Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Congratulations, Duluth!

Jim Williams from Animal Allies Humane Society was a guest on Animal Wise Radio yesterday. He shared the inspiring story of how the city of Duluth, Minnesota is rapidly becoming one of the safest communities in the nation for homeless pets.

In 2009 the live-release rate for the city was a whopping 88%! During the interview, Jim said, "It was surprisingly easy. It was hard work. We are all a little grayer. But it was surprisingly easy." Learn more and listen to the interview at http://www.animalwiseradio.com.

Shortly after that, Nathan Winograd cited the outstanding success of Duluth in an article he wrote for the Examiner. You can read that article here:

http://www.examiner.com/x-16635-SF-Animal-Shelters-Examiner~y2010m3d28-Nokill-day-a-celebration-of-compassion

Animal Ark and Animal Wise Radio would like to officially send a big, virtual high-five to everyone in Duluth who helped to make this outstanding accomplishment possible.

--
Mike Fry
Executive Director of Animal Ark
Co-Host of Animal Wise Radio

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Owl Box

Owl couple in California hatches a family and a fan club as thousands tune in to watch chicks

Associated Press
Last update: March 29, 2010 - 3:44 PM
SAN MARCOS, Calif. -

A barn owl couple in California has given birth to a family and a fan club.

Two years ago, Carlos and Donna Royal made an owl box, put it on top of a 15-foot pole in their northern San Diego County back yard and hooked up a video camera.

Barn owls Molly and McGee moved into the box in January and started a family.

Since ustream.tv/theowlbox debuted, it's had more than 3 million hits. More than 17,000 people watched as the first owlet hatched on March 21. A fourth baby owl hatched Sunday, with one egg remaining.

The Royals have named the babies Max, Pattison, Austin and Wesley.

Monday, March 29, 2010

MN Senate OKs domestic abuse protection for pets

Minnesota State Capitol
By The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A bill that would extend domestic abuse protections to pets has cleared the Minnesota Senate with wide support.

The chamber voted 59-7 Monday for the proposal from Democratic Sen. Sandy Pappas of St. Paul.

The bill would let judges include pets in court protective orders and determine who would care for a pet in a domestic abuse case. Minnesota judges already can consider pets in cases of domestic violence, but that authority is not spelled out in state law.

Advocates say many battered women stay in dangerous situations out of fear for their pets. The bill would make Minnesota the 14th state to include pets in domestic abuse protections.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Guardian Angels for Soldiers' Pets

KARE11.com

Dog-sitting for the deployed

BIG LAKE, Minn. -- When soldiers are sent to war,
the military provides all sorts of help for those left
behind -- mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and
children.

But what about the four-legged family members?

That was the dilemma Staff Sargent Steve Meduna
faced in January 2009 as he prepared to go to Iraq
for the first deployment in his 15 years in the
Minnesota National Guard: What to do about his
100-pound, two year old dog, Dozer -- as in
"bulldozer." Meduna was newly divorced and his
father lived in a town home community that doesn't
allow dogs, his brother had a small yard without a
fence and his friends who had watched Dozer in the
past were all guardsmen going to Iraq, too.

Then he heard about Guardian Angels for Soldier's
Pet
, or GASP, a five year old network of volunteers
who take in dogs and cats --and even horses and,
in some cases, snakes and lizards -- left behind
when their owners deploy with the military.

"The pet is not considered or recognized as a family
member," says Linda Spurlin-Dominik, a co-founder
and the president of GASP. She started the group
after hearing of the problems faced by one soldier
from Ohio. A little research turned up reports of
dogs and cats dropped off at shelters just before
deployments or picked up by animal control --
abandoned -- right after troops leave an area.

"It's a warm feeling," she says of her work. "You've
made a difference in someone's life and made their
life just a little bit better when they get to see their
pet again."

Meduna learned of GASP just before he deployed
and happily left Dozer in the care of Mike and Jessie
Siers of Big Lake, Minn. "It was a real weight off my
back," he says.

The Siers kept Meduna up to date on Dozer with
videos and photos posted on Facebook. At
Christmas, they sent Meduna a photo of Dozer in a
Santa hat -- signed with Dozer's inked paw.
They loved having Dozer with them for 13 months,
but knew it had to end. They hated to see him go,
but, as Jessie said, "We're so happy that Steve made
it back safely."

Before going to the Siers' to pick up Dozer, Meduna
worried that his dog wouldn't remember him after
being away for so long. He needn't have worried. As
soon as Dozer caught a glimpse of his master, he
bounded to Meduna's side and jumped -- and
licked --for joy.

After getting reacquainted, Dozer retired to a corner
of the Siers' yard with a nylon chew bone that
Meduna had brought for him as Meduna and Siers
talked. At one point, Meduna turned toward his car
to get something out of it. Yards away, Dozer saw
him turn, dropped his bone and shot across the
yard to Meduna's side.

He wasn't about to let his master get away again.

By John Yang, NBC News correspondent

(Copyright 2010 by NBC. All Rights Reserved.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Support regulation of Minnesota's puppy mills

Following is an open, published letter that Mike Fry wrote to the entire Minnesota Legislature.

My name is Mike Fry. I am the executive director of Animal Ark, one of Minnesota’s largest animal welfare organizations, with programs that operate throughout the state and beyond. Our large and growing membership includes citizens in every county in Minnesota. We also have members in 42 other states and 5 other countries. Our membership is politically diverse, including all kinds of perspectives from all political parties. Our members include animal rescuers and dog breeders as well as hog farmers and hunters.

