Critters Places

Pride of Place and puppy mills

Time is running out to prepare for arguments to save Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. This afternoon, the Missouri Senate will debate SB 113, and most likely vote whether to support it or not. I expect the House to follow quickly if SB 113 happens to pass.

I’ve appealed to Missouri representatives’ compassion, by showing them USDA inspection reports that outline how cruelly the dogs are treated in puppy mills. Legally treated, which is morally reprehensible.

I’ve also appealed to the Missouri representatives’ civic responsibility to support the voter’s wishes. We just voted on this act, and it hasn’t even gone into effect, yet. The majority of this state supports this act, while special interests, and too much agribusiness money, are behind the effort to repeal our vote.

The only thing I have to left, is an appeal to pride. Pride in Missouri. Pride in what Missourians accomplish, what we do, the industries we have.

Fact: we have the largest number of large scale commercial dog breeding operations in the country. This isn’t hearsay, the USDA confirms this. More breeders are licensed here than any two or three other states, combined.

Yet, no one brags about the number of large scale commercial dog breeders we have. You won’t find Governor Nixon boasting of this number in any of his speeches. I’m sure he doesn’t bring up the fact when he meets with his peers.

You won’t find any of the representatives, even those who want to gut Proposition B, bragging about our number one position for dog breeders. Other than their work to repeal Proposition B, you won’t find these representatives talking about commercial dog breeding, at all.

I looked through the literature for the State and the Department of Agriculture—you know, the brag sheets. We export this much corn and soybeans, and we’re number seven for hogs, and so on. But you won’t find puppies among the listed exports, nor will you find any boasting on being the number one large scale commercial dog breeding state in the country.

Why don’t we brag about the number of breeders we have? Because deep down inside, none of us is happy at the numbers of breeders we have. None of us is proud of our position, or even of the industry. Those who fought in defense of the breeders have done so more to defeat HSUS—because of their concern about other forms of livestock—rather than because they really approve of the large scale commercial dog breeders. They just don’t care enough about the dogs, but they sure as heck care about HSUS.

The breeders, themselves? You can look at their web sites and all you’ll see is cute little pictures of puppies, usually playing with children. But don’t attempt to visit the breeder to pick up your puppy. No, they’ll be glad to mail the puppy or meet you at some neutral spot. If you do meet with them, they’ll surreptitiously hand the puppy over, like it’s made of crack cocaine.

In the days before we voted on Proposition B, if the operations were as good as the breeders said they are, all they would have had to do is show us. Invite some of the more interested folks to visit—have journalists tour their operations.

Yet I know of only three commercial breeders who were willing to meet with the public. Three out of 1,390. One breeder actually tried to run over a Fox news crew camera when they tried to visit the place.

What does this say about this industry, as a whole? An industry that keeps to the shadows, and hides from both scrutiny and public view? One that, in effect, lies to the public by pretending to be a little Mom and Pop breeder with a few dogs, when they have hundreds?

And what does it say about how we feel about this industry, when we never brag about it, never even talk about it—except when another mill is closed down because of horrid conditions. Or because of Proposition B.

If we choose to fight for industries in our state, shouldn’t we fight for ones we’re proud of?


Rabbit Ridge Kennel Campaign

The USDA inspected the Rabbit Ridge Kennel, owned by Donald Schrage, April 5th.

Rabbit Ridge was featured in HSUS’s Dirty Dozen. This kennel is a repeat offender, and has been a repeat offender since at least 2003. The April 5th inspection was a focus inspection, based on violations noted by the USDA inspector in March. The March inspection was a focus inspection, based on violations the inspector noted in November 29, 2010. The November inspection was a focus inspection, based on violations the inspector noted November 16, 2010, and so on. This one breeder has been inspected by the USDA nine times since January 1, 2010. The breeder repeatedly fails inspections, with items such as the following:

A female Maltese was very thin, with vertebrae, hip, and leg bones easily seen and palpable. She has an obvious waist and abdominal tuck. There were areas of skin on the bony prominences that were scabbed over.

A female, Shih Tzu was seen limping and holding the front left paw up. She was slightly weight bearing on the foot. An approximate pea-size opening location at the top of the foot was moist, reddened, smooth edged and oozing a clear, red discharge. The affected area seemed slightly swollen. There was an area of hair loss around the opening. Licensee indicated that he “was treating with hydrogen peroxide” and was unsure when this lesion occurred. No documentation of treatment by the licensee was available.

And the following:

A Shih Tzu male was seen hopping and leg flipping due to restricted movement from hair on hind leg matted to abdomen. Areas of matted hair had pulled away from the skin leaving large areas of red, irritated skin. These areas were oozing green pus and had a crusty appearance on both sides of the dog’s abdomen.

Two Scottish Terrier dogs were matted on the face, legs, and back. These matts were dangling off the face and legs, pulling at the skin.

Lhasa Apso had a left eye with a crusty, greenish-yellow discharge in and around the eye.

A male, Boston Terrier had a thin hair coat with generalized hair loss throughout the body. There was an open lesion on the rear leg and a scabbed over lesion on the scrotum approximately 1 inch in diameter.

A dog had an end portion of the tail (approximately 1 inch long) that was red, hairless, and oozing blood.

Since the Missouri General Assembly and Governor Nixon enacted SB 161 with an emergency clause, SB 161 is now immediately in effect and this breeder is in violation of state law.

First, we need to contact the Department of Agriculture and demand that it take action with this breeder. Operation Bark Alert isn’t the appropriate avenue, since Bark Alert is for unlicensed breeders, only. Instead, I recommend people send an email directly to the department responsible for breeder inspections, ACFA. Since the level of suffering these dogs are experiencing is quite high, you may also want to email the Director of the Department of Agriculture, Jon Hagler, directly.

I also recommend that you email the state senator for this breeder, Brian Munzlinger, and the breeder’s Representative, Craig Redmon. Both of these gentlemen felt compelled to override Proposition B, so I think it’s only fair that they accept some responsibility for the actions of this breeder.

In addition, I’ll be seeing if I can get recent Missouri Department of Agriculture inspection reports. If any of you have any additional information about this breeder, such as directions to the kennel, or photos or videos of the place, please send me an email.

Hopefully by the end end of summer, we’ll see definitive action on this breeder. If not, then we better have a damn good reason why not from those who felt that SB 161 was an acceptable replacement for Proposition B.


Senate mockery of the voters

I listened to the Senate “debate” on SB 113. I use quotes because there was no debate.

The bill was perfected. This doesn’t mean it was voted on, but I expect it to be voted. I was incredibly frustrated with the discussion, because Mike Parson made several misrepresentations and outright fabrications. But I guess it’s not done to call him a liar to his face, directly on the Senate floor.

What this means…

Well, there will be a final Senate vote on the bill. And there’s still a debate on HB 131, though I don’t know if I can handle listening to this one.

I do want to collect the votes in the end, because I think everyone from a Yes on B district that voted for one of these bills should be kicked out of office when they come up for a vote. They’re basically saying we’re too stupid to know what we want. Well, not too stupid to know we don’t want, or need, them.