 10 hours annually to comply with the licensing paperwork and recordkeeping requirements.  All of the currently licensed entities that would be considered de minimis under this proposal would benefit from reduced costs for licensing, identification and recordkeeping. “

“We estimate that there may be as many as 212 currently licensed exhibitors who would no longer need to be licensed under the proposed rule. There are 133 currently licensed exhibitors with 4 or fewer animals that would therefore be considered de minimis under this proposal.  There are also 79 currently licensed exhibitors with 5 to 8 animals.  At least some of the licensees in this latter group exhibit any or all of their animals for no more than 30 days per calendar year, and would therefore be considered de minimis as seasonal exhibitors under this proposal.  We estimate that the cost savings for all these entities could total about $41,400 annually.”

Comments to USDA’s regulation will be accepted until November 2, 2016.

Anyone who works with livestock knows how difficult it can be to manage manure properly  from an economic, environmental and animal health standpoint (not necessarily in that order).

28,000 hogs (and their manure) were affected during Hurricane Floyd.

As reported by the NY Times:

“In the hurricane, feces and urine soaked the terrain and flowed into rivers from the overburdened waste pits the industry calls lagoons.  The storm killed more than two million turkeys, chickens and livestock in the region, and waste from the farms is expected to keep leaching into the water supply until next spring.”

That is why the announcement by BHSL about their ability “to find an economic alternative to land spreading for poultry manure produced in broiler rearing by developing the technology to use the manure as a fuel for energy generation on the farm” is so revolutionary.”

“BHSL championed the development of the new rules for on-farm combustion of poultry manure at European Commission level, in close collaboration with the UK and Irish governments, on behalf of the European poultry industry.  The resulting rules reclassified poultry manure as a valuable Animal By-Product for on-farm combustion, which meets emissions animal health and human health standards.

BHSL’s bio-feedstock energy systems enable chicken producers to safely, securely and consistently produce fuel alongside food.”

The ability of livestock producers to contain and utilize manure productively and safely is of paramount importance for animal health and environmental protection.

Other technologies have been utilized to manage manure.  For example, “[a]nimal manures from intensive livestock operations can be pelleted to improve handlings and recyclings of embodied nutrients.”

Other technologies have been utilized to manage manure.  For example, “[a]nimal manures from intensive livestock operations can be pelleted to improve handlings and recyclings of embodied nutrients.” Atsushi Hayakawa, et. al, N2O and NO emissions from an Andisol field as influenced by pelleted poultry manure, 2008.12.011.  The use of pelleted manure may effect nitrogen levels in the soil, as this report and others have identified.

Concerns about manure are not limited to poultry.  EPA regulates animal feeding operations, defined as “agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations,” because of concerns that “[m]anure and wastewater from AFOs have the potential to contribute to pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, hormones, and antibiotics to the environment.”  See EPA’s website.

According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC):

“[t]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008 finalized its regulations under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The CAFO rule is the most comprehensive federal water-quality regulation ever put on pork producers.”

Despite the economic impact this regulation has had on livestock producers, industry associations like the NPPC are committed to continuing “to work with EPA and others to support fair, sound, and practical implementation of the final CAFO rule, including support for the development and use of effective Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) to guide the land application of manure.”

One thing is certain, manure management will also be an integral part of animal agriculture.

Therefore, continued development of advanced scientific technologies to manage manure will help ensure that people and animals are healthy.

 

USDA, authorized and tasked with enforcing the humane treatment of horses pursuant to the Horse Protection Act, has published amendments to its regulations pursuant to the Act.

According to a 2010 Audit Report by USDA’s Office of Inspector General:

“APHIS’ program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused. At present, horse industry organizations hire their own inspectors (known as designated qualified persons (DQP)) to inspect horses at the shows they sponsor. However, we found that DQPs do not always inspect horses to effectively enforce the law and regulations, and in some cases where they do find violations, they deliberately issue tickets to friends or family members of responsible individuals so that the responsible person could avoid receiving a penalty for violating the Horse Protection.”

