written by Walt Hutchens and submitted by Marj Brooks & Beca Zaun
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is animal rights and why should we care?
The importance of home breeding of dogs
The future of dogs
How animal rights laws work
Sources and Resources
America today is rushing toward dramatic changes in the way we breed and keep animals. These changes are already beginning and the laws that will make them continue go far beyond the changes we can see.
All species and all animal uses, from deer in our woods and fields, to rats in our scientific labs, to animals farmed for meat and milk, to the pet dog or cat in our living rooms are being affected. These effects will increase in the future.
The picture is vast and complicated; we will focus on the effects on pet dogs. We will emphasize what is happening and how it is being done.
Why is more difficult to understand but the basic reason is that a very few Americans – no more than a thousand – want these changes. They break them down into small chunks that sound good and sell them one chunk at a time to good-hearted, often busy, people. But the chunks are put together to make something that none of us would ever have approved.
“People need homes. Please donate to buy a brick.” Then they use the bricks to build a prison.
The `animal rights’ movement is essentially a fruitcake religion. It will not be stopped short of an expensive and nearly irreversible disaster unless most Americans come to understand that the bricks they buy today with contributions to Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and many smaller organizations will be used to build a prison, and stop sending those checks.
In the short term, all of us (but lawmakers especially) must become extremely skeptical of new laws that claim to ‘protect animals.’ America has had basic animal protection laws for more than fifty years; some go back over a century. These laws need better enforcement in some parts of the country but there are very few new laws that will make animal or human lives better, rather than simply making ownership and breeding more difficult and less likely to succeed.
The three long essays in this booklet – What Is Animal Rights?, Introducing HSUS, and The Future Of Dogs In America – were written over the last two years; they were extensively revised at the beginning of December, 2006. The Importance of Home Breeding of Dogs and How Animal Rights Laws Work were written specifically for this publication.
It’s frightening how much ground we’ve lost just in the last two years. We can still win – that is, keep our rights to own and responsibly use pets and other animals – but we must not delay or falter.
I hope this booklet helps.
Walt Hutchens Timbreblue Whippets December, 2006
WHAT IS ANIMAL RIGHTS – and why should we care?
Imagine that a few people think we humans just aren’t good enough to own or use animals. In fact they’re so convinced of this that they have formed large organizations that work tirelessly around the clock and around the world to eliminate animal farming, eating of meat, use of animals in research, hunting, circuses, zoos, and yes, owning animals as pets.
This isn’t just a bad dream – it’s real. These people are called the `animal rights’ (AR) movement. While there probably aren’t more than a thousand people in the U.S. who accept the whole idea – that humans should be completely separated from our animals even if that means that many species become extinct – they are supported by many more who back important parts of the movement’s ideas.
Many supporters believe that eating meat is wrong. Others think that medical research using animals is unnecessary and cruel. Yet others believe most pet owners are irresponsible.
It is those people – the ones who are deeply committed to their own small parts of animal rights – who are the foot soldiers, carrying the movement forward.
Fewer than a thousand run the AR corporations, make the plans, draft the laws, organize the conferences, deliver the speeches, and do the on-the-floor lobbying. Tens of thousands back laws in narrow areas: animal rescuers may support anti-tethering laws to `stop irresponsible owners’, misguided home breeders back anything labelled as fighting `puppy mills,’ and animal shelters support close regulation of pet breeders and rescuers.
And behind the tens of thousands are millions of Americans who just want to help animals and who, without understanding how their money will actually be used, mail checks to pay for all of the above.
This is America: It is our right to believe whatever we want and to try to convince others of what we believe. However the AR movement goes beyond that. The biggest
thing they do is pass laws that make animal use, breeding, and ownership steadily harder and more costly.
This happens in several steps:
1. They invent problems or magnify small ones. The real problems generally are much less than the good that comes from the same activity but we are only told about the problems.
“Pet breeders are just exploiting animals for money” – although if there were no breeders there would be no pets, and it’s almost impossible to make money if you breed as a hobby. And, anyway, what’s wrong with making money? “Hunting is cruel and unnecessary” – never mind that for many species hunting is a main way of controlling populations of animals for which there are no longer enough natural predators to prevent starvation, disease, attacks on humans and pets, collisions with our automobiles, and so on.
“`Pet overpopulation’ leads to the tragedy of euthanasia” – although the animal shelter euthanasia rate has been falling steadily for decades, is now only 10-15% of what it was 30 years ago, and a growing number of areas have a shortage of dogs. “Animals are dangerous and cause human health problems” – though most of us have pets, serious problems are rare, and study after study shows that pet owners are happier, have lower stress levels, and may live longer than other people.
“Animal farming is cruelty” – though cruelty is already illegal and the practices being attacked are ancient and often inspected and specifically approved by the government.
The attack will always fall where most people will say “Oh – that’s not something I do” or “That’s not important.” Only 7% of the population hunts, something like 2% farms, and much less than 1% breeds dogs at home. Because many important animal practices are unfamiliar to most of us, we may not see what’s wrong with these AR campaigns.
2. The animal rightists batter public officials to solve the problems they’ve announced. Although they are a small minority, they never stop complaining.
s Angeles, for example, is on its fourth well qualified animal control director in five years. Why? Because no director delivered the `no kill’ shelter the ARs demand – an unattainable goal for a properly run municipal shelter in a large city. The shelter’s statistics are not bad and they are improving but that’s not good enough.
3. When officials say “Okay, tell us what to do,” the ARs are there with examples of laws passed in other places. They cite misleading or phoney statistics, even outright lies about the success of the law and if pressed on the issue, simply repeat their views.
For example when they’re proclaiming “horrible pet overpopulation” they promote laws requiring all pets to be spayed or neutered and requirements for hobby breeders to get expensive licenses and permits. “This law was a big success in San Mateo,” they say.
If you tell them “This law did not work in San Mateo County” they say “This law was a big success in San Mateo.”
If you answer “But the shelter euthanasia numbers went up, and licensing went down in San Mateo” they say “This law was a big success in San Mateo.”
Surprisingly, when the subject is unfamiliar, the bigger the lie, the more likely people are to believe it. This `big lie’ tactic isn’t often encountered by lawmakers and since doing independent research is time-consuming, they often end by accepting the lies.
4. Since the new laws never solve the `problem,’ the ARs seek greater punishments and still more laws to help enforce the old ones, such as a requirement for all pets to be microchipped with the numbers in a government database. They talk only of the good effects – “This will help more lost pets get home” — although the real purpose is to catch people who are violating their other laws.
They can nearly always find important organizations that will support the proposal because (for example) “Veterinarians can’t be against a law that just improves enforcement of something that’s already the law.”
5. As one law begins to spread, a new `problem’ is identified and the next step begins – go back to #1, above.
These days the animal rights movement mostly keep quiet about its true goals. But in earlier times they were utterly frank. Here are some quotes from leaders of the movement:
Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of PETA: “I am not a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don’t have any reverence for life, only for the entities themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am. This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I wouldn’t be harming anything.”
Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President of HSUS: “Man is the most dangerous, destructive, selfish, and unethical animal on earth.”
“Les U. Knight” (pseudonym), “Voluntary Human Extinction,” Wild Earth, Vol. 1, No. 2 “If you haven’t given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species … Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.”
Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS: “One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”
This is sick stuff: The truth is that animal rights is mental illness masquerading as philosophy.
There are no longer any nationally known organizations that just want good care for animals. From 1980-on, they were all taken over by animal rights zealots who continue to operate them under the “animal welfare” label but actually promote the end of human use of animals.
Today, HSUS, PETA, the ASPCA and dozens of less familiar organizations spend about $200 million a year sent by people who want to help animals, working against animal ownership.
Never give money to any of these organizations!
If you want to give to help animals, give directly to your local animal shelter: they use contributions to provide real care, and they nearly always need more than they get.
What’s going on is a quiet, mostly non-violent war for the future of America. The major battles are just starting: they will be fought and won by one side or the other over the next five years. For example, between the end of 2005 and mid-2006, Long Beach California, Los Angeles County, and Albuquerque, New Mexico all passed new laws making it much more difficult to own and breed pets. Each of these new laws was in turn the worst ever seen in the U.S. and we are likely to see yet worse in the months ahead, particularly in Southern California.
If those who believe that humans and animals belong together don’t turn the tide, then 20 years from now our country will have fewer good pets and will be less happy and less prosperous than it is today. None of us asked for this war, but if we do not fight and win, the losses won’t be undone in a century.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HOME BREEDING OF DOGS
American dogs come from four main sources. Half or a bit less are accidental breedings. Except in farther out rural areas, these dogs are no longer in surplus and they are the main source of low cost puppies. The remaining half is divided roughly equally between farm based commercial breeding, home breeding, and ‘other’ – a growing volume of imports, police, and other specialized programs.
Of all four-legged wild animals, wolves are the most like humans in their social arrangements. They live in extended family groups, must work in teams in order to survive, are ‘wired’ to follow orders from a leader, and when times are good, the young set out on their own to start new family groups.
In domesticating the dog, man tapped those similarities and a number of practical talents to produce not only a valuable helpmate but a wonderful companion. Even today when our meat comes in a plastic package and electricity turns our roasting spits, 44% of American homes have dogs and most owners can hardly imagine life without one.
As with humans, much of what a dog becomes depends on the care taken with his early health and training.
Commercially bred dogs are whelped and raised as livestock, then sold to owners who begin helping them fit in to a human family eight weeks or so from the start. Most of these dogs do become satisfactory pets, however, those of us who have known many dogs believe that the best pet dogs are whelped and raised within a human family, handled and cared for as family members from the first hour. This way, each lesson can be started as it is needed, and the step from the breeder’s family to a lifetime owner is small – a change of names, faces and style, but nothing like going from ‘livestock’ to ‘pet’ status after some wrong lessons have already been learned.
Personalities develop early; the home breeder knows them all and can match the two-fisted active tomboy with a human family that wants that type and the quiet “I just love you” pup with a soulmate.
Home breeding can be a hobby into which you pour more money than you can ever hope to get back. Hobbyists often compete to produce the best possible dogs; while there are many i
deas of what ‘best’ means, they all involve top quality breeding stock, health testing, preventative vet work and sometimes treatment, and huge amounts of time. Competition sets a limit on prices: If you do the accounting carefully it is almost impossible to make money breeding as a hobby.
The money goes out year-round for maintenance of breeding stock, it goes even faster as you prepare for and do the breeding and when the puppies are whelped. It continues to flow with vet work done to get them ready for new homes. Then a few thousand dollars comes in as the puppies are sold.
Deduct some for breedings that produce no puppies, more for those that require expensive vet care, and a bit more for a puppy that is returned at a net cost to you – it happens to all breeders. Divide that money by the number of hours work needed to produce and sell that litter plus a few extra hours helping the new owners by phone and email to calculate your hourly wage.
In a few years when you sell your home you can take the cost of repairing the damage done by generations of breeding stock and completely untrained puppies and spread it over all your hours. If you have anything at all left, you’re doing better than 99% of the home hobby breeders we know.
By trimming the most expensive inputs, it is possible to convert hobby breeding to a small scale home `extra money’ business. These dogs may not get everything they would from a good hobby breeder, but they are often excellent pets.
Home breeding has another significance: It is where purebred dogs come from. Because home breeding must be small-scale, individual dogs are rarely bred over a few times; often just once. Home breeders, moreover, are the keepers of what the breed ‘is’: Should a Pomeranian weigh 40 pounds? Should a whippet be built like a pig? Should a collie chase and kill small animals or try to bite a stranger?
These questions and thousands of others are answered in a ‘breed standard’ kept by the clubs for each breed and expanded in the hearts of the home breeders of that breed. Large commercial breeders may use purebred stock, but they make little effort to breed according to the standard.
Mixed breeds offer a never-twice-the-same variety that appeals to many people but the down side is that your puppy might not grow up to be a dog you can live with. Carefully bred purebreds often make better sense for busy families, especially those with young children. Most hobby and many other home breeders offer lifetime help if you have problems and have a lifetime `take back’ guarantee if you can’t keep your dog. These policies benefit the public.
One of the most important cost saving measures for commercial breeders is using the same breeding stock as much as possible. This is the reverse of the policy of the usual hobby breeder and because home breeders are small-scale, hard to do for even the for-profit home breeder. The deepest significance of home breeding is that it is the main storehouse from which the genes that produce each breed are drawn, generation by generation. Home breeders keep and use to produce the next generation perhaps ten times the genetic material as an average large commercial breeder, thus preserving the genetic diversity needed to keep our breeds alive.
Because hobby breeders and nearly all other home breeders care about their pups as individuals, we must cast a wide public net in order to find them homes. When laws are passed that make home breeding illegal we are easily found and eliminated.
The one sentence picture of the future of dogs in America is this:
On the present lawmaking road, home breeding of dogs is about to be wiped out in our country and as this occurs, purebred dogs will all but disappear.
Other essays in this booklet will discuss the trends and forces that could make this happen and describe the situation that will result.
HSUS is the ‘Humane Society of the United States.’ It is supported mainly by small donations from millions of Americans because it has been almost 100% successful at selling itself as ‘for the animals.’ However, it’s more accurately thought of as a business that provides the animal rights movement with the service of squeezing rights to use animals, than as an organization that helps animals.
HSUS is not connected with any animal shelters or direct animal welfare activities. Of top 12 HSUS Animal Stories of 2005 (grey wolves, abused tigers, pet cloning, Internet hunting, dove hunts, animal fighting, seal hunts, laying hens, trophy hunting, the HSUS-Fund For Animals merger, Katrina relief and horse slaughter), only hurricane relief had to do with helping Fido or Fluffy as promoted in their materials.
