Mills of Puppies (by Leah Webb)

leah.webb-Culminating%20PicturePet Store or Shelter?

During this term at Portland Community College, I had the opportunity to participate in my own DIY project with my local Humane Society. The Humane Society is one of many nonprofit organizations that stand for animal welfare. Prior to this class, I participated in several volunteering programs to help the shelter. My duties were to clean their shelters, take care of laundry, and make Kong toys for each dog (they receive two a day for mental stimulation). During my volunteer hours before participating in this class, I had come across a situation where several puppies were dropped off at the shelter that were transferred from a different location out-of-state. Later, I heard from another volunteer that the puppies were saved from a puppy mill that was reported. This strung a heart string for me, because the puppies had went through extensive health care prior to being transferred. This story inspired me to educate myself more on puppy mills and research.

“Laws That Protect Dogs in Puppy Mills.” ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

The ASPCA was the first nonprofit humane society organization. They have plenty of articles on a diverse range of issues along with the HSUS. This article in particular is a list about laws that protect dogs in puppy mills. The laws discussed, which concern puppy mill-related standards and rules, are administrative laws—they are distinct from animal cruelty laws, which are criminal laws. For instance, one important law is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a federal law passed in 1966. The AWA regulates certain animal activities, including commercial dog and cat breeding. It also defines the minimum standards of care for dogs, cats and certain other species of animals bred for commercial resale, research, and exhibition. It also requires that certain commercial breeders be licensed and routinely inspected by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). Fairly recently though, the determination from the animal welfare community pressured the USDA to close loopholes that were preventing the inspection in some facilities where animals were suffering.

Pacelle, Wayne. “Virginia Pet Stores: Selling Puppies and a Pack of Lies”. blog.humanesociety.org. A Humane Nation, Wayne Pacelle’s Blog. 12 Nov 214. Web. Nov. 18 2014.

Being the CEO of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle has plenty of blog posts about multiple different cases in animal welfare. If you are ever curious about a situation and would like to get involved, I definitely recommend reading Pacelle’s articles. They’re informative and moving, because he includes the success HSUS has in helping these situations. This article was the one that inspired me to do more research about puppy mills. In his article, Pacelle discusses a specific case HSUS had in Virginia about a pet store who was purchasing puppies from a puppy mill. Many of the pet store owners provided false information about their resources for the animals which blinds the public and convinces them to purchased pricey dogs. The article also includes the link to pledge against purchasing your next dog from a puppy mill.

Popwell, Allison M. “Pets and the pet trade.” Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Rev. ed. Ed. Craig W. Allin. Vol. 3. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2011. 966-968. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Popwell’s article about the history behind the pet trading is effective because she starts the article about the history of the important a pet can have on someone’s life. Afterwards, she introduces puppy mills and discusses who runs them, which is usually people who know nothing or very little about breeding dogs, to make money because the demand for puppies is so high. Powell gives a brief but disturbing image of your ordinary puppy mill which consists of filthy environments, they suffer from overcrowding and rarely see a vet, as well as unsanitary food and water resources. Many puppy mill breeders do incest breeding, which causes health issues. Most of the puppies end up being shipped off to pet stores that are barely old enough to wing off their mothers, and in some cases they die.

 The Public Writing

August 26, 2014

Senator Kay Hagan

82 Patton Ave

Suite 635

Asheville, NC 28801

Dear Senator Hagan,

My name is Leah Raneigh Webb and I currently reside in Asheville, North Carolina. I am contacting you today regarding The Puppy Mill Bill (Senate Bill 460). I recently became involved in the Asheville Humane Society after being assigned to participating in volunteer service through my college English course. When puppy mills came into discussion during my volunteer hours, I educated myself on the laws in North Carolina regarding the growing situation of puppy mills in the state. Sadly, I came across the Senate Bill 460 that has avoided placing strict regulations on breeders who function puppy mills.

Based on the information I read regarding Bill 460, it is difficult for an individual to report any cruelty actions against animals. It appears that under this bill, malice and intent must be proven. Even if proof has been made regarding the situation, it is difficult to find a DA that will take on a case with this high of legal burden before it is too late. Just recently it was added unto the bill to prevent dog and cock fighting, but you would think at first glance that the bill would address any scenario where dogs were being fought. Alas, it did not, as it does not with puppy mills. I am urging you today to take action for the suffering of the lives stuck in cages that you are absently allowing to happen.

On line 24 and 25 the bill states: Nothing in this Article shall apply to those kennels or establishments operated for the purpose of boarding or training hunting, sporting, herding, show, or working dogs.
With that being stated, the bill is allowing for breeders who sell on Craigslist, Facebook, public websites, local newspapers, and at flea markets have zero regulations against them. This means that it is legal for breeders to continue keeping their dogs in kennels that only allow six inches on each side of the animal to live in for the rest of their life, receive bug infested water, skip veterinary visits, and female dogs will be bred every moment she is in heat (a five year-old female dog will give birth to ten litters).

