Category: Morality

Dogs teach us so much!

But the single most important lesson is integrity.

Again, another post from previous times. Albeit just a couple of years ago.

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Another tribute to dear Pharaoh.

The most profound thing that I learned from Pharaoh is that dogs are creatures of integrity. That goes back to a day in June, 2007. Some six months before I met Jeannie in Mexico in December, 2007. I was sitting in Jon’s home office just a few miles from where Pharaoh and I were then living in South Devon.

It was a key chapter in Part Four of my book where I examine all the qualities that we humans need to learn from our dogs.

So here is Chapter 13 from my book Learning from Dogs. (Written in ‘English’ English!)

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Chapter 13
Integrity

In the Introduction to this book I mentioned how the notion of “learning from dogs” went back to 2007 and me learning that dogs were creatures of integrity. Let me now elaborate on that.
It is a Friday morning in June in the year 2007. I am sitting with Jon at his place with Pharaoh sleeping soundly on the beige carpet behind my chair. I didn’t know it at the time but it was to become one of those rare moments when we gain an awareness of life that forever changes how we view the world, both the world within and the world without.

“Paul, I know there’s more for me to listen to and I sense that we have established a relationship in which you feel safe to reveal your feelings. However, today I want to talk about consciousness. Because I would like to give you an awareness of this aspect of what we might describe under the overall heading of mindfulness.”
I sat quietly fascinated by what was a new area for me.

“During the years that I have been a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an amazing range of personalities, probably explored every human emotion known. In a sense, explored the consciousness of a person. But what is clear to me now is that one can distil those different personalities and emotions into two broad camps: those who embrace truth and those who do not.”

Jon paused, sensing correctly that I was uncertain as to what to make of this. I made it clear that I wanted him to continue.

“Yes, fundamentally, there are people who deny the truth about themselves, who actively resist that pathway of better self-awareness, and then there are those people who want to know the truth of whom they are and seek it out when the opportunity arises. The former group could be described as false, lacking in integrity and unsupportive of life, while the latter group are diametrically opposite: truthful, behaving with integrity and supportive of life.”
It was then that Jon lit a fire inside me that is still burning bright to this day. For he paused, quietly looking at Pharaoh sleeping so soundly on the carpet, and went on to add, “And when I look at dogs, I have no question that they have a consciousness that is predominantly truthful: that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life.”
That brought me immediately to the edge of my seat, literally, with the suddenness of my reaction causing Pharaoh to open his eyes and lift up his head. I knew in that instant that something very profound had just occurred. I slipped out of my chair, got down on my hands and knees and gave Pharaoh the most loving hug of his life. Dogs are creatures of integrity. Wow!

****

Later, when driving home, I couldn’t take my mind off the idea that dogs were creatures of integrity. What were those other values that Jon had mentioned? It came to me in a moment: truthful and supportive of life. Dogs have a consciousness that is truthful, that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life: what a remarkable perception of our long-time companions.
I had no doubt that all nature’s animals could be judged in the same manner but what made it such an incredibly powerful concept, in terms of dogs, was the unique relationship between dogs and humans, a relationship that went back for thousands upon thousands of years. I realised that despite me knowing I would never have worked it out on my own, Jon’s revelation about dogs being creatures of integrity was so utterly and profoundly obvious.

As I made myself my usual light lunch of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and some fruit and then sat enjoying a mug of hot tea, I still couldn’t take my mind off what Jon had revealed: dogs are examples of integrity and truth. I then thought that the word “examples” was not the right word and just let my mind play with alternatives. Then up popped: Dogs are beacons of integrity and truth. Yes, that’s it! Soon after, I recognised that what had just taken place was an incredible opening of my mind, an opening of my mind that didn’t just embrace this aspect of dogs but extended to me thinking deeply about integrity for the first time in my life.

Considering that this chapter is titled “Integrity”, so far all you have been presented with is a somewhat parochial account of how for the first time in my life the word “integrity” took on real meaning. That until that moment in 2007 the word had not had any extra significance for me over the thousands of other words in the English language. Time, therefore, to focus directly on integrity.

