CAPS Works with Reader's Digest
February 1999 Issue has Special Report on "Scandal of America's Puppy Mills"
CAPS played an important role in the February 1999 Reader's Digest article, "The Scandal of America's Puppy Mills." We worked closely with the writer, Bill Ecenbarger, and provided information on pet shops and puppy mills, the USDA and the AKC. We also provided interview contacts and arranged for Mr. Ecenbarger's visit to a horrendous Missouri puppy mill that sold a very sick puppy to a broker who dealt with Shake A Paw.
Ecenberger interviewed Dr. Donald Allen, a CAPS board member. Dr. Allen disagreed with statements made by Melvin Nolt, a commercial breeder in East Earl, PA. Mr. Nolt claimed that a lot of the criticism about puppy mills "comes from city people who don't understand animals or farming." He claimed that these people "get overly emotional about dogs, and they don't understand that dogs are different from people." Dr. Allen replied, "Sure, dogs are different from people. But dogs are different from livestock, too, because they're destined to live someone's home. It's difficult to house-train a pup from a mill because it's used to voiding wherever it wants. And it's failed to bond with people."
The article stated that consumer demand keeps the puppy mills in business. Part of this demand comes from the idea that the "best" dogs are purebred. Dr. Allen said, "For the past half-century, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has driven home the propaganda that a purebred dog is better than a mixed breed. In doing so, it has created a popular demand for pedigreed dogs, and puppy mills have sprung up to supply this demand at the retail level." According to the article, an AKC policy statement maintains that the AKC is opposed to "random, large-scale breeding of dogs solely for commercial purposes." The article noted, however, that the AKC collected $26 million in registration fees in 1996 alone.
Under a heading aptly titled "Short, Sad Tale," Mr. Ecenbarger told the story of Oscar, a Shake A Paw puppy. For liability reasons the article didn't mention the names of the pet shop, broker or breeder. Susan Lively, whom CAPS found through the Ohio Attorney General's Division of Consumer Protection, works for American Airlines and saw Shake A Paw puppies waiting in the baggage area for six hours. During this time, she fell in love with one of the puppies, a Dachshund. When the store owner finally came to claim the puppies, Ms. Lively said she wanted to buy the Dachshund. The next day, she purchased the puppy at the Dublin, OH Shake A Paw for $449. When she took him home, he vomited. The following day, Thanksgiving, she drove with Oscar to her parents' house, two hours away. That night, he started vomiting again. Oscar stayed at the veterinarian for five days before dying from parvovirus. Ms. Lively spent $375 in veterinary bills.
The store credited Ms. Lively's credit card, but she received no reimbursement for the veterinary bills. Ms.Lively told CAPS she had to fight the owner just to get the purchase price credited. In a letter to the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the owner alleged that "Susan played a role in the demise" of the puppy because she transported him to her parents' house shortly after purchasing him. Perhaps if the owner had been to the breeding facility where Oscar was born, she wouldn't have asserted that Ms. Lively had anything to do with the puppy's death. The Dublin Shake a Paw went out of business in June 1997.
Oscar was born on September 29, 1996 at Surritte Kennel in West Plains, MO. Carolyn and Donald Surritte have a USDA Class A license. The Surrittes sold Oscar to Thunder River, a Class B facility (broker) in Elk Creek, MO. Thunder River sold Oscar to the Dublin Shake A Paw. In the fall of 1997, a CAPS investigator visited Surritte Kennel and Thunder River as part of an investigation of breeders and brokers who deal with Shake A Paw franchises.
Surritte Kennel was off a gravel county road. The property consisted of a farmhouse surrounded by junk and other debris and trash. Scattered beneath the trees were hutch style cages as well as runs with concrete floors. A huge building housed female dogs that had whelped or were about to whelp. The conditions were so deplorable, the CAPS investigator couldn't believe the Surrittes had federal and state licenses. The investigator did not see anyone caring for the animals and no one answered the door. He visited the Surritte puppy mill the following week with a Hartford news 8 crew. They took undercover footage to use in a two-part expose that aired in November 1997. A dead Dachshund was in plain view. The reporter told the Surritte's daughter about the dead dog. The daughter, who was carrying a young child on her hip while tending to puppies in cramped, dank cages inside a mobile home, seemed quite indifferent about a dead dog being in one of the cages.