HSUS is devoted to making animal use (including pet ownership) steadily more difficult and expensive. Its main actions divide into: (a) Promoting laws to restrict use/ownership, (b) propaganda in support of such laws, and (c) fundraising/self-promotional actions. You will look in vain for an HSUS action that makes animal use or pet ownership easier, more common, more fun, or more successful.
Specific campaigns include anti-hunting, anti-meat farming and meat eating (the organization’s headquarters forbids animal products), anti-pet breeding (it was the chief promoter of the so-called ‘Pet Animal Welfare Statute’ or PAWS), anti-circus/rodeo, and anti-animal use medical and other research.
HSUS has a net worth of over $200 million and (since the recent mergers with the Fund For Animals and the Doris Day Animal League) an annual budget approaching $80 million. Its money goes to fund many sorts of anti-animal use campaigns, to excellent executive salaries, and to very high (~53% of gross) fundraising expenses.
HSUS is in the process of expanding its litigation capabilities. In 2005 it announced a new “Animal Protection Litigation Section,” dedicated to “the process of researching, preparing, and prosecuting animal protection lawsuits in state and federal court.” During 2006, there has been a steady replacement of `helping animals’ statements on the web sites and in publications with `protecting animals,’ as the organization continues to shift toward passing and enforcing laws.
HSUS has legal control over dozens of other corporations. It has effective control over state level affiliates in about half the states which it uses to carry out no-fingerprints lobbying on state measures: aside from PAWS these state groups are the main route for anti-breeding laws. It has affiliates of one sort or another in many foreign countries. A few quotes
When he became president of HSUS (2004) Wayne Pacelle described some of his goals for The Washington Post: “We will see the end of wild animals in circus acts … [and we’re] phasing out animals used in research. Hunting? I think you will see a steady decline in numbers.”
“We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States … We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” Wayne Pacelle, October 1, 1990.
Shortly after Pacelle joined HSUS in 1994, he told Animal People (an inside- the-movement watchdog newspaper) that his goal was to build “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.”
“My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.” J.P. Goodwin, recently Director of Grassroots Outreach with HSUS. Formerly with
the Animal Liberation Front, Mr Goodwin has a lengthy arrest record and a history of promoting arson to accomplish animal liberation. This quote appeared on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group in 1996.
“The entire animal rights movement in the United States [views the act of the British parliament banning hunting with dogs] as one of the most important actions in the history of the animal rights movement. This will energize our efforts to stop hunting with hounds.” Wayne Pacelle, now CEO, HSUS, London Times, December 26, 2004
HSUS actions (undertaken mostly with money sent in “to help abandoned pets” and “stop cruelty”)
Passed an amendment to the Florida constitution banning (on grounds of cruelty) the use of farrowing pens which prevent the sow from rolling on and crushing piglets. They paid expenses for out-of-state volunteers to collect the necessary signatures to put the measure on the ballot and spent heavily on supporting media. There were at the time only two hog farms in the state, so there were very few people to fight back. While HSUS crows about their success against a “cruel practice,” how many piglets will die when their mothers lie down on them?
Passed a similar measure (November, 2006 elections) in Arizona, together with expensive restrictions on raising veal, both little practiced in the state. Attacking accepted animal practices in places where they’re almost unknown establishes precedents that will be used to support attacks in other places.
Passed a ban on production of fois gras in California which had one farm. The same has since been attempted in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington state but failed in all three. Based on other such campaigns, those bills will be back every year or two until they pass.
Currently suing Ringling Bros. circus alleging cruelty to elephants, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Suing New Jersey Department of Agriculture to overturn regulations defining common intensive farming practices as “humane.” Stopped (with a lawsuit) the state’s planned 2006 bear hunting season, needed to control numbers.
Attempted to ban hunting of bears with bait and with the use of dogs in Maine. The referendum effort failed by a narrow margin.
HSUS was the chief force behind PAWS. Its state level ‘no fingerprints’ affiliates are pushing comprehensive breeder licensing bills in several states each year.
In most of these actions and dozens of others each year, HSUS attacks as ‘cruelty’ accepted practices which are unfamiliar to most people, in places where they’re least familiar and/or of little importance.
Another common approach is the one used for PAWS: use of rare horrible examples to suggest the existence of a widespread problem requiring restrictive legislation.
The animal rights effort to end animal use in our country including the breeding and ownership of pets will not be contained unless we:
Unite to oppose nearly all HSUS actions, and Expose HSUS for the fraud that it is. When the money from people who believe their $25 checks actually help animals dries up, it is over. Until then we will continue to lose the war for our rights and our animals.
THE FUTURE OF DOGS IN AMERICA
What if the animal rights movement wins?
What does the future hold for U.S. dogs? We’d like to think that pets will be healthier and happier, that more dogs will come from the best breeders and fewer from the
others, and that laws will punish the real offenders but not discourage good ownership and breeding. Is that where we’re going, or is the future darker?
We will try to predict the future, looking twenty years ahead to what dog ownership and breeding might look like in 2026 if the animal rights (AR) movement continues to win. This will not be fun but it may be useful: If what we see in the future is bad enough, maybe we can do more today to avoid going there.
We will assume that current trends will continue. If you assume that trends get worse – for example, that money is found for muscular enforcement of bad laws – you get a worse picture, while if owners and breeders become concerned about the loss of their rights at a rapidly increasing rate, someone very wealthy decides to help defend our rights to keep and breed pets, or the AKC suddenly gets new and wise leadership, things will be much better.
Trying to predict the future can help us take control. I hope this will be taken in that spirit. What are the trends today?
In 2006, a few good things are happening. More animal lovers are learning that there is a serious problem and starting to work against it. We are winning a greater fraction of the lawmaking battles than was true even three years ago and some lawmakers are catching on to the goals of the animal rights movement. The Center for Consumer Freedom provides very useful anti-AR public education, The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), and the NRA make small but significant contributions. Several other organizations – The Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance (SAOVA), the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), and the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) – also play roles. The new company ‘My Dog Votes’ may help in spreading the word. There are more and better blogs on our side. There are several lawsuits trying to overturn some of the worst laws: some of these may succeed. Laws against animal-related terrorism are improving and we can expect strong enforcement.
The Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS, S. 1139 and H.R. 2669) would have extended federal Animal Welfare Act rules to retail-only breeders who are currently exempt, thus forcing a year-by-year defense of the six litter/25 puppy exemptions to protect home breeding. PAWS died with the 109th Congress and the sponsor, Senator Rick Santorum, was defeated in the 2006 elections.
However, there are also some very bad things going on. By far the most important trend today is the increasing overall power of the animal rights movement. As of 2006 there’s no question that the AR movement is winning, steadily taking away our rights to own and breed pet animals.
