April 26, 2002
- This just in from National Animal Interest Alliance: Conference Committee Strips Puppy Protection
Act from Farm Bill Hooray! Today the members of the US House-Senate
conference committee said "no" to the so-called Puppy
Protection Act (PPA) and omitted it from the final version of the
wading through reams of sensationalized material, Senators and Representatives
determined that, although it was drafted with good intentions, the
PPA offered only misguided, unenforceable public policy. The failure
of the PPA proves that leaving animal experts out of the process
produces bad results.
PPA was inspired by special interest groups that fundraise using
emotional animal welfare issues," said Patti Strand, president
of the National Animal Interest Alliance. "As such, it was
based on sound bites and depended on evidence from those who aim
to restrict all dog breeding. While strongly supporting the elimination
of substandard breeding operations and thereby improving animal
care, NAIA believes that any legislation designed to do so should
be grounded in science and reason as well as good intentions."
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American
Kennel Club (AKC), organizations that also promote animal well-being
and oppose substandard breeding operations, also opposed the PPA.
Puppy Protection Act had three provisions, none of which were acceptable
to knowledgeable dog professionals and enthusiasts.
Breeding frequency: The PPA breeding frequency provision would have
created a precedent in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by transferring
the authority for breeding decisions from breeders to the federal
government. Doing so would have prevented even the most responsible
breeders and owners from working with their veterinarians to make
appropriate breeding decisions about the health and well-being of
an individual animal. NAIA agrees with the AVMA that the decision
of when to breed or not breed an animal is an animal health issue
best left to professional judgment.
Socialization standards: NAIA strongly opposes the imposition of
socialization standards before they are developed by the groups
most qualified to draft them. NAIA agrees with the AVMA that the
socialization provision was "premature and ill-advised"
and supports the AKC's conclusion that there is no basis in current
science and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal
behaviorists as to what constitutes acceptable "socialization
Enforcement provision: The "three-strikes-and-you're-out"
provision was so poorly written it could actually have hampered
USDA's ability to revoke licenses for a single violation that severely
harmed animals and could have led to regulatory abuses.
Position: NAIA opposes substandard breeding kennels commonly called
"puppy mills" and strongly supports their closure. The
PPA, however, failed to effectively address the most critical issue
of enforcement and placed responsible hobby breeders in the same
category with irresponsible, large-scale breeders.
Real Problems: The number one problem plaguing the commercial dog-breeding
world is the large number of commercial kennels that operate in
violation of the AWA without being licensed by the US Department
of Agriculture (USDA). Current interpretation of the law hinders
USDA from tracking pet store puppies back to their suppliers, a
situation that hampers the agency's ability to locate illegally
operating kennels. The number one priority for people who want bad
kennels closed is to identify the illegal operations that currently
duck USDA licensing requirements.
problem is that large breeders in Eastern Europe and other foreign
locales have found a ready market for their puppies in the US. It
appears that the production of most of these puppies is totally
unregulated. NAIA would like Congress to consider legislation to
assure American consumers that the puppies and dogs sold in international
commerce are healthy and raised in conditions that would be acceptable
under the AWA, regardless of their country of origin.
also notes that campaigns to stop pet overpopulation have been so
successful they have caused a shortage of puppies and small dogs
in many shelters. Rather than declare success and close their doors,
some of these shelters now pay for puppies and dogs and import them
from other cities, territories and countries so they will have dogs
available for adoption. NAIA believes some of the rescue groups
and shelters participating in this relocation process are acting
as dealers and pet stores and should be licensed accordingly.
Conclusion: The PPA was based on propaganda generated from a mixture
of extreme cases and a deliberate blurring of the distinctions between
the bad kennels that all responsible people want to close and kennels
that operate within the law, sometimes with superior, even state-of-the-art
care and facilities. The PPA was promoted by groups that depend
on the emotional impact of legislative campaigns to raise money
for their coffers and bring their anti-breeding agenda into mainstream
should be concerned about the well-being of animals," said
Strand, "but when we pass laws to regulate these operations,
we need to make sure that our decisions are based on facts and sound
reasoning, not propaganda. Otherwise our efforts will do little
more than address distractions while real problems remain unresolved.
It's difficult to make good decisions in an atmosphere where fundraising
is paramount and emotionalism rules the day."