We have been able to maintain this diverse membership because Animal Ark’s philosophy is moderate, centrist and mainstream. We are not fringe animal rights extremists like PETA or HSUS. We are your brothers and sisters and your neighbors. We are your constituents.

I am writing to you today to let you know that, based on the emails I am receiving, as well as comments to our blogs and news stories, our members are not happy with the Legislature’s handling of the puppy mill issue, which has been ongoing for several years. However, the concern of our members reached a critically high level this session.

In 2009 two different bills were offered in the House and Senate to accomplish the goal of regulating commercial breeders. It could be argued that both bills, when compared to bills being passed in other states, were relatively moderate in their approaches. However, because several of the small hobby breeders in Minnesota expressed concern over possible unintended consequences of one bill, Animal Ark worked with them and others to create a viable alternative.

The Legislature’s response to these two bills was clear. We were instructed to get our groups together and bring back compromise language. Not only was that goal accomplished, we brought more stakeholders to the table than was requested and together we drafted an outstanding compromise set of bills. Senate File 7, as amended this year, and House File 253 as amended in the House Ag committee last year, is that compromise language.

In spite of this, the House Ag Committee tabled the bill without voting on it. The Senate Ag Committee voted it down by a 5-7 vote, with some of the same senators who told the groups to get together and create compromise language now saying, in effect, that their compromise is not good enough.

This has left many Minnesotans who worked on or who supported these bills feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. They have just delivered the broomstick of the Wicked Witch only to be told by the man behind the curtain that is not enough. Furthermore, “How dare they question the great and powerful Oz?!”

Adding to the sense that this should be fiction and not real life is the fact that over the interim two important bodies weighed in on the compromise language – the Board of Animal Health and the Department of Revenue. BAH completed a fiscal note, with input from DOR. The report was shocking to many.

The most compelling fact reported was that of 100 randomly selected commercial dog breeders in the state, 74 of them were not in compliance with Minnesota sales tax laws. That is a 74% noncompliance rate. Based on other research, the report projected the total loss of revenue to the state resulting from the tax cheating of commercial dog breeders to be in excess of $2 million annually. Furthermore the report predicted that the compromise bill language offered in SF 7 and HF 253 would help the state collect the majority of those funds - at least $1.3 million per year. But that is not all.

The report also projects the financial impact on regulated parties. Total fees for commercial dog breeders would amount to between $1 and $2 for each puppy sold. Given that these puppies sell for hundreds of dollars each it is easy to see these minimal costs could be easily passed on to the buyers, meaning that, fundamentally, the program would cost the regulated breeders virtually nothing.

These bills, it would seem, would create a win for all law-abiding Minnesotans. Responsible breeders, be they commercial or hobby breeders, would stay in business. Breeders that could not meet the minimal standards of our existing cruelty laws would be out of business, creating more business for responsible breeders. Additionally, the State would benefit financially. Animal Welfare advocates nation-wide would see fewer malnourished, unsocialized dog and cats that suffer from genetic abnormalities resulting from inbreeding. The only losers in the equation are those not paying their taxes and who are abusing animals.

In spite of these basic facts, Animal Ark members who have contacted their legislators are being given a host of excuses. “I’m not on that committee.” “We need 100% consensus in order to pass a bill.” “We need agreement from those that would be regulated in order to pass the bill.”

I read your responses and have to wonder, “are you kidding me?”

The excuses go on and on, and, frankly, do not address the concerns being communicated to you. Whether or not you sit on a committee, your constituents want you to proactively get involved in passing this needed legislation. If you are on a committee hearing the bill, they want you to understand the humane and fiscal implications. They want you to take action to solve these problems.

Expecting that we have 100% consensus is like asking Dorothy to get the Wicked Witch to turn herself in, or asking Minnesotans to become flying monkeys. The commercial breeders to be regulated by these proposed bills amount to about 400 Minnesotans. That is approximately 0.0000075% of your constituency.

Your constituents are speaking. Are you listening?

--
Mike Fry
Executive Director of Animal Ark
Co-Host of Animal Wise Radio
http://www.animalarkshelter.org
http://www.animalwiseradio.com
Animal Ark Main: (651) 772-8983
Mike Fry Direct: (651) 964-3140
Toll Free: (888) 668-0687 Ext 99
FAX: (651) 304-6038

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sign the Petition to regulate MN Puppy Mills

Please help get signatures!

This petition will be delivered to Minnesota legislators early next week, while there is still time in the session to pass meaningful legislation to regulate puppy and kitten mills in our state.

Please help get signatures for this petition. Please email it, share it on Facebook and post it on your web sites.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ask-the-mn-legislature-to-finally-regulate-puppy-mills

petition overview | letter
Ask the MN Legislature to Regulate Puppy Mills
Target:Legislators in Minnesota
Sponsored by: Animal Ark and Animal Wise Radio

For several years, the Minnesota Legislature has been debating bills to regulate large-scale, commercial breeders of dogs and cats. Several viable approaches have been offered. However, due to the influence of special interest groups, including those with severe conflicts of interest, legislators in our great state repeatedly either table or kill any attempts to regulate large-scale breeders.
In 2009 a viable bill was offered in the House, HF 253, that would regulate large-scale breeders in a balanced and responsible way.

We the undersigned ask the Minnesota Legislature to regulate puppy mills now.
For several years you have discussed humane and fiscal issues surrounding large-scale dog and cat breeders in the state. The issues are large and growing, and include severe violations of cruelty and tax laws. Yet, the legislature has done nothing.

News reports relating to Minnesota's puppy mills have been showing up all around the nation. At the same time, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has concluded that the overwhelming majority of these large-scale breeders are not paying required sales tax on the animals sold. This amounts to millions of dollars of lost revenue annually to the State.

