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Advocates Continue Push To Eliminate Sale of Commercially Bred Puppies

by Hugh McQuaid | Feb 21, 2014 1:06pm
(12) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Environment, State Capitol

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Debora Bresch

Animal advocates tried Friday to shore up legislative support for a proposal to ban the sale of commercially bred puppies for all future pet stores in Connecticut.

The policy was one of several recommendations by a task force that met for several months to curb the use of “puppy mills,” a term for commercial breeders where dogs are produced in high numbers and in inhumane conditions. Advocates contend that many of the animals sold in Connecticut pet shops were born at these commercial breeders.

Supporters are calling the ban on future pet stores a “phase out” of the use of puppy mills to source Connecticut pet shops.

“The fact is there is an abundance of puppies from other sources,” Debora Bresch, a lawyer with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said. “From rescue organizations . . . as well as reputable breeders. There’s simply no reason for pet stores to any longer sell commercially bred dogs.”

Bresch spoke at a “Voices for Animals” event in the Legislative Office Building. Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, asked supporters at the press conference to contact their representatives and ask the to back the ban.

“They listen to you. They don’t really listen to other legislators. They listen to their constituents. When enough of you call and write and come up here and speak, they listen,” she said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Kupchick tried last year to pass an outright ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs in Connecticut. The bill made it as far as the House of Representatives before being rewritten to establish a task force to explore the issue.

Although that group drafted recommendations including the prospective ban earlier this month, the panel was not without dissenting voices. Charles Sewell, executive vice president of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said the puppy mill problem was attributable to a small number of bad actors in a generally responsible industry.

At one meeting, Sewell called the idea of “grandfathering” current pet stores and banning commercial sales at future stores a “de facto ban” that only delayed the impact.

“Frankly, that would just be a slow death for pet stores over time,” he said. “You would be eliminating the ability for pet stores to operate.”

Enough lawmakers had concerns during last year’s session to stifle Kupchick’s bill. This year she is optimistic that her legislation has support in the Environment Committee.

“I feel good about that and I think that the advocates on this issue are very motivated to come out and share their opinion,” she said. “I’m feeling optimistic . . . Now it’s up to the public.”

The Environment Committee raised the concept to be drafted as a bill for a public hearing earlier this month.

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(12) Comments

posted by: Matt from CT | February 21, 2014  4:22pm

Approach it similar to Organic Standards.

Adopt standards regarding proper socialization of the puppies.  This, by the way, would be quite difficult for a retail store to achieve BUT it does address the primary problem with this model.

If the stores can meet it, as certified by a third party inspector who they pay (and whose work is audited by public regulators) good for them.

Exempt anyone selling less than $5,000 or perhaps $10,000/year from inspections, but require self-certification, which would allow most home-based breeders to continue w/o major interference.

But hey, like gun control this would take reason and critical thinking to get right…not emotional heart tugging.

posted by: Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH | February 22, 2014  10:55am

The Task Force was empaneled by a legislator long known to favor a ban on puppy sales by pet stores. There was no intention to avoid the perception of bias in the creation of the Task Force, as most of its members had well known views prior to beginning public hearings.

The Task Force also included three members of well known animal activist groups with eliminationist goals. Two of these groups have no formal office in Connecticut and one, ASPCA, had as its representative a resident of New Jersey, a state which itself has not banned puppy sales in pet stores.

Whatever your views regarding the intentional breeding of purebred puppies for sale in pet stores, readers should be aware that the Task Force was not unanimous in making its recommendations. Each recommendation was balloted separately by voice vote, and the vote counts were not formally counted or recorded. The recommendation favoring a ban on puppy sales was deeply divided, with only the empaneled activists and some legislators favoring it.

ASPCA lawyer Debora Bresch asserts “The fact is there is an abundance of puppies from other sources”, “from rescue organizations.” Yet we still do not know who is breeding the puppies sold by rescue organizations. Could these be the egregious “puppy mills” we hear so much about?