CAPS has copies of 13 USDA inspection reports for the Surrittes from April 1995 to December 1998. These reports show a pattern of habitual non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
An inspection report for 12/29/98 stated that the licensee performed a cesarean section on a Dachshund in a surgical area that was "dirty, littered with equipment such as computers, was dusty and aseptic conditions could not be maintained." This dog had given birth to eight puppies. The Surrittes admitted to the inspector that they had performed c-sections on four other dogs. It is shocking that the USDA allows licensees to perform surgical procedures, let alone in less than sterile conditions. The report also noted inadequate bedding, broken housing structures, dirty enclosures (feces and moldy food), sharp broken wires protruding from hutches, improper use of identification tags, and faulty record keeping for acquisition and disposition of animals. The inspector also stated that a small white puppy with its front paws severely chewed by the mother needed veterinary care by the next day.
On July 28, although the television was on and the phone line was busy, the inspector stated that one was available to accompany him on an inspection. The next day, Carolyn Surritte refused an inspection. The July 15 inspection report stated "The black dog (NO ID) Â… must been seen by the attending veterinarian to treat the large lump on the neck and mucous in the eyes." The inspector could not find this dog during an inspection on August 4. On July 15, the inspector also ordered the removal of two decaying carcasses from the cat housing area.
The Surrittes obtained a USDA license in 1992. It wasn't until November 1998 that the USDA finally charged the Surrittes with numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act. An administrative law judge in Springfield, MO will hold a hearing on July 27. The USDA requested a $28,000 fine and license revocation. In February 2000, the Surrittes agreed to a civil penalty of $2,000. They had to divest themselves of all regulated animals under their control and surrender their license. They were also disqualified from ever becoming licensed again.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Exposes AKC Greed
Dog Registry is "Largely a Sham"
CAPS was responsible for a major investigative article on the AKC in The Philadelphia Inquirer (12/31/95) and other newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The article entitled "Digging into the AKC: Taking cash for tainted dogs" started on the front page of the newspaper and continued for more than one entire page.
CAPS has been working with six former AKC inspectors to obtain information about AKC malfeasance. The Inquirer interviewed these inspectors at length. They told the Inquirer that the AKC's dog registry is "largely a sham."
Over the past five years, the AKC has made more than $100 million for providing registration papers to more than six million purebred dogs. A significant percentage of this money came from puppy mills. The former AKC inspectors said in the article that AKC papers are "often worthless or untrue."
According to the former inspectors, "the AKC does not verify bloodlines." The organization processes applications and fees and sends out registration papers. The AKC assumes the information provided by the breeder is correct. Under AKC rules, all dog breeders must keep strict records of their dogs' lineage. "If the chain of proof is broken at any point, the dogs can be canceled from the registry."
The former inspectors claim that the AKC registry has been tarnished. They told the Inquirer that the registry is "no longer reliable" because the organization has, in recent years, accepted so many dogs without proper papers and proven lineage into the registry. In addition, they informed the Inquirer that in many cases, "the AKC knows the registrations are suspect but approves them anyway for a fee. The AKC has never undertaken a thorough study of its stud book." (There are actually two AKC books: the registry which lists the names of all purebred dogs registered with the AKC and the stud book which lists all dogs that have been bred.)
Robert Nejdl who became the AKC's first investigator in 1973 and retired in 1994 told the Inquirer the following: When people buy an AKC dog, they expect it to be of high quality and they expect the papers to truly match the dog. But that's not often true. It's just so much window dressing. The American Kennel Club is in the registration business and not the deregistration business. It's the cash cow."
Robert E. Hufford, an eight year employee and a former manager of field agents, stated that the AKC is nothing more than a "moneymaking operation." According to Hufford, "'[t]he AKC is shipping out registration papers daily they knew should have been canceled out. The bottom line is the AKC, they don't give a damn [about conditions] as long as the checks don't bounce.'"
Rona Farley, an inspector from 1991 to 1995, estimated in a court affidavit that 90 percent of the breeders she inspected did not meet AKC record-keeping requirements. She informed the Inquirer that very few noncomplying breeders were, to her knowledge, ever disciplined, sanctioned or suspended. In fact, when breeders failed to comply with AKC rules, the AKC told her to help these breeders re-create records.
Sharon D. Reed, a five year investigator, said that the AKC never wanted dog registrations canceled, even those that were fraudulent. When AKC told her that they didn't want to harm consumers by canceling registrations, she informed them that they were only augmenting the harm. Reed told the Inquirer that "'AKC registration is worthless."
Mike Reilly, an inspector from 1985 to 1994, told the Inquirer that the AKC "'didn't want to know anything that would upset the applecart. They wanted everything to run smoothly, get the registration money, don't make waves. The bottom line is the money.'"