APHIS agreed with the findings of this report and proposed regulations that would dramatically amend its regulations—not only removing the authority of horse industry organizations to train designated qualified persons, and reassigning that responsibility to APHIS—but also amends the regulations “to prohibit use of pads, substances, and action devices on horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.” See 81 FR 49112, July 26, 2916.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), who will be most affected by the proposed regulations have expressed concerns about the proposed rule, warning that:

“[t]he proposed rule by the United States Department of Agriculture that would eliminate the use of any pad, action device or hoof band as well as eliminate all self-regulation will have devastating impacts. The demands on horse show management will be costly and create an unnecessary hassle and the demands on exhibitors to enter horses, regardless of the division will be prohibitive as well. Horse shows in many cases will cease to exist.

The proposed rule is clearly an overreach, typical of today’s Washington, and an overt effort to bypass Congress. In order to appease radical animal rights organizations, USDA is refusing to objectively look at the facts and instead implementing rules that are not based in science or reality. Veterinary experts at Auburn University and the University of Tennessee have proven that action devices and pads do not harm horses.”

Instead “TWHBEA is calling on USDA to assemble a group of Equine Specialists to determine objective tests and end more than forty years of conflict,” adding that:

“TWHBEA is currently funding veterinary research in order to obtain objective, scientific tests for our show horses. Changing inspectors and eliminating our show horse will do nothing to help the welfare of our horse and will crush hundreds of civic clubs across the country who depend on our shows for fundraising.”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, whose mission is “to improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry,” is in favor of the proposed regulations.

 

“The AAEP is extremely pleased with the USDA’s work in proposing regulation changes to end the inhumane act of soring, which is one of the most significant welfare issues affecting any equine breed or discipline in the United States.

As doctors of veterinary medicine, we have previously recommended the use of only veterinarians to inspect horses at shows for evidence of soring, as well as a ban on action devices and performance packages. Both of these items are included in the USDA’s proposed rule changes.

Soring is an intentional, cruel act which must end. The AAEP will continue to support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and work to eliminate this practice.”

In USDA’s “Regulatory Impact Analysis & Analysis in support of Certification that the Rule will not have a Significant Economic Impact on a Substantial Number of Small Entities” the agency concluded that the proposed  “rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

However, the agency also invited comments that refute that conclusion, which provides the TWHBEA or others negatively affected by this proposed regulation the opportunity to inform USDA about potential unintended consequences of its rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conversation logo

Richard L. Cupp, Pepperdine University, writes for The Conversation:

My reaction to the killing of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo when a child went into the gorilla’s enclosure is probably typical: I am sickened and I am angry. This must not happen again.

One step that some advocates will surely press for in light of Harambe’s killing is to change our legal system to designate gorillas and other great apes such as chimpanzees as legal persons.

Expanding legal personhood to include intelligent nonhuman animals would give them legal rights, and would create standing for a human guardian to initiate legal actions on their behalf – much like children’s rights are protected in courts by guardians.

At first blush this may sound progressive and enlightened, but in reality the concept is fundamentally flawed and dangerous for society.

Turning to our legal system in responding to Harambe’s tragedy is the right approach, but our legal focus should be on ensuring effective human responsibility for the proper treatment of gorillas and other nonhuman animals rather than on pretending that gorillas are people.

Protections for animals

At surface, legal personhood for intelligent nonhuman animals has an edgy appeal and is often compared by its advocates to the noble battles to attain civil rights for marginalized humans.

Illustrating growing popular interest in the concept, a documentary about the legal battle for nonhuman animal personhood entitled Unlocking the Cage made its debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival. It is now opening in some theaters, and will be aired on HBO, BBC, and other television outlets later this year. The documentary highlights lawsuits filed in New York seeking to have intelligent chimpanzees treated as legal persons so that the chimpanzees would be removed from confined environments and placed in less restrictive, more natural environments.