Regulating these breeders would, therefore, resolve severe animal welfare issues at the same time it would help generate an additional $1.3 million (according to DOE) in revenue the State badly needs. Rather than doing the responsible thing, which would be to enact responsible regulation, the legislature has been bowing to unrelated special interest groups, like the NRA.

We are tired of the legislator giving special interest groups their way, at the expense of animal welfare and fiscal responsibility. We want you to do your jobs and act NOW to fix these problems.

For more information about the fiscal implications read this link:
http://www.examiner.com/x-39559-Minneapolis-Pets-Examiner~y2010m2d23-Minnesota-Puppy-Mill-Bill-by-the-Numbers

For more information on the involvement of special interests in this issue, read this link:
http://www.examiner.com/x-39559-Minneapolis-Pets-Examiner~y2010m3d12-Senate-Ag-Committee-Lets-Special-Interests-Have-Their-Way-with-Puppies-and-KittensFor several years, the Minnesota Legislature has been debating bills to regulate large-scale, commercial breeders of dogs and cats. Several viable approaches have been offered. However, due to the influence of special interest groups, including those with severe conflicts of interest, legislators in our great state repeatedly either table or kill any attempts to regulate large-scale breeders.
In 2009 a viable bill was offered in the House, HF 253, that would regulate large-scale breeders in a balanced and responsible way.

We the undersigned ask the Minnesota Legislature to regulate puppy mills now.
For several years you have discussed humane and fiscal issues surrounding large-scale dog and cat breeders in the state. The issues are large and growing, and include severe violations of cruelty and tax laws. Yet, the legislature has done nothing.

News reports relating to Minnesota's puppy mills have been showing up all around the nation. At the same time, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has concluded that the overwhelming majority of these large-scale breeders are not paying required sales tax on the animals sold. This amounts to millions of dollars of lost revenue annually to the State.

Regulating these breeders would, therefore, resolve severe animal welfare issues at the same time it would help generate an additional $1.3 million (according to DOE) in revenue the State badly needs. Rather than doing the responsible thing, which would be to enact responsible regulation, the legislature has been bowing to unrelated special interest groups, like the NRA.

We are tired of the legislator giving special interest groups their way, at the expense of animal welfare and fiscal responsibility. We want you to do your jobs and act NOW to fix these problems.

For more information about the fiscal implications read this link:
http://www.examiner.com/x-39559-Minneapolis-Pets-Examiner~y2010m2d23-Minnesota-Puppy-Mill-Bill-by-the-Numbers

For more information on the involvement of special interests in this issue, read this link:
http://www.examiner.com/x-39559-Minneapolis-Pets-Examiner~y2010m3d12-Senate-Ag-Committee-Lets-Special-Interests-Have-Their-Way-with-Puppies-and-Kittens

Monday, March 22, 2010

Puppy Mill bill could be saved for this session

FROM ANIMAL ARK OUTREACH:

Following the recent vote in the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Committee on Senate File 7, a large number of Minnesotans are growing impatient with the legislature, and increasingly concerned about the influence of various special interests in fighting the efforts to pass this urgently needed bill. The bill would:

1) Require large-scale commercial dog and cat breeders to be inspected annually to ensure compliance with existing animal cruelty laws.

2) Fund the inspection program via license fees to be paid by commercial breeders. These fees would amount to, according to a fiscal note created by the Board of Animal Health, about $1 to $2 per puppy sold - costs that would simply be passed on to the buyers of puppies.

3) Help the Department of Revenue collect an additional $1.3 million in sales tax revenue. This is demonstrated through a recent review of commercial dog breeders. 74% of those sampled were not paying the sales tax on the puppies sold as is required by law.

Though the bill was voted down in the Senate Ag Committee, there are still viable options for its passage this year. Your action is needed NOW to help make that happen.

The Minnesota Legislature needs to hear from you immediately.

What to do:

If you live in Minnesota:

Contact your legislators and ask that they work with Senate and House leadership to find a way to pass these bills, and without the undue influence of unrelated special interests. Tell them you are tired of them talking about this bill and failing to pass it. Tell them you are tired of the fiscal irresponsibility. Tell them the reason we are having such financial troubles in the state is because the legislature in general keeps giving the special interests what they want, as is clearly demonstrated in this case.

Contact the Speaker of the House and thank her for her strong leadership on this issue. Ask that she continue to find a way to move this bill this year.

Contact the Senate Majority Leader and ask that he work with the Speaker to do the same.

If you live outside of Minnesota:

Contact Minnesota legislators and tell them you are sick of them letting Minnesota Puppy Mill sell sick, neglected and abused dogs all over the country. Minnesota is one of the top states in the nation for puppy mills. We need all voices heard at the Minnesota Legislature NOW!

Everyone:

Share this story with your family and friends and ask that they do the same!

Visit the Animal Ark Online Community at: http://animalark.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Including Pets in Orders for Protection

FROM PETHAVEN BLOG:

Action Needed: Including Pets in Orders for Protection
IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT!

On Wednesday, March 10, the Crime Victims/Criminal Records Division Committee voted to approve a bill that would authorize courts to include pets and companion animals in orders for protection. Reps will be asked to vote on this today!

Please take a moment to call YOUR rep listed below and leave a message with his or her aide that you'd like them to support HF1396 Domestic abuse; courts authorized to include pets and companion animals in protective orders!

Read more about this on the MPR website where Lara Peterson (of A Rotta Love) shares first hand how she comes home to the lifeless body of her 5 month old cat in a trash bag. Lara testified before legislators this week to support the bill.

Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection also has additional information on their website.

Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee Members:

Joe Mullery 651-296-4262 rep.joe.mullery@house.mn 58-A (Minneapolis)
Gail Kulick Jackson 651-296-6746 rep.gailkulick.jackson@house.mn 16-A (Princeton, Milaca, etc.)
Steve Drazkowski 651-296-2273 rep.steve.drazkowski@house.mn 28-B (Goodview, St. Charles, etc)
Tony Cornish 651-296-4240 rep.tony.cornish@house.mn 24-B (Lake Crystal, Wells, etc.)
Debra Hilstrom 651-296-3709 rep.debra.hilstrom@house.mn 46-B (Brooklyn Park/Center)
Kory Kath 651-296-5368 rep.kory.kath@house.mn 26-A (Waseca, Owatonna, etc.)
Sheldon Johnson 651-296-4201 rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn 67-B (St. Paul)
Tim Kelly 651-296-8635 rep.tim.kelly@house.mn 28-A (Red Wing, Lake City, Cannon Falls, etc)
Paul Kohls 651-296-4282 rep.paul.kohls@house.mn 34-A (Chaska, Waconia, Victoria, etc.)
Dave Olin 651-296-9635 rep.dave.olin@house.mn 1-A (NW cities in State)
Michael Paymar- bill author 651-296-4199 rep.michael.paymar@house.mn 64-B (St. Paul)
Sandra Masin 651-296-3533 rep.sandra.masin@house.mn 38-A (Eagan, Burnsville)
Ron Shimanski, R 651-296-1534 rep.ron.shimanski@house.mn 18-A (Hutchinson, Glencoe, etc.)
John Lesch, DFL 651-296-4224 rep.john.lesch@house.mn 66-A (St. Paul)
Bruce Anderson 651-296-5063 rep.bruce.anderson@house.mn 19-A (Monticello, Buffalo, Maple Lake)
Karla Bigham 651-296-4342 rep.karla.bigham@house.mn 57-A (Cottage Grove, S. St. Paul, St. Paul Park, etc.)

Please contact your representative - you can find him/her by going to: http://www.gis.leg.mn/mapserver/districts/

If your rep is listed above please leave a message of support for this piece of legislation being heard in committee. If you know anyone who may live in the areas listed above please encourage them to make a quick 1 minute call in support of HF1396!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Red Lake Rosie's Rescue animal clinic

Vets Perform 200 Spay/Neuter Surgeries in 3 Days During Huge Animal Care Clinic

March 17, 12:35 AM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

Three days, two veterinarians, a mobile surgical hospital called "the Neuter Commuter" and a couple of dozen volunteers resulted in about 200 spay/neuter surgeries for animals on the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota last week. The effort was one of a series of clinics being coordinated in order to help the poverty-stricken community address dire animal welfare concerns.

“When people live in poverty, the people and their animals suffer,” said Mary Salter of Animal Ark, one of the coordinators of the project.

By anyone’s measure, the residents of the Red Lake Reservation are some of the most impoverished in the state of Minnesota. The per capita income there was estimated at just over $8,000 in 1999. All of the conditions that come with poverty are rampant on the reservation including violence, drugs and crime.

In 1863 the Pembina and Red Lake Bands of Ojibwa Native Americans signed the Treaty of Old Crossing. This ensured their sovereignty on their land. It also made them some of the most isolated humans in Minnesota.

“When we first started visiting the reservation a few years ago,” said Salter, “the situation was pretty dire.”

Packs of feral dogs roaming the fields and dead dogs and cats along the road were commonplace. However, after a few years of hard work and several spay/neuter clinics in which hundreds of animals have been sterilized, people are starting to see improvements.

“Things are clearly changing up there,” added Salter.

According to some volunteers, residents of the reservation now look forward to the clinics and begin lining up for services hours before they are open in the morning.

“We open the gates at 8 AM. But, there are usually people lining up starting by 6:30,” Salter said.

The days were long, generally running well into the evening hours. In addition to spay/neuter surgeries, staff and volunteers from Animal Ark and Akin Hills Pet Hospital in Farmington handled a variety of emergency situations - a dog that had been hit by a car - a mother dog with hypothermic puppies. They also provided needed vaccinations, ear cleanings, nail-trimmings and other services.

Dogs and cats that required more medical care than could be provided during the 3 day clinic were taken back to the Twin Cities where Animal Ark and Akin Hill Pet Hospital are providing the care they need. Once they are recovered, they will be available for adoption.

The animals on the reservation live in a very communal environment and tend to be very well socialized to people and other animals.

Three more clinics are scheduled for this year. Volunteers and donations are needed. If you would like to help, visit the Animal Ark web site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More on the MN puppy/kitten mill situation

Senate Ag Committee Lets Special Interests Have Their Way with Puppies and Kittens
March 12, 8:38 AM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

Large-scale, commercial breeders are common in Minnesota and unregulated.

Photo by CAPS

His most recent USDA inspection report reads like something out of a horror movie. “The building known as ‘Kyles building’ had a strong ammonia level during inspection. The inspectors eye were burning from the levels present…”

The report also cites violations for lack of veterinary care, inadequate indoor housing facilities, inadequate primary enclosures, grouping of incompatible animals, issues with the housing facilities in general and other problems.

In one report a Chihuahua suffered from untreated injuries so severe that she could not close her mouth.

In spite of the gross violations reported in his USDA inspection reports, Paul Haag, operator of Valley View Kennel, and member of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, lobbied, with support from the Farm Bureau, to kill Senate File 7 and House File 253, a. k. a. “the puppy mill bill”, adding support to the growing idea that special interests have taken over the Minnesota Legislature.

