Let's take Michael Vick's case as an example.
Michael Vick went from an all-American football quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons to the despised owner of extensive dogfighting facilities within the blink of an eye, with 50 pit bulls on a 15-acre property in rural Surry County, VA. As the media delved deeper into the breaking story, audiences discovered a darker side involving illegal operations of an interstate dog fighting ring involving drugs and gambling. Animal lovers and activists were outraged by reports of abuse, torture, and the killings of under-performing dogs.
> Has the nation forgotten?
The extent of the abuse is far more troubling than what most people know and the details are highly disturbing. Donna Reynolds, co-founder of Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls (BAD RAP), evaluated the 49 pit bulls found alive at Vick's Bad Newz Kennels and gave a chilling account in her organization's blog:
"The details that got to me then and stay with me today involve the swimming pool that was used to kill some of the dogs. Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water. Most of Vick's dogs were small - 40lbs or so - so tossing them in would've been fast and easy work for thick athlete arms [...] It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides like a hungry dog on a tin can."After pleading guilty to federal felony charges, Vick spent 19 months in prison, lost his NFL salary and Nike's product endorsement deal, and filed for bankruptcy by July 2008. As an attempt to rebuild his image, Vick and the Humane Society of the United States joined teams to supposedly eradicate dogfighting amongst urban teens.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the HSUS, met with Vick while the player served time. Despite the severity of his crimes, the organization decided to give him the chance to be somewhat of a role model (BUT NOT QUITE!) against dog fighting. The trick has many questioning Vick's remorse and with good reason. It seems very convenient to work with one of the most powerful and wealthy animal rights organizations after being convicted for a crime that screams, well, animal cruelty.
- How does the Humane Society justify its decision?
"Vick was a role model for many young people, and he lost everything because of what he did to dogs. His story is the strongest possible example of why dogfighting is a dead end. Just as former drug addicts are able to reach people struggling with addiction, former dogfighters are some of the most effective voices against this crime. We realized the potential that Vick has to reach at-risk youth and pull them out of the quicksand of animal fighting. That said, we constantly attempt to recruit celebrities and others to join us in our crusade to end dogfighting and other forms of animal cruelty. We want to use all pathways to stopping the problem."
- Does the HSUS really practice what it preaches? The following paragraph from a New York Times article speaks for itself:
“Officials from our organization have examined some of these dogs and, generally speaking, they are some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country,” Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a telephone interview [...] “Hundreds of thousands of less-violent pit bulls, who are better candidates to be rehabilitated, are being put down. The fate of these dogs will be up to the government, but we have recommended to them, and believe, they will be eventually put down.”The HSUS is one of the most recognized and funded animal rights organizations in the nation. By putting Vick up on their website playing with cheerful dogs, they're allowing audiences to easily forgive and forget who this guy really is. Putting pubic relations, marketing, role models, and humane societies aside, Michael Vick should be seen as a twisted dog torturer and murderer. Time in jail can't change the past. Sessions with a therapist might delve deeper into the psyche of such an individual, but it's not enough to grant full oblivion of his mistakes. The past is the past, including the countless pit bulls who died and suffered beating, hanging, shooting, electrocution, drowning, and substandard living conditions due to vile, underground gambling addicts. The present, though, still shows the dozens of pups recovering from the tragedy. About 50 of the rescued pups, many which were left for dead, have been placed in homes and sanctuaries. The majority bear the scars, both physical and emotional while the athlete plays poster boy. The ethics behind this case are worthy of endless and countless discussions. As human beings given the right to think and speak freely, the debate is open and opinions welcomed. Regardless of mixed perspectives and opposing sides, Vick crossed the line by attempting to become a role model through HSUS. The player shouldn't be rewarded for his crimes (ehem, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles), much less idolized. Why not choose a football player who loves animals and opposes dog fighting? That, fellow readers, is something we can all live with.
Here are some of the important issues we will be discussing with USDA officials during meetings in Washington, DC next year:
Office of Inspector General Report
CAPS is celebrating a major victory – one we have been working toward for many years! We hope that as a result of this victory, USDA’s APHIS/Animal Care, the division that oversees the inspection of thousands of federally licensed dog and cat breeding and brokering facilities, will implement significant changes with respect to enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
In late May, the Office of Inspector General for USDA released a scathing 69-page report for an audit and investigation conducted between 2006 and 2008. This audit and investigation was prompted by a meeting that CAPS and Crowell & Moring attorneys had with OIG officials in May 2006.
As a member of CAPS, you are well aware that the USDA has been very negligent in its enforcement of AWA regulations with respect to commercial dog breeders and brokers. USDA APHIS/Animal Care uses inspectors, including veterinarians, to conduct "unannounced" inspections of federally licensed dog breeders and brokers who supply puppies to the pet shop industry.