If goodness is to win, it has to be smarter than the enemy.

That was a comment written on my blog some years ago, left by someone who writes their own blog under the nom-de-plume of Patrice Ayme. It strikes me as beautifully relevant to these times, times where huge numbers of decent, law-abiding folk are concerned about the future. Simply because those sectors of society that have much control over all our lives do not subscribe to integrity, let alone giving it the highest political and commercial focus that would flow from seeing integrity as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” To quote my American edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Let me borrow an old pilot’s saying from the world of aviation: “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”

That embracing, cautious attitude is part of the reason why commercial air transport is one of the safest forms of transport in the world today. If you had the slightest doubt about the safety of a flight, you wouldn’t board the aircraft. If you had the slightest doubt about the future for civilisation on this planet, likewise you would do something! Remember, that dry word civilisation means family, children, grandchildren, friends, and loved ones. The last thing you would do is to carry on as before!

The great challenge for this civilisation, for each and every one of us, is translating that sense of wanting to change into practical, effective behaviours. I sense, however, that this might be looking down the wrong end of the telescope. That it is not a case of learning to behave in myriad different ways but looking at one’s life from a deeper, more fundamental perspective: living as a person of integrity. So perfectly expressed in the Zen Buddhist quote: “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.” Seeing integrity as the key foundation of everything we do. Even more fundamental than that. Seeing integrity as everything you and I are.

It makes no difference that society in general doesn’t seem to value integrity in such a core manner. For what is society other than the aggregate of each and every one of us? If we all embrace living a life of integrity then society will reflect that.

Integrity equates to being truthful, to being honest. It doesn’t mean being right all the time, of course not, but integrity does mean accepting responsibility for all our actions, for feeling remorse and apologising when we make mistakes. Integrity means learning, being reliable, and being a builder rather than a destroyer. It means being authentic. That authenticity is precisely and exactly what we see in our dogs.

The starting point for what we must learn from our dogs is integrity.

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The face of integrity!

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Dogs don’t lie!

They offer unconditional love!

Their world is relatively straightforward.

That is all that we need to know about them.

What if Reporters Covered the Climate Crisis

Like Murrow Covered World War II?

The new Covering Climate Now project will help media “tell the story so people get it.”

This is how the speech by Bill Moyers is introduced in this issue of The Nation:

The following is an abridged version of the speech by the iconic TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at a conference at the Columbia Journalism School on April 30. A video of the speech can be seen at TheNation.com/moyers-speech.

Well, we have the advantage of going straight to the video.

What is journalism for, if not to awaken the world to looming catastrophes?

Batman to the rescue!

Seriously!

It’s unbelievable but there’s a guy who transports rescue dogs and cats to their new owners. And he dresses up in a batman tunic!

This story was recently carried by The Dodo and is shared with you all today.

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There’s A Real-Life Batman Going Around Saving Shelter Pets

“It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me”

BY

PUBLISHED ON 07/03/2019

Not all heroes wear capes — but when it comes to helping animals in need, some really do.

That’s what one homeless pit bull named Koko learned when the Caped Crusader himself changed her life forever.

Photo Credit: Batman4Paws

Koko arrived at the Pet Resource Center of Tampa as a stray. Day after day, she waited patiently for a family to choose her. But, before that day could come, she was put on the euthanasia list. With an hour left to live, Koko was pulled from the shelter by her foster mom and months later found a forever home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

The only problem? She had no way of getting there.

Enter the Dark Knight — otherwise known as Chris Van Dorn, founder of the animal rescue nonprofit Batman4Paws.

Batman4Paws

An eight-hour road trip dressed in an elaborate Batman costume is all in a day’s work for Van Dorn. “I would say I’m just the middleman,” Van Dorn told The Dodo. “The real heroes are the people giving these dogs a good, loving home.”

Koko is one of many dogs and cats whom Van Dorn has helped transport from overcrowded shelters to the safety of their forever homes.

And while dressing as Batman isn’t necessary to save an animal’s life, it has helped Van Dorn open up a dialogue about the importance of adoption and fostering.