These lawsuits do not seek to set the captive chimpanzees loose on the streets, but rather seek to have them moved to chimpanzee sanctuaries. Their arguments are based primarily on chimpanzees’ impressive cognitive abilities, asserting that as “self-aware, autonomous beings” they are “entitled to such basic legal rights as bodily liberty and integrity.” Significantly, the organization behind the lawsuits has indicated that it also plans to pursue legal personhood for other great apes (which include gorillas), as well as elephants and dolphins.

Would Harambe’s tragic killing have been avoided if our legal system considered a gorilla to be a legal person? Probably. A zoo likely would not be permitted to confine a legal person for viewing by the public. But although the nonhuman animal personhood approach has dramatic flair, it is not needed to change our laws regarding great apes and zoos.

Whether animals with the intelligence of great apes should be kept in any zoos, even high-quality zoos, is an increasingly serious question appropriate for thoughtful deliberation. And if the argument that they should not carries the day, this can be readily accomplished by changing the laws within our existing legal framework.

In other words, we do not need to pretend that great apes are people to protect them. Engaging in this pretension would be, in my view, both illogical and dangerous.

Society is rapidly evolving to demand greater protections for nonhuman animals, and appropriately so. Maintaining the status quo regarding levels of protection is in many instances neither feasible nor desirable.

But we are also increasingly facing a question with weighty societal implications. Will we channel this evolution through the animal welfare paradigm of enhanced human responsibility toward nonhuman animals? Or will we channel it through the radical paradigm of legal personhood and human-like rights for nonhuman animals?

In our society, legal personhood is anchored in the human community’s expectations of reciprocity from moral agents. We recognize that humans have rights, but we also generally expect them to accept responsibilities that come with belonging to or interacting with our society. Extending personhood beyond humans and their proxies would be inconsistent with our society’s core foundational principles.

When an adult chimpanzee at the Los Angeles zoo mauled a baby chimpanzee to death in front of zoo visitors in 2012, of course officials did not consider putting the chimpanzee on trial for murder. Although chimpanzees are highly intelligent as compared to most nonhuman animals, none of them are capable enough to be held morally responsible under our society’s laws. We should not dilute the protections and responsibilities connected to personhood by extending it to nonhumans incapable of the level of accountability we generally impose on humans.

Cognitive test?

Corporate personhood – the granting of legal standing and some legal rights to corporations – does not negate humanity’s centrality to personhood, because corporate personhood was created merely as a proxy for the rights and responsibilities of the humans who own the corporation. Regardless of whether corporate personhood is good or bad or whether it has been extended too far in recent Supreme Court cases, it is undeniably intended as a tool for representing human interests.

Further, analyzing courts’ and advocates’ rationales for assigning legal personhood and rights to humans who lack significant moral agency, such as young children and humans with significant cognitive impairments, demonstrates that their belonging in the human community, rather than an assessment of their cognitive abilities, is the anchor of their rights and legal personhood. I have published separate law review articles addressing in much more detail why the legal personhood of young children and the legal personhood of humans with significant cognitive impairments do not support legal personhood for intelligent nonhuman animals.

Humans are the only beings that we know of where the norm is capacity to shoulder the mutual obligations that are at a foundational level related to legal rights in our society. Among other beings of which we are aware, not only do no other types of animals meet this norm, no individual members of any other types of animals meet this norm.

The most vulnerable humans, those with significant cognitive limitations, would face the greatest risks in a shift to considering individual cognitive capacities as a basis for legal personhood. Although the legal personhood paradigm we assign to them would not immediately collapse, over time thinking of personhood in terms of individual abilities could erode their protections.

Nonhuman animal legal personhood presents other intractable problems, such as articulating a workable approach to determining how far down the intelligence chain personhood should extend.

Every species of mammals and many other nonhuman animals demonstrate some level of autonomy, indeed probably more autonomy than some humans with particularly severe cognitive limitations, such as, for example, humans in a persistent vegetative state. To ensure “equality,” should all of these animals be designated as legal persons?

