Sunday, August 19, 2012

Animal Rights versus Animal Welfare: The BIG Difference!

I belong to an online canine genetics discussion group whose purpose is to acquaint 
dog breeders with the dangers of inbreeding and the overuse of popular sires ( Many of the list members hail from the UK and Continental Europe, where in a number of countries, exhibitors can no longer show cropped and docked dogs; and where in one country, the UK, the BOB winners in several breeds were disqualified from Group competition at Crufts, THE prestigious championship show of the year, because they were deemed in a Kennel Club mandated inspection by a GP vet to have visible “health” issues such as ectropion.     

After the Crufts disqualifications took place there was a lot of discussion on the genetics list about breeds that have become so “extreme” that their exaggerated features have literally become health defects: e.g., super short noses in bulldogs and pugs that result in breathing difficulties; excessive skin folds in Shar-pei that contribute to chronic skin problems; grossly over-angulated rears in GSD’s, etc. A number of posters applauded the efforts of the UK KC to “regulate” UK breeders and breed standards, in order to eliminate what those list members considered harmful and cruel exaggerations.

Ironically, at the same time on the same list, other list members were urging us to post comments on the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) website in opposition to a proposed USDA/APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) rule whose unintended consequences would be to literally criminalize many small hobby and show breeders, despite that it was supposedly aimed at regulating large-scale, commercial “internet” breeders.  
The juxtaposition of these two issues on the list – both of which centered around regulating breeders in the name of animal welfare – made me wonder if animal welfare advocates in other countries realized just how dangerous to our way of life the animal rights movement was here in the United States. Surely no one is in favor of creating dogs whose extreme features cause them physical distress; and perhaps AR activists in other countries are only concerned with animal cruelty (?); but in the US, they truly want to stop all breeding and ownership of domestic animals, which they consider tantamount to human slavery. That's why I get my back up when well-meaning people who want to eliminate extreme breed characteristics suggest that we identify and inspect certain breeds at shows to prevent any deviation from a norm established by “breed experts” and vets; and police breeders to make sure they're adhering to regulations established by some central authority – the UK Kennel Club, the AKC, the FCI, the USDA.

In this blog, two noted US hobby breeders – Sharyn Hutchens of Timbreblue Whippets in Virginia and Judy Voran of Strawberry Boxers in Arizona, explain how the AR movement works to achieve its aims in the US and Canada:

The Effect of the USDA/APHIS Proposal on Small Hobby & Show Breeders
Sharyn Hutchens, Timbreblue Whippets, Virginia

This APHIS proposal would apply to anyone who owns or co-owns four (4) intact bitches, regardless of age, and requires that the buyer personally go to the “premises” where the puppy was whelped and raised to make the purchase.

For every "large internet breeder" who will fall under this rule, the sacrifice will be dozens if not hundreds of hobby breeders who are working very hard to keep our breeds healthy. Furthermore, it will limit people's choices to 1) common breeds they can find locally and breeders they can visit personally; or 2) large USDA inspected breeders who will be able to ship the less common breeds.

We don't ship our puppies, but I have occasionally met someone halfway -- usually someone who has bought a puppy from us before. The owners from New York, Texas, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Florida who have flown in to buy puppies from us and take them home in carriers (several of them more than once) would now have to fly in, rent a car and drive 50 miles to our home – our town does not have an airport – and possibly spend an overnight before being able to get a flight back out. Or they could buy a whippet from a pet store, I suppose. This would be better, how? The elderly couple from Maryland who have bought two adult whippets from us would not have them today – they are not able to drive the six hours to our home, so I took the dogs to them.

My second breed is the Cirneco dell’ Etna, a rare sighthound. There are only about 800 of them, I am told, in the country. After much research, I recently bought my first one from a breeder who met me at a show. The dog is simply delightful and the breeder and I have become close friends. But if these regulations had been in place, I wouldn't own this dog. First, the woman I bought her from is the co-breeder. The puppies were whelped and raised to eight weeks at the home of the other co-breeder. So the woman who sold me the puppy was technically selling me a puppy that was not "born and raised on her premises." And of course, she could certainly not have turned over the puppy to me at a dog show. The whole experience of buying this puppy and learning to love a new breed has been the highlight of my year. But it would be totally illegal if the regulations go into effect. How would this have been better for anyone at all? Certainly it would not have been better for me or my puppy.