Batman4Paws

The costume just makes everybody happy and smile,” Van Dorn said. “It’s special to see Batman walking around, and when they find out that he’s doing a good deed in the world they get even more excited.”

“It kind of just came as a way to embody all the good I wanted to do in the world,” he added, “and make it easy for people to talk to me right off the bat.”

Batman4Paws[/caption]

Van Dorn grew up watching the Batman animated series and began volunteering with animal rescues when his family adopted an Australian shepherd named Mr. Boots. When it came time for Van Dorn to start his own rescue organization, he decided to do it as Batman with, of course, Mr. Boots occasionally stepping in as Robin.

Batman4Paws

Every superhero has a secret identity, and for Van Dorn, wearing a mask was an intentional way of keeping the focus on his mission of saving animals.

“When I was first starting out, I was keeping everything really anonymous,” Van Dorn said. “I would sign everything ‘Bruce Wayne’ and not put my real name out there … My catchphrase is, ‘It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me,’ and I still hold that true today.”

Batman4Paws

His cover was blown when GoFundMe honored his campaign, naming him as their GoFundMe Hero for May. Van Dorn hopes soon to put his private pilot’s license to good use by purchasing a plane so he can fly the animals to their forever homes every week.

But for the time being, he’s using his Batmobile, and making a difference whenever he can.

“Actions speak louder than words and I’m just doing my best to empty the cages,” Van Dorn said. “And I challenge anyone to go to their local shelter because it’s a depressing place, but if you can help out in any way — whether that’s to foster a dog or adopt a dog or just volunteer your time, then you should go out and do it.”

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This is one amazing guy. Simple and straightforward!

A plea!

A republication of shared angst

I haven’t been a follower of Cara’s blog Who Will Let The Dogs Out?  for a very long time but her posts are powerful and good. I have every intention of remaining a follower.

Especially when one reads posts this one that speaks of the stream of unwanted animals.

Cara has given me permission to republish it.

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A Neverending Stream of Unwanted Animals

We are home and settled in for the holiday week, but in some ways, I feel like I’m still in Tennessee. The pull is so strong. The stories down there break my heart but they also fire up my desire to fix this situation.

It is SO fixable. It does not need to be happening. There are more than enough of us to help the women struggling to help the dogs in western Tennessee. Once more, there are more than enough homes for those dogs, too.

From Kim Kavin’s excellent, well-researched book, The Dog Merchants:

“The notion that America’s homeless dogs face an ‘overpopulation problem’ does not match up against the available statistics. Supply is not exceeding demand. Americans want about 8 million dogs a year as new pets, while only about 4 million dogs are entering shelters….If just half the Americans already getting a dog went the shelter route, then statistically speaking, every cage in US animal control facilities could be emptied. Right now.”

And Tabi and Amber and Kim and Anne and Laura wouldn’t spend their every waking moment fighting to keep animals alive.

I’m not trying to guilt those of you who chose to buy your dog, particularly if you bought that dog from a reputable breeder and/or intend to show your dog. What I am saying is that if the next time you decide you’d like another pet (especially a cat), you’d consider looking at your local shelter or rescue.

And the next time a friend of yours or just an acquaintance tells you they adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue, thank that person for choosing to save a dog.

I’ve been home for five days now and already I’ve heard of more heartbreaking stories landing in the lap of both Karin’ 4 Kritters and Red Fern. Puppies abandoned and struggling, three dogs rescued by a woman who has them kenneled on her front porch to keep neighbors from poisoning them, dogs and puppies simply dumped. I can’t keep count of how many are in desperate need of rescue, so I asked for a summary from Laura (who handles transports from the area for OPH and many other rescues across our country).

The list here of calls for help in one day is:

– 3 pups dumped at Red Fern (that may go to Greenfield pound) – the picture of the ear with ticks is one of these puppies.

– 2 choc pups dumped in the country that they put at the city pound for now

– 2 pittie teens they’re being asked to take. (Crockett and Tyke)

– 3 strays in Sharon, TN that a lady caught because the neighbors were threatening to poison them because they’ve been running loose for months.

