Posts Tagged ‘AHS’

How many Pine River Puppy Mill Raids will it take to change laws? That’s up to you.

November 11, 2013 9 comments

Puppy mill kennelsOn 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!”

You’re 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?

Through YOU.

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.

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.


Puppy Mill Bill Kerfuffle and AnimalFolksMN

March 28, 2011 22 comments

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Take Action Day – a day dedicated to asking people to contact their state legislators to ask them to support puppy mill legislation (recently introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate). What I did not know at the time was that there was quite the kerfuffle developing in the Minnesota animal welfare community over the fact that two sets of bills (H.F. 388/S.F. 384 and H.F. 702/S.F. 462) had been introduced within a day of one another. Both sets of bills are aimed at the same goal – regulating and inspecting puppy mills, but with a few differing provisions.

I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that two sets of bills had even been introduced if not for the fact that one animal group decided to attack another, publicly, in an attempt to discredit them. They even went one step further and questioned the motives of the other group in introducing the second set of bills, and seemed to imply that they were some sort of “shadow” group of unknown people (see below).

A private individual apparently authors the web site She claims to represent a “broad coalition” of organizations, but has continually refused to say who they are. She has reportedly worked with the Humane Society of the United States. However, an email received today from the President of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, clearly states his organization has nothing to do with these competing bills. Furthermore, does not appear to have a legal lobbying presence at the legislature.

So, the question remains: Who is Who are they representing? And why would they be working to sabotage the puppy mill bill?

The simple truth is that the group attacking the second group (, knows very well who is behind the group and who they work with. How do I know this? Because I started poking around myself to find out what was going on. In my attempt to get at the truth, I spoke with the head of the group making the claims against AnimalFolksMN. During that conversation, he shared with me that he knew who was behind AnimalFolksMN and who he suspected had authored the second set of bills. Well, this was certainly a surprise to me since the blog post and Facebook postings seemed to imply otherwise.

Through the help of some friends, I was also able to speak with a few people from and had all of my questions answered. Guess what? They are not some “shadow” group of unknown individuals. They did not introduce a second set of bills out of some ulterior motive to kill puppy mill legislation, in fact, quite the opposite. They aren’t even some group of ego-maniacs looking to get a lot of attention.

So who is

– They are a small group dedicated to researching inhumane dog and cat breeding in MN and collecting data and facts that can be used to help legislators and the public better understand this issue.

– They are also a resource for the media and the public on inhumane dog and cat breeding – they educate, provide legislative support (in the form of numbers, data, personal stories, etc.), and conduct research (i.e., sales tax revenue paid by breeders, tracking sales and shipments from MN breeders, collecting data on inhumane animal investigations, etc.). I have even used some of their data in the past to write some of my own blog posts.

– They are part of a large coalition of animal welfare groups across the state of Minnesota who support the second puppy mill bills introduced into the legislature (S.F. 462 / H.F. 702). The coalition includes: A Rotta Love Plus, Animal Folks MN, Animal Humane Society (AHS), Minnesota Animal Control Association, Minnesota Humane Society, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, Minnkota Persian Rescue, Pet Haven of Minnesota, Prairie’s Edge Humane Society, Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota (RAGOM), Second Chance Animal Rescue, Tri-county Humane Society – plus numerous other supporters, including humane societies, rescue groups, animal control, veterinarians, law enforcement, students, legislators, businesses and community members representing the interests of Minnesota.

– They even go as far as to educate the public on how a bill becomes a law! Did you know that on average it takes about 7 years for a controversial bill to pass and become a law?

After speaking with AnimalFolksMN, I feel less concerned about who they are and what they are trying to accomplish – they’ve been at this for years and understand the legislative process thoroughly. But I was confused by the attacks. Why attack a group that is so focused on educating legislators and the public about inhumane breeding? Why question their motives and imply that they are somehow not on the up-and-up when you know this not to be the case? And, what about the assertion that by introducing competing bills you are killing any chance of legislation passing? Is that really the case? Not necessarily. Each bill is assigned to a committee (sometimes more than one) in each house of the legislature. The Committee Chair then determines whether each bill will be granted a hearing, at which point public and expert testimony can be given and amendments can (and likely will) be made. The reality is that anything can happen. One or both sets of bills could not get past the Committee Chair. Or, both bills could be heard and amendments made to incorporate the wording from one bill into another. This is the way our government works.