Haag was not alone in lobbying against the puppy mill bill. His compatriots included other puppy mills, Minnesota pork producers and the NRA. They worked together with members of the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee to shoot down the proposed legislation that would require inspections of commercial dog breeders.

Senate File 7 and House File 253 are relatively simple propositions. If passed into law, they would provide the state authority to inspect large-scale, commercial dog and cat breeding operations in order to verify compliance with current state animal cruelty laws. The inspections would be based on an existing inspection process the State already requires of nonprofit animal shelters.

The program would be paid for through licensing fees required of the commercial breeders, which, according to a fiscal note prepared by the Board of Animal Health, would amount to about $1 to $2 for each puppy these breeders sold. Furthermore, according the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the bill would help the State collect about $1.3 million dollars in sales tax that are currently going uncollected. A review of commercial breeders by the Department of Revenue found that the majority of them were not in compliance with Minnesota Sales Tax laws.

Minnesota is one of the top 10 states in the nation for puppy mills, in part because the Legislature has refused to regulate the industry.

“Minnesota is a safe haven for large-scale, abusive breeders,” said Marlene Foote, president and founder of Animal Ark, Minnesota’s largest no kill animal welfare organization. “In Minnesota, even a breeder convicted of animal abuse and torture can continue operating a puppy mill.”

Kathy Bauck, according to animal welfare advocates like Foote, is one such example.

Repeatedly charged and convicted of multiple counts of animal cruelty, animal torture and practicing veterinary medicine without a license the USDA finally filed a motion in 2009 to have Bauck’s federal breeding license revoked. In Minnesota, however, in spite of her criminal convictions, Bauck is still allowed by the State of Minnesota to continue breeding and selling dogs. No license is required.

For these and other reasons, Senate File 7 and House File 253 have received strong support from a growing number of small, responsible breeders, many of which believe the failure to regulate the breeding industry is unnecessarily giving all breeders a bad reputation. Representatives from the Minnesota Purebred Dog Breeders Association testified before both the House and Senate Ag Committees in support of the bills.

In spite of these facts, the special interests appear to be getting their way. During a Senate Ag Committee meeting held March 9, 2009, Senate File 7 was voted down by a 5 – 7 vote, with two members absent and one abstaining.

“The irony here is that nonprofit animal shelters are open to the public, and, therefore, operate in a relatively transparent way,” said Foote. “Yet the State of Minnesota and we believe that inspecting and licensing animal shelters is a good idea.”

“Puppy mills generally operate in secret, behind locked gates and fences where no one can really see what is going on. And, in spite of the growing evidence that there are a lot of corrupt commercial breeders, breaking a variety of laws, the Senate Agriculture Committee has decided once again to bow to the special interests and give commercial breeders a free pass.”


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MN Puppy Mill bill did not pass again

Message from Animal Folks MN

Update March 2010

NEWS: SENATE FILE 7 DID NOT PASS

We have disappointing news to tell.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 9), the MN Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill (Senate File 7) was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee; however, it did not pass.

As you know, S.F. 7 and H.F. 253 were laid on the table ("put on hold") in their respective Agriculture Committees during the 2009 session. In order to move each bill along, we needed a majority vote in each Agriculture Committee to take the bill off the table and continue discussions.

We also needed to meet committee deadlines. (The first policy committee deadline in the Minnesota Legislature is this Friday, March 12. Bills must pass through all policy committees in either the House or Senate by this date.)

Because S.F. 7 did not pass the Senate Agriculture Committee, the committee deadlines cannot be met.


Time was running out

The lobbying team has worked hard meeting and talking with Agriculture Committee members in both the House and Senate trying to get hearings and secure the votes. Thousands of constituents (you) from all over Minnesota have also been calling, emailing and writing legislators and signing petitions of support.

The Chair of the House Agriculture Committee (Rep. Otremba) would not grant H.F. 253 a hearing until there was movement in the Senate. But the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee (Senator Vickerman) would not grant S.F. 7 a hearing.

So the lobbying team took different action, bypassing the normal way a bill is scheduled and given a hearing.

Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was supportive of the bill, was approached and she agreed to make a motion yesterday (March 9) to move S.F. 7 off the table for a hearing. This motion passed, which then allowed the bill to be debated in Committee.

As the Committee Chair would not grant the bill a hearing, this motion allowed the bill to be heard.


The hearing

Senator Don Betzold, the author of S.F. 7, gave an overview of the bill. He did an excellent job, as too did Keith Streff (humane agent for the Animal Humane Society) who responded to questions from Committee members. The Chair did not allow for any public testimony.

One legislator was very supportive and expressed his reasons. Another legislator was in strong opposition and insisted "the system works as is." One legislator committed to voting yes prior to the meeting but then changed her vote. The Chair was not supportive.

When there were no more questions on the bill, a motion was made to vote yes or no on the bill. The Committee vote was 7 to 5 - opposed. The bill failed.

Following the vote, two legislators (who voted yes) expressed a clear desire that something needs to be done.

NOTE: For video coverage of the meeting, go to: Senate Agriculture Committee
(Senate File 7 is the last item discussed.)


Senate Agriculture Committee

There are 15 members on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Below are the member names (with emails and phone numbers) and how each voted.