More legal cases to come

Fortunately, New York’s courts have unanimously rejected nonhuman animal legal personhood thus far. By my count at least 23 New York judges have participated in ruling against the cases at various stages of the litigation. In the most prominent appellate opinion to date the court dismissed one of the lawsuits by focusing on chimpanzees’ incapacity to bear the societal responsibilities that are at a foundational level associated with rights.

But we are just at the beginning of what will be a long-term struggle. Many more lawsuits will likely be filed over the years in many jurisdictions. The ultimate outcome is far from clear, and the stakes are high.

Concluding that intelligent nonhuman animals such as Harambe should not be legal persons does not excuse us from doing more to protect them. Harambe’s outrageous death provides a powerful illustration. The facts surrounding his death must be extensively investigated to determine whether the zoo, the child’s parents, or any other humans or human proxies should be held legally accountable.

Regardless of whether the zoo’s employees made the right decision in shooting Harambe, wrong decisions must have been made earlier that allowed this tragedy to take place.

If no laws or regulations were violated, the laws and regulations almost certainly need to be changed to ensure that this does not happen again. But our focus needs to be on demanding appropriate responsibility from morally accountable humans and human institutions, rather than on the dangerous pretense of nonhuman animal personhood.


Richard L. Cupp, John W. Wade Professor of Law, Pepperdine University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation

New Jersey legislators are considering a bill that would require increased regulation over animal shelters and rescues in New Jersey, and anyone else importing animals into the state for sale or adoption. The bill, S2625, was passed by the Senate Economic Growth Committee on August 10 and now proceeds to the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

As reported, this bill requires the registration and reporting of certain information by animal importers.  The bill defines an “animal importer” as a person who brings a cat or dog into the State from another state or sovereign entity for the purpose of offering the cat or dog for sale, adoption, or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service, or other consideration is considered an animal importer under the bill, including animal rescues, adoption, or humane relocation, or delivery organizations.

The bill requires an animal importer to register with the Department of Health (department) and report certain business information to the department, including the number of cats and dogs brought into the State by the animal importer in the preceding calendar year and the state or country of origin of a cat or dog brought into the state by the animal importer.  The department may inspect any animal importer’s records or place of business, or the condition or health of any cat or dog in the animal importer’s possession, upon request, provided the department does not enter the animal importer’s residence without authorization.

The bill defines an “animal importer” as

a person who brings any cat or dog into the State from any other state or sovereign entity for the purpose of offering the cat or dog for sale, adoption, or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service, or other consideration. “Animal importer” includes any commercial or nonprofit animal rescue, adoption, or humane relocation or delivery organization that is not otherwise required to be licensed by the Department of Health.

The bill also requires anyone intending to offer animals for adoption or sale to notify a municipality of plans to offer for sale, adoption, or transfer cats or dogs at a location that is open to the public or at an outdoor location, including a parking lot or shopping center.  These parking lot adoption events are of great concern because truck loads of dogs and sometimes other animals, often infected with contagious diseases or congenital or behavioral disorders are transported from random out of state sources to owners with no idea about the issues they are about to adopt along with their new pet, and with no warranty or return policy they can rely upon.

The bill does not just effect animal rescue groups.  It would also require an animal grooming facility or animal training facility to obtain a municipal license, based on rules and regulations to be promulgated by the state Department of Health (DOH).

Increased regulation over pets being sold through rescue and shelter entities is desperately needed to protect animal and human health.  This bill represents another important step to achieve those goals.

While rules governing animal grooming or training facilities may be difficult to draft, this approach to regulating these industries is much more desirable and achievable than other efforts previously advanced.  Existing DOH sanitation and disease control regulations can be modified and applied to grooming and training facilities.

SOURCE: New York Pet Welfare Association

January 22, 2015 12:47 ET

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Jan 22, 2015) – A group of pet store owners from New York City and other jurisdictions, U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed dog breeders and brokers, veterinarians and nonprofit associations have united to form the New York Pet Welfare Association (NYPWA). The NYPWA was formed to educate the public and policy makers about the responsible pet industry, educate pet industry professionals and advocate for responsible public policy that promotes healthy puppies and other pets.