– pittie pup in Greenfield that the owner wants to surrender because it’s getting to be “too much”

– 2 three month old pups someone is asking her to take

– a 6 month injured beagle. The owner was going to “put it on the street” so her brother went and picked it up but he thinks it has a broken rib and it’s in pain and he doesn’t have money to treat it so he wants to dump it on Tabi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s just in a day. Multiply that times all the little towns and counties all over western Tennessee that rely on rescues like Red Fern and Karin’ 4 Kritters and their minimalist dog pounds. Places where there is no safety net and dogs are suffering and dying daily. Places where there is no real, reasonable, low-cost access to spay/neuter. Places where dogs (and cats) are not valued or loved, and where their local government will not spend money because it’s ‘just a dog’ or ‘just a cat.’

We seem to have ‘solved’ the problem in the northeast and many metropolitan areas, but we are far from a solution in the rural south and Midwest. We cannot forget them.

The need is so real. Something has got to change. Someone has got to let these dogs out.

Thanks for reading and for caring.

Blessings,

Cara

If you’d like to help, page back through these posts for contact information, but if you’d really like to help, TELL someone. Spread the word – I remain convinced, that the problem is not that people don’t care, it’s that they don’t know. Please help us tell them.

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Bear in mind that the above list is for One Day!
Is it true that people don’t know about this?

Well those that read this blog certainly do now.

The power of a photograph

No words to say how I feel!

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico. AP Photo/Julia Le Duc

This is a terrible photograph. It has been widely shown but that doesn’t make it any less terrible.

Patrice Ayme recently wrote about the tragedy but for today I am republishing the article in The Conversation.

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How much power can one image actually have?

By

Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon

Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon

When the Associated Press published Julia Le Duc’s photograph of a drowned Salvadoran man, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, and his 23-month old daughter Valeria, it sparked outrage on social media. According to Le Duc, Ramírez had attempted to cross the Rio Grande after realizing he couldn’t present himself to U.S. authorities to request asylum.

But beyond raising awareness via Twitter and Facebook feeds, does an image like this one have the power to sway public opinion or spur politicians to take action?

As journalism and psychology scholars interested in the effects of imagery, we study the ability of jarring photos and videos to move people from complacency to action. While graphic imagery can have an immediate impact, the window of action – and caring – is smaller than you’d think.

A political catalyst?

Photographs and videos – through their perceived authenticity – can have an effect on people.

Research suggests that the graphic photo of slain Emmett Till in his open casket served as a “political catalyst” in mobilizing Americans to action in the civil rights movement. Similarly, news images have been credited as playing an important role in ending the Vietnam War.

But not all scholars agree. A recent article argued that it was a “myth” that the iconic “napalm girl” photo swayed public opinion and hastened the end of the Vietnam War.

Did the ‘napalm girl’ significantly shift public opinion on the Vietnam War? manhhai/flickr, CC BY

We must also look to psychology to understand the impacts of emotional news content. Research demonstrates that audiences need an emotional connection – and not merely a “just-the-facts” reporting approach – as “prerequisite for political action” when it comes to appreciating the importance of distant mass suffering. And imagery can trigger this emotional connection by overcoming the psychic numbing that occurs when casualties mount, images blur and lost lives become merely dry statistics.

Images from Syria

In April 2017, gut-wrenching images seem to have awakened the world to the human atrocities happening in Syria. Following a chemical bomb attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, graphic photos and videos documented the horrific effects of the banned nerve agent sarin. Millions bore witness to excruciating human suffering: gasping, choking, writhing and dying. More than 500 people were injured, with at least 86 deaths, including 28 children.

The vivid, closeup images of sarin attack victims were resonant enough to break through the complacency of people and politicians accustomed to bad news emerging from the war-torn nation. In President Trump’s response – which included a retaliatory missile strike – he seemed to recognize the value of the Syrian lives depicted in the horrific photos and videos.

Syrian doctors treat a child following a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. Edlib Media Center, via AP, File

“When you kill innocent children,” he said during a news conference, “that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line – many, many lines.”

The limits of an image

Nonetheless, even though the attacks may have briefly heightened U.S. concerns over the wars in Syria, the photographic documentation of the suffering in Syria wasn’t new.

The 2015 photos of a tiny Syrian boy’s lifeless body resting face down in the sand similarly stirred the world’s collective consciousness. Within hours of its release, the photo had reached 20 million people through Twitter, with many more millions seeing it on the front pages of newspapers the next day. Afterwards, government restrictions on accepting refugees were loosened while private donations to organizations like the Red Cross spiked dramatically.

A year later haunting images of a young boy in the back of an ambulance, caked in dirt and blood, galvanized the world.

But the emotional and compassionate responses to both photographs were short-lived. The bombing of civilians in Syria continued. Refugees continued risking their lives to escape the war zone.

After a photograph of a dead Syrian boy went viral in 2015, the number of daily donations to a Swedish Red Cross campaign designated specifically for aiding Syrian refugees spiked dramatically – but only for a brief window. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, CC BY-SA

Since the publication of Le Duc’s photo of the dead migrants, supportive politicians may feel emboldened to sound the alarm on the plight of Central American migrants. Donations to immigrant aid organizations might briefly spike.

But it seems that a photograph, no matter how emotionally devastating, can only do so much.

Yes, it can create a window of time when we’re motivated to act, and we’ll usually do so if we have effective options to pursue. This could mean a charitable donation at the individual level or, collectively, a surge of political will. However, psychology research from the “arithmetic of compassion” suggests that sympathy for distant human suffering declines when we’re presented with rising body counts. Sometimes we’re discouraged by the scope of the problem and this stops us from doing things that actually make a difference – even if partial solutions can save lives. Other times, if the options for helping others seem too narrow or ineffective, we’ll turn away and stop caring.

Images can alert us to the horrors of violence, mass migration and poverty. But as we have seen time and again, photographs and news footage of human suffering generally precipitate a short-term emotional reaction, rather than a sustained humanitarian response.

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As one reads the article it is much more than a comment on a single image despite how terrible that photograph may be.

The two scientists set out to show that the period that we are alarmed or terrified or just plain sad at the state of nations is rather short.

Maybe it’s the self-protective nature of our species that does this.

But it still doesn’t diminish the horror of that top photograph.

How a dog saved a family

This is a story of a very real emergency.

I have taken it from BoredPanda, not a site that I frequent, but this is such a marvellous account of how dogs make, every day, a real difference to the lives of people.

It’s been taken from a Twitter account so my apologies for the ‘staccato’ effect.

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Man Shares A Heartwarming Story About How His Dog Saved His House From Burning Down

Dogs… if only there was a word that would show how much we adore these adorable creatures that we get to call our most loyal friends and also beloved family members. Here at Bored Panda, dogs (amongst other animals) have a very special place, despite the fact that they can do the worst things, we still adore them. Also, today’s story teaches us that just because your puppy did something wrong, don’t be too quick to punish them since they might compensate it by doing something truly heroic.

Recently, one Twitter user shared a heartwarming story about his dog Hank saving his entire family from fire

Hank even got some presents dedicated to his heroic act

People online were not only touched by this story, but they also think Hank deserves to chew all of the shoes in the world.

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What would we do without our dear dogs!

Being a lover of dogs shows no constraints!

Try a pharmacist from Turkey!

I love this recent story from the Daily Dodo.

It concerns a Turkish pharmacist who is also a dog lover.

Look, here’s the story:

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Pharmacist Sees Stray Dog At The Door And Realizes She’s Asking For Help”

“She was saying, ‘I trust you.'”

Puppy Mills, Part Two

Part Two of this guest post from Monika.

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One of the more alarming facts surrounding the audit was a lack of enforcement against violators. Enforcement has been ineffective, particularly against the worst of the worst where little or no action against a majority of violators resulted. Of the enforcement decisions for 68 sampled violators, 71% (48) resulted in no action taken, 6%  (4) received a “Letter of Information,” 19% (13) received an Official Warning and 4% (3) resulted in Stipulation. In 2007 the AC discontinued using Letter of Information as an enforcement option. Only 20 of 68 dealers (nearly 30%) were cited for repeat violations.

States with Animal Cruelty Laws

Only 5 states have a subsequent-offense felony cruelty law (Arkansas, Idaho, North & South Dakota, Mississippi); and 5 States have a misdemeanor cruelty law (Alaska, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the remaining 40 states have a first-offense felony cruelty law.

We all know that puppy mills put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs but here are a few of the worst examples cited in the Audit.

Example No. 1. With 83 adult dogs, a Oklahoma breeder was sited with 20 violations during 5 inspections from April 2006 to December 2007. Lack of adequate vet care for 3 dogs hair-loss over their entire bodies and raw, irritated spots on their skins. Despite continuing violations, no enforcement actions were taken due to the agency’s lenient practices against repeat violators.

During another visit, AC cited breeder for another 11 violations (one involving a dog that had been bitten by another and left untreated for at least 7 days which resulted in the flesh around the wound rotting away to the bone! The inspector required the dog be taken to a local vet who immediately euthanized it. The case was referred to IES for investigation but only after another violation was documented. AC recommended a stipulation, yet as of early June 2009 (11 months following visit), violator had not been fined.

Example No. 2 was another OK facility with 219 adult dogs. Breeder was cited for 29 violations (including 9 repeats) during 3 inspections from February 2006 to January 2007. Yet the AC did not take enforcement action, but did request an investigation in November 2007 when another inspection revealed five dogs were found dead and other starving dogs resorted to cannibalism. When asked why dogs were not confiscated when the first dead and starving dogs were discovered, inspector cited its own regulations require violator be given opportunity to correct condition before confiscation can occur. Despite those conditions, the AC did not immediately confiscate the survivors, resulting in another 22 dogs dying before the breeder’s license was revoked and surviving dogs were rehomed within a year.

Example No. 3  involved a Ohio facility with 88 adult dogs. Breeder was cited for 23 violations including 7 repeats during 3 inspections from August 2005 to January 2008. An official warning was sent in July 2007 and in a subsequent visit in January 2008, found the same violations with another official warning sent rather than a more severe penalty. When asked by a more serious action was not taken, the regional manager indicated ‘breeder was making progress’ with a ‘reasonable opportunity’ to comply. National instructions state official warning can be sent if no other action was taken against a violator in the previous 3 years. Four months later in June 2008, breeder was cited for another 9 violations (4 repeats) yet the inspector recommended no enforcement action. Upon re-inspection 4 months later, breeder was cited for 4 more violations (including 3 repeats); AC took no enforcement action noting violator was “making credible progress.”

The USDA accompanied 19 of the 99 inspectors to observe dealer facility inspections. While many inspectors are highly committed, inspections are conducted timely and thoroughly and significant efforts are made to improve humane treatment of covered animals, it was noted that at least 6 inspectors did not correctly report direct or repeat violations. Some inspectors did not always document violations with sufficient evidence and direct violations were not reported. The Agency Guide defines a direct violation as one that “has a high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal” which include: “infestation with large numbers of ticks, fleas, or other parasites” and “excessive accumulations of fecal or other waste material to the point where odors, disease hazards, or pest control problems exist.” In such cases, a facility must be re-inspected within 45 days to ensure that the violator has taken timely actions to treat the suffering animals. By contrast, an indirect violation is one that “does not have a high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal.” Minor violations include: “inadequate records” and “surfaces not resistant to moisture.” In such cases, a re-inspection may not occur for up to a year.