CAPS has been investigating the USDA’s failure to enforce the AWA since 1995, and with the assistance of Crowell & Moring, has been lobbying members of Congress for oversight hearings regarding USDA’s lax enforcement of the AWA.
In the last 15 years, CAPS has been to approximately 1,000 puppy mills, most of them USDA licensed, often comparing our findings to those of the USDA inspectors. You can read some of our detailed reports and view photographs and undercover footage on our website under Investigations.
For many years, CAPS has been working hard to ensure that APHIS pursue egregious and repeat violators of the AWA. Many of the recommendations that CAPS has advocated for years are apparently being addressed in the current APHIS initiative – increased program oversight, focused enforcement of federally-licensed facilities with an emphasis on repeat violators, more inspectors and better training for inspectors, consistent and effective inspection guidance and documentation of violations, better transparency, and enhanced stakeholder involvement.
Ongoing investigations of USDA licensed puppy mills are imperative in order to provide evidence of serious violations of the AWA that aren’t being documented by Animal Care inspectors.
Kathy Bauck License TerminationWe also plan to discuss the Kathy Bauck case with USDA officials. Based on evidence from a six-week CAPS employment investigation, a jury convicted Bauck, one of the largest USDA licensed dog dealers in the country, of animal cruelty in March 2009. As a result of this conviction, a USDA Judicial Officer denied Bauck’s appeal and terminated her license in December 2009. Bauck appealed this decision to the Eighth District Court of Appeals. The license termination was stayed pending Bauck’s federal court appeal, which was ultimately denied. USDA officially terminated Bauck’s license in August 2010.
It is unfortunate that Bauck was allowed to keep her license during this yearlong process. We tracked her sales during this time through interstate health certificates (most of the stores were in New York and New Jersey). After Bauck’s criminal conviction, Crowell & Moring submitted a petition for rulemaking requesting that AWA regulations be amended to require the automatic revocation of a USDA license upon the conviction in a court of law of a licensee, such as Bauck, for animal cruelty.
Although USDA claims that an automatic termination is a violation of due process, we believe that our petition put pressure on USDA to use the expedited means of a Motion for Summary Judgment to terminate Bauck’s license.
CAPS will continue to keep an eye on Kathy Bauck. Her husband Alan applied for a USDA license using a kennel name. The USDA denied his license, so he has appealed. In addition, Kathy Bauck signed health certificates in May as the agent for a USDA licensed breeder in Minnesota. This breeder was selling to most of Bauck’s pet shop accounts (odd coincidence). CAPS wants to make sure that Bauck doesn’t use other USDA licensed breeders and brokers to sell dogs.
Bauck will still be able to sell dogs on the Internet. The Animal Welfare Act does not cover Internet breeders. However, if proposed legislation in Minnesota requiring state kennel licenses is passed, those convicted of animal cruelty and their business associates will be banned from obtaining a license.
Interstate Health CertificatesOver the years, CAPS has examined thousands of interstate health certificates, mostly to track the shipment of puppy mill dogs from brokers and breeders to pet shops.
Here are the issues and recommendations we plan to discuss with USDA regarding health certificates:
Only USDA licensees should be listed as the consignors (not their relatives, agents, employees, etc); they should be required to list their USDA number.
The USDA number for the breeder of each puppy (if exempt, then their name and address) should be listed on the certificates immediately after each puppy. Since brokers ship most puppies going to pet shops, there is no quick way to ascertain the breeders who sold the puppies listed on the health certificates.
Clarification is greatly needed for pet shops that have dealer licenses. One USDA APHIS official said a pet shop doesn’t need a license to purchase its own dogs, yet another person at APHIS told one of our Minnesota Advisory Board members, they do. Why then do some of these larger pet shops have B (broker) licenses? Others, such as the large Chicago area-based Happiness is Pets chain, the target of CAPS protests, don’t have a federal license, yet they can transport dogs across state lines without any inspections. Why should they be exempt from interstate transportation requirements?
Certain pet shops in Florida aren’t using the interstate health certificates appropriately – for example, the owner of a pet shop chain in the Orlando area is listed as the consignor on interstate health certificates, yet he has the B license under his pet shop name. He never uses a street address, just a town and state (Missouri).
His half-sister, the owner of another well-known Florida pet shop lists her booking agent as the consignor and her pet shop as the consignee. If she is brokering her own dogs, then we can’t trace the source of the puppies (this may be why she has a B license). If someone has a Missouri kennel license and busy within the state, there is no way to track the source of these puppies. We believe that there should be intrastate health certificates for puppies shipped within a state. Both pet shop owners have a Missouri kennel license.