Until the ultimate origination of puppies and dogs passing through rescue organizations offered to CT pet owners is fully disclosed, going back to their birth, the public cannot know the truth. Are pet store puppies more or less humanely raised than puppies and dogs passing through the far less transparent channel of Southern state’s pounds & shelters, and local rescue organizations? We do not know and until we do, any ban only trades a more transparent channel (pet stores) for a less transparent channel.
Repeating a lie over and over again, does not make it the truth.

posted by: MCovault | February 22, 2014  2:34pm

‘Plenty of puppies from other sources’, says the A$PCA spokesperson? Maybe some of the “rescues” are breeding or paying people to breed so they can import into the state and sell without being required to give history, health, or warranties. Not exactly reassuring to the public!

posted by: Walt Hutchens | February 22, 2014  2:59pm

It’s a good idea to know the facts before making policy.  Like most animal rightist ideas, ‘phasing out pet shops’ is fact-challenged.

First fact: All dogs begin life as puppies. 

Second fact: Very roughly

50% of puppies are from accidental litters.

40% are commercially bred, either direct shipped, bought at the (commercial) breeders place, or bought from a petstore selling commercial pups.

5% are now imported from foreign countries.  Note that U.S. law and U.S. buyers have essentially NO power against these breeders.  Maybe we should ban them?  Hey, how’s that ‘war on drugs’ working out for us? 

5% are from at home NON-commercial breeders (mostly hobbyists) and these are THE ONLY BREEDERS THE AR MOVEMENT CONSIDERS ‘RESPONSIBLE.’

RIGHT! If everyone buying a commercial pup were forced to buy from a hobbyist, we’d need about 8 times as many hobbyists.  As a 1 or 2 litter a year hobbyist myself I can tell you that this hobby is on its way out due to too many laws and too high costs and risks: Expansion isn’t going to happen

Animal shelters (etc.) are a negligible fraction of the puppy supply.  By making it harder to buy a puppy, CT MAY somewhat increase sales of animal shelter adults but the state is already a net IMPORTER of such dogs, isn’t it?  Parts of the American south still have a surplus of healthy dogs in shelters and transports to New Jersey and north are growing in volume as are foreign imports from third world countries.  This is better than local commercially bred and sold pets—how?

Any economist looking at this picture will predict the future: As legal breeding and sales are steadily made more costly and difficult, ILLEGAL breeding, importing, and sales will grow. And ‘illegal’ is precisely the goal of the animal rights movement because it will give them fodder for endless money-making campaigns. 

Connecticut folks need to decide what they want before making new laws.  This ban is another step toward both higher prices and lower quality pups.

posted by: ASTANVET | February 23, 2014  9:05am

With all the problems in our State and Nation, i cannot believe this is a top legislative item… do legislators have to pander to every flipping interest group?  Horses are vicious? (according to one interest group), puppies have a rough start (until they go to a happy home) - what the heck man??? it’s almost like they want us to talk about nonsense rather than the fiscal track of the state, the loss of freedom, the over-reach of government… and every time we take the bait.  Maybe some priorities would be a good start - is this what we want to pay our government to do?

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | February 23, 2014  1:07pm

Legitimate, breed-specific rescues only rarely (if ever) have puppies available. So anybody considering “adopting” from rescues that truck puppies from other parts of the country should be suspicious about their origin. Are they from puppy mills? Very likely. If you definitely want a puppy from a specific breed, it is best to go directly to the source, where often one or both parents are on premises. Responsible breeders will ask lots of questions to determine whether that particular breed is suitable for a given family, will want references, will have the purchaser sign a contract that includes returning the pup to the breeder if things don’t work out. Pet stores sell puppies for the $$$; they don’t care whether you know anything about a breed’s characteristics or needs (likely the store employees don’t know, either).

Banning the sale of puppies in stores would not, in my opinion, put anybody out of business. Just look at Petco, PetSmart, Agway and others that sell only food and supplies, and they are doing just fine.

posted by: MCovault | February 23, 2014  5:10pm

It is not logical or reasonable to ignore the no-history, no-health or other guarantee that especially importing “rescue” business models employ. This includes puppies AND adult dogs.

posted by: edw | February 24, 2014  9:53am

This law might have prevented our family from finding our dog. We tried the “rescue” root. We were looking for a hypo-allergenic dog, and in CT, just about every rescue dog is a pit bull or pit mix!
We found a nice poodle mix out-off-state, and they required us to fill out a 7 page adoption application, then gave the dog to someone else. Not gonna do THAT again!

posted by: MCovault | February 24, 2014  1:19pm

My sister and BIL went through a similar experience looking for a cat, first with the local SPCA. Requirements were a multi-page application and home inspections as well as unannounced visits. They decided to look in the local free kitten ads and got one from an individual, then got its shots and spaying themselves. About the same cost, but no “nosy bodies” poking around their $700K homeplace.

posted by: Walt Hutchens | February 24, 2014  1:29pm

“With all the problems in our State and Nation, i cannot believe this is a top legislative item…”

I agree with ASTANVET.  With somethink like 30% of each year’s federal spending borrowed from our grandkids, projections of all federal revenue going to paying interest not long after 2050, and health care in turmoil following government seizure, who sells puppies and how shouldn’t be a priority.  Unfortunately virtue, liberty, the rule of law, and responsible use of public money aren’t big vote or money getters for politicians: Guess what DOES bring them bucks?

The animal rights movement has over $300 million/year income.  Nearly all of it goes to support rubbish like this, and they can nearly always find some clueless doo-gooder to push one of these campaigns. 

We can do something about this, by holding politicans feet to the fire over the REAL issues.

posted by: kdl06001 | February 26, 2014  10:54am

I literaly cannot believe what I am reading. Have any of you even seen what a puppy mill looks like? It is pure horror. And the puppies are often sick.  I have seen many with problems, that are quickly discarded to the shelter system. NO “quality” puppy will ever come from a puppy mill. My parents used to be breeders and show dogs, some 30 years ago. We got our dogs from the top breeders in the coutry, where I would go to their homes and see how lovely they were raised and pick the puppies myself. THIS is the only acceptable breeding.

Now however, my family is EDUCATED on the issue, and we only adopt dogs. To even suggest that rescue dogs and mixes are not good “quality” is disgusting. They are living, breathing sentient beings. They do not deserve to be overbred in puppy mills, and live lives of pure horror, or gassed to death in the South because of irresponsible people. One of my dogs I got as a puppy from a shelter in Tennessee, where litters of perfectly healthy puppies are euthanized all the time. To even SUGGEST that we would run out of puppies, when 3-4 million healthy pets are euthanized every year in this country is absolutely IRRESPONSIBLE.

Each and every one of you needs a reality check, needs to educate themselves on the FACTS, and needs to check their moral compass for the difference between wrong and right.

I HOPE this passes and I hope other states follow soon!!!

posted by: MCovault | February 26, 2014  12:18pm

Want a reality check?

Do you realize that the anti-breeding factions (H$U$, A$PCA, ALDF, et al) think that ALL breeders are “mills” (and that includes, dogs, cats, birds, etc.)? This is no longer about the substandard breeders—this is about ALL breeders. These groups don’t think ANYONE should purpose-breed pets. They ASSUME because you breed, you are a “mill”. To them, there is NO GOOD breeder. That’s the “animal rights” philosophy as opposed to “animal welfare”, which is what most people support. And so the AR “true believers” push onerous legislation to *strongly discourage* anyone from breeding at all. FYI, there is no way small hobby breeders can fill the demand for pet dogs. Commercial breeders have to meet USDA standards, and saying because they are large, they are substandard is just WRONG.

It is a FACT that puppies from some parts of the U.S. are shipped into other parts of the U.S. by “rescue” organizations, and UNLIKE BREEDERS, these groups do not have to guarantee much of anything. Same thing with the THOUSANDS that are imported from other countries by “rescues”. Is that fair to the buyer? NO, it is not.

Although I know that “adopt” has become the popular meme instead of “buying” a dog, that doesn’t make it accurate. ADOPT IS FOR HUMANS. Re-homing or selling is more correct in animal transactions.

AND not everyone wants a mutt with no history and no guarantees! A family with small children, for example, should be very cautious about getting a medium to large sized rescue mutt. CHILDREN come first!

CHOICE should not be taken away because someone thinks their way is best. If I want a particular breed of dog (because of known disposition and size to suit my requirements), that is my CHOICE.

Pet stores already have to give certain warranties—and they surely would because IT’S GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE. That’s what much of it comes down to—repeat business and customers referred. “Rescues” don’t have to live up to that business model, do they? What a deal! No guarantees and laws that give rescues preferential treatment in the marketplace. How is that fair? It’s not! In fact, it’s UNFAIR to the buyer as well as the pet store. But it is “politically correct” right now because of the “propaganda mill” BIG LIES that the anti-pet-breeding groups have been spreading for years. That’s immoral, unethical, and sociopathic, IMO.

When are people going to wake up?