Major deficiencies of the APHIS administration of the AWA cited in the Audit included:

  • AC’s enforcement process was ineffective against problematic dealers.
  • AC inspectors failed to cite or document violations properly to support enforcement actions.
  • AC inspectors failed to Cite or document violations properly to support enforcement actions.
  • APHIS’ new penalty worksheet calculated minimal penalties. Although APHIS previously agreed to revise its penalty worksheet to produce “significantly higher” penalties for violators of AWA, the agency continued to assess minimal penalties that did not deter violators. This occurred because the new worksheet allowed reductions up to 145 percent of the maximum penalty.
  • APHIS misused guidelines to lower penalties for AWA violators. In completing penalty worksheets, APHIS misused its guidelines in 32 of the 94 cases we reviewed to lower the penalties for AWA violators. Specifically, violations were inconsistently counted and applied “good faith” reductions without merit. A reduction in “no history of violations” when there was a prior history; and  arbitrarily changed the gravity of some violations and the business size. AC assessed lower penalties as an incentive to encourage violators to pay a stipulated amount rather than exercise their right to a hearing.
  • Some large breeders circumvented AWA by selling animals over the Internet. Large breeders that sell AWA-covered animals over the Internet are exempt from AC’s inspection and licensing requirements due to a loophole in AWA resulting in an increasing number of unlicensed breeders are not monitored for their animals’ overall health and humane treatment.

While the USDA does not advocate assessing maximum penalties, at a time when Congress tripled the authorized maximum penalty to “strengthen fines for violations,” actual penalties were down 20 percent less through the use of a new worksheet as compared to the one previously used.

I could go on, but to do so belies cold hard facts that trying to stem puppy mills is a bit like playing a ‘Whack-A-Mole.”

Bottom line, what the Audit tells us is: (1) red tape saddles agencies with convoluted regulations that are difficult to implement or monitor, due in part to (2) the sheer number of puppy mills and (3) a lack of adequate number of inspections conducted.

No doubt resources are limited but until such time as the economics of keeping puppy mills in business is reduced, they will continue to operate with impunity. The resulting advice is make sure your breeder is legit and don’t succumb to adorable puppy faces in pet shop windows.

I shudder to think how many of Elsa’s pups are out there because who easily resists puppies? It makes me wonder how many of them have genetic diseases due to poor breeding practices (in Elsa’s case epilepsy which was diagnosed just two weeks following her adoption), but other dogs seized at the same mill with her suffered from Sebaceous Adenitis (which is also most likely an autosomal recessive inherited disease), Addison’s Disease and one whose severe aggressive behavior (due to lack of socialization) was deemed so severe, he was considered unable to be rehabilitated in any way as to place him and heartbreakingly was euthanized. Bottom line, please adopt, don’t shop (or only use a reputable breeder). Only then can the sheer numbers of puppy mill facilities be reduced and heartbreaking stories like Elsa’s be stemmed.

Live, love bark! 🐾
Tails Around the Ranch

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We must spread the word far and wide that puppy mills have to be brought down by publicity and  lack of business.

Only when the last puppy mill goes out of business can we relax.

Finally, here’s a picture of a million miles from a puppy mill!

Melissa Lentz

Puppy Mills, Part One!

A guest post from Monika McDonald

If there’s one thing that raises the blood pressure of an animal lover, especially a dog lover, it’s a puppy mill.

I am very grateful for Monika to have sent me this piece, and for it to be her first guest post.

Here it is!

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Puppy Mills

By Monika McDonald

Puppy Mills…a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Elsa, a Standard Poodle who probably lived 4 years or more in a mill, was rescued from a Northern Colorado puppy mill along with 8 other Standards (you can  read her story at the link). She was basically feral, shy but very sweet and curious and showed signs there was a lovely sweet companion beneath the matted filthy hair.

Recently I was given the opportunity to write a guest post for Paul at Learning from Dogs. Hold on to your hankies while I share some of the more disturbing facts uncovered from various sources. After much negative media coverage concerning large-scale dog dealers (i.e. breeders and brokers) failing to adequately monitor humane treatment for the animals under their care, the United States Department of Agriculture conducted an audit in 2010, some findings of which are noted below. Although Elsa was rescued through the local poodle rescue organization, I’m also featuring another group, the National Mill Dog Rescue group, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It is estimated there may be as many as 15,000 mills throughout the country, with a large number located in the heartland of the US. Simply put, puppy mills are dog breeding operations that put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs.

