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An article on aspects of the Puppy Mill situation in Missouri USA from Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue
Published by Jennifer Fitzwater - Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue - Click to Contact
Written by Bridget Byrne for Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue
Preface - Border Collie Rescue - UK
No matter how you look at it, commercial puppy breeding is exploitation for personal profit for a leisure based industry - the Pet Trade. Producing puppies as pets is not an essