ne has to wonder why a conservative Senator known for his stance on 'family values' issues would present legislation to further the radical agenda of groups that show little concern for mankind:
"The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration." --- Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (The Inhumane Society, New York, 1990)
Senator Rick Santorum's (R-PA) third attempt to re-write the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) with the Pet Animal Welfare Statue of 2005 - known as PAWS (S.1139), is expected to come before the Senate this month. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) - 'animal rights' organizations believing that humans donít deserve to own, hunt, breed or use animals - strongly support its passage.
Current federal law - the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) - uses the distinction of whether a breeder sells at wholesale or retail as the criteria determining who should be subject to USDA inspections, regulations and licensing. For over 34 years, the USDA, who administers the AWA, has viewed breeders who sell at retail as exempt. This position was recently upheld through a federal court ruling when the Doris Day Animal League filed a lawsuit aimed at removing the retail seller exemption from in-home breeders (DDAL vs. Anne Venemen, USDA, 2003). Unwilling to accept the defeat handed down through the federal court decision, the DDAL joined forces with the HSUS and Senator Santorum, who introduced the PAWS legislation in May of this year. PAWS seeks to invalidate this court decision with a revamp of the Animal Welfare Act.
Proponents claim that PAWS will solve a host of problems: stopping 'abusive puppy mills', stemming a huge influx of unhealthy imported dogs into this country and regulating the 'high-volume' of internet pet sales. NONE of these claims are proven.
"Enacting the PAWS amendment into law would result in costly, unnecessary regulation and government intrusion into the lives of many responsible pet breeders."
Actually, the PAWS ammendment doesn't even address any of these stated objectives. PAWS is an example of mis-information and reactionism at its worse.
Existing state and local laws already deal with animal abuse or neglect situations - which these authorities ably enforce without federal intervention. Duplication of these efforts by the federal government would be a waste of our tax dollars and an encroachment on states' soverign rights. A federal law regulating pet breeders is NOT needed.
PAWS legislation would have absolutely no authority over the actions of pet breeders on foreign soil. Many purebred dog and cat breeders import breeding stock from foreign countries to add vitality to US bloodlines. It's good for the gene pool. Already, it is standard protocol that a veterinarian health examination and certification be provided for every animal prior to allowing it into our country. If indeed, there is a problem with sick animals being imported, a common-sense quarantine would offer a simple solution. A federal law regulating pet breeders who import is NOT needed.
The internet is a valuable tool and an integral part of our daily lives. Many responsible breeders and rescue groups have an internet presence. The world wide web enables prospective puppy buyers to become educated on breed-specific health, temperament, care and training issues. It is a great resource for buyers to find a quality puppy - and likewise for breeders or rescue groups to select suitable families who will provide good homes for their puppies. Selling a puppy to a buyer over the internet is no different than selling a pup to a buyer who saw an advertisement in a magazine. Puppies have been bought and sold over great distances, sight unseen, for at least a century. Itís not a new phenomena and most certainly does not warrant legislative action.
There is nothing wrong with advertising puppies on the internet, as some PAWS backers imply. The internet is NOT a haven for 'abusive puppy mills'. In fact, AKC sells and promotes classified puppy ads on their own website.
"Sales of dogs over the internet account for just one-tenth of one percent of dog sales in the US." --- Joan Miller, Cat Fanciers Association legislative chair (citing the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA), National Pet Owner Survey, 2005-2006)... hardly 'high-volume'. A federal law regulating pet breeders who sell over the internet is NOT needed.
What will PAWS legislation do?
PAWS will federalize home breeding of dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and other small mammals. Enacting the PAWS amendment into law would result in costly, unnecessary regulation and government intrusion into the lives of many responsible pet breeders. They will be forced to submit to USDA inspections, comply with rules that prohibit in-home birthing of puppies, require the services of a contract veterinarian and mandate expensive kennel buildings.
Furthermore, it will be detrimental to rescue groups since they will fall subject to the same burdensome requirements as breeders.
Many small breeders and rescue groups will quit.
For 'animal rights' groups, PAWS is a 'foot in the door' towards achieving their stated goal: to stop all pet breeding - and ultimately, to eliminate pet ownership:
"Our goal is to make [the public think of] breeding [dogs and cats] like drunk driving and smoking." --- Kim Sturla, former director of the Peninsula Humane Society and Western Director of Fund for Animals (stated during Kill the Crisis, not the Animals campaign and workshops, 1991)
"...We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." --- Wayne Pacelle, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) current President and CEO (Animal People, May 1993)
"Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought on by human manipulation. We would no longer allow breeding. As the surplus of cats and dogs declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship - enjoyment at a distance." --- Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PeTA) Founder and President (Harper's Magazine, August 1988)
"Please help responsible breeders who lovingly provide home-raised pets that are healthy, well-adjusted and socialized to American families."
After stopping Senator Santorum's previous attempts to regulate small breeders, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has done an about-face and is supporting PAWS. No one really understands why they would do this - not even some of their own board members. AKC stands alone as the only 'pro-PAWS' national pet registry organization.
AKC member clubs representing more than half of all the dogs they register adamantly disagree with them on this issue. Over the summer, the grass-roots opposition to PAWS has grown to include hundreds of national, state and local pet clubs, organizations, federations and rescue groups. The Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB), America's oldest dog registry and the United Kennel Club (UKC) along with their member clubs have been vocal in the fight against PAWS. The Sun Valley Area Chamber of Commerce (CA), who wisely recognizes the negative impact PAWS will have on businesses within their community, has just stepped forward (September 2, 2005). In solidarity, all have voiced their opposition of PAWS through position statements sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee, AKC board members and their elected officials.
Is Washington listening?
That's hard to say. Unfortunately, many of the Senators seem to be under a misguided impression that PAWS is 'the puppy mill bill', as one Senator told me it is being referred to in Washington.
I believe it is irresponsible for Senator Santorum, his co-sponsors in the Senate and House (HR.2669) - as well as the AKC and 'animal rights' special interest groups to attempt to divert the USDA's resources to policing in-home breeders of pets when they should be spending our tax dollars on national security, assisting agriculture affected by the devistation of Hurricane Katrina and protecting our food supply.
Please help responsible breeders who lovingly provide home-raised pets that are healthy, well-adjusted and socialized to American families. Contact the members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, your Senators and Congressional Representative... today. Urge them to vote 'NO' on S.1139/HR.2660. Communicating with these officials by email is not as effective as writing letters, sending faxes, telephoning or speaking to them in person. Time is running out. Help us stop PAWS in its tracks.