Senator Jim Vickerman (Chair, District 22) 651-296-5650 - NO

Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes (Vice Chair, District 31) 651-296-5649 - YES

Senator Steve Dille (Ranking Minority Member, District 18) 651-296-4131 - NO

Senator Lisa A. Fobbe (District 16) 651-296-8075 - NO

Senator Joe Gimse (District 13) 651-296-3826 - NO

Senator David W. Hann (District 42) 651-296-1749 - PASS (didn't vote)

Senator Bill E. Ingebrigtsen (District 11) 651-297-8063 - NO

Senator Paul E. Koering (District 12) 651-296-4875 - NOT PRESENT

Senator Gary W. Kubly (District 20) 651-296-5094 - YES

Senator Keith Langseth (District 9) 651-296-3205 - YES

Senator Tony Lourey (District 8) 651-296-0293 - YES

Senator Steve Murphy (District 28) 651-296-4264 - YES

Senator Rod Skoe (District 2) 651-296-4196 - NOT PRESENT

Senator Dan Skogen (District 10) 651-296-5655 - NO

Senator Satveer S. Chaudhary (District 50) 651-296-4334 - NO


Every legislator who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee was lobbied - multiple times. Each member was (and is) fully aware of the details of the bill and has seen or heard about animal cruelty, consumer fraud, tax evasion, and other issues defining the problem.

As for the opposition, lobbyists for agricultural interests and for the larger breeders also showed up at the committee meeting, as did the NRA lobbyists. They worked hard lobbying committee members. Some small breeders, too, many of whom were apparently ignorant of the details of the bill, worked hard against it.

We will offer further details and explanations about the vote in the coming weeks through emails and posts on the Animal Folks MN website.


TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK

It's time to hold legislators accountable for their votes:
• For legislators who voted yes, please contact them and say thank you. They gave us support; we need to show them ours.

• For legislators who voted no, consider contacting them and voicing your disappointment (nicely, please) about their choice to vote no.

• Most importantly, please remember how these members voted when you vote during the next election. (Senator Vickerman, Senator Dille and Senator Murphy have announced they will not be running for re-election in 2010.)


YOUR VOICE WAS HEARD

Please know how incredibly important your efforts have been, and please don't stop. We won't.

The Minnesota Legislature, not just the Agriculture Committee, heard us. They know about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding and the need for regulation.

Petitions, emails, letters and calls in support of S.F. 7/ H.F. 253 have been submitted to Minnesota legislators by thousands of people throughout Minnesota.

The 10,000 goal for petitions was met. The response after our last email was overwhelming; the response at the Pet Expo was also extraordinary. With the help of Stop The Suffering, the Minnesota Humane Society, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection and individual citizens from all over the State, over 10,000 names of supporters were collected and submitted to legislators, representing every House and Senate district.

This list is still valuable and useful. It gives us all a strong database and voice to use for future efforts. We will continue to build a well-informed, well-connected advocacy network that represents all areas of Minnesota. Please still continue to direct people to Animal Folks MN to learn more and build support.

THANK YOU to everyone for your commitment and hard work. You are all amazing.


PLEASE CONTINUE TO HELP. This is the beginning of a movement, not the end. In the coming weeks and months, we'll notify you (through emails and on the Animal Folks MN website) about what you can do to help change the "system" for animal protection in Minnesota and help change attitudes about how animals are viewed and treated.


View video of one of the many puppy mills here in rural Minnesota.

Navy outsourcing leads to neglect and deaths of dogs

3 Navy dogs died after being neglected by contractors training them to detect explosives
By ANNE FLAHERTY , Associated Press

Last update: March 9, 2010 - 3:14 PM

WASHINGTON - The Navy says that three dogs died and dozens more were in poor health after being neglected by a private security contractor in Chicago that had been hired to train the dogs to detect explosives.

A team of military handlers discovered the dogs last October at a facility run by Securitas Security Services USA after the Navy terminated a $7.5 million contract.

Navy spokesman Capt. William Fenick said that of the 49 dogs discovered, two were dead and the rest were in poor health. Another dog died soon after being recovered.

Securitas Security Services did not immediately provide comment.

The incident was first reported by The Virginian-Pilot, which says it obtained a picture of one of the rescued dogs, whose rib cage and hip bones were protruding.

The discovery is the latest in a string of contracting woes for the Defense Department. Lawmakers and government watchdog groups say they are concerned that the military is relying too heavily on outside vendors to do many of the jobs that should be handled internally.

In December 2008, the Navy signed a $350 million contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. to help guard its installations. The five-year contract included $7.5 million for 49 highly specialized K-9 units to sniff out explosives. To meet the K-9 requirement, Lockheed in turn hired Securitas Security Services, headquartered in Parsippany, N.J.

But after the dogs failed to demonstrate they could perform as promised, the Navy canceled the contract in July, Fenick said. The team of handlers were sent three months later to pick up the dogs from the Securitas' dog-training facility near Chicago.

Fenick declined to say how much the Navy had already paid Lockheed under the agreement, saying that the contract details are under review.

The state of Illinois is conducting a separate investigation into the allegations.

Fenick said that of the 46 dogs that survived, eight were adopted privately and the rest were deployed at various Navy installations after having completed training.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Iowa passes puppy mill bill!!

Governor signs puppy mill bill as first dog looks on
by O. Kay Henderson on March 9, 2010

Governor Culver signs puppy mill bill as Buck watches.

Governor Chet Culver has signed a bill into law that immediately allows for state inspections of commercial dog kennels that draw public complaints.

Breeders who are raising four or more dogs would have to pay a new licensing fee and register with the state. Culver calls that a “seal of approval” which reputable breeders can present to families hoping to adopt a pet.

“Providing assurance to families that the pets they adopt are healthy, clean and have been raised humanely,” Culver said. According to Culver, the “overwhelming majority” of dog breeders, pet stores and animal shelters have “absolutely nothing to fear” from this legislation.