I understand that with the world we live in today there may be more important duties on the list. However, even if you are not personally an animal lover, there are those out there that are and who care about the lives that are suffering today. North Carolina has a growing problem with puppy mills. Animals are being sent to the local shelter day after day because breeders have no use for them or do not want to spend the money to save their life. As a part of this community, I do not want to become a state that did not do anything to prevent this growing situation, and therefore homeless dogs and cats that are sick will be roaming the streets causing dirtier environments. I urge you today to reconsider Bill 460 to help put a stop to the zero regulations against these breeders, and save a life today.

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4 comments

  1. Micah Sharp

    Prefacing your writing with an incite into your passion in regards to this subject works well to give it credibility. You clearly make a strong appeal to Pathos in all your writing here, which certainly makes sense as small creatures already often create emotional responses in our minds.
    I found it interesting that you addressed a senator from North Carolina. I realize that you are probably looking for national action with this writing, but is she specifically an animal welfare focused person? Just wondering what drove that decision.
    Good Job!

  2. Jennifer Teachworth

    Leah,

    I think you did an excellent job presenting a rational argument for an emotional topic such as puppy mills. I found your argument approach in the second paragraph to be especially effective and relatable, “Based on the information I read regarding Bill 460, it is difficult for an individual to report any cruelty actions against animals. It appears that under this bill, malice and intent must be proven.”

    Secondly, I think you properly cited the ability of loopholes existing in areas that allow the state to evade any responsibility for consequential action to those who cruelly act towards animals, “Even if proof has been made regarding the situation, it is difficult to find a DA that will take on a case with this high of legal burden before it is too late. Just recently it was added unto the bill to prevent dog and cock fighting, but you would think at first glance that the bill would address any scenario where dogs were being fought. Alas, it did not, as it does not with puppy mills. I am urging you today to take action for the suffering of the lives stuck in cages that you are absently allowing to happen.”

    In its entirety, this is an effective letter in my opinion. I really enjoyed reading your argument, especially as I support ending animal cruelty and believe it should be legally established as a wrongful act.

  3. Lori Van Ravenhorst

    Fantastic job Leah!

    I found the breadth of research, and your passion very well employed in your public writing. I really liked your explanatory writing-style. You made it very easy for a busy Senator or a curious reader (like myself), without much background knowledge of the puppy mill situation in N.C. very easy to understand and relate to. I liked that you provided background about yourself and your personal experience with the issue right up front in the letter. And the fact that you surmounted your mission to deal with something specific like a particular bill, (Senate Bill 460) showed a very adept way of not only making your voice really heard but, also instigating real change.

    I think it was very successful that you introduced your interpretation of the bill: “Based on the information I read regarding Bill 460, it is difficult for an individual to report any cruelty actions against animals. It appears that under this bill….,” You were careful not insert any words or opinions that were invalidated. I also think you did a good job with the rationale in your argument. For example, in your closing paragraph you explain the ramifications if this law is not overturned: “prevent this growing situation, and therefore homeless dogs and cats that are sick will be roaming the streets causing dirtier environments.” I also think your usage of detail and explanation really paints a picture to how serious conditions are in puppy mills: “dogs in kennels that only allow six inches on each side of the animal to live in for the rest of their life, receive bug infested water, skip veterinary visits, and female dogs will be bred every moment she is in heat (a five year-old female dog will give birth to ten litters).”

    I was outraged by these details and I didn’t even have much prior knowledge about puppy mills (except that they were bad), before reading your research project. I honestly can say I don’t have much in the way of critical feedback with your letter. I thought you were detailed, heart-felt without going overboard and derailing your case), and well within reason as a concerned citizen and animal lover. Nice Work!

    -Lori

  4. amber

    Leah,

    I really enjoyed your work this term and am so happy to see that someone had a similar community theme. Focusing on puppy mills is such a painful, but much needed, assignment. I know that its hard to have to see and read all of this information that you found but it is helping to educate people about where a lot of these “designer dogs” come from. I really enjoyed that you included both evidence on the laws that protect these dogs as well as an individuals findings on this issue. Getting both sides of the story makes this writing both interesting and heart wrenching.

    You’re letter to Senator Hagen was amazing! The way that you stood up for what you believe and showed the faults in the current law showed confidence and dedication. I know it must be hard to message someone you don’t know which such abandon, but letters like this are what is going to change these laws. I cannot believe that you must “prove” malice to have action taken against these people, that is insane. Also, when you stated that this bill also allows this mistreatment of animals by people who sell off public pages is sickening. The thought that this would actually be legal is the scariest thing I’ve seen. Im so glad that you took the time to collect this information. As hard as it is to read such sad information, we need to hear the truth.

    I loved your work and Im very proud that you stood up and used your voice for such an important cause.

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