Martie W. King, an investigator for four years, said that the AKC did not want to cancel registrations because if they removed too many dogs, the AKC might have to refund money.
Current AKC inspectors refused to talk to The Philadelphia Inquirer because AKC policy prevents employees from speaking to reporters without permission.
State's Attorney Refuses to Bring Charges Against Illinois Puppy Mill (Lorton)
CAPS Investigators Found Numerous Violations and Rescued Nine Dogs
Stephen Friedel, the state's attorney in Fayette County, Illinois refused to bring charges against the Lorton facility. In March 2002, Mr. Friedel met with CAPS Lead Investigator, Julie Workman. CAPS president, Deborah Howard, attended the meeting by phone. Mr. Friedel said that he knows the state inspector and can't believe that "such an honest guy" would lie on an inspection report. The state and federal inspectors found no violations at the Lorton facility. CAPS Investigators found numerous Animal Welfare Act violations during seven visits to this horrible puppy mill. They also rescued nine dogs.
CAPS lead investigator, Julie Workman, witnessed Sassy, a Great Pyrenees whom she was rescuing, being beaten by Mr. Lorton. Other dogs CAPS rescued from this puppy mill are extremely afraid of men. The state's attorney said that it is just Ms. Workman's word against that of the puppy mill owner. Some of the dogs seen by CAPS investigators desperately needed veterinary care. They saw a dead mother dog that had been thrown outside the door of the whelping building. Mr. Friedel said that there is a lower standard of care in Fayette County because it is a farming community. He added that a jury would side with the Lortons because dogs are considered livestock in this community.
Mr. Friedel promised to inspect the Lorton puppy mill with the state inspector, but failed to do so. He also promised to call the state department of conservation because Mr. Lorton is trapping birds -- he claims they eat the dog food that is strewn all over -- and letting them starve to death. Despite numerous calls to the state conservation department by Ms. Workman, the state won't go out to inspect. Mr. Friedel finally did call conservation and claims that they instructed the Lortons to use humane methods of bird trapping. The Lortons shouldn't be trapping birds at all. And birds wouldn't be a problem if the Lortons cleaned up the food that is strewn by the dogs from the self-feeders.
What we experienced in Illinois is quite common in rural communities in the Midwest. Once a place is federally licensed, local authorities don't feel it is their responsibility to step-in. But it is extremely difficult to get something done on a local level. Usually, the puppy mill operator knows the sheriff, prosecutor or even the judge, as in the McVeigh case, which was featured on the "Dateline" story.
Contact the state's attorney in Fayette County and tell him that you want charges brought against the Lortons for cruelty and inhumane treatment of animals.
Mr. Stephen Friedel
State's Attorney of Fayette County
221 S. 7th St.
Vandalia, IL 6247
CAPS President, Deborah Howard, appears in CNN story
CNN, May 11, 2006
CAPS worked with CNN on a segment about Internet sellers of puppy mill dogs that aired May 11, 2006. "Sick Puppies Dog Some Online Purchasers" featured an interview with me by CNN Consumer Correspondent Greg Hunter. It also showed us looking at CAPS footage of puppy mills that sell to the Hunte Corporation, the largest brokerage facility in the country, while I described the conditions at these horrendous mills. Hunte was selling puppies to Celebrity Kennels, the focus of the CNN piece.
Detroit Free Press July 12, 2006 (3 articles)
Detroit Free Press, July 12, 2006
CAPS provided a considerable amount of information to investigative reporter Steve Neavling with the award-winning Detroit Free Press for the July 12, 2006 series of articles on pet shops and puppy mills. "Dog Buyers Beware," an article about pet shops, had the following: "This is an industry that is counting on consumer ignorance and impulse," said Deborah Howard, founder of the nonprofit Companion Animal Protection Society, which monitors breeders and has campaigned to warn consumers of the risks of buying dogs from stores that buy from large breeders. "It's all about the cute puppy in the window."
"Agency Faulted for not Cracking Down on Violators," an article about USDA, had a compelling quote from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio): "I think there is a desire by the USDA to let the industry regulate itself," said Kucinich, who has two dogs. "Where is the compassion? These are poor, defenseless creatures who rely on human kindness and trust for their own survival, and it is the worst type of cruelty to subject animals to these kinds of conditions. The cruelty is compounded when you understand it's all for profit." Kucinich stated that he was going to call for oversight hearings in July but failed to do so. If you live in Congressman Kucinich's district, please remind him of his promise to ask the House Committee on Government Reform, of which he is a member, to hold hearings on the USDAs failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act as it pertains to commercial dog breeding and brokering facilities. CAPS lobbyist Ed Green aptly summed up the inherent problem with USDA, which he called a cumbersome, incompetent bureaucracy that fails to use its limited resources wisely: "The USDA has a broken culture," Green said. "They just do things the same old way because that is how they've always done it."