Before my husband and I will give up our privacy and allow federal inspectors into our home, we will quit breeding. It has been my life for 30 years or more and I'm proud to say we have been strong advocates of genetic diversity for years. But my freedom and privacy are worth more to me even than dog breeding. As another list member pointed out, we do not allow the federal government to come into our homes to inspect how our children are raised – why on earth would we allow it simply because we breed a litter of dogs every now and then? And before you say it, no, of course we have nothing to hide. People come to our home frequently to meet our dogs, learn about whippets, and occasionally to buy puppies. The point is that we are Americans, and this country is based on freedom. How easily some of us would give that away!

There will always be bad breeders, just as there will always be child abusers, murderers, and rapists. We live in an imperfect world. But bad breeders are the responsibility of animal control, just as abusers, murderers and rapists are the responsibility of the police. We do not allow the government to "inspect" innocent people just in case something bad might be going on.

What bothers me most about the people who believe these new regulations are a good idea is that they apparently believe trading our constitutional rights for some minimal reduction in bad pet breeding practices is okay. And the ironic part is that in the end, it is the animals who will suffer. Typical animal rights.

And the other irony in this is that there have been NO studies to discover whether "sight unseen internet sales" are a serious problem, much less a large enough problem to justify this kind of invasion of privacy. NONE. The USDA has some anecdotal evidence provided by HSUS. Period. And we make regulations for thousands of breeders based on that?
On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 10:44 AM, Judy Voran posted the following to the Showboxer-L email list:

I am posting this link to a court ruling in California involving the Humane Society of the United States because I think that members of this list [Cangen] whose experiences are with their residence in other countries do not understand the threat to animal ownership in the United States.  The threat is real and it is serious.  Well-funded organizations here in the US are focused on outlawing any kind of animal ownership or sport.

Tables turned on Humane Society
Jim Matthews, Outdoors
Posted:   07/26/2012 08:32:04 PM PDT
Updated:   07/27/2012 03:06:28 PM PDT

The Humane Society of the United States, an organization that does next to nothing for animal shelters but sues, badgers and lobbies politicians and businesses into adopting its radical animals rights agenda, is getting a taste of its own medicine.

In a little-reported ruling by a judge in the District of Columbia earlier this month, the HSUS is going to court to face charges under RICO statues on racketeering, obstruction of justice, malicious prosecution and other charges for a lawsuit it brought and lost against Ringling Brothers Circus' parent company Feld Entertainment, Inc.

After winning the case alleging mistreatment of elephants in its circuses brought by Friends of Animals (later merged into HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), lawyers at Feld filed a countersuit with a litany of charges ranging from bribery to money laundering to racketeering. The attorneys for the animal rights groups asked the judge to dismiss all 
charges, but most remained because the evidence was overwhelming. So in early August, HSUS will be facing the music in a case that should attract the attention of hunters, ranchers, farmers and anyone impacted by HSUS' radical animal rights agenda.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.

For the first time, a group has fought back against the animal rights and environmental extremists who have been setting policy in this country for the past 20 years or more. Now, instead of getting rich off their lawsuits and fundraising schemes that misrepresent their efforts and accomplishments, they could be driven out of business. These groups have cost the farming and ranching industry jobs and raised the price of products we buy every day. They are behind the efforts to ban sport hunting across the nation. They have forced state wildlife and fishery agencies to waste countless millions of dollars on lawsuits and have spearheaded policies and legislation like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which has ruined livelihoods in recreational and commercial fishing without helping marine resources.

These groups operate with surly arrogance and believe they are above the law. Thankfully, that is not the case. Stay tuned.