I was kind of going to take a pass on a blog post today, but then, a friend sent me this… Tevlin: Rain or sleet can’t stop your mail, but a tiny dog can (Star Tribune, dated June 25, 2014, by Jon Tevlin). Seriously. I’m not even kidding.
Here is a quick synopsis of the story:
- 11 lb dog gets loose from its leash while out on a walk.
- 11 lb dog runs to mail carrier and jumps up on her and barks.
- Owner apologizes profusely and gathers dog up (one added detail) and she apologizes profusely.
- The mail carrier does not react or say anything to the owner.
- Next day, Minneapolis Animal Control visits owner and reports mail carrier claims she was bitten on inner thigh and has several puncture wounds.
- Mail carrier claims to have gone to Urgent Care for treatment, but no photos can be provided.
- Owner agrees to get dog trained and to keep her on a short leash and to keep dog inside when mail is delivered.
- Next day, mail delivery is stopped for the entire building where the owner and dog reside.
- Post office manager notifies residents that they can either get a P.O. box or get rid of Nano (the dog).
- Post office manager refuses to respond to resident’s calls to discuss the issue.
- Now owner must move out or euthanize her dog. (Her agreement with Animal Control forbids her from giving the dog away.)
I can think of all kinds of cuss words I could use to describe how I am feeling about this story, but really, all I can think of is “Where the hell is the adult in this story?” I mean I read this and all I can see is a lot of miscommunication, lack of communication and just plain old poor communication. I don’t see a whole lot of negotiation or reasonable boundary setting. I don’t even see proof of the actual bite being shared.
So here is what I would love to do today. Instead of posting this story and having a bunch of people angry people post negative and hateful comments on my blog, I would love to have you, the reader, offer ideas of how this could have been handled differently. How would you have handled this if you were one of the adults in this story?
Feel free to rewrite it in a way that you think it could have gone if people had communicated effectively. How could it have been handled in a way that was better for all involved? What would you have done if you were any one of the parties involved in this situation?
I really look forward to hearing your ideas.
Monday could very well be the day that our Minnesota State Governor signs the Dog and Cat Breeder bill into law. Even if it does not happen today or tomorrow, it will be signed into law soon, and that is amazing in and of itself. It has taken close to ten years of hard work to make this happen. From those who did the heavy lifting (you know who you are) to those who called their legislators and rallied at the capitol and committed the time and effort to get us here, you have my (and Daisy and Cupcake and Maggie’s) thanks and gratitude.
So what happens with this bill and when does it begin?
- Dog and cat breeders operating in the state of Minnesota will be required to be licensed, regardless of whether or not they are a USDA breeder. The licensing process will begin in July. (This means those who sell over the internet can no longer drop their USDA license and think they are safe from scrutiny. It also means that we will have a more accurate data on the breeders that operate in our state.)
- The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will now have the authority to inspect commercial dog and cat breeding facilities and enforce existing State laws to ensure animal care standards are met and they will be funded to do so. (This can begin as soon as licenses start coming in or they can start next year, June 30th, the deadline for breeder licenses to be submitted.)
- The state will also have the ability to apply civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.
I have no doubt that many breeders will be thinking about whether or not they want to stay in business. For those who do not, there will be the issue of closing down their business. I expect we will see more animals coming into shelters and rescues. We must be ready for them.
For those who stay in business, it will be an adjustment. They will need to pay a license fee, establish and maintain a written protocol for disease control and prevention, euthanasia, and veterinary care of their animals, and identify all known owners of the business. They also must make any USDA violations available to state inspectors, report whether they have ever been convicted of animal cruelty in the past, and subject themselves to an annual inspections. In other words, they will face more scrutiny than ever before.
Change is coming to Minnesota breeders. They only question is how successful will it be? I guess that is dependent on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and us. Our vigilance will be required. There are those who will gladly look for ways to weaken this law.
My personal hope is that people like Deborah Beatrice Rowell will find it harder to do business like they did before. She owns the puppy mill that Maggie came from and is back in business today. If this law makes it hard enough to make her quit, then that would truly be a blessing, especially for the dogs like Maggie, who have not yet escaped.
I recently saw someone share a petition on Facebook that made me do a double-take. The title of the petition?
What? Why would Iowa State University and the CDC be teaching people how to run a puppy mill? Surely they must be mistaken. That made absolutely no sense.
According to the petition, the Center for Food Security & Public Health (located at the Iowa State University), with funding from “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers an eleven-part course in Regulatory Compliance for Commercial Dog Breeders.” The petition went on to say that it was “unconscionable” that these two agencies would help to facilitate the breeding of dogs when so many are sitting in shelters waiting for a home. Well, I cannot argue with that. It’s a legitimate point.