Animal Welfare Act RegulationsThe definitions of revocation, termination and cancellation must be clearly defined. We discovered after the USDA terminated Bauck’s license in December 2009, that this termination is good for only two years. USDA informed us that termination is used for licensees who are convicted of animal cruelty, such as Kathy Bauck. However, if USDA conducts the investigation, then they can use a revocation, which is indefinite. When USDA subpoenaed all of the evidence from our Bauck investigation, we thought they were going to conduct their own investigation. Sadly, they did not.
Surgical procedures and euthanasia should be clearly defined and banned under the regulations. Merely saying that USDA follows AVMA guidelines and/or issuing a one-time policy letter isn’t sufficient.
USDA APHIS Inspection ReportsInventory Sheets should be required for APHIS inspection reports and be published on the APHIS website. We need to know the number of animals at every USDA-licensed facility.
License Renewal ApplicationsThe information on USDA license renewal forms, such as number of animals purchased, number of animals sold, total gross dollars breeders and brokers derived from activities (e.g., sales, booking fees, commissions) should not be redacted from Freedom of Information Act requests
Keep the heat on Beacon Hill to stop vocal cord mutilationURL: www.caps-web.org
Publication date: 2009-12-01
Publication name: Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets
Headline: Keep the heat on Beacon Hill to stop vocal cord mutilation
Deep pockets are fighting this humane legislation.
The Mass. Veterinary Medical Association--which represents vets' financial and other interests--has aligned with Mass. Federation of Dog Clubs, a breeders' organization, to fight this humane bill. They have big money, big constituencies, and big lobbying firms.
You have power too: Your voice. Please use it to protect defenseless dogs and cats from being robbed of theirs. Every call is important. Yours will make a difference.
No matter where you live in MA, you can help -- all you need is a phone!
1) Live in Worcester County? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester_County,_Massachusetts
Call Rep. Vicent Pedone at 617-722-2410 or 508-791-7400. He chairs the Third Reading Committee, which is currently reviewing this bill. Politely urge Chairman Pedone to release An Act Prohibiting Devocalization quickly--as written, so it can be enforced.
· The longer Third Reading holds the bill, the less chance it will become law.
· If Rep. Pedone alters it as special interests that profit from devocalization wish, it will be unenforceable. Dogs and cats will continue to be maimed.
2) Live in Winthrop or Revere?
Call House Speaker Robert DeLeo at 617-722-2500. As the most powerful legislator in the MA House of Representatives, he can help ensure this bill passes as written. Politely ask for his support to move An Act Prohibiting Devocalization, House Bill 344, to the Floor for a vote quickly--without amendments that would undermine its intent.
3) Live elsewhere in MA?
Urge your State (Beacon Hill) Rep to send a letter expressing his/her support for House Bill 344 to Speaker DeLeo and Rep. Pedone. Tell your Rep you want his/her help to ensure the bill becomes law, as written, in 2010. Ask for a copy of the letter, and follow up until you get it!
How to find your State Rep (on Beacon Hill, not in DC): 1-800-462-8683 or www.wheredoivotema.com, enter your address, then look for your "Rep in General Court"
Helpful hints: Read before contacting your Rep
Calls are effective; emails are not. Emails may be deleted without being logged in (or read). If you can't call, sending a hard-copy letter or fax is second best.
Let your Rep know why this bill is personally important to you--and that you will be following it closely.
If you get voicemail or are transferred to a recorded line: Be sure to leave your name and address to prove you're a constituent, with a short message of support for House Bill 344. Try to call again till you can speak with an aide.
Call every three weeks till the bill passes. The legislative process is long, and opponents are determined to kill this humane legislation. Don't let lawmakers forget that kind constituents like you want it to pass.
Visit your Rep in the district or at the State House if you can.
Always be polite! Some aides are more pleasant than others. Take the high road, and save your outrage for devocalizers!
Get the word out--squeaky wheels pass laws.
Post the following youtube links to Facebook, Twitter or your website. Send them to friends and family throughout the U.S. to raise awareness of devocalization.
Learn about devocalization.
Meet devocalized dogs and their rescuers:
Hear what animal experts have to say:
An Act Prohibiting Devocalization, House Bill 344, is sponsored by
Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, an all-volunteer network of
Massachusetts pet owners and advocates.
It is endorsed by
Angell Animal Medical Center, animal shelters statewide and
more than 200 concerned MA veterinarians. Make sure your vet is among them!
Devocalization is Brutalization.
Use Your Voice to Pass MA House Bill 344!
Pet Fashion Protest VideoPublication date: 2009-12-08
Publication name: CAPS
Headline: Pet Fashion Protest Video
Summary: Video of the protest at Pet Fashion in New York City.