“We are dedicated to providing reasoned, medically sound information about best practices for the welfare of pets in New York,” said NYPWA President Cynthia Daluise.

Pointing to a recently enacted New York City law mandating the spaying of all puppies and kittens by eight weeks of age, Daluise noted, “Too often, the loudest voices drown out the voices of reason.”

She explained that the new law mandates a surgical procedure, replacing the professional judgment of a veterinarian on a case-by-case basis.

“Despite their best intentions,” she said, “the city, in fact, is promoting animal cruelty.”

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Nancy Halpern, an attorney at the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP, explained that under the laws governing the practice of veterinary medicine in New York “it is incumbent upon a veterinarian to determine whether an animal can withstand the rigors of anesthesia and the trauma of surgery. If, in a vet’s professional judgment, surgery will jeopardize the health and welfare of a patient, a requirement to do so constitutes animal cruelty.”

Daluise noted that many animal welfare organizations advocate spaying puppies and kittens but not at such an early age.

“While spay and neuter may be perfectly safe for pets before they reach maturity,” she said, “a mandate jeopardizes the health and welfare of the many puppies and kittens who are not mature and healthy enough for the surgery.”

Daluise further pointed out that the new law also prevents pet stores from purchasing puppies from certain USDA-licensees. As result, many pet stores will have to close unless this new law, which takes effect June 1, 2015, is amended to remove the spaying requirement and the prohibition against buying from properly licensed animal dealers.

“Pet stores cannot survive if they have to comply with another law that subjects them to being charged with animal cruelty under yet another law and cuts off a legitimate source of puppies,” she said. “Perhaps the courts will reconcile this conflict and remove the prohibition, but by that time the city will lose many wonderful pet stores.”

 

Contact Information

 

Many involved in the breeding and sale of purebred dogs are understandably concerned about the torrent of ordinances and statutes recently adopted which essentially or outright ban the sale of purebred dogs. But hope may be on the way-namely, Purdue’s animal care standards.

These standards are uniform “science-based, nationwide animal care standards for the commercial breeding and raising of dogs” that will exceed those currently required by the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”).

Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science’s Director, Candace Croney, is in the process of developing these new standards, to “provide breeders with uniform standards for dog care and well-being in all states.”

“The project involves drafting comprehensive care practices based on the latest research on animal welfare science. Input from breeders, veterinary practitioners and other experts on canine care, reproductive management and welfare will also be incorporated.”

Activists and many dog enthusiasts consider the AWA standards implemented by the USDA to be inadequate.  The Purdue Standards will hopefully appease those concerned about the care of commercially bred dogs, even though many breeders and dealers already exceed USDA standards.

The next logical step would involve amending USDA’s regulations to adopt more stringent standards.

In the meantime, opponents of sales of commercially bred dogs continue to introduce ordinances and statutes in cities and states across the country, in an attempt to ban to sale of purebred dogs and promote adoption of shelter and rescue dogs instead.  While most dog lovers are in favor of adoption, many are also concerned that their freedom of choice to buy a purebred, or specially bred, dog with characteristics they desire in a pet, may soon be gone.

According to Andrew Hunte, president and CEO of The Hunte Corporation, a USDA licensed animal dealer, “[a]nimal rights organizations spend millions of dollars annually to promote negative messages about pets sold at retail, even though the facts do not support their claims. While they tout adoption as an ‘alternative’ to purchasing a pet at retail, their ultimate goal is to make sure that adoption isn’t just an alternative—it’s the only option available to consumers. Groups that once were considered mainstream are now promoting adoption as the only responsible path to pet ownership. As a result, dozens of responsible, well-regulated, tax-paying pet businesses across the country have been forced to close.”

Organizations supporting these laws, like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, actively promote the replacement of purchased purebreds with adopted dogs, and provide step-by-step guidance for the adoption of local ordinances.  They are also critical of USDA’s federal inspection program.

Hopefully, when the Purdue Standards are published and adopted, the public will feel assured that dogs raised, bred, and housed according to those standards receive proper care.