But, I wanted to know more about their claims. So, I Googled the Center for Food Security and Public Health. It wasn’t hard to find them, or the 11-part course offered to breeders. As it turns out, the courses they offer are nothing more than a series of PowerPoint presentations covering the licensing and regulatory requirements under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In essence, they inform a potential puppy miller of the rules and licensing requirements of a USDA- licensed breeder. They probably are required to offer the courses by law.
I think what is more laughable is that they offer these courses at all.
I mean, how can one not laugh when one reads the slide (Slide 16) on the Enforcement Measures in the course labeled Presentation 1: Introduction to APHIS Animal Care and the Regulatory Process:
If violations of the AWA are found, enforcement measures can include:
- Confiscation or euthanasia of animals
- Issuance of a cease and desist order (stopping a business from buying/selling dogs)
- Monetary fines
- Suspension or loss of a license
- Formal prosecution (being taken to court)
Very few USDA-licensed commercial breeders ever face these types of enforcement measures. Take Deborah Beatrice Rowell, a USDA-licensed breeder in Pine River who was raided this summer and had 130 dogs seized. The seizure wasn’t conducted by the USDA. No. It was Minnesota law enforcement who stepped in, alongside the ASPCA and Animal Folks MN.
In fact, the USDA seems to have done nothing despite reports showing noncompliance over several years.
It took the USDA years before they shut Kathy Jo Bauck down too, and that only happened after CAPS video-taped the horrible conditions in her facility and it was aired on TV news.
Also laughable is the course on dog exercise (see slide 11 of that presentation):
Let’s go through an example.
Sparkles is a Scottish Terrier that measures 18 inches from the tip or her nose to the base of her tail.
First calculate the minimum floor space required for her by taking her length 18 inches and adding 6 inches and multiplying the sum by itself. This equals 576 inches (4 sq ft.) This is the minimum amount of space Sparkles needs for housing purposes.
To calculate the inches of floor space required if Sparkles will not receive additional exercise, take 576 and multiply by 2 to equal 1152 inches (8 sq. ft).
If Sparkles will not be taken out for additional exercise, she needs to be in a primary enclosure with 8 square feet of floor space.
Try measuring your own dog once. Start at the tip of his nose and go to the base of his tail. Now follow the calculations above for minimum housing requirements where exercise is needed. Then measure the size pen your dog would live in for life if they were in a pen not requiring any exercise. At all. Ever.
Now you can start to see the ridiculousness of such a requirement. The sad thing is that most puppy mill dogs live in housing that is at the smaller requirement, the one that requires exercise, and yet receive no exercise at all. Ever.
I don’t have a problem with the Center for Food Security & Public Health and CDC educating commercial breeders on the requirements of federal law.
What I have a problem with is the fact that they even bother at all. Educating breeders on USDA licensing requirements is like threatening to punish your child and not following through. How much is your child likely to respect you and your rules if they know they can get around them every single time? How likely is it that a commercial breeder will either?
On July 16th of this year, a Minnesota puppy mill was raided and 130 dogs were rescued from horrific conditions. For months, these dogs and their puppies (many born after they were rescued) were kept in limbo as the court case against the puppy mill owner wound its way through the Minnesota court system.
Deborah Beatrice Rowell, was charged with seven misdemeanors and two petty misdemeanors for animal cruelty (misdemeanor charges carry a 90 days in jail and or a $1,000 fine). In the end, she got a plea deal and pled guilty to one count of failure to provide dogs with adequate shade. She was ordered to pay a $135 fine and is now back in business. Unbelievable isn’t it?
Meanwhile the Animal Humane Society (AHS) spent $200,000 caring for the animals and giving them long overdue vet care and vaccinations. A grant from the ASPCA made the raid possible and helped to give these dogs a chance at a new home and a new life. The puppy mill owner responsible for the conditions of these dogs? $135 fine.
If you find yourself saying any of the following right now…
“She should be in jail!”
“How can they let her off with $135 fine? That’s horrible!”
“The laws have got to change. She shouldn’t be able to get away with this.”
“How can they let her be back in business? That’s not right!”
She should be in jail.
She shouldn’t have been let off with $135 fine and allowed to be back in business again.
The laws have got to change.
And you know how that happens?
It takes you to…
- Get involved and call a legislator when the puppy mill bill comes up again.
- Write a quick note to committee members and ask them to support the bill.
- Share the information with your friends and family and ask them to take action.
- Join the rally at the capital.
- Speak up.
- GET INVOLVED.
Laws don’t change unless someone cares enough to speak up. Elected officials are swayed by their constituents, but only if they speak up.
Words left unspoken fall on deaf ears.
Need motivation? Watch the video AHS put together of the Pine River raid and the dogs they helped.
If care about dogs like Blue #9, then take action. Help us change the laws so this doesn’t have to happen again.
