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Mike, you've stated a few times over the course of this debate your belief that:

"The problem with the PA and other like laws is the are just one step in the continual push of animal right advocates to end all breeding and thus all pet ownership. Once in place it is much easier over time to reduce the number of dogs to be consider a "commercial kennel" Especial since the legistation will do nothing to accomplish the goal of reducing the fabled pet overpoplation myth. So only more drastic and Draconian measures will do. " Mike Tefts (4/12 post under "You Won't Believe This One")

I really feel a need to comment on that statement. The anti-puppymill movement in Lancaster County is a grass roots movement- we're not nut cases who want pet ownership abolished: we just want the mills out of our county, and life in the existing mills to improve for the dogs, who up til now have been LEGALLY confined to tiny cages their entire lives in horrendous conditions.

I realize that you're sincere in your opinions about the detrimental effects of the new Pa. dog law, but for what it's worth, here's some local perspective on both sides of the issue:


04-15-09 -- Residents Speak Out Against Kennel
Providence Township continues hearing

By: Susan E. Lindt, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal


Residents opposing a Providence Township commercial breeding kennel asked the zoning hearing board Tuesday not to approve the already-existing business.

After hearing testimony, mostly against approval, the board continued until May 12 the hearing for Country Boy Kennel, 170 Truce Road, New Providence.

Kennel owner Jonas J. Esch testified before the board that he's been operating his kennel, which is licensed by the state to keep up to 500 dogs, without the township's required approval since 2003.

Similar cases have recently come up at zoning hearing boards across the county since the state kennel license application was changed to specifically ask applicants if they have their local municipality's approval to operate a kennel.

However, unlike recent cases before other zoning hearing boards, Esch didn't come away with an approval at the end of the hearing.

Board solicitor Kim Carter Paterson delved into many aspects of Esch's business practices to ensure that he is complying with state laws governing kennels, which he is required to do before the board can grant him a special exception to continue operating his kennel. More than a dozen neighboring residents attended the hearing, with about half stating their opposition to the kennel, citing noise, pollution, inhumane and unsanitary business practices, as well as Esch's history of breaking state and local regulations to operate his kennel.

Esch said he had come before the board Tuesday because the state changed the law to require township approval of his business. He testified that he also operated his kennel in a 70-by-36-foot barn for a year without a state license before he was cited by the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which forced him to pay for an annual license starting in 2004.

Paterson asked Esch if he has been cited or warned by the state for violating other state dog laws

"I have had a couple of (violations)," Esch testified. "I didn't have it clean enough inside. Another one was where the dog pooped in the feeder. In 2004, they came because I didn't have a license."

Helen Ebersole of the advocacy group United Against Puppy Mills later in the hearing provided the board with a list of violations for which Esch was cited by state inspectors.

"I'm curious, Mr. Esch," board member Bradford Duvall said after hearing the partial list. "You only told us about three (violations). There's quite a few more than three there."

Esch said he routinely breeds his dogs as often as he can until they are no longer fertile -- usually between 5 and 7 years old -- then he takes them to a vet to be euthanized, even if they are otherwise healthy.

Township resident Barry Longenecker asked what Esch does with defective dogs unsuitable for sale to his regular wholesale dog dealer. Esch said he uses them as breeder dogs unless his vet, Willard Stoltzfus of Black Horse Animal Hospital, recommends euthanization.

Esch also testified that he has had one farm dog "debarked," which is to have a vet surgically alter its vocal cords to prevent it from barking.

Still, residents complained they can hear Esch's small-breed dogs loud and clear.

"I do hear the dogs on a daily basis at my home," said LouAnn Gmuca, who lives across the street from Esch's 80-acre dairy farm. "I have friends over to my pool, and it is loud."

Gmuca testified that she bought a seriously ill dog from Esch because he told her if she didn't, he would keep it as a breeder dog.

"Why would you breed a dog with all those defects?" Gmuca said to the board.

Township resident Kelly Charles asked Esch who cares for his dogs. Esch replied that his wife and nine children tend the kennels. Charles asked how old his children are and Esch said his youngest is 1 year old. Charles then urged the three-member board to deny Esch the special exception to operate.

"If you don't stop this now ... you're just going to get more requests for puppy mills because the bottom line is it makes big bucks," Charles said.

Township resident Brian Longenecker asked who would oversee Esch's business to make sure he complies with township regulations if the board approves his kennel, especially, he said, because Esch's history is to operate without approval or licensing until he is found out.

"You only seem to come forward when you're called to task on something," Brian Longenecker said to Esch. "How will anyone know what's going on at that farm?"

Barry Longenecker emphasized that Esch's farm is too small to handle the concentration of animals living there. He cited testimony in which Esch said eight to 10 dogs die a year at his farm.

"That he has up to 10 percent mortality rate speaks to the conditions in which his dogs are kept," Barry Longenecker said. " ... We don't want this precedent started here. We say 'no' to other things. This is something we should say 'no' to before this happens time and time again."

Township resident Benuel Beiler was the only person to testify on Esch's behalf. He said Esch has nine children to feed and his welfare should be considered before that of the dogs.

"I'm hearing a lot about the welfare of the dogs, but I'm thinking about the welfare of the farmer," Beiler said. "I ate today. I think we all ate today. ... So I appreciate the farmer. (Esch) only has 80 acres, and he has nine children to feed. ... Help the farmer. Keep this an agriculture community. (Esch) doesn't bother me, and he's right next door to me."

Providence Township Zoning Hearing Board will accept public comment on Esch's case through May 12.
 

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Interesting article, Mary. Thanks - as always - for posting.

I'm glad to see the issue continues to get coverage and hope Esch's dogs get a much better life.
 

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I'm just blown away that puppies are considered a "crop". And because we eat every day, we should overlook horribly inhumane conditions for dogs? I'm sorry, but unlike his dogs, Mr. Esch can control the number of his offspring. If he can't keep 9 kids without torturing animals for a living, that's his own fault.
 

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I'm just blown away that puppies are considered a "crop".[/b]

And their in lies the emotional argument vs a logical one. Puppy mills started after wWWII as a USDA supsidies program to help farmers.

[url-http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper351.html]Puppy Mills[/url]
Historically, the number of puppy mills in the United States grew dramatically in the post-World War II era. During that time, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) began encouraging struggling farmers to raise puppies as a “cash crop” in an effort to ease the strains on them during the Great Depression (Best Friends). During this time, there was virtually no oversight or regulation of this industry. The federal law which regulates commercial dog breeding, the Animal Welfare Act, was not enacted until 1966 (USDA National Agricultural Library).

As a result of the encouragement by USDA, puppy mills became more prominent in agricultural areas. Currently, the state with the highest number of large-scale commercial dog breeders is Missouri. However, there is also an extremely high concentration of breeders in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which has the highest concentration of puppy mills of any county in the country (Last Chance for Animals). Surprisingly, commercial dog breeding is very prevalent among Amish and Mennonite farmers, with pockets of Amish dog breeders found throughout the country, including Lancaster County (AWA Watchdog).[/url]

Thi encouragment was typical given to small family farmers with out the means or acreage to profitably raise other crops or live stock.


There is a good explaination on the site why puppymills canot be legislated out of existance
There is an enormous demand for purebred puppies in the United States. Approximately 44.8 million American homes have at least one dog as a pet, with 74.8 million dogs owned as pets overall in the United States (APPMA). Of those dogs, 16% are adopted from shelters, 31% are purchased directly from breeders, and about 6% are purchased from pet stores each year (Zawistowski, 2008). As long as the demand for purebred puppies continues to exist, puppy mills will continue to operate.[/url]


Michael tefts
 

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I really feel a need to comment on that statement. The anti-puppymill movement in Lancaster County is a grass roots movement- we're not nut cases who want pet ownership abolished: we just want the mills out of our county, and life in the existing mills to improve for the dogs, who up til now have been LEGALLY confined to tiny cages their entire lives in horrendous conditions.[/b]
Surely there are thoses that only want to regulate commercial kennels but unfortunately they are not the mover or the shakers in the movement. The legislation was not written by the grass roots but rather HSUS/ASPCA operatives working with the DEPT of Agriculture. They intially wrote an anti-breeding bill that even eliminated the ability of rescue organization to opperate the Dept of Ag in a rare momenent of clarity addmit as much to a sportsmen org lobbying against the original bill and who spent countless hours ammending to protect the interested of non-comercial breeders, rescues, boarding kennels and sportsmen alike.

I have been on the lobbying end before state legislators. It is a rare bill indeed that is actual written by the sponsor. They are generally written by an advocate for the cause with close ties to the sponsor, because they "have a broader understandingand knowledge of the subtities of the issue. This is where the animial rights activists work , where in the end it counts, lobbying, get getting legislation passed. In this case we had those operatives working through the Dept of Ag for a bit more cover but they were front and center. It is interesting to note there are approx 30 earily similar, nearly identicle bills being pushed currenly in state legislatures acroos the country that draw on the PA bill but make definition of commercial keennel etc even more stringent. This is not a grassroots effort in the states but a massive nationwide lobbing effort by the only animal rights org that has the mony and power to do so. The HSUS who feed off the publics misperseption of them.
From 2007 "the earlyt intiatives to pass the bill"
Pennsylvania Moves to Outlaw Hunting with Dogs
In a recent message to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Deputy Secretary Smith wrote, “The Department is attempting to apply more uniform and enforceable regulations to ALL kennels.â€� Until now, the department had been trying to convince sportsmen that the dog care policy was aimed at unscrupulous commercial breeders and was not meant to impact hunters.[/b]
The HSUS is more than willing to garner support from the grass roots whether they support overall breed bans or not. They will just miss inform then of the true content of the bill. and in the case of PA have the Dept of AG do the same thing. see http://www.mfha.com/legislat-puppymill.htm]Death by a Thousand Cuts://http://www.mfha.com/legislat-puppym...a Thousand Cuts
One such campaign has been on behalf of “man’s best friend.â€� Over the past ten years, HSUS has championed a barrage of legislation allegedly aimed at protecting canines. These include bills banning animal fighting, beefing up animal cruelty statutes, mandatory spay and neuter legislation and efforts to eliminate so called “puppy mills.â€� On their face, each and every one of these endeavors seems noble. What reasonable person supports dog fighting? Who doesn’t want laws that prohibit animal cruelty? Who is not saddened to hear about the hundreds of thousands of stray dogs that are euthanized every year in animal shelters? Who is not repulsed when shown footage of an unscrupulous puppy dealer who places profit far above the suffering of dogs in breeding kennels?