The most obvious of the AR trends is the number of cities and counties that are passing anti-pet laws. Southern California is passing mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) laws with
complicated and expensive breeder licensing provisions in one county after another. Albuquerque, New Mexico’s ‘HEART’ ordinance is even worse – it includes not just MSN and breeder licenses but also close regulation of dog ownership and all forms of pet animal business. In some of these areas there have been efforts to fight back to undo the bad laws but none have been successful yet.
I believe California and New Mexico will pass MSN with some form of breeder licensing at the state level within a few years.
Pet guardianship replaces the rights (and full responsibility) that go with ownership with a government-granted privilege. The idea is just starting to edge its way into laws, most often by substituting ‘owner/guardian’ for ‘owner’ (as the state of Rhode Island has done) and accompanied by assurances that “We think this will help people be more responsible for pets.”
However guardianship is a familiar concept elsewhere in law. When a nosy neighbor points out that your dog is limping, is a bit plump or isn’t neutered, an owner can smile sweetly and say “Thank you.” A guardian is subject
to direct government supervision and because possession is a government granted privilege, the government has the power. As usage spreads and legal battles necessary to pin down the meaning of “guardian” for pets are fought, costs and risks of having a pet will go up.
Rhode Island also has passed mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) with no exceptions for cats, meaning that the lawful breeding of cats is over there. This will do nothing to reduce the number of cats, but will eliminate any possibility of sales of purebred cats helping to stem the tide of at-large ‘outside’ and feral cats breeding on their own, as America has done with dogs over the last half-century. I expect restrictions on dog breeding in Rhode Island within a few years.
Pennsylvania’s Governor Rendell is in the pocket of hard core AR interests and is pushing rules and enforcement changes there that would eliminate home breeding within a few years.
Georgia has statewide breeder licensing; North Carolina and Virginia both have ambiguous state laws that are being interpreted by counties as allowing licensing.
These are only a few examples of increasingly restrictive state and local lawmaking trends; there are many others.
It’s nearly certain that a new PAWS bill will be introduced next year. With Congress having been taken over by Democrats we will lose some valuable allies in stopping the new bill. The so-named Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a political action committee, The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), that is channeling large amounts of money to animal-rights oriented lawmakers and they’re doing well at electing their favorites and taking out some of our supporters.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the only large well-known organization supporting the keeping of dogs. Unfortunately the AKC is almost completely unaware of the AR threat to purebred dogs and the AKC’s existence – they were one of the main backers of PAWS. Chances of the needed ‘extreme makeover’ in AKC leadership are small to none.
Most of the current AR mischief comes from just a few very-well funded organizations – HSUS, PETA, and others that are less well known – but the ‘Best Friends Animal Shelter’ is now turning to promoting breed specific dangerous dog laws that could eliminate some breeds and we can expect growing trouble on that front.
A combination of ignorance, laziness, and animal rights orientation on the part of animal control and other public officials is putting limits of three or four pets into even tiny and far out rural places, one after another.
An additional factor is suburban sprawl: city dwellers and close-in suburbanites follow the interstate highways to newly developed farmland, but are offended by all those animals. So they pressure county councils to enact limits: While farmers generally can defend themselves, home breeders of dogs, cannot.
Because you must keep animals from each generation for possible future breeding, good pet breeding is a multi-year project: You cannot have a sound program within a four-pet limit. When a kennel license allowing more is offered, a single opposing neighbor may be able to keep you from getting it, it generally comes with ‘any reasonable time’ inspections of your home, and you may be required to get a business license that will bring another group of laws into play.
For most people, if an in-home hobby of perhaps twenty years can be inspected by a high school graduate with no felony convictions, a clipboard, a day or less of training in animal husbandry and perhaps an AR chip on his shoulder who may bring disease from another kennel he visited that morning, it isn’t a hobby anymore.
Other requirements – one current bill would require a written record every time every animal is fed – will complete the conversion of a hobby (something you do for satisfaction and fun) to a money-losing business. How many home breeders will continue?
Except for the large animal vets, most veterinarians and most vet organizations remain clueless about animal rights. The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s position on our state’s worst bill last year (requiring rabies vaccinations to be reported for dog licensing purposes) was “We can’t oppose a law that just enforces another law.” That bill passed by a hair. At the national level, the AVMA stopped short of a decision to form an alliance with HSUS but continues to support the first steps toward national mandatory microchipping of all pets.
As I write this, the ‘Coalition To Reunite Pets and Families’ made up of HSUS, the National Animal Control Association, and several other organizations that would like to see close regulation of pets or expect to profit from mandatory microchipping are pushing hard for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make a rule requiring Animal Welfare Act dealers (commercial breeders) to use European microchips instead of U.S. ones. The USDA too would like such a rule. The story is too long to tell here but this rule will put us firmly on the road to a law requiring all pets to be microchipped and registered in a government-accessible data base. A federal bill for that purpose is likely to be introduced around 2009.
The court interpretation of laws is likely to turn more strongly against us. The ARs effectively “own” about three dozen law schools and retired game show host Bob Barker is buying them a new one every few months. Five years from now, many new lawyers will have specialized in animal law and all of them will have come from AR-oriented programs. By 2026 many of those lawyers will be judges and some will be lawmakers.
The media prints anti-AR letters to the editor, just as they do stories of alien abductions, rants about taxes, and – you know – that CIA conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Mainstream magazines such as Time and Dog Fancy are AR-leaning and articles on AR-related topics in other publications take the AR side: Other than an article in The Atlantic Monthly in the 1990’s I cannot think of an exception.
There are three books exposing the AR movement but all are seriously out of date; we are promised a revised edition of one of them for 2007.
With so few (and small) useful organizations on our side, much of the anti-AR work is being done with irregular forces – Internet email groups and other loose organizations – and the handful of larger kennel clubs and state federations of clubs that really do ‘get it.’
Significant awareness of the AR agenda among the general public is still well in the future. Even home breeders of dogs are only starting to understand. Creating awareness and the rest of what must be done to keep home breeding legal and pet ownership free of impossible restrictions are very slow going without a strong organization.
Where will these trends and forces take us in twenty years? Let’s …
Fast forward our time machine to 2026
Much of what follows may seem impossible if you’re not in the middle of the fight. However all of the laws needed to create the situation I’m about to describe have been seriously proposed and nearly all of them are in effect in some places: Current trends
give no reason to think they won’t spread. The rest is just predicting how people will react as that occurs.
The good news is that there are still pets in 2026. Not quite as many as twenty years ago, but most families that want a pet dog or cat do have one. However …
Only about one dog in three is
legal. Legal dogs come from large scale commercial breeders and importers plus a handful of wealthy individuals who still breed dogs as a hobby. Because of the many demands the law makes of breeders (expensive licenses and ‘puppy lemon’ laws, strict liability for attacks by their dogs, socialization requirements, broad and detailed kennel and husbandry standards), legal dogs are too costly for most people to own: upward from $5000 for a pet shop dog. A ‘sort of home bred’ purebred starts at $15,000; maybe a bit less for an imported animal. (All prices guessed in 2006 dollars.)