"In Buying Dogs Online Has Risks," Deborah Howard stated that CAPS receives complaints almost daily from people who bought sick puppies over the Internet. The CAPS website has a downloadable fact sheet on Internet puppies.
Ohio-based Petland is the largest pet shop chain in the country that sells puppies. Petland has over 150 stores in the United States and more than 50 in foreign markets (Canada, Chile, France, Japan and South Africa)
Honey-Dew Kennel, a large Missouri brokerage facility owned by the Hunte Corporation -- they also own Sundowner Kennel -- sold an Alaskan Malamute to the Petland in Tallahassee, Florida. A young couple purchased the dog, whom they named Bella. When they held her at the store, Bella smelled of urine and her feet were covered with diarrhea. The Petland employee denied that Bella came from a puppy mill. Bella had a severe urinary tract infection for several months. She also experiences frequent vomiting. The couple has incurred nearly $1500 in veterinary expenses so far. Bella also has hip dysplasia and front shoulder problems and may need surgery.
Bella was born at a USDA licensed facility in Missouri. The USDA inspection report issued prior to a visit by a CAPS investigator showed no non-compliances. Yet, our investigator saw a very cluttered facility with a number of violations. There were "retired" poodles with very matted fur, older Pomeranians desperately scratching on the wood of their hutch-style cages, and small dogs in precarious two-story wire cages attached to a shed. One of the Pomeranians spun in circles, a condition caused by constant confinement. Crowded hutch-style cages contained small breeds used as breeding stock.
Michelle and Jason purchased a two-month-old German Shepherd, Coti, at the Mechanicsburg Petland in June 1999. Their veterinarian initially treated the puppy for kennel cough. At five months, Coti started falling down and hopping on one hind leg. The veterinarian diagnosed him with severe hip dysplasia. X-rays showed no right hip socket and a partial left hip socket. Petland told Michelle and Jason to return Coti for a refund.
Coti recently had surgery for the right hip. So far, Michelle and Jason have incurred veterinary bills of more than $1,000. Under Pennslyvania's lemon law, they can recover $500 (the price of the puppy) for reimbursement of veterinary bills. Coti may require additional surgery. The dog was born at an unlicensed breeder's facility in Minnesota. Pick of the Litter, a USDA licensed breeder and broker in Minnesota sold the dog to Petland. Michelle and Jason are still waiting for Petland to provide AKC supplemental transfer papers.
Scout, a Siberian Husky, was always crying in pain whenever Beth went into the Mechanicsburg Petland to purchase dog food. Beth wanted to get the dog out of the pet shop and purchased him for $499 in November 1997. Scout was four-months-old and weighed only 12 pounds. He had severe diarrhea after leaving the store, and Beth took him to the veterinarian. When Beth called Petland, they said that Scout had not been ill. When he finally reached to owner of Petland, he said that their veterinarian had certified the dog as healthy. He wanted Beth to return Scout for another puppy.
By December, Scout weighed only 20 pounds. Beth took Scout to specialists in Maryland who said that the dog was allergic to almost everything. These allergies caused irritable bowel syndrome which prevented the proper absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Scout eats dry food made up of fish and potatoes and drinks bottled water. He now weighs 80 pounds. The irritable bowel syndrome recently returned.
In 1999, Scout began having epileptic seizures and now takes valium for this condition. Beth has spent thousands of dollars to treat Scout. She filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office in 1998 and recovered the purchase price of the dog from Petland. Petland never provided AKC supplemental transfer papers for the dog. According to Scouts' pedigree, Pick of the Litter was the breeder and broker.
On a sad note, Scout passed away on April 29 2000, following six hours of emergency surgery on Friday night. The actual cause of death was profound hypotension which was caused by a bowel perforated in five places.
Read about Marina in the rescue dog section
Joanne purchased Ruby, a female Pug, for $675 on July 4, 1998 from the Petland in Rockford, Illinois. After leaving the store, Ruby had diarrhea and was vomiting. She would not eat and began having grand mal seizures. Joanne's veterinarian treated Ruby for three days, but the puppy's condition did not improve. The veterinarian thought the dog should be put down. When Joanne called Petland, they criticized her for taking Ruby to her veterinarian. Petland told Joanne to bring the dog to their veterinarian. Petland's veterinarian kept Ruby alive until July 11. The broker who sold Ruby to Petland was Pick of the Litter. The breeder has a USDA licensed facility in Minnesota. She was the sales contact on Pick of the Litter's web site (now defunct).