So if this isn’t really about the killing of puppy mill legislation in MN, what is it about? I simply can’t answer that question. Only one group can. I invite them to share their perspective (in a respectful way please).

As for all I can say is that I have a renewed respect for a group that has continued to remain focused on the goal at hand – stopping inhumane breeding of cats and dogs. Not once during this whole kerfuffle have they made any disparaging remarks about the other group. They haven’t even engaged them. Why? Because they are focused on gathering the data and information needed to help the legislature and the public better understand why we need this legislation. I completely support that and

Surrender Your Cat Or Dog… By Appointment?

November 7, 2010 24 comments

I was all set to write an update on on Prop B (which passed!), when this link came across my Facebook wall this evening. Given it’s a local story, I decided to give it top billing.

The story is about a new program the Animal Humane Society (AHS) is implementing called Bound for Home to help “reduce the number of cats left homeless because of abandonment and unchecked reproduction.” The new program will include: “improving access to sterilization to reduce litters, working with pet owners to adopt wisely and keep their animals longer” AND requiring pet owners to make an appointment before giving up their animal. Hmmmm… intriguing.

Already the Animal Humane Society has implemented several other changes in the past year:
– A billboard campaign to promote adoption
– Drastically cut the adoption fees for adult cats
– Training for prospective owners to better prepare them for owning a pet
– Help in deciding which pet is best for a prospective owner’s lifestyle
– Stopped accepting after-hours dropoffs of unwanted pets at its five metro locations (this started last Monday)

I admire AHS’s focus on decreasing the number of pets who are surrendered and euthanized in their shelters, but I wonder if they can change human behavior. I am assuming AHS will provide owners with additional resources that (hopefully) will allow them to keep their pet(s), but most people who surrender their pets aren’t doing so as a last minute decision. Often they have thought about it long and hard. So, will making an appointment to surrender their pet change their minds? And, if someone has already made up their mind, will they even want to make an appointment? Or, are they more likely to go to a smaller and more cash-strapped shelter or dump their pet elsewhere?

Perhaps it’s the skeptic in me. Or, maybe it’s my experience volunteering at a shelter. Or, maybe it’s this recent post, that has me asking more questions about AHS’s decision to require owners to make an appointment to surrender a pet. If it is true that the Animal Humane Society has been hiding behind a shroud of secrecy as this post suggests (Please note: I do not agree with everything this blogger says in his post, but simply included it because it shares information on the secrecy involved with some shelters, like AHS.) – “confidentiality contracts” for employees and volunteers and a “secrecy contract” for members of MnPAW, how will we ever know if the program is legitimately a success? How will we know if AHS is seeing an increase in the number of dump-and-runs (where a pet owner dumps their pet outside a shelter or on a dirt road in the country)? Will they report that too? And, if these numbers do increase, what is their plan to address it? I hope they do have a plan to share their results with the public… and not just the positive results, but ALL the results, good and bad. We shall have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I’d love to know if any of you out there have you seen similar policies implemented at your animal shelters or Humane Societies. What results have you seen? What has been the impact? Please share your experience.

A Little Background
In Minnesota, we have several smaller and independent humane societies and then we have the big Animal Humane Society (AHS), which services the seven five-county metro area of the twin cities, excluding St Paul and Minneapolis. AHS was formed when three animal welfare groups merged together in 2007 (Animal Humane Society, Humane Society of Companion Animals and the Greater West Metro Humane Society). It also is a member of the Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare (MnPAW), a coalition of eight other animal welfare groups. AHS and MnPAW wield quite a bit of power and influence here in MN, more than the other smaller shelters who operate independently.

Additional Information on AHS and confidentiality and secrecy agreements:
Animal Humane Society Agrees to Stop Illegally Killing Cats – Sometimes

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