You can also get a legal dog at the animal shelter for about $2000; most of these are dogs that have been seized from illegal breeders or because they were illegally owned. Larger shelters either import in quality or – since shelters are exempt from the anti-breeding laws and husbandry standards – operate their own breeding programs.
Ownership of an intact dog requires a very expensive license, available only to licensed (usually commercial farm) breeders. All other legal dogs are sterilized. All are microchipped and tracked by the government from birth to a required vet-signed death certificate. The enforcement risks (what if your dog escapes, your ACO finds a bees’ nest in your yard and reports you for poor care, or your vet turns you in for missing a required routine checkup) add to the fear factor and the cost of owning a legal dog.
This is of course the future that the animal rights movement wanted for all dogs, on the way to completely eliminating pets. However, because Americans really do love dogs, the AR movement hasn’t been able to get strong enough enforcement of the laws creating this grim ‘legal’ pet status to make it even close to 100%. The other two out of every three dogs now, are illegal.
Most illegal dogs come from a vast cottage industry of “back in the woods” or “over there under the pile of boards behind the garage” very-small-scale illegal breeders. Who is this ‘puppy moonshine’ maker? Your neighbor, your aunt, or the guy who takes care of your car – and maybe all three.
Because demand for pets has remained high but most people can’t afford (or are afraid to own) a legal dog, even illegal puppies are expensive – a minimum of $1000 for a four-week old just-weaned pup with no shots, do your own worming. At these prices, people can make good money breeding a single litter a year, and they do, even though they don’t have the required licenses, comply with the kennel requirements, microchip their puppies, report names of new owners, or any of the rest. They are thus completely outside the law, subject to severe penalties if they get caught.
The good news is that these breeders are willing to take the risk in exchange for the added income, so middle class folks can still have dogs; the bad news is that most of them don’t know much about dogs or dog breeding.
In theory, enforcement could be tightened to almost completely choke off the illegal dogs, but efforts by HSUS and friends to get even stronger laws and more money for enforcement seem to have stalled. We pay billions in tax dollars a year for a war on drugs that is only somewhat effective but there is no chance that we’ll vote to spend that kind of money to stop illegal breeding, especially since most of us are getting our dogs from outside the legal pet system.
In fact even most animal shelters don’t want illegal breeding stopped. As was true in Los Angeles as early as 2005, illegal breeding has become a profitable cash crop for shelters nationwide. Every breeder bust yields perhaps $10,000 in shelter income for just a few hours work. Shelters seize and sell the dogs and they fine the breeder — but not too big a fine or too many of the illegal breeders, because that would kill the ‘crop.’
No trial is ever necessary because illegal breeders are happy to plead guilty to a neglect charge carrying a $1000 fine and sign over their animals, rather than face required jail time for an illegal breeding conviction.
Illegal dogs are nearly all mixes, although some do look like specific breeds and a few of the underground breeders claim that they use only purebred breeding animals. But no illegal dog comes with registration papers since registration requires enrollment in the government-accessible microchip data base.
It is still legal to breed dogs on residential property in most states but only people wealthy enough to be able to live in a properly zoned area, build a kennel that complies with commercial standards, and employ a kennelmaster to handle the licenses, paperwork, record keeping, and inspections do it as a hobby and only by importing nearly all their breeding animals. Naturally their puppies sell mostly to other wealthy folks.
With the end of practical middle class home breeding, came the end of most breeds of purebred dog in America. You cannot reduce the numbers in a breed below a certain level before the genetic diversity needed for litters to survive is lost, and in most breeds, most of the gene pool was in the hands of home breeders. Still more breeds were lost because the increase of inherited problems in adult dogs made many breeders give it up, even in the last places that allowed unlicensed and true home breeding.
There was talk of breeding purebreds in secret but the networks needed to preserve a breed when few people own more than two dogs are extremely risky. The majority of Americans see good quality purebreds only on TV.
Because of pet guardianship and very high values set by courts for a pet’s life, vet care is now several times as expensive as it was twenty years ago. The Pet Guardianship
Act of 2012 led to rapid increases in the cost of vet care which in turn caused many people to cut back.
HSUS then promoted and got passed the Healthy Pets Act of 2018 which required all owners to get certain basic care and required vets to report that care to the government. Failure to get the required care for your dog can mean fines of $1000 or more.
The HPA was the final event creating the split between legal and illegal dogs. Because vets are required to report illegal dogs, most of these animals get no care, although ‘see no evil’ vets are out there if you can afford them. There are only half as many vets as there were twenty years ago but they are making wonderful money.
The nastiest anti-pet laws of 2006 – breed specific laws requiring owners to turn in `pit bulls’ and sometimes other breeds for euthanasia, abusive seizures that ruined people’s lives, and the occasional felony cruelty conviction for a clean-kill of a nuisance dog – zapped perhaps a thousand people a year.
There was no violence by these victims. If told to give up Fido for euthanasia, people cried and did it. When Cleo Club-President was busted on a fake charge by an ACO who hated her guts, and got suspended, fined, and had her judge’s license canceled by the AKC, and was thrown out of her kennel club and dumped by lifelong friends, she plopped herself down on the couch and cried until she had gained 50 pounds. In 2006, pet owners crushed by animal control turned their pain inward.
Not any more. Enforcement of the much stronger laws of 2026 – nearly 40 breeds are banned now and seizure-enforced pet limits are universal – has hurt tens of thousands of people per year for over a decade. The predictable result has been that enforcement nails some owners who don’t take it well, and there has been some violence.
One day just before Chr
istmas in 2015 a shelter worker took the leash from the hand of a crying young woman, turned to take her dog back to the euthanasia area, and got a 12″ butcher knife in his back. Evidently the woman then took the leash away from him and walked out. None of the other four owners waiting in line was able to describe the killer and she was never caught.
In some parts of the country there are links between illegal breeding and organized crime. Just as happens with illegal drugs there has been violence associated with control of sales territories. Payoffs to law enforcement are common almost everywhere, often in the form of free puppies for an officer’s family.
A few shelters have been burned, animal control vehicles have been attacked, and there have been dozens of ‘liberations’ of seized dogs. A/C and shelters have beefed up security but there have been too many victims and there are too many targets; low-level violence of this kind seems to be permanent.
Retention of caring and qualified officers has become a serious problem in many areas, however those for whom the problems are simply more proof of the nastiness and irresponsibility of all pet owners mostly continue their mission of freeing pets from being part of human families.
For a time, snitches played a part in enforcing the laws but that largely ended after hundreds of cases of serious property damage (mostly burning of garages and automobiles), a number of thrashings and over a dozen killings. Even vets weren’t exempt: Here’s a joke that went the rounds on the ‘net in 2020:
“Know how to make your vet crazy?” “No, how?” “Take your dog to him for a rabies shot.”