Shake A Paw
After seeing a Shake A Paw ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jeff Crabtree, drove more than 25 miles to the pet shop to look for a puppy for his wife's birthday. Jeff and his mother-in-law, Bobbie Hinrichsen, fell in love with a darling two-month-old female Bichon Frise puppy. One of the Shake A Paw owners assured them the puppy did not come from a puppy mill but from a breeder in Minnesota. Jeff purchased the puppy for $599.
Shake A Paw, originally based in Millstone Township, New Jersey, had franchises in a number of states. Shake A Paw stores, which are now independently owned, are located in New Jersey and New York. Shake A Paw claims its stores specialize in "privately bred" AKC puppies. The stores call themselves "breeder representatives." Store owners deny they obtain puppies from puppy mills. Shake a Paw puppies live in crates on the floor. Employees encourage potential buyers to play with the puppies. Physical contact with these puppies can be a health hazard to humans. In fact, potential and actual customers have been exposed to sarcoptic mange. Other Â (these worms can go the brain, eyes and spinal column, especially in children) - are also transmittable to humans.
Shortly after Jeff's wife, Ann Margaret Hinrichsen, received the dog, Penny, at her birthday dinner, Penny began coughing violently. Ann Margaret took Penny to the veterinarian at 8 a.m. the next morning. The veterinarian thought the puppy had a respiratory infection. After leaving the vet, Penny began vomiting and had diarrhea. Ann Margaret and her husband brought Penny back to the vet that evening. Within eight days of leaving the pet shop, Penny died of parvovirus, distemper, coccidia and kennel cough.
While Penny was at the animal hospital, Bobbie Hinrichsen called the pet shop a couple of times to tell them about Penny's condition. The owners promised they would pay the veterinary bill. The day Penny died, Jeff called the store. He asked one of the owners to reimburse him for the cost of the puppy, supplies and veterinary bills. The owner refused Jeff's request. The Shake A Paw warranty states that the only recourse for the loss of a puppy due to illness is replacement with another puppy of equal value.
Two days later, Jeff, Ann Margaret and Bobbie went to the store and demanded restitution. After much arguing, the owners finally agreed to provide a Visa credit for the puppy and supplies but refused to cover the veterinary bill of $214. Nearly a week later, Jeff and Ann Margaret received a check for $214. But the money could not bring back Penny. "That sweet puppy was one-of-a-kind and cannot be replaced," says Ann Margaret. She and Jeff are angry that the store owners represented Penny as a healthy puppy who did not come from a puppy mill. They want to know what the owners are doing about the sick puppies in the store who are infecting healthy animals.
CAPS determined that Penny came from a breeder in Minnesota. We found out that the breeder sold the puppy to a Minnesota broker, Pick of the Litter, who deals with a number of Shake A Paw franchises. Bob Baker, during his investigation of South Dakota puppy mills in 1992, discovered that this broker obtained puppies from the two horrendous facilities featured in the Life magazine article (9/92). He also learned that the broker was selling puppies to a new pet shop chain: Shake A Paw.
"Hard Copy" featured Ann Margaret in its May 5, 1998 expose of pet shops and puppy mills. This segment showed footage of the facility where Penny was bred. "Hard Copy" also confronted one of the owners of the Bensalem Shake A Paw. She told them to remove the camera. One of the owners of this Shake A Paw told the reporter on the phone that if conditions at the breeder's and broker's facilities were as horrible as "Hard Copy" claimed, the would no longer buy from Pick of the Litter. Minnesota health certificates show that Pick of the Litter is still a major supplier to the Bensalem Shake A Paw.
As part of our Shake A Paw investigation, we have collected a number of complaints from customers who purchased sick or dying puppies as well as dogs with behavioral problems. Some of these stories are very tragic. These customers were shocked to learn their dogs came from puppy mills. And none of them realized that Shake A Paw buys directly from brokers. Shake A Paw deliberately misleads the public by claiming its franchises are "breeder representatives." Some Shake A Paw advertisements state that puppies are "privately bred for temperament." How can these dogs be privately bred when they are being mass-produced in commercial breeding facilities for resale?
Shake A Paw store owners deny they buy from puppy mills. In fact, one store owner told a customer he buys puppies from Missouri because Pennsylvania is the puppy mill state. While it is true that Pennsylvania has puppy mills, Shake A Paw is buying from Midwest brokers who obtain puppies from mills. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the country.