On November 28, 2009 CAPS organized a demonstration outside of Pet Fashion in New York City to protest its sale of dogs from puppy mill breeders like Kathy Bauck. Click here to view the video.
Eco-idiocy hits a new low in heartlessness with an attack on our beloved, defenseless friends.Publication date: 2009-12-26
Publication name: Pajamas Media
URL for more info: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-latest-advice-from-the-eco-zealots-eat-your-pets/
Read this article by well-known pet columnist Julia Szabo in which CAPS President Deborah Howard discusses how veganism for both humans and their companion animals and not supporting the commercial dog breeding industry are the some of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint.
Quoted: "I was all set to take my dogs out for quality time in the park, taking full advantage of the snow that’s blanketed the Northeast..."
CAPS protest at Happiness is Pets, Arlington Heights, ILPublication/Event date: 2010-01-16
Publication name: YouTube
URL for more info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImgA3QukDnE
Puppy Mills: Pet Stores' Big Secretby Seth Fiegerman
Publication name: Main Street
URL for more info: http://www.mainstreet.com/article/smart-spending/don-t-buy-doggie-window
Summary: The real question families should ask this holiday season isn’t how much that doggie in the window costs, but rather what terrible ordeals did that dog go through before arriving there? ...
Companion Animal Protection Society Plans Peaceful Holiday Protest of Happiness is Pets in LombardPet Shop Chain has Six Locations in the Chicago Area
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WHO: Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), www.caps-web.org
CAPS is the only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills.
CAPS President Deborah, who has been interviewed on Animal Planet, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, is available for phone interviews. CAPS has done several stories with CBS 2 Chicago, including coverage of the Kathy Bauck investigation and criminal case. Bauck, who was one of the largest dog brokers and breeders in the country, was convicted of animal cruelty in March 2009 based on evidence from a six-week undercover employment investigation by CAPS. USDA issued a Decision and Order on December 2 that terminates Bauck’s license. Bauck sold to pet shops in the Chicago area.
WHAT: CAPS is protesting Happiness is Pets, which has six locations in the Chicago area, to draw awareness to the connection between pet shops and puppy mills. Almost all pet shops obtain dogs from puppy mills. Informing the public about the dangers of purchasing pet shop dogs is more important now than ever as people consider purchasing companion animals for gifts this holiday season.
WHEN: Saturday, December 19, 2009 from 1-3 pm CST
WHERE: Happiness is Pets, 616 E. Roosevelt Rd., Lombard, IL 60148
WHY: Happiness is Pets sells dogs from puppy mills - commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for resale through pet shops and brokers. USDA licensed facilities are puppy mills.
Founded by President Deborah Howard in 1992, Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills. CAPS actively addresses the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance and pet industry employee relations.
West Hollywood City Council to Vote on Ordinance Banning Sale of Dogs and Cats in Pet ShopsEvent date: 2010-02-01
Publication name: CAPS
URL for more info: see the list of Youtube videos
Following a CAPS undercover investigation into West Hollywood pet stores and a five and a half month protest of Elite Animals, West Hollywood City Council will be voting on an ordinance that will prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops, with an exemption for the adoptions of shelter and rescue animals.
This is a very important vote concerning animals in pet factories and this ordinance, if it passes, will have a wide-ranging effect. We would like all the activists who participated in our anti-puppy mill campaign to join us at the council hearing in support of this ordinance. If you are a leader of a group (rescue, animal rights/welfare, etc) or expert in the dog/cat field (vet, shelter director, SPCA Director, rescuer, trainer, etc.) or if you are a resident of the City of West Hollywood or a celebrity, we urge you to attend and speak. Even if you cannot make the meeting next Monday, you can write a letter of support from your organization.
The meeting will be at 6:30pm, on Monday Feb.1st, at 647 N. San Vicente in West Hollywood, just across the street from the Pacific Design Center.
We are on the verge of a major celebration. Come ready to cheer. This might just turn into a party.
View footage and news stories about the CAPS protest at Elite Animals, which obtained dogs from USDA licensed dog brokers Gerry and Angie Wensmann, who run a puppy mill in Minnesota that CAPS has investigated twice. CAPS protested Elite Animals for nearly six months. The store no longer sells animals although the owner told us that she might buy from California-based breeders (Southern California has a number of unlicensed puppy mills).
On behalf of animals suffering in pet shops and mills and for those who die in shelters every day because people continue to buy puppies and kittens rather than adopting from shelters and rescue organizations, we thank you.
Deborah Howard, President, Companion Animal Protection Society
Carole Davis, West Coast Director, Companion Animal Protection Society
Carole Sax, Campaign Coordinator, Companion Animal Protection Society