RDOWS’ Letter to Senator Dick Durbin et al Regarding S. 3519 “PUPS Act”

September 26, 2008

Editor’s note: A similar letter was sent to the sponsor and co-sponsors of S. 3519’s companion bill H.R. 6949 in the U.S. House of Representatives and each letter was CCed to the Agriculture Committees in both the House and Senate who will be considering the bills.

P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site http://www.povn.com/rdows E-mail US rdows@povn.com
Blog https://rdows.wordpress.com  E-mail List http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rdows

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
JSD, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, GA Chevalier@chevalier-bullterriers.com
Elizabeth Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director, bpensgard@yahoo.com
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA, hermine@endangeredspecies.com
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director, finedogs@hotmail.com
Arizona Director, John Bowen, johnalldogs@sprintmail.com
California Director, Jan Dykema, bestuvall@sbcglobal.net
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman, candkcoffman@comcast.net
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen, rdows_iowa@yahoo.com
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield, farmer1@telepak.net
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej, 4winds@viawest.net
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton, ginacotton@msn.com
Texas Director, Alvin Crow, crobx@austin.rr.com

Dear Sen. Durbin:

It is quite alarming that at the outset of the U.S. Senate’s 2008-2009 session that such a severe bill as S. 3519 — the “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act,” or “P.U.P.S. Act” — has already been proposed. Even more alarming is your acknowledgment — on the Senate floor, no less — that Oprah had anything to do with this bill. Are we, your constituents, to understand that your bill was inspired by the shoddy research of a daytime talk show host? If that is how things are done in the U.S. Senate then can we also expect bills inspired by Tyra Banks, Jerry Springer, and The View?

The most egregious offense that Oprah committed during her infamous “puppy mill” show was to refer to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as “the Humane Society” as if the HSUS is related to local humane societies who actually rescue and adopt out animals, unlike the HSUS. Oprah also failed to research the HSUS’ background wherein she would have found spokespersons for the HSUS saying things like these:

“We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS, Animal People, May, 1993.

“We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States…We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS, Full Cry Magazine, October 1, 1990.

“I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS, quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 251.

“Humane care (of animals) is simply sentimental, sympathetic patronage.” Dr. Michael W. Fox, HSUS, in 1988 Newsweek interview.

“Our goal is to get sport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and dog fighting.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, October 8,1991.

“We would be foolish and silly not to unite with people in the public health sector, the environmental community, [and] unions, to try to challenge corporate agriculture.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS, at the Animal Rights 2002 Convention, July 1, 2002.

“We have found that civil disobedience and direct action has been powerful in generating massive attention in our communities…and has been very effective in traumatizing our targets.” JP Goodwin, Committee to Abolish the Fur Trade, National Animal Rights Convention ‘97, June 27, 1997, now employed by the HSUS.

And yet the HSUS, this animal rights organization with at least one member with a criminal and violent past, is backing S. 3519 which you are sponsoring. How will hunters and fishermen in Illinois and across the nation feel when they have discovered that you have allied with an animal rights group who has publicly stated that they will stop all hunting in the United States? How will farmers in Illinois and across the nation feel when they discover you have allied with an animal rights group who has stated they will challenge corporate agriculture, and therefore all agriculture as we know it? And as for S. 3519, how will Illinoisans and indeed all breeders across the country feel, when they discover that you have allied with an animal rights group which not only has no problem with the extinction of domestic animals, but is working tirelessly to achieve that end?

It is hardly a secret that the HSUS has launched an all-out attack on the right to own domesticated animals by stepping-stone type legislation like S. 3519. To the general, Oprah-watching public, however, S. 3519 appears to be a good bill. But the following provisions give us pause. S. 3519 would,

*Define a “retail pet store” as a person who “sells an animal directly to the public for use as a pet,” and “does not breed or raise more than 50 dogs for use as pets during any one-year period.”