We don’t need another puppy miller getting off with just a $135 fine.
Politicians and local city governments often have two things in common – an inability to live in truth and a thin skin.
Okay, maybe I’m making a sweeping generalization by saying that but sometimes I have to wonder. Who are they protecting? And, who do they think they are fooling?
For over a year, I have watched as dogs in the care of Minneapolis Care and Control (MACC) were posted on the Friends of Minneapolis Care and Control (Friends of MACC)page. These dogs, many on death row because they were labeled a pit bull or bully breed of some sort, were shared in attempt to find them a home or so a rescue could take them in until they could be adopted. Many dogs were saved because of this page especially the pit bulls and bully breeds (since MACC doesn’t allow them to be adopted out directly from their facility). I watched as people networked to save animals on this page. I cheered when a rescue stepped up to save one of the death row dogs, who was not facing death for behavioral issues, but simply because it “looked” like a pit bull.
But now it seems that MACC has decided that the Friends of Minneapolis Care and Control Facebook page just wasn’t cutting it. They needed a better avenue to showcase their dogs – their very own website.
Hmmm.. let’s take a look at their website, shall we?
The website pictures are of a wonderful quality aren’t they? The information so helpful. It’s amazing that the Facebook page succeeded when a such a wonderful website could do so much more.
Yes. I can SEE how much better the website is when compared with the Friends of MACC Facebook page.
MACC also has a much better option for social media sharing (rather than the one created by Friends of MACC). Oh yes, it’s the city’s own general Facebook page.
They aren’t likely to get lost in all the other city business being posted on that page are they? So much better than the Friends of MACC page. Don’t you think?
C’mon. Who do they think they are fooling?
Let’s be honest, neither the website nor using the city’s Facebook page are great options for the dogs and cats at MACC. Neither does a great job at promoting the animals in their care or in making their animals look more appealing to a potential adopter.
Most shelters and rescues know that it’s how a pet is promoted and featured that helps them get adopted. Good pictures and a little history on the dog or cat can make a huge difference in finding them a new home.
“Each year, millions of pets die for the simple reason that they do not have a home,” says Jennifer Whaley of Fetch Portraits. “Good pictures go a long way to help save the lives of these pets and move them out of high kill shelters or out of no kill shelters, which opens up space for more pets. Good technology, photos and networking will go a long way to change the statistics.”
MACC’s new policy doesn’t do any of these things.
The Friends of MACC Facebook page not only promoted the animals that needed saving in a way that made people want to help and take action, but they also acknowledged the passing of those who didn’t make it. And, they did so honorably.
MACC’s decision to stop the postings on the Friends of MACC Facebook page is really more about saving face, protecting their image, and hiding the fact that yes, they do in fact kill animals. Period. It’s not about the animals, it’s about them. It’s not about saving lives, it’s about saving their image.
I’m just not sure that’s even possible now.
There are two sayings that I love because I think they pack a powerful message. The first comes from radio host, Ian Punett:
“Hypocrisy waits silently for us all.”
The second is one I have heard said in a variety of ways, but essentially it boils down to this:
Live in your truth, whatever that may be.
Here is my message to MACC:
If you are killing dogs and don’t like that people are upset, then stop doing it. If your policy is to kill dogs and you don’t plan to stop or change that policy, then own it. It is your truth, whether you like it or not.
If you REALLY cared for the dogs and cats you take in, you would allow them to be shared on the Friends of MACC Facebook page because (as anyone in rescue can tell you) it works. Their pictures and more detailed information gets dogs into foster homes and eventually, into their forever homes.
To claim that your website can do a better job or that posting them on the city’s main Facebook page will be a better option for these pets is a lie. Don’t punish the dogs by removing them from Facebook and…
Live in your truth or change it.
A Facebook follower recently wrote something on my page that resonated with me:
“I am at the point of wondering why some people want a dog. They don’t want to care for it, they don’t want to train it, they don’t want to exercise it, they want it to be perfect without any work.”
(Yeah. I have to admit, I wonder that too sometimes.)
The comment was in response to a post I had shared about a thirteen year old dog who had ended up at a shelter after the owners had some semblance of sanity and decided that dumping the poor dog in the woods was probably a cruel thing to do to him, this being the dog they had “loved” for thirteen years, and decided to drop him off at the shelter instead.
Shortly after sharing this story my friend, Julie, shared a picture of her new foster dog. She came from Arkansas after her new owners, who obtained her from a Craigslist poster, discovered she was pregnant (at 8 months old) and dropped her off at a high-kill shelter. Thank goodness she was seen by a local Minnesota rescue and saved. She will have her babies in the comfort of a loving home with someone who will love her and care for her until that forever home comes along.
How can someone get a dog they so clearly wanted only to dump it at a shelter later? And, how does someone love a dog for thirteen years and then consider dumping it in the woods instead of caring for him for the rest of his life?