They can be a large or small operation, licensed by the USDA or unlicensed. It should be noted that in order to sell to a pet store, a breeder must be licensed, though many violate that requirement. According to the USDA, breeders…breed and raise animals on the premises whereas brokers negotiate or arrange for the purchase, sale or transport of animals in commerce. Puppy mills may house anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dogs, however smaller does not necessarily mean better.

Elsa was rescued from a very small mill with the same horrific conditions as the large ones. Puppy mills are everywhere, but a large concentration is located in the Midwest. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the United States. Amish and Mennonite communities (particularly in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania) also run a large number of puppy mills.

Breeding parents spend their lives in 24-hour confinement in cages often stacked on top of each other. Protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather is rare and dogs live in filthy, unsanitary conditions receiving little or no veterinary care (some puppy mill owners often provide veterinary care without anesthesia or vet training). Female dogs are bred every heat cycle and are killed (or offered at auction) when they can no longer produce litters. Puppies are often taken from their mothers too young and can develop serious health or behavioral issues due to the conditions in which they are bred and shipped. Genetic diseases often result from the over-breeding. The bottom line is that puppy mills are all about profits. Any money spent on veterinary care, quality food, shelter, or staff to care for the dogs cuts into the profit margin.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold? Two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in  mills are pet stores, and the Internet. Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business. Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores with many mills selling to pet stores without the required license and not held accountable. Puppies are bred in mills and then shipped all over the country. Shipping conditions are inhumane. They can be forced to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and confined in a small space where diseases can be easily transmitted. Many puppies do not survive.

Background Info. In 1966, Congress passed Public Law 89-544, known as the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, to regulate the humane care and handling of dogs, cats, and other laboratory animals. In 1970 the law was amended (Public Law 91-579), changing the name to Animal Welfare Act (with subsequent amendments passed in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2007, and 2008). In 2010 the USDA conducted an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care unit (AC) who are responsible for enforcing the act (the “Audit)”. Data cited is compiled from that Audit.

Inspections Conducted in FYs 2006-2008

Years

2006

2007

2008

No. of Inspectors

99

101

99

No. of Inspections*

17,978

16,542

15,722

Average Inspections Per Inspector

182

164

159

* These numbers include inspections on all licensees (i.e., dealers and exhibitors) and registrants (i.e., research facilities) under AWA.
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Tomorrow I will publish Part Two of Puppy Mills.

Mixed feelings!

The dog does a wonderful act of discovery!

There was an item on BBC News recently that shows the devotion of dogs towards humans. Yet the story also shows how cruel a young mother can be towards her own baby.

Here it is:

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Dog rescues baby buried alive in field in Thailand

17 May 2019
KHAOSOD -The dog helped raise the alarm after discovering the baby.

A dog in northern Thailand has rescued a newborn baby after it was buried alive, allegedly by its teenage mother.

The baby boy is said to have been abandoned by his mother, 15, to hide her pregnancy from her parents.

Ping Pong the dog was barking and digging in a field in Ban Nong Kham village. Its owner says he then noticed a baby’s leg sticking out of the earth.

Locals rushed the baby to hospital where doctors cleaned him up and declared he was healthy.

Ping Pong’s owner, Usa Nisaikha, says it lost the use of one of its legs after being hit by a car.

He told Khaosod Newspaper: “I kept him because he’s so loyal and obedient, and always helps me out when I go to the fields to tend to my cattle. He’s loved by the entire village. It’s amazing.

KHAOSOD – Ping Pong is disabled since being hit by a car.

The newborn’s mother has been charged with child abandonment and attempted murder.

Panuwat Puttakam, an officer at Chum Phuang police station, told the Bangkok Post she was now in the care of her parents and a psychologist.

He said that she regrets her actions.

The girl’s parents have decided to raise the baby.

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There’s no pardoning a woman who buries alive her baby. I don’t care what age she was; the mother that is. If she is old enough to become pregnant she is old enough to know better.

In stark contrast is Ping Pong, the dog, who despite having only three legs worked furiously to unearth the baby and did so without harming the infant.