Mr. Durbin you stated on the Senate floor that “[T]here are many responsible dog breeders across the country who care about and take great pains to properly look after the animals in their care. Those breeders are not the target of this legislation.” We must disagree Mr. Durbin. Those responsible breeders are precisely the target of S. 3519. Those who breed less than 50 dogs, and usually much less than 50 dogs, are often called “hobby breeders.” These breeders are typically very caring, meticulous, and breed very high-quality dogs. Yet, if S. 3519 passes, they will be subject to all kinds of various state restrictions — like required renovations to their homes and facilities or local zoning laws — which will most likely be cost-prohibitive and price them out of breeding. And how exactly will changing the definition of a hobby breeder to a “retail pet store” crack down on so-called “puppy mills”?

Also, S. 3519 does not allow for exemptions for those who rescue. So a well-meaning rescue that rescues/fosters less than 50 dogs a year would be a “retail pet store” with all the cost-prohibitive state restrictions that apply.

*Require that breeders obtain a license from the USDA if they raise more than 50 dogs in a 12-month period and sell directly to the public.

As it is, the USDA does not thoroughly enforce the law and get required inspections done now. The USDA will certainly be less able to do so should S. 3519 pass and those raising more than 50 dogs a year (potentially thousands upon thousands of kennels) be required to acquire USDA licensure. And will the taxpayers be required to foot the additional costs for inspection and law enforcement? Will rescues also be required to acquire USDA licensure should they “raise” over 50 dogs a year?

Also, though it is little known or understood, licensure — whether for individual pets or for pet facilities like kennels — is the usurpation of animal ownership and use rights. A license creates a temporary, revocable permit issued by a governmental licensing agency that allows the holder to have something, or to do something that is otherwise illegal. Ostensibly, cities, counties, or states which require licensing of either pets or pet facilities could refuse to issue further licenses for any reason, revoke the privilege of dog ownership or kennel operation altogether, and confiscate people’s property (their animals, equipment, etc.).

And as an aside, it is cause for great concern that ASPCA investigators are now called the “ASPCA Police” in the media or on television, and that the HSUS now acts with police powers. Who gave them this power and how is it lawful for them to have it? We have seen several of these raids, including right here in Illinois, wherein local law enforcement, assisted by animal rights groups like the HSUS, serve warrants based on “tips” of animal cruelty, and whether the owner(s) is/are ever charged with a crime or not (and usually not), their animals and other property are confiscated never to be returned. Worse, those plundering the treasure trove of animals, often go on to turn around and sell the animals at a profit adding funding to their war chests which only emboldens them to lobby for rights-negating legislation and continue on in their plundering. Are we therefore to trust that such abuses of power will not be a result of a bill like S. 3519?

Sir, this bill targets responsible breeders almost exclusively, and just the fact that you would use the animal rightist PR-created term “puppy mill” indicates that you may not have a full grasp of the situation. You said that “Some animals rescued from puppy mills show signs of malnutrition and dehydration, having been denied a sufficient supply of food.” However, animal cruelty is not a breeder issue. Animal cruelty and mistreatment are criminal offenses and are issues for a prosecutor in the jurisdiction in question.

Likewise, you said that in “puppy mills” “the breeding females are made to have litter after litter of puppies.” Yet, many veterinarians recommend that females be bred in succession to avoid a life-threatening condition called Pyometra. As such, descriptions of female dogs as having been “overbred” or as having “too many litters” “back-to-back” shows a lack of understanding about the nature of breeding, is animal rights driven, and is meant only to push unreasonable legislation which will ultimately lead to the end of domestic animal ownership as we know it.

Harry Truman once said “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” The only thing is, if the HSUS gets their way, there won’t be any more dogs left to befriend you. I hope that the HSUS has afforded you enough “friendship” such that when they accomplish their end-goal of eliminating all domesticated animals — whether pets or agricultural animals — that you don’t miss your dog…or eating meat, or your constitutional rights.


Elizabeth Pensgard
Executive Secretary and Illinois Director, Responsible Dog Owners of
the Western States
President, Responsible Dog Owners Group of Illinois



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