“But to any facility currently operating as a puppy mill or to those who raise companion animals in unhygienic and inhumane settings, now is the time for you to change course or pay the consequences,” Culver said.

Culver’s wife, Mari and his two children brought the family’s dog, Buck, to the bill signing. The family got Buck from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which hosted today’s bill signing event. As the governor sat at a table to formally sign the so-called “puppy mill” bill into law, Buck put his paws up on the table and someone in the crowd suggested that the dog put his paw print on the bill alongside the governor’s handwritten signature.

Tom Colvin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League and president of the Iowa Federation of Humane Societies, called today’s bill signing a “fantastic” event for two-legged and four-legged Iowans. “What this bill is basically allowing us to do is to have Iowans employed by Iowa through the Iowa Department of Agriculture, upon complaint, get into the facilities of USDA federally-licensed facilities and ensure that they are not suffering because of inadequate food, water, shelter, veterinary care or grooming,” Colvin said.

Mary LaHay of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals called today’s bill signing ground-breaking. “A fabulous, fabulous thing to see happen to help these many, many dogs that are suffering so seriously,” LaHay said. Critics of the bill had argued the legislation would lead to efforts that restrict hunting and impose new requirements on agricultural operations.

Time is critical for MN Puppy & Kitten Mill Bill

Reposted from the Pet Haven blog and Animal Humane Society Website:

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Dog and Cat Breeder Bill (S.F. 7/H.F. 253), also known as the Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill is before the Minnesota Legislature. The bill will put in place licensing and inspection of dog and cat breeder facilities in Minnesota, bringing an end to inhumane breeding practices.

Currently, the bill is still “on the table” in the respective agriculture and veterans committees in both the Minnesota Senate and the House of Representatives. We need your continued support to help members of the committees understand the importance of the bill and to “call it off the table” for discussion.

Time is critical. The first policy committee deadline is next Friday, March 12. If we are not granted a hearing by that time, the bill will not pass this year.

You can make a difference with one phone call. Please call all of the following members on the committees (listed below) before noon on Monday and let him or her know you support S.F. 7/H.F. 253. If you live in one of these districts, please make certain your legislator knows that fact. To find your district and State legislators, go to: Minnesota District Finder.

MN Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee Members
State the bill number and the Senate author's name: S.F. 7 authored by Senator Don Betzold

Tony Lourey 651.296.0293
Lisa A. Fobbe 651.296.8075
David W. Hann 651.296.1749
Rod Skoe 651.296.4196
Dan Skogen 651.296.5655
House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee
State the bill number and the House author’s name: H.F. 253 authored by Representative Tom Tillberry

Mary Ellen Otremba 651.296.3201
Kent Eken 651.296.9918
Terry Morrow 651.296-8634
Dean Urdahl 651.296.4344
Now is the time to be a voice for animals.

Explain the importance of the bill and that it is a highly collaborative effort among many animal groups and volunteers, and the bill has a long list of supporting organizations and individuals—including you.

Talking points for your call

Educate them on what goes on in puppy and kitten mills

If you call this weekend, chances are you'll reach the legislator's voicemail. Please leave a message with your name and support of S.F. 7 (Betzold) or H.F. 253 (Tillberry).

Legislators are also hearing from breeders and others who oppose the bill. Your voice will make a difference. Don’t wait—call today!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wildcat Sanctuary on Animal Planet March 21

Minnesota tigers get TV time

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

The Wildcat Sanctuary and two Bengal tigers that reside there will be featured in an upcoming episode of Animal Planet. The tigers, Titan and Lily, were taken from the property of Cynthia Gamble, who was killed four years ago by a third tiger, Tango.

Animal Planet miniseries showcases the deadly risks of keeping exotic pets.

By KEVIN GILES, Star Tribune

Last update: March 5, 2010 - 9:25 PM

Titan and Lilly live behind two tall fences off a gravel road in the woods of Pine County, forgotten for the news they made four years ago.

Soon they'll appear on national television -- on Animal Planet on March 21 -- as symbols of what can go wrong with private ownership of wild animals.

A tiger named Tango killed his owner, Cynthia Gamble, at her Pine County farm in April 2006. Titan and Lilly, who were kept there in separate enclosures, took no part in the attack. But they hit the headlines as icons of tragedy, portrayed as starving and emaciated.

The miniseries examines why people risk their lives to own so-called "exotic" pets that can turn on them in an instant. The three-part airing will show venomous reptiles first, deadly big cats second and chimpanzees third.

"Why are people attracted to something so dangerous?" asked Tammy Thies, director of the Wildcat Sanctuary, the tigers' new home. "We all see the majesty in a wild animal and I think some people take that too far in a personal relationship thinking they're going to get something out of it."

The sanctuary is a private refuge where a black leopard, a jaguar, tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats, lynx and servals live out their years. All of the cats had private owners once. Many of them had become threats to public safety before they arrived at the sanctuary, which is funded with private donations.

A film team came to the Wildcat Sanctuary to document Titan and Lilly in their new habitat. Titan weighs 515 pounds and Lilly, less than 300. Both tigers, at 14, could live many more years.

The sanctuary, which was built in Pine County about the time that Gamble was attacked, now has 115 animals. Employees take great care to prevent escapes and guard against attacks, Thies said.

Animal Planet wanted to do "reenactments," Thies said, including having her pet Titan and Lilly. "I said we don't go in with the tigers," she said. They are powerful enough that a single swat could kill a human being.

