Congress Zaps Phony Puppy Protection Act from Farm Bill
NAIA, AKC led opposition
By: Patti Strand Date: 01/8/2012 Category: | Animal Legislation | Canine Issues |
The long-awaited word came on Friday, April 26: the odious and falsely-named Puppy Protection Act had been eliminated from the Farm Bill that sets US agricultural policy for the next five years.
Sponsored by Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and heavily backed by the Humane Society of the US, the Doris Day Animal League, and other animal rights groups, the PPA was a scam designed to further restrict commercial dog breeders and a carefully-crafted sub rosa threat for all breeders who own more than three intact bitches. Introduced last October, the bill could not get a hearing on its merits, so Senator Santorum proposed it as an undebated amendment to the Farm Bill.
The National Animal Interest Alliance and the American Kennel Club led the opposition, and the American Veterinary Medical Association added its voice. Thousands of breeders, fanciers, exhibitors, dog clubs, and others contacted their elected representatives to urge them to drop this burdensome piece of legislation that does nothing more than forward the agenda of anti-breeding groups.
“The PPA was inspired by special interest groups that fundraise using emotional animal welfare issues,” said NAIA president Patti Strand. “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.”
Noting that “Responsible breeders nationwide let their members of Congress know that the PPA was bad public policy and would weaken the Animal Welfare Act rather than improve it,” AKC worked with conferees in the House and Senate to explain the shortcomings of the amendment.
AVMA said that the socialization provision in the PPA was “premature and ill-advised” and that the breeding restrictions were “objectionable,” going far beyond the scope of the Animal Welfare Act.
The PPA was based on the false premise that purebred puppies in the US are the product of “puppy mills,” an undefined, catch-all term used by activists to invoke an image of filth, disease, and squalor and thereby discredit dog breeding and the sale of purebred puppies. With the stage set on this illusory foundation, the act would have allowed federal inspectors to determine when and how often bitches could be bred and how puppies were to be socialized. Strangely, though, it had the potential to weaken the current Animal Welfare Act by allowing a licensed facility three violations of law in eight years before revocation of the license. Currently, USDA can suspend or revoke licenses for a single grievous violation.
While focusing on increasing the burden on licensed facilities, the PPA did nothing to aid USDA in its attempts to find unlicensed kennels that are operating below its radar. The AWA gives the agency the responsibility to regulate kennels that sell puppies to retail outlets but does not provide the authority to track puppies from the retailer to the supplier, thus allowing unlicensed and perhaps substandard kennels to escape scrutiny.
While aimed at undefined “puppy mills,” the PPA had the potential to impact all who own more than three intact bitches and sell their offspring. Although activists scoffed at the idea that purebred dog enthusiasts have anything to fear from the PPA and similar attempts to further restrict commercial dog breeding, they carefully omitted any mention of a 2001 court ruling that all breeders with more then three intact bitches should be licensed under the AWA.
Activists dragged breed enthusiasts into the puppy mill picture by attacking the American Kennel Club for registering commercially-bred dogs and charging that the AWA covers all breeders, not just those who sell to retail outlets. After a long, drawn-out campaign, the Doris Day Animal League won a judge’s decision ordering USDA to expand enforcement of the AWA to all dog and cat breeders in the US.
USDA is appealing the decision, but loss of the appeal could have serious consequences for dog breeders and could conceivably result in fewer inspections of large commercial kennels as the resources of the agency are spread thin.
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. It 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 thought.
“Everyone 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.”
Animal rights activists attempted to load the Farm Bill with more amendments to further their agenda. See the related piece on page 19 to read the results.
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