(Since most dogs are illegal, you would be forcing the vet to choose between ignoring the law requiring reporting of illegal dogs, thus risking a $1000 fine, and the possibility of violence if he complies with the law, for a tiny fee.)
Very few of those cases have been solved. As with drug-related crime in urban areas, the list of suspects is often most of the people in the surrounding area and there are almost never any willing witnesses. After a time the police (whose pet dogs are, after all, nearly all illegal) simply gave up. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’ (wink-wink) became the motto for most non-fatal pet-related violence.
The welfare of dogs is much worse than it was in 2006. While true overpopulation is completely gone (nobody ever turns in a puppy to a shelter) the poor breeding and socialization practices that are normal among illegal breeders mean that many puppy homes don’t succeed. The number of stray dogs has increased dramatically and nobody knows the extent of ‘shoot, shovel, and shut up’ occurring in rural areas.
However, most strays that make it to a shelter and nearly all owner surrender dogs must be euthanized as unfit pets and this adds to the incentive for shelters to seize, import, and breed dogs. With the loss of middle class home breeders there are no longer any breeders helping buyers with problems or taking their puppies back.
Human deaths from dog attacks averaged 12-15/year for decades. Since 2010, however, the number has increased as good breeding practices faded. 2026 will see about 35 Americans killed by man’s best friend.
Pet health too has gone downhill, due to the extreme inbreeding common among unskilled ‘moonshine’ breeders and the lack of vet care for most illegal dogs. Because of the very high costs, even legal dogs often get only the minimum care required by law.
Since its financial failure in 2012, the AKC has been effectively owned by HSUS. It is less than half the size of 2006, even though litter registrations now cost $950 (up from $25+$2/puppy in 2006) and individual registrations, $195 (up from $15/puppy) and the major focus is on activities for (legal) mixed breed and commercially bred dogs. The
number of purebred dog shows per year is a small fraction of the number in 2006, and entries are still declining as the cost of purebred dogs continues to rise.
HSUS isn’t doing very well either. Since the 1990’s HSUS’s business model has amounted to strip-mining the good will built up by the organization in earlier years when it was an animal welfare organization. From about 2000 on it still claimed that donations were needed to help animals but actually used nearly all the money to promote anti-animal use laws and enforcement. They have run through all the easy ‘for the animals’ campaigns and people are starting to realize that they are not helping animals, but are actually part of the problem.
HSUS is a business built on quicksand and it is starting to sink. Annual revenues are down by half from the peak year of 2015. However, continuing lies and a devoted base of hard core AR supporters (there are as many wealthy Hollywood fruitcakes and fanatics as ever) allow them to keep them spewing their garbage and buying up lawmakers year by year.
It does appear that things are starting to turn around. The gradual weakening of HSUS, public attention coming from the violence, the dawning recognition that it isn’t just that you can’t buy the purebred dog you remember from when you were a child but that there are almost no good purebreds or home-bred dogs at all, the views of a growing number of experts that, far from protecting animals, the tangle of laws has reduced their numbers and made them (and humans) less happy and less healthy – all this has begun to bend the road back in favor of animals and animal owners.
However, the turning is very slow. Many anti-animal laws were passed not just for animal rights reasons but also because they made things easier for animal control organizations. A pet limit law, for example, can be used as a one-size-fits-all answer to nearly any animal complaint, either by telling the individual whose dogs are a noise nuisance “You are over the limit – reduce your numbers” or by telling the complainant “Sorry – he’s within the limit so there’s nothing we can do” instead of enforcing the noise ordinance.
Bad laws give animal control more power. No enforcement agency willingly gives that up.
If breeding laws were liberalized, animal shelters would have competition for their own import and breeding programs. Seizures might nearly disappear. With so few good quality stray dogs there’d be no income from adoptions. Where would the money come from? For financial reasons too, shelters are against easing the laws. As a result of the very high value set by courts for a pet’s life, veterinarians have their own ambulance-chasing lawyers and their own malpractice insurance-dictated very expensive practice standards. A law limiting awards in pet wrongful death/injury cases would be hard to pass and even if it did, there would be no immediate unwinding of the staff, equipment, and clinic requirements that drove up the price of care.
It might be possible to repeal the laws mandating care but the immediate result would be less care. Discussions of low cost alternatives – for example, publicly funded clinics and the veterinary equivalent of nurse-practitioner status – meet strong opposition from veterinarians.
In-the-open home breeding has become so unfamiliar that it has the ‘not in my backyard’ problem. When liberalization is discussed the responses are usually “We don’t allow any kind of farming here – someone who wants to breed dogs should buy a farm in the country.” and “If we made breeding legal here, our town would be full of breeders: we don’t want all that noise and smell.”
ners still have no effective national voice and that makes it much harder to pass our own laws.
Mandatory microchipping of all pets has made billions of dollars for makers of chips, vet clinics, and chip registries and it continues to be a fountain of gold for them. Because it facilitates enforcement of all the other pet laws, the AR movement is determined to keep it. However, making government control that easy guarantees that there will be government control. The battle to undo the mandatory microchipping laws may seesaw for a decade or more but until they are undone, ownership and breeding of dogs cannot start to return to being a hobby.
There is some talk of a federal law preempting some of the anti-pet and anti-breeding state and local laws but it hasn’t happened yet. There’s wide recognition of the general corruption and abuse ‘under color of law’ by animal control organizations but the corruption comes from the grants of large amounts of power to poorly supervised persons with minimal qualifications. There’s little will and no money to dramatically upgrade animal control organizations so unless many of the laws are repealed to return us to the basic animal welfare and confinement laws of the late 20th century, there seems to be no solution.
The animal rights movement imagined that we could have a large force of animal police supervising every detail of breeding and ownership, gradually squeezing pets down and out of our lives. Wrapped in AR glitter paper the laws sounded good and they were passed. Americans, however, are only willing to pay for a few dog catchers and we want pets in our lives. The result has been a nasty sort of legal gridlock for dogs.
In 2026 the situation of pet dogs in the U.S. has hit bottom and will gradually begin to improve. However undoing the damage of the last 25 years – untangling the maze of laws, each with its own strong supporters; restarting the practice of in-home breeding; rebuilding the breeds, breeding knowledge and skills; re-establishing the kennel and breed clubs; beginning over again to spread the basics of good dog ownership to the average family – may take a century.
HOW ANIMAL RIGHTS LAWS WORK
Nine out of ten new laws relating to pets are actually anti-pet in purpose. However, since `anti-pet’ wouldn’t sell, the real purpose is never put on the label. Pet laws must be studied to figure out what they will really do. The true purpose will be found among what would ordinarily be considered the ‘unintended consequences’ and is often the reverse of what we’re told.
The ‘law of unintended consequences’ is familiar in lawmaking. Unlimited welfare benefits seemed like a way to lift people out of poverty but the long-term effect was to build a cycle of dependence in which successive generations grew up and choose to ‘get a check’ rather than building the skills needed for adult independence. Laws passed with only the best of intentions thus caused the numbers of the poor to grow, decade by decade.