"They said it was the first happy filming they did because they had seen all the places that people died."

Animal Planet promotes the miniseries as a window into the kinship people feel with dangerous animals that sometimes kill and maim their owners.

Both of the people featured in the reptile episode are dead -- a man presumed eaten alive by one of his many monitor lizards, and a woman who didn't survive her pet viper's bite.

"Exotic pet ownership is not as rare as one might think, or as wildlife experts would wish," Animal Planet said in promotional literature. "Millions of exotic animals are brought to the United States in any given year. A significant number of these pets have the potential to severely injure or kill their owners, neighbors or family."

Thies said her sanctuary has seen less business lately -- a good development, she said -- because a new law in Minnesota requires registration of exotic animals and has discouraged ownership somewhat.

"The bad news is that we're still allowing people from other states to come here and exhibit their animals," Thies said, warning parents they should guard their children around exotic animals at malls, fairs and other places where they're displayed.

Kevin Giles • 612-673-4432

THE WILDCAT SANCTUARY
The private refuge, which depends on donations to operate, has launched its largest-ever fundraising campaign, seeking to raise at least $50,000 by April 30. A foundation has pledged to match that amount, said Tammy Thies, the sanctuary's director. Additional information is available at: www.wildcatsanctuary.org/Programs/match.html

WHEN TO WATCH
March 14: Venomous reptiles

March 21: Big cats

March 28: Chimpanzees

All shows air at 9 p.m.

For further information, go to animal.discovery.com

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rescuers of dogs (or cats) will relate to this

A RESCUERS ANSWERING MACHINE:

Hello: You have reached ___-____, Tender Hearts Rescue. Due to the
high volume of calls we have been receiving, please listen closely to
the following options and choose the one that best describes you or
your situation:

Press 1 if you have a 10-year-old dog and your 15-year-old son has
suddenly become allergic and you need to find the dog a new home
right away.

Press 2 if you are moving today and need to immediately place your
150 pound, 8-year-old dog.

Press 3 if you have three dogs, had a baby and want to get rid of
your dogs because you are the only person in the world to have a
baby and dogs at the same time.

Press 4 if you just got a brand new puppy and your old dog is having
problems adjusting so you want to get rid of the old one right away.

Press 5 if your little puppy has grown up and is no longer small and
cute and you want to trade it in for a new model.

Press 6 if you want an unpaid volunteer to come to your home TODAY
and pick up the dog you no longer want.

Press 7 if you have been feeding and caring for a "stray" for the
last three years, are moving and suddenly determine it's not your
dog.

Press 8 if your dog is sick and needs a vet but you need the money
for your vacation.

Press 9 if you are elderly and want to adopt a cute puppy who is not
active and is going to outlive you.

Press 10 if your relative has died and you don't want to care for
their elderly dog because it doesn't fit your lifestyle.

Press 14 if you are calling at 6 a.m. to make sure you wake me up
before I have to go to work so you can drop a dog off on your way
to work.

Press 15 to leave us an anonymous garbled message, letting us know
you have left a dog in our yard in the middle of January, which is
in fact, better than just leaving the dog with no message.

Press 16 if you are going to get angry because we are not going to
take your dog that you have had for fifteen years, because it is
not our responsibility.

Press 17 if you are going to threaten to take your ten year old dog
to be euthanized because I won't take it.

Press 18 if you're going to get angry because the volunteers had the
audacity to go on vacation and leave the dogs in care of a trusted
volunteer who is not authorized to take your personal pet.

Press 19 if you want one of our PERFECTLY trained, housebroken, kid
and cat friendly purebred dogs that we have an abundance of.

Press 20 if you want us to take your dog that has a slight
aggression problem, i.e. has only bitten a few people and killed your
neighbor's cats.

Press 21 if you have already called once and been told we don't take
personal surrenders but thought you would get a different person this
time with a different answer.

Press 22 if you want us to use space that would go to a stray to
board your personal dog while you are on vacation, free of charge,
of course.

Press 23 if it is Christmas Eve or Easter morning and you want me to
deliver an eight week old puppy to your house by 6:30 am before
your kids wake up.

Press 24 if you have bought your children a duckling, chick or baby
bunny for Easter and it is now Christmas and no longer cute.

Press 25 if you want us to take your female dog who has already had
ten litters, but we can't spay her because she is pregnant again and
it is against your religion.

Press 26 if you're lying to make one of our younger volunteers feel
bad and take your personal pet off your hands.

Press 27 if your cat is biting and not using the litter box because
it is declawed, but you are not willing to accept the responsibility
that the cat's behavior is altered because of your nice furniture.

Press 28 if your two year old male dog is marking all over your house
but you just haven't gotten around to having him neutered.

Press 29 if you previously had an outdoor only dog and are calling
because she is suddenly pregnant.

Press 30 if you have done "everything" to housebreak your dog and
have had no success but you don't want to crate the dog because it
is cruel.

Press 31 if you didn't listen to the message asking for an evening
phone number and you left your work number when all volunteers are
also working and you are angry because no one called you back.

Press 32 if you need a puppy immediately and cannot wait because
today is your daughter's birthday and you forgot when she was born.

Press 33 if your dog's coat doesn't match your new furniture and you
need a different color or breed.

Press 34 if your new love doesn't like your dog and you are too
stupid to get rid of the new friend (who will dump you in the next
month anyway) instead of the dog.

Press 35 if you went through all these 'options' and didn't hear
enough. This press will connect you to the sounds of tears being
shed by one of our volunteers who is holding a discarded old dog
while the vet mercifully frees him from the grief of missing his
family.

> ~Author Unknown, but much appreciated