Therefore, it comes as a terrible surprise to many dog lovers to learn that sportsmen across America have opposed all of these efforts. Why? Because the devil, as they say, is in the details.

...USSA’s staff of legislative professionals discovered that every one of these legislative proposals contained language that would negatively impact a dog owner’s or kennel operator’s ability to function. These proposals criminalize commonly accepted hunting practices, excessively drive up the cost of operating a kennel, prevent hunters from breeding sporting dogs, overburden breeders with a deluge of paperwork, and more.

For example, bills that were supposed to stamp out animal fighting defined the crime as training one animal to pursue, attack, kill or attempt to do any of these things to another animal. This means hunting with dogs and participating in field trials would be classified as animal fighting.

Bills strengthening animal cruelty statutes included language allowing search and seizures without warrants. The bills made dog owners pay the cost of housing their confiscated dogs while they were being prosecuted even if they were not convicted! They prohibited tethering unless the owner was present at all times.

Legislation purported to address too many strays actually mandates spaying and neutering of all dogs, including hunting dogs, show dogs, and dogs used in field trials.

And efforts to crack down on “puppy mills,� which are described as large abusive commercial dog breeding facilities, also impact private kennels such as foxhound and beagle kennels. Requirements in these bills result in thousands of dollars in cost-prohibitive upgrades that are wholly unnecessary. Restrictions in this type of legislation criminalize private kennel operators for even the smallest infractions. Record-keeping requirements in these proposals are more extensive than those for child day care centers.

...PENNSYLVANIA: A MAJOR TEST CASE

Such was the case in Pennsylvania in 2006 ...

Dog fanciers, shelter operators, dog rescue volunteers, and even sporting dog owners all supported the cause…until they read the regulations. Remarkably no dog interests were consulted as the state constructed its draft. Instead regulators worked with dog activists affiliated with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The new regulations were forty-five pages of the most restrictive, over-specific, burdensome, cost prohibitive set of animal care proposals seen anywhere in the United States. And they applied to all licensed kennels.

...A reasonable person would conclude that the Department of Agriculture would realize that it had overreached in its proposal.

A reasonable person would be wrong. Department officials told USSA staff and sporting dog allies that the proposal would go forward.

Just a month later, a bipartisan panel charged with reviewing all pending state regulations reported that not a single licensed kennel was in compliance with the state’s proposal. USSA and its Sporting Dog Defense Coalition implored the governor and his Department of Agriculture to withdraw the regulations. The state declined, and committed to seeing the proposal approved.

...At that point the governor’s staff and key legislators agreed to twenty-three of USSA’s twenty-six amendments, including the search warrant provision. In exchange, the coalition agreed to remove its opposition to House Bill 2525. All of the sportsmen’s top priority amendments were addressed.[/b]
The problem is while outrage for imhuman condition at many co commercial breeders is grass roots all the so called solution being but forth are by animal rights groups and go far beyondfurther regulation comercial breeders,

That said one has to quesion the rational of preventing animal cruelity with legislation crafted for a very limited number of individuals that is much stricter than required for an ordinary house pet. When environmental condition are more restricted then a encountered by a normal househod pet one has to wonder about the agenda of the legislation. If the so called awfullcommercial puppy mills have better living condition than fiare similiar restrictions for homeoners that far down the road. Manditory exercise plan, manditory air-conditioning etc .

Michael Tefts
 

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The PETA allegations and inferences are the emotional arguments, not the insistence that creatures which are a product of our own manipulation should be subject to humane care.

It's unfortunate that, over the past 10-20 years, our national rhetoric has been overtaken by conspiracy theorists, but it has. The belief that "I can do whatever I want, dammit, and not be subject to any rules or regulations" is yet another manifestation of this overriding rhetoric.

Now, if the consequences of such rhetoric only affected those shouting it, it would be one thing. Unfortunately, we exist in webs of relationships - as do whatever creatures are in our care.

That means, at the very least, that people who insist they can do whatever they want to their dogs affect the climate of their community. It also means that, as we lose compassion for creatures that are a consequence of our manipulation, it becomes easier to lose compassion for those around us. It means that the community becomes hardened to cruelty, making it that much easier to neglect and harm our own children, our elderlies, our neighbors and, especially, the strangers among us.

Conspiracy theorists, however, have labelled the necessity for compassion as PETA or, even more bizarre, socialism. This has had a profoundly negative effect on our world, and not just for the animals.

Fortunately, the majority of people still believe in the power of compassion and just care, and understand the links between how we care for those weaker than us and the health of our own communities and nation.

In sum: PETA my ass. The extremists in our midst are those launching those accusations.
 
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