Change the lives of dogs trapped in puppy mills.
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USDA recently posted a request for public input for changes to the Animal Welfare Act. Specifically they asked for input regarding the licensing of commercial dog breeders.
There are over 6,000 commercial breeders and an unknown number of 'backyard' breeders, and despite the fact that US shelters kill 5,500 unwanted dogs EVERY DAY, the commercial facilities continue to breed puppies for profit. While some take their animals' welfare seriously, many are profit driven and keep the dogs in cramped and inhumane conditions, often without adequate veterinary care.
Some live in cages so small they can barely turn round, and to make matters worse, they are stacked up high, so that the dogs are constantly showered with urine and feces from the dogs in the cages above them.
We want to see changes, with minimum standards of accommodation and veterinary care, and with the welfare of the dogs taking precedence over profits.
We have compiled a list of requests that could make this possible.
PLEASE READ THE LIST, AND SIGN THE PETITION!
We have until October 23rd to submit our views, and this petition will be closing three days beforehand, to be sure it is submitted safely on time.
If you represent a shelter or rescue in the US, please include the name by adding "signed on behalf of ------ Rescue" in the comments section.
We want USDA to see that the rescue community is committed to change and united in their desire to make it happen.
The response to the USDA request for input.
In order to prevent this mass killing of healthy animals, new regulations should be implemented to reduced mass breeding, which of course is ultimately responsible for the huge shelter population.
Unwanted dogs are bred in one of two sources, the commercial 'puppy mill' breeder, and the backyard breeder who failed to neuter their pet, OR is deliberately breeding and selling puppies to generate illicit income.
In either situation, the breeding dogs are not safeguarded by many regulations, and this needs to change.
There are two broad areas that require reform.
The first is the living conditions of the breeding dogs, and the second is the monitoring of the sales of puppies and dogs.
Living conditions in puppy mills.
Unlike most civilized countries, the US does not have national guidelines for the welfare of puppy mills dogs. To bring this situation into line with more advances countries, the following need to be enshrined in law -
Minimum space requirement – the RSPCA's International Guidelines state that -
Each dog should have a minimum of 2m2 covered and draft-free accommodation, which equates to 3 ½ feet by 7 feet. It should have a raised bed surface.
The minimum temperature is 10ºC and the maximum is 26ºC, or 50-77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sleeping quarters must be ventilated and have both natural and supplementary light.
Each dog requires a minimum of 2.5–3.5m2 (or 3-5 sq yards)of open exercise run.
Fencing should be at least 2m (6 feet) high and be made of weld mesh. It should slope inwards at the top to stop dogs climbing.
These dimensions are the minimum, and should be increased pro rata for the size and weight of the breed of dog.
Welfare of breeding dogs requirement -
Animals must always have a view outside the kennel.
Every dog should have comfortable fresh bedding.
They should be provided with toys and chews.
They should have darkness for a minimum of 6 hours at night to preserve biorhythms if they are kept indoors.
Each dog be given a name and the caretakers should interact with them for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.
Facility requirements -
As regards the facility as a whole the following considerations should be enshrined into law for commercial facilities -
The preparation of a written evacuation plan, in the event of fire, or an adverse weather event. The breeder must demonstrate that they have adequate transport and temporary shelters for ALL animals in their care.
A veterinary inspection should take place every 6 months, with an USDA vet, who is NOT the facility's own vet.
Isolation facilities should be available for sick animals, and adequate caretaker time available to give medicines and other therapies as prescribed.
A plan should be documented for the retirement of animals no longer use for breeding. The breeder needs to show that they will not just be euthanized, but that suitable homes will be provided. Records to be kept of every animal on the premises.
No puppy to be removed from the mother until at least 12 weeks old, and ideally 4 months.
The above regulations to all be enshrined in law, with appropriate penalties for failing to keep animals in suitable conditions.
Penalties to include fines, confiscation of animals with prohibition of owning animals in the future, and jail time for those where the conditions are considered abuse.
The sales of puppies and dogs.
Microchipping is compulsory in many countries and has been proven to deter theft and also to discourage irresponsible backyard breeding.
A law is required that all dogs aged 4 months or over MUST be microchipped.
We also require a law that no puppy or dog can be sold without a current rabies tag, and without written evidence of being vetted within the last 12 months prior to sale.
Penalties from fines, through the banning of pet ownership and then jail time should be introduced to enforce this new law.
Pet stores to ONLY sell pets from shelters.
Pet stores to ONLY sell neutered pets.
The keeping of non-neutered pet to require a breeders license, with the requirement of meeting all the living conditions and facility requirements stated earlier.
Anyone owning a non-neutered pet to be given the following options -
- having the pet neutered within the next 30 days, or
- giving up the pet for the local animal control to neuter and rehome, or
- applying for a breeders license.
The above changes will inevitably increase the shelter population in the short term, as those breeders keeping animals in sub-standard conditions will be required to relinquish them or finance changes in their premises and staffing.
It is anticipated that many 'backyard breeders' will cease to breed their animals, as the requirements to microchip, neuter and obtain shots will be a deterrent to those who are simply out to make money, with no consideration for the animal's welfare.
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