Monday, April 12, 2010

Regulating Animal Cruelty

Animal rights people are crazy. Not only do they value animals more than people, but they seem to truly disdain human beings. Moreover, they are ignorant and foolish, they know little about the things they advocate, and the rules they propose typically make little sense and are usually more destructive than they are helpful. But before we dismiss them entirely, let’s recognize that sometimes they have a point. And if we dismiss those points out of hand, it will hurt our side. What I’m thinking of today, in particular, are puppy mills.

I think we can all agree that there is simply no justification for cruelty or allowing cruelty. Where the problem arises in this debate is defining what constitutes cruelty. Indeed, that is where the animal rights people lose most everyone. Many of them argue that eating meat is cruelty, or that pet ownership is cruelty. Do I buy that? No, not in the least, and few others do either.

But we make a mistake if we dismiss this entire cause just because of the extreme position taken by the few. In fact, most people care a great deal about animals, and I'm seeing more and more people who want to stop "animal cruelty." But can we define cruelty? I think so, but only if we talk about it rationally and we ignore the people on either extreme of this issue.

I would say, for example, the needless infliction of pain is cruel. Torture and maiming are cruel as well. But does this actually happen? Well, that's a trick question. If it doesn't, then there's no reason not to ban it. If it does, then it should be stopped. So does it actually happen or am I just talking about theory here? It does. Let's talk about puppy mills.

What is a puppy mill? A puppy mill is a place where dogs are bred en masse. There are about 4000 puppy mills in the US, turning out half a million dogs a year. Here are some common features of these puppy mills:

• The dogs tend to live their entire lives in cages that are not much larger than the dog. They literally stand, sit and sleep on wire their entire lives.

• They receive no medical care or any sort.

• They are forcibly bred to have as many litters as possible, beginning from puppihood until they simply can’t produce any more pups. Usually, they are impregnated every time they go into heat.

• When they can no longer breed, they are killed, usually by shooting or downing.

• What’s more, many of these dogs are tortured or abused in the extreme. Some have their vocal chords cut. Some lose eyes. Their teeth rot out of their mouths. They are beaten. Most are malnourished, as they are fed sawdust along with their dog food. Some are found with metal collars that have grown into their necks because they were put on as puppies and were never removed as the dog grew.
And these are common occurrences, not random occurrences that are being exploited for political reasons. In fact, I have seen dozens of these dogs, many missing eyes or with other untreated wounds. Our family recently bought a dog from a puppy mill rescue. The dog we got has yet to make a noise, we think she can’t. Her rear legs were broken at some point and no treatment was provided. She will not take food from a human, indeed most won’t, as that is how they were tricked out of their cages originally. She fears humans more than any creature I have ever seen in the wild.

But these puppy mills continue in numerous states. Our dog came from Arkansas, which is one of the big five states where these mills are concentrated. The others are Pennsylvania, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, though they are in other states as well. The Amish, apparently, are heavily into this.

Since 2008, thirteen states have passed laws limiting some of the worst abuses.

This is the sort of thing that requires regulation; there is no free market solution to this. From a producer perspective, there is no reason for them not to be cruel, i.e. it doesn't hurt the value they get out of the dog. To the producers, the only value these dogs have is turning out puppies, anything they do for the dogs beyond simple ownership merely reduces their profit. The "employees" can't change this industry either. Most of these operations are family run, and the dogs can't strike. Nor can better competitors drive the bad guys out of business because no one can produce dogs cheaper. Consumers are no help either. People don’t like these practices once they learn about them, but there are too many consumers who know nothing about this. Indeed, every year, millions of people buy their first dogs, completely unaware of what is going on. And while reputable pet stores will no longer sell such animals, some stores will, and most of these dogs get sold through the newspaper or the internet -- where they are indistinguishable from private sellers.

Unfortunately, too many on the right dismiss the idea of regulation because they don’t like what the animal rights people are saying. But this is a huge mistake.

If our side can’t see that regulation is needed in this instance, then why should anyone trust us when it’s a closer call? And if we don’t gain the public’s trust on these issues, then the public will turn to the only people who are fighting these problems -- the whackos. That’s what’s happening in placed like California and Colorado, where the right refuses to talk about regulating animal sellers and the livestock industry and has, thereby, abandoned the field to the left. . . which has gone way overboard.

This is one of those issue where we should think about taking the lead, because regulation is coming and it should be done right.


CrisD said...

I have one dog from a pet store but found out about puppy mills and so my second dog is a rescued dog.

Another terrible trend is the increasing number of abandoned dogs/pets. People don't realize that it is an expensive 15 to 20 year commitment and leave dogs to be exterminated or, worse, on the street. Very sad.

P.S. Off the subject a little--my daughter won't eat meat b/c of book "Omnivores Dilemna" and a movie to go with it that she showed me over Easter. The animal farms for our meat products are worse than dog breeding facilities- disgusting and unsanitary. I hope not in all cases but I am sure in some cases it is true. Anyway, from now on I am cooking my meat fully.

Joel Farnham said...


I am prejudiced against animal shelters. I tried to get two animal shelter dogs. I was refused because they would be outside dogs, as in, their main place, unless they are in the doghouse, are outside. We have a big yard, so why not?

The animal Nazi, told me, she only gave dogs who are inside dogs with outdoor privaleges. I never heard of such a thing, I am not a lying type of person. The puppy farms are prolifering because of the PETA controlled atmosphere. Remove the PETA Nazis and I think the puppy farms will go away.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I do wish there was some way to make people more aware of the responsibilities of pet ownership before they go out and buy pets.

In terms of meat producers, I am not opposed to eating meat, though I can respect people who've decided not to -- just don't tell me I can't.

That said, many of the things I hear about how they handle animals at these places are shocking. The Germans (who are highly regulated) just investigated their slaughter houses and found animals being boiled alive or cut apart while they were still breathing. It's really disgusting and horrific and I honestly think that we are wealthy enough as a society that we can fix these things. There's just no reason to allow that.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, The puppy mills proliferated long before PETA came into being. They began in the 1930s when farmers sought ways to make money other than growing crops. They continue because they are highly profitable. Eliminating PETA will do nothing to reduce the number of puppy mills. In fact, it would likely do the reverse.

Joel Farnham said...


Did you ever try to get a dog from a pet store?

Joel Farnham said...


Another question, where did you find the history of puppy mills?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I have been appalled by the breeding practices of some of these people for years. Too many pet shops do no inquiries whatsoever into the breeders--just sell us the puppies. Even buying AKC registered puppies at a pet store is no guarantee that their parents were properly treated or that the puppies aren't the result of dangerous inbreeding.

I have gotten two kittens from Pets Unlimited, which is largely devoted to finding homes for unwanted animals. They seem to stick to their mission, treat the animals with great care, and make every potential owner go through a short course on what it means to own a pet. But I must admit, it would have been easier to adopt a child. Since I live in a city with a great many high-rise apartments, I had to prove that I had screens on all my windows. I also had to prove I wasn't a transient with ulterior motives by producing a copy of my lease. They even checked to see how many animals I might have to determine if there was sufficient room. But I like that they erred on the side of caution. Many shelters don't do any inquiry at all.

Though they deny it, PETA is among the largest destroyers of unwanted pets that don't get adopted in a very short period of time.

San Francisco goes overboard, however. We are not allowed to have pets. We can only have "non-human companions." Pets deserve proper care and humane treatment, but come on, they're not human beings. I wouldn't make my kids sleep in baskets or have a daily diet of smelly canned food and water. But my cat thrives on it, and it is the exact diet and surroundings recommended by the vet. And I didn't allow my kids to climb on the bookshelves and attack my feet when I'm trying to sleep. But Kitty Kelly gets away with it with impunity.

I'm only using humor to avoid the anger that wells up in me when I think about how allegedly civilized human beings treat animals like garbage.

CrisD said...

I rescued my dog from a person who found it ( a minature poodle! Do you believe it?) (Not an agency)! I do know SPCA type places can be "pills" about questionaires. My sister-in-law had a dickens of a time getting a cat and she is a total cat lady and was quite insulted.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, When I was young, we got one dog that way. I got the history from the legislative findings of the 1966 Animal Welfare Act.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, This makes me angry too. There is something subhuman about people who abuse animals -- ditto abuse kids.

No pets in San Francisco huh? Next, thing you know, they'll get the vote too.

That's exactly the problem with leaving these issues to the loony left. There is a serious issue here that will be addressed one way or another. Either we can acknowledge the issue and create rational and useful regulations, or we can refuse to participate and let the loony left come up with the rules. Next thing you know, they're banning humans from interacting with animals.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I think they already have the vote. How else could we explain our Board of Supervisors? LOL

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I would rather have them be overly-cautious than not cautious enough. We had to go through a whole process too where they checked out our house and had us fill out questionnaires. The problem with these dogs is that they have few "dog traits" and they require special attention. They really are like wild, injured animals. Ours tried to escape every chance she got for the first several days.

BevfromNYC said...

Interestingly, there is a nonprofit group in Manhattan that runs a pet sharing service. You can rent a specially trained dog for a week or a weekend to see how a dog would fit into your life - taking it for a walk, noise, picking up their little messes etc. It's a great idea for people who think that animals are just an accessory.

Personally, being a dog person, I find it appalling to see people with dogs that are obviously not bred for apartment/city living. Hunting dogs, working dogs - most of them look moth-eaten and underexercised. Sad...

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That might explain what's going on. . . though I suspect animals might be more savy voters than many of the people in San Fran! ;-)

CrisD said...

Yes, they need to be overly cautious in screening people-an unfortunate reality which shocks the potentially "good" owner.

As to the "newbie" owners:
I think they need to let people know:
1.cost of annual dog visits
2.cost of shots
3.cost of teeth care
4.cost of boarding/house sitting
5.grooming-if applicable walking/running per day

LawHawkSF said...

Andy: Oh, yeah? Don't you hear the sound in the background? Kitty Kelly is saying "Purrlosi, Purrlosi." Hmph! From here on out, she gets generic cat food. Bwahahaha.

Kitty Kelly's attorneys said...

Dear Mr. LawHawk,

Our client, Ms. Kitty Kelly, has brought to our attention that you leveled a direct threat to deny her right to brand named catfood because she has purrrported to purrrrfer Purrlosi. As she is exercising her right to free speech, we demand that you cease and desist immediately otherwise we shall be forced to take further action.

Kitty Kelly's attorneys

LawHawkSF said...

Kitty Kelly's Attorneys, Esq: Sorry, I lost control for a moment. She's back on her high-priced, special super-duper diet forthwith.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I would agree with the list. I think they also need to emphasize that puppies become adults, something too many people seem not to realize.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That's a good idea. It lets people get a taste of what owning a dog is like before they decide to jump in, and then the dog ends up paying the price at the pound a few months later.

I had a friend who owned a big yellow lab (Truman) in Maryland. They had to take Truman jogging every night just to wear out his energy.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, every time there is a movie with cute live dogs like "101 Dalmations" or "Beverly Hills Chihuahua", there is flood of people who want those dogs. When they get the, and realize they can't talk or do great tricks and require attention and care, they end up in shelters. It's criminal.

As a matter of fact, some CA shelters have been ferrying the glut chihuahuas to NYC. The chihuahuas are popular here because they are ideal for apartment living. But that stupid movie created an industry. Again criminal...

LoneWolfArcher said...

Hmmm. Interesting that this is posted. Just last week I posted on my blog about how I am opposed to animal charities.

The reason for that is the same reason I am about to give for not being affected as deeply by this posting: we have bigger fish to fry. Sorry, but as long as there is human suffering in the world I really don't have the time or energy to worry about what is happening to dogs in puppy mills.

And I say all that while at the same time being a proud owner of three pampered dogs. (None of them from puppymills).

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The shelter people here said the same thing. We're getting Chihuahuas imported from California because they had too many to handle after that movie.

I recall the 101 Dalmations issue too, thousands of Dalmations ending up in shelters once people realized that they grow up.

AndrewPrice said...

LoneWolfArcher, I don't see any reason that humans can't solve two issues at once. Should we not worry about robberies because we haven't stopped murders yet?

ArmChairGeneral said...

I have a yellow lab. He's a lot of work and one of many dogs that my wife and I have owned/fostered as a couple. My wife is a huge animal lover but she also believes in making sure that the animals are brought up to listen to commands and respond well to being good. The problem with animals is the same as the problem with kids not being taught by their parents right from left. I assure you that all of our animals vote Republican.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, LOL! Good for you! That makes me happier about extending the vote to pets! ;-)

Seriously, you're absolutely right, dogs (like kids) need rules and boundries. When they know what they can and can't do, they are happy.

LoneWolfArcher said...

Andrew, solving two human problems at the same time? Yes. Robberies and murders should be worked on.

To me, compared to human problems, animal problems are not problems.

LoneWolfArcher said...

P.S. Andrew, I have found myself in agreement with almost everything you've ever express up to now. We were bound to disagree eventually! :)

AndrewPrice said...

LWA, Disagreements happen, we're all friends here! :-)

StanH said...

Bad Amish! My wife and I have raised children and beast, and sometimes it’s hard too tell the difference…kidding. Being a pet owner is a lot of work and done properly can be as demanding as children, the vet, grooming, boarding, walking, discipline, I don’t know how many times I’ve been at the emergency vet, very expensive. Cruelty to pets is unforgivable and can be revealing about the person.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I agree. I think it really does tell you a lot about a person.

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