As we started collecting complaints, we obtained the names of a number of Missouri breeders and brokers who deal with Shake A Paw. A CAPS investigator inspected these facilities. A crew from WTNH, the ABC affiliate in Hartford, went with our investigator to film some of these facilities. The two-part series aired in November 1998. Surritte Kennel, the USDA licensed puppy mill that produced Susan Lively's Dachsund puppy (Dublin, OH Shake A Paw) -- the dog died of parvo -- was atrocious. One of the pens had a dead dog. Reader's Digest also featured the story of Susan's puppy in its February 1999 article, "Scandal of America's Puppy Mills."
CAPS' investigator and the television crew visited Superior Pets, a brokerage facility in Elkland, MO. In the fall of 1998, a driver for Superior was found guilty of 96 counts of animal cruelty. Unfortunately, the judge did not fine him and sentenced him to accelerated rehabilitation which means that his record will be erased if he stays out of trouble while serving two years of probation. After exiting the Long Island Ferry, he crashed into a railroad bridge in Bridgeport, CT. Puppies were stacked from floor to ceiling in cages. They had been in the dark truck without water for at least four days. Two puppies were dead. The truck had already made stops in Ohio, Indiana and Long Island and was scheduled to make deliveries in Westchester Country, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts. Superior Pets forfeited the puppies to the Connecticut Humane Society.
The owner of the Bensalem Shake A Paw told a CAPS board member just before this incident that he uses several brokers but prefers Superior. CAPS knows for certain that two Shake A Paws were using Superior Pets. We requested health certificates from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) for all states with Shake A Paws. The MDA requested exorbitant fees for finding and copying the certificates, and therefore we were unable to obtain them.
We must expose Shake A Paw's misrepresentations to the public. Customers have told CAPS they had no idea their dogs came from puppy mills. They are shocked when they learn that Shake A Paw is not a "breeder representative" but instead buys directly from brokers. And how can some Shake A Paw ads state it is "not a pet store?" Some ads also state that puppies are "privately bred for temperament." How can these dogs be privately bred when they are being mass-produced in commercial breeding facilities for resale? Since franchise owners claim their puppies are not from puppy mills, it is essential to show the public the horrible breeding facilities in the Midwest.
USDA's Failure to Enforce the Animal Welfare Act
The USDA has been extremely negligent over the years in its enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) as it pertains to commercial dog breeders and brokers. CAPS has been investigating this problem since 1995. In some instances, we have investigated facilities the day after or before a USDA inspector found no violations. CAPS investigators found numerous non-compliant items. Falsifying an inspection report is a federal felony.
Under the U.S. Criminal Code, it is a federal felony for a government employee to falsify a federal document, such as a USDA inspection report. It is also illegal for government officials to knowingly use fraudulent federal documents, as top-level USDA officials have allegedly been doing, to prepare required annual reports to Congress. Falsification of records, conspiracy to falsify records, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government are federal felony crimes punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine.
USDA officials like to emphasize the word "minimum" with respect to animal care standards. Sadly, USDA is not even enforcing the minimum standards. Because USDA continues to make excuses for its failure to enforce the AWA, congressional oversight hearings are an absolute necessity.
CAPS and its pro bono lobbyists have been meeting with members of congress to present the findings from our investigations of numerous USDA licensed facilities. CAPS is requesting oversight hearings on the USDA's failure to enforce the AWA, advocating changes to the AWA and recommending new policies regarding the actions of USDA inspectors.
To keep building our case against the USDA and its failure to enforce the AWA, CAPS' evidentiary findings must stay current. We must demonstrate that this disregard of the AWA is pervasive throughout USDA's AHPS/Animal Care and not just a question of a few bad inspectors. Thus, it is essential that CAPS continue its in-depth investigations of USDA licensed facilities. Investigations - we also rescue puppy mill dogs as evidence of the cruelties being committed at these facilities - are costly.
Below is a white paper prepared by Crowell & Moring, CAPS' pro bono lobbyists in Washington DC. It outlines CAPS concerns about the USDA's failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act and lists some suggested solutions. We provide this white paper (with attached Poor, Lorton and Wee investigation reports) to congressional aides prior to meeting with them.
The Animal Welfare Act Needs Strengthening and the USDA's Administration of the Act Must be Overhauled.
As the only national organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is committed to ending the abuse and suffering of puppy mill dogs. Since 1995, CAPS has investigated over 100 puppy mills, with our most recent puppy mill investigations having been conducted in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. Further, CAPS works closely with the media, and has generated stories with "Dateline," "20/20," "Hardcopy," and magazines such as Life, People, and the Readers' Digest, as well as television stations in Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere.