Have we truly become the ultimate in disposable societies? I didn’t use to think so. I used to think it was just matter of someone thinking it was “just a dog” or that we just needed to educate people better on how to train their pets so they would want to keep them.
But then, I came across this story and I started to wonder. Maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe we truly are a society incapable of making a commitment and doing the hard work needed to make a difference. Maybe we just like the “idea” of having a dog or a child, but not the reality of what comes next – caring for them, teaching them and loving them.
Maybe we truly are a lazy, self-involved, disposable society.
It is certainly starting to seem so.
That is the question I asked myself as I read some recent data on dogs and canine cancer. The data was posted on The Institute of Canine Biology but came from a scientific veterinary review article by Jane Dobson titled “Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs”.
The data was both interesting and sad. In breeds where the prevalence of cancer is high, the attributing factor is most likely genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are just genetically pre-disposed to get cancer more than others. Whether this is due to closed breed registries I cannot say (I’m just not knowledgable enough about dog breeding to know) but it certainly does give one pause to wonder.
As I looked at the list of dogs, I automatically found myself scrolling down the list to see where Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers fell. Labs were higher on the list (31%) than Shelties (22%), but certainly not as high as the irish Water Spaniel (55.8%) or the Flat-coated Retriever (50.3%).
I found myself whispering a silent “Thank God” and then wondering to myself whether a higher-risk for cancer would change how I felt about a certain breed. If Shetland Sheepdogs were higher on the list would I feel differently about getting a Sheltie again? Would the data influence my decision to stay away from certain breeds? To be honest, I don’t think so, but then again, I am not the owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Vizsla or a Rottweiler or one of the other breeds topping the list. Maybe I would feel differently if my favorite breed was one of these dogs. I just don’t know.
How about you? Would you choose another breed of dog if you knew cancer was more of a possibility?
Today I would like to highlight a beautiful film that will air tonight on Animal Planet – Hero Dogs of 9/11.
Back several years ago, when I was a new dog blogger, I had the opportunity to see a short film called by the very same name. The film was created by a fellow blogger and videographer, Kenn Bell of The Dog Files. I remember the social media sensation it caused and how my fellow bloggers and I shared it on Facebook and Twitter. It was emotional and touching and so beautifully filmed. The film Kenn Bell created was not only a memorial to the dogs who served on that day, but also a reminder to all of us that man’s best friend is so much more than “just a dog.” He is a rescuer, a companion, a friend, and a hero.
A few years later, Kenn’s film was featured at BlogPaws and it generated a lot of buzz from those who were there to see it. I may not have been there, but I watched it again at home and remembered the feelings and emotions I had on that day. Through all the horrors that day, and the long days afterwards, the hero dogs of 9/11 were there to search, to rescue and to comfort.
I have seen many of Kenn’s other wonderful videos featuring some of the most amazing dogs, but it is this one that has continued to resonate with me. So when I read that Kenn had been working on an expanded version of his original film, I was thrilled. How wonderful to see these amazing dogs recognized once again in an hour-long special.
You can read Kenn’s own thoughts on this momentous occasion, but I hope you will do more than that. I hope you will watch it when it airs tonight.
I promise. You won’t be disappointed.
Hero Dogs of 9/11 airs tonight, Tuesday, September 10 at 8 PM ET/PT (and 7 PM Central Time) on Animal Planet.
You can watch a preview here.
You can also watch another one of Kenn’s short films highlighting the ceremony that was held on September 11, 2011, to recognize the dogs who served on 9/11 – Hero Dogs of 9/11: Legacy.
PDAs. I don’t like them. No. Not those kind of PDAs (although sometimes they can be a bit much). It’s those kind that include public recognition - Employee of the Month, public awards in front of you colleagues, etc. I’m generally embarrassed and uncomfortable by them, at least when I am the recipient.
I also don’t like pandering for votes. It also makes me uncomfortable. It feels like I am saying “Rah! Rah me! Pay attention to me! Vote for me!”
However, today I am going to do a little pandering. Well actually, I’m going to pander for your votes for Cupcake AND for Benny of Two French Bulldogs. He has liver cancer and your votes, and the result it will bring, will help money to pay for his treatment. It’s a cause I can fully support.
So what do you have to do?
Vote for Cupcake.
Vote for other dogs.
Vote for Benny.
You have until September 1st.
About the voting process. Voting opened Sunday at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard time (NYC) and is limited to one IP ADDRESS per 24 hour period. For those of you with multi-computer households it is important to remember that any smart phone, tablet, computer that shares a network also shares an IP address. If you vote on your computer then try and vote on your phone, chances are it won’t work, unless you disconnect from your network. If someone tells you they tried to vote and they can’t, then that is probably the issue.