The difference is that for AR laws, the unintended consequences are the plan.
Everything else is just brightly colored wrapping paper, intended to build support and get the law passed. This tactic has been so well polished that you will find respected and well intended community leaders backing even the worst anti-pet bills.
When animal rights laws are claimed to be needed to prevent tragedy – ‘pit bull’ bans, extremely punitive dangerous dog laws, sometimes anti-tethering laws – you will often find the mother or other close relative of someone badly hurt or killed by a dog as a figurehead for the effort to pass the law.
These individuals are sincere and you cannot blame them for trying to prevent a repetition. The tactic is effective because it is hard to say “Mrs. Smith, I’m very sorry about Tommy but you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.” But these poor people are twice victimized – the second time, by an animal rights movement that is cynically using them to put a human face on an anti-human and inhumane campaign.
A few examples of ‘what you see and what you get’
1. ‘Mandatory spay neuter (MSN) laws’ requiring all dogs to be spayed or neutered, generally with an expensive ‘intact animal’ licenses offered under tight restrictions, are promoted as a way to reduce ‘pet overpopulation.’ This seems logical: If there are no excess intact animals, then unwanted births can’t happen.
But it doesn’t work that way. These laws cannot be enforced – you can’t tell if a dog is spayed or neutered (S/N) at a glance (for females you may not even be able to locate the scar) and going door to door checking for vet certificates is far too expensive.
The first result is that a few dogs are S/N, a few more are given up, some dogs are abandoned (shelter intakes always rise for a couple of years where these laws are
passed) and most dogs are unchanged but owners of the intact ones are now in violation. The owners who either S/N or give up their dogs are the responsible ones: most of them were already confining their animals. The ones who were allowing animals to roam are least likely to have them altered.
These laws have no favorable effect on pet populations: While animal rightists cite San Mateo County, California (where MSN was passed in the early 1990’s) as a great success, an honest study of the numbers shows that the law didn’t work at all. And it has been the same in every other jurisdiction: Montgomery County, MD, passed MSN in the 1990’s but repealed it just a few years later when a watchdog agency concluded that it had only bad effects.
However ‘ineffective’ is just the beginning. The restrictions on ‘intact animal’ and ‘breeder’ licenses are always set up to make carefully planned multi-year breeding programs impossible. Good breeders either stop, move away, or try to hide, selling their dogs only out of the area. The supply of dogs from people who breed for health and happiness, match puppies to families, help if there are problems, and take them back if it doesn’t work, vanishes.
To get a dog license you have to say if the dog is S/N or not. People who are in violation of an MSN law stop getting licenses. Revenues decline and because licensing is the point at which rabies vaccinations are followed up, so does this important public health measure.
Wait – there’s even more. Since they generally point to a violation of the law, unplanned puppies are now effectively contraband. They may be abandoned or dumped – not exactly a humane outcome.
‘Oops’ litters supply around half of all American dogs: Causing them to be destroyed may create a shortage that draws hidden breeding and fleamarket imports from outlying areas. The poster child for MSN is Southern California where millions of people now live under these laws and sure enough, increasing numbers of puppies are being brought in from Mexico, often using the same smuggling schemes as for drugs.
Even the basic idea – that restricting dog births will reduce numbers entering shelters – is wrong in most areas. America no longer has a general dog ‘overpopulation’ (too many puppies) problem. Except in far out (mostly southern) rural areas, places with excessive euthanasia rates have an excess of adult dogs. That’s a different problem, one that must be addressed in other ways. To the extent that MSN has any effect at all, it simply lowers dog quality, thus making the adult dog retention problem worse.
MSN laws are a bomb, t
ossed in the middle of the American ‘dog supply system.’ But the unintended consequences are the plan. These laws are often supported by the well-intended but they are written by people who know exactly how they will work.
2. Anti-tethering laws either set limits on how long a dog can be tied outdoors (“no more than one hour at a time,” “not over three hours daily”) or completely forbid it. This sounds okay — most of us believe that most dogs should be kept as house pets, don’t we? Some breeders simply wouldn’t sell you a dog as a pet if you said “We will chain him in the back yard.”
However, most chained dogs do fine – I grew up with a real sweetheart of a German Shepherd who was perfectly happy on a chain.
There is no evidence that chaining contributes to aggression; such problems come from a combination of poor breeding and poor early socialization. Dangerous temperaments show up among in-home pets just as they do among dogs kept on chains, in fenced yards, or allowed to roam.
Many people cannot afford a secure fence and many of those who can, live where covenants and/or laws make a fence impossible.
Sledding and many hunting dogs are routinely chained, ditto many dogs kept for security purposes. These dogs are not intended as pets and if they were brought indoors, many would lose their reason for being.
Many dogs kept outside are very unhappy if brought inside: depression and/or destructive behavior are common. Some pet dogs kept outside can be trained to live indoors but the project will require at least weeks of close supervision by an adult with good dog skills. If the family works and goes to school during the day, keeping a dog chained because they can’t have a fence, the odds are against moving him inside.
The usual recourse when people are forced to stop chaining is a small homemade wire pen — far more confining and less secure.
The overall result of these laws is more dogs getting loose, more abandonments, and more given up at the animal shelter. Anti-tethering laws lead not to happier dogs, but a reduction in the number of dogs. Again, the unintended consequences are the plan.
There are several other very common types of AR laws: Breeder licensing schemes. These are mandatory spay/neuter from the flip side. Claimed to be needed to prevent irresponsible or abusive breeding (‘fight puppy mills’) the real goal is to make home breeding impractical.
Pet limit laws. These laws claim to reduce dog nuisances but since the overwhelming majority of dog owners are already within the limit, they don’t replace any other law. The chief effect – and the goal from the AR point of view – is wiping out home based dog rescue and home breeding. Zoning laws are sometimes used in exactly the same way, for example dog breeding may be defined as ‘manufacturing’ and permitted only in areas so zoned where residential property is uncommon and often not very desirable.
Humane education laws. Who could oppose education? But ‘humane’ is matter of values and values are best taught by parents. Attempts to teach values in the schools collide with two issues: Whose values? (Is hunting okay? Use of animals for education and research purposes? Eating of meat or wearing of fur and leather?). And where will the teaching materials come from? All current comprehensive ‘humane education’ materials were developed by anti-animal use organizations, HSUS and others. They are strictly propaganda, aimed at training future generations to reject existing and majority values in favor of those of a tiny group of cultists.
A subtle but nasty effect is that these programs undermine the moral authority of parents. PETA, for example, produced a comic book with a cover showing a woman with a knife, blood, etc. on the cover (slaughtering a rabbit) and the banner “Your Mommy KILLS Animals.” It’s hard to imagine anything worse for modern society.
Steady increases of the penalties for all forms of animal-related offenses. Laws work well when they reflect settled majority values: All of us agree that murder should be against the law and very strongly punished and all but the alcoholics support strong measures against drunk driving. When laws go beyond protecting us against behavior we all consider wrong and instead try to change the values of the majority, they no longer work well and tend to lessen respect for law. Increasing punishments within practical limits has little or no good effect. The ‘war on drugs’ shows us the borderland: Does any respected authority believe that doubling the minimum penalties would result in less drug use?
Many areas of animal law are similar. We have laws against abandonment, cruelty, dog (and other animal) fighting, neglect, and other actions that the great majority of us consider wrong. Year by year, we see efforts to double and redouble the penalties but with rare exceptions (such as a very few places where the law still gives deliberate cruelty a slap on the wrist), penalties are already high enough to have whatever deterrent effect is practical. Still more punishment simply means more plea bargains instead of trials, regardless of guilt.
‘Bond’ requirements when animals are seized. Seizure of owned animals was provided in laws as an emergency measure, to protect animals in immediate danger that cannot wait for a trial. Modern animal control practice in many areas, however, is that if there is (or can be claimed to be) a justification for seizure of any animal, they are all taken. Then, after a time, the owner can go to court and attempt to prove that there were no grounds for the seizure.
The only check on these abuses is that animal control must hold and care for the seized animals pending trial. The trend is toward laws requiring animal owners to post what is called a bond and is typically $10/day/animal within a few days following the seizure, often in 30-day chunks. Ten dogs = $3000; pay now or your animals are forfeited and
may be disposed of. Then you go to trial: Generally you don’t get your bond back even if you are found not guilty.
A true bond secures performance: show up for trial or finish the job as contracted and you get your money back. These so-called seizure bond provisions are just prepayments to shelters and since actual shelter expense to care for one more dog is $1-2/day, it’s at a very generous rate. An Ohio bill contains an innovation: rather than requiring a bond if animals are seized you have to do it to obtain a license allowing you to have over fifteen dogs for breeding or rescue. If any animal is seized; your bond is forfeited.
Where these laws are in force you will generally be offered the choice of pleading guilty to a lesser offence, forfeiting most animals, and capping your bond amount at elapsed days. So much for that annoying ‘due process’ thing in the U.S. Constitution.
The claimed justification is to protect animal control from the up front expense of large seizures and thus make them possible. The real effect is to complete the conversion of seizures from a limited tool needed for occasional urgent situations, to a profitable and perfectly legal form of abuse ‘under color of law.’ These laws almost completely eliminate the need for control organizations to make the case that a violation has occurred, thus freeing them to campaign without check against breeders, rescuers and anyone else they don’t like.
Laws that give power over dog care to others who don’t have to pay. Guardianship (increased government power), private right of action
laws (anyone can go to court to get power over your dogs), and increasing values set by courts on the value of a dog’s life (because pet ambulance chasing lawyers will make veterinary malpractice insurance necessary) will all drive up costs of ownership. These trends are just beginning but as they continue, dogs could easily become too expensive for most of us to own.
One final observation. The true effect of an animal rights law may be very well hidden. Long or complicated bills need several readings and at least one should be from the bottom up, since ‘killer’ provisions often appear near the end. Focus on the real world effects; they’re often not as they seem.
An example of ‘well hidden.’ A 2004 North Carolina proposal promoted to `end the tragedy of euthanasia’ would have taxed pet foods in order to fund (among other things) low cost spay/neuter programs. Sounds okay so far, doesn’t it?
But the funds were to be distributed to counties equally and to jurisdictions within counties according to population. The result would have been that the urban counties already having very high S/N percentages would have gotten most of the modest amount of money from the tax and incorporated areas within the remaining counties most of the rest, leaving pennies on the dollar for the less populous unincorporated rural areas that actually had the problem.
The same proposal contained a requirement that all shelters sterilize all animals prior to adoption. The effect on well-off counties would have been small, since most of them already were doing so. However in the poorer counties, 100% pre-adoption sterilization (rather than the weaker measure of requiring it by contract) would have jacked up the price of an adoption from $50-75 to perhaps $250 thus essentially ending unsubsidized adoptions. When you looked at the numbers, it was clear that there wouldn’t be enough money for more than a fractional subsidy.
The true effect of the proposal would have been to greatly increase euthanasia rates in the rural areas where the problem existed.
Opposition grew, the measure never was introduced as a bill.
A second example of `well hidden.’ The Albuquerque New Mexico `HEART’ ordinance contains a list of the usual sorts of serious mistreatment that will be considered animal cruelty. Much farther down the text of the law there’s a short paragraph that lists by number only, several earlier paragraphs of minor violations that will also be charged as cruelty – leash law violations, having bees in an area accessible to your dog, and so on. In yet another section you discover that not only is any cruelty violation a bar to getting a permit (to conduct any animal business or to keep or breed an intact animal) but the presence of any person in your household who has had such a conviction is also a bar.
Maybe they won’t find out? Well, you’re required to state when applying that no such bar exists. In Albuquerque, if your mom gets fined because her dog gets loose and she later moves in with you, your pet breeding days are over. HEART is in effect now and there will be a strong effort to pass it at the state level within the next year.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Some of these books are out of print but they’re widely available from the usual sources.
The Hijacking of the Humane Movement, Rod and Patti Strand, 1993, ISBN 0-944875-28-9 (Revised edition planned for 2007)
ANIMAL RIGHTS – The Inhumane Crusade, Daniel T. Oliver, 1999, ISBN 0-936783-23-0
ANIMAL SCAM – The beastly abuse of human rights, Kathleen Marquardt, 1993, ISBN 0-89526-498-6
Americans for Medical Progress www.ampef.org/
PETA Kills Animals www.PETAkillsanimals.com/
Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners Voting Alliance www.saova.org
Animal Scam www.animalscam.com/
Activist Cash www.activistcash.com
Missouri Federation of Animal Owners www.mofed.org
Alliance of Responsible Pet Owners of NE Florida www.arponef.org
www.cfa.org/org/legal.html Cat Fancier’s Association Legislative Group
Animal Rights www.animalrights.net/
National Animal Interest Alliance www.naiaonline.org
Center for Consumer Freedom www.consumerfreedom.com
Dog Watch www.dogwatch.net/
Dog Politics www.dogpolitics.com/
Bio for Walt Hutchens
Walt Hutchens is a Naval Academy graduate with two masters degrees in engineering from MIT. He is retired from careers in the Navy, as an engineer, and as a small business owner in the DC area. He has written numerous op-ed pieces for the Roanoke Times and other Virginia newspapers on various topics and has had many articles on vintage military and ham radios published in hobby magazines.
He and his wife Sharyn have a combined total of nearly 40 years in dog breeding, rescuing, and training. Walt is owner and moderator of the 2500-member Pet-Law email group, as well as the Virginia Pet-Law list and several other state lists. The Petdogs-L group is another 2500-member list providing advice and answering questions for dog owners.
The Hutchens have been involved in legislative issues and fighting the animal rights movement since 2001.