Based on our years of investigative experience, CAPS has concluded that although the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) gives the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the power to license, inspect and regulate breeders and brokers who deal in dogs for commercial purposes, the USDA's implementation of AWA has been grievously insufficient - fulfilling neither the letter nor the intent of the AWA.
Sadly, the problems we have identified are not new. In a March 1992 report, the USDA's independent Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) could not ensure the humane care and treatment of animals as required by the AWA. Indeed, in a subsequent January 1995 report, the OIG, recommended new legislation to strengthen and enhance APHIS' authority.
CAPS believes strongly that the time has come to fix these problems once and for all, and we urge the Congress to take the actions necessary - including oversight of the USDA's activities and enactment of remedial legislation - to achieve this goal. A brief summary of our concerns and some suggested solutions are set forth below.
Summary of Concerns
Importantly, although some improvements in the USDA's regulations are warranted, the larger problem is that the USDA is simply not enforcing them adequately. The USDA's rules (see generally, 9 CFR Parts 1-4), are too often ignored, not only by those who are regulated, but also by the regulators themselves. Thus, although the USDA's rules establish fundamental standards intended to provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and other animals, unfortunately, as CAPS finds repeatedly in our field investigations, the standards for housing, ventilation, lighting, interior surfaces, primary enclosures, sanitation, pest controls, feeding and watering, outside shelter, compatibility, adequate veterinary care, and handling are, in all too many cases, being ignored. Complete copies of our field investigations are available upon request. Simply put either through omission, misfeasance, and (we fear) in some cases, even malfeasance, the USDA is not getting the job done. CAPS urges Congress to act swiftly to remedy the systemic failures we have identified.
We question whether the USDA is even institutionally capable of adequately implementing the puppy mill protection provisions of the AWA. Thus, we believe the appropriate congressional committees should conduct prompt and vigorous oversight of the USDA's management of this program with the following questions in mind:
- Does APHIS have sufficient funding and personnel to carry out its statutory mission?
- Does APHIS have the requisite management and training structures in place to fulfill its mission?
- Are APHIS inspectors qualified and properly trained to do the job?
In addition, and at a minimum, the Congress should strengthen the AWA to:
- require mandatory semiannual unannounced inspections of each licensee's facility, and mandatory reinspections, within thirty days, of any facilities where violations of USDA's standards and regulations have been found, to ensure they are corrected in a timely fashion;
- require mandatory unannounced inspections of facilities at which licenses are not renewed by the licensee no later than two months from the expiration date of such license;
- punish through imprisonment or fine (or both) any person who gives advance notice of any unannounced AWA inspection;
- provide a mechanism to allow representatives of animal welfare organizations to file written complaints regarding licensed facilities, including the right of such representatives to accompany APHIS inspectors as they inspect licensees' facilities in response to such complaints;
- require mandatory suspension of dealer licenses if cited violations of USDA's standards have not been corrected in a timely fashion;
- require mandatory revocation of dealer licenses if the dealer is found to be in serious violation of AWA regulations or standards (e.g., lack of food or water, adequate veterinary care) during any three mandatory inspections (See S. 1478/H.R. 3058, the Puppy Protection Act of 2001);
- provide for mandatory unannounced inspections of facilities at which licenses are suspended or revoked, within two weeks of such suspension or revocation, to ensure that dogs are not being sold; and
- prohibit the use of gunshot as a form of euthanasia, the conduct of Cesarean sections by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian, and the weaning of animals before six weeks of age.
CAPS believe that prompt and vigorous congressional oversight of the USDA and strengthening of the AWA, as outlined above are essential. CAPS is working to achieve these goals.
Please write the following USDA officials and ask them to enforce the Animal Welfare Act as it pertains to federally licensed dog breeding and brokering facilities and to implement the above solutions suggested by CAPS.Ms. Gregory Parham
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Inspection Service
Room 312-E, Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Mr. Kevin Shea
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Inspection Service
Room 312-E, Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dr. Chester A. Gipson
Deputy Administrator of Animal Care
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal Plant and Inspection Service
USDA-APHIS-AC, Rm. 2D13
4700 River Road, Unit 97
Riverdale, MD 20737
Mr. Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Ms. Kathleen A. Merrigan
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
(awaiting congressional approval)
List of USDA licensed breeders and brokers:
Look under Facility Lists and then Dealers. "A" dealers are breeders and "B" dealers are brokers. Breeders raise animals for resale to brokers. Brokers then transport and sell these animals directly to pet shops. They may also breed.
What is Rimadyl?
Rimadyl, manufactured by Pfizer, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) in dogs. It is commonly prescribed for older dogs. Other commonly known drugs in the same class include Deramaxx, Aspirin and Advil. Carprofen is the active ingredient in Rimadyl. Although it may provide relief to some dogs, it has been connected with serious side effects that include decreased blood supply to the kidney, platelet deactivation and stomach ulceration, occasionally resulting in death.
For a little more background please check out the FDA report update: CVM Update - Update on Rimadyl and also The Senior Dogs Project - Rimadyl: News, Views, & Advisories.
Rimadyl has made the headlines several times. See several relevant news articles at:
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
The symptoms for which Rimadyl might be prescribed include:
- a reduction in the dog's activity level (early sign)
- less playful
- less interest in his/her favorite games
- reluctance to climb stairs
- lameness or limping
Rimadyl warningsThe treatment of animals as well as the manufacture of pharmaceuticals are businesses. When risks are attributed with a drug or medication, that risk information should follow a communication path from the manufacturer to the veterinarian (in the case of Rimadyl) and finally to the consumer, on behalf of the companion animal. To the consumer this should come in the form of an information sheet and hopefully a verbal explanation. When this communication path fails, be it for Rimadyl or other drugs such as Deramaxx, the dog is at risk. Much information can be found on the internet regarding Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and even Proheart 6. See Rimadyl on Google.
Labeling and repackaging
Manufacturers are responsible for providing a label or printed information describing a drug and possible associated risks. It sometimes happens that veterinarians repackage drugs into smaller containers and the label does not get passed on to the consumer. In this case the companion animal owner should be asking about the information sheet as well as the drug itself.
Selecting a veterinarian
If you are a new companion animal owner and have not yet selected a vet, ask how he/she treats pain. Try to get a feel for whether your future vet is knowledgeable about Rimadyl, Deramaxx and some of the other drugs which have received undesirable reviews. When in doubt, Google it.
If you have had a dog treated by a vet who prescribed Rimadyl, think back to how the interaction went. Did the veterinarian communicate to you the risk information and/or provide for you a fact sheet concerning the drug?. Be informed of generic names such as carprofen. If your veterinarian has prescribed Rimadyl, did he/she also do a pre-screen for preexisting conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease or tendency towards gastrointestinal ulceration? Just as these are red lights, there should also have been a discussion around performing regular blood work to ensure that organs are working correctly and the dosage is appropriate for your companion's metabolic rate.
What is Deramaxx?
Deramaxx is a pain-reliever developed for dogs by Novartis Animal Health Products. It is referred to as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Although it may provide relief for some dogs, it has also been connected with serious adverse reactions and has been linked to side effects that include (but are not limited to) vomiting, anorexia, depression/lethargy, weakness, anemia and in more extreme cases, death. For a more detailed list of side effects, please visit:
For an FDA chronology check out: Dog Owner Continue To Cite Problems With Deramaxx - CBS4Denver.com
I-Team: Potential Deadly Danger For Pets - CBS3.com
Vioxx Debate Echoed in Battle Over Dog Drugs - Washington Post
Even painkillers for dogs have serious risks - USA Today
How much is enough?
Your companion animal is not capable of clearly communicating to you how much medicine is enough. With fast metabolizers, the administered dosage should clear the system in a reasonable timeframe, whereas with a slower metabolizer, the drug, Deramaxx in this case, may take excessive time, far beyond what is expected to clear. This can bring the concentration up to toxic levels and upon administration of the next dosage, send Deramaxx to an even higher level of concentration.
Be informed, make sure your vet is informed about Deramaxx
Veterinarians and companion animal owners should be informed in advance of the potential side effects and adverse reactions of Deramaxx . If your dog has liver or problems, avoid Deramaxx at all cost, regardless of whether the animal is a fast or slow metabolizer. If you are a new companion animal owner and have not yet selected a vet, ask how he/she treats pain. Try to get a feel for whether your future vet is knowledgeable about Deramaxx , Rimadyl and some of the other drugs which have warranted undesirable publicity.
If you have had a dog treated by a vet who prescribed Deramaxx , think back to how the interaction went. Did the veterinarian communicate to you the risk information and/or provide for you a fact sheet concerning the drug? Another thing which can happen to further confuse the situation is repackaging Deramaxx , Rimadyl, or other drugs into smaller vials. Be aware that many drugs such have generic names as well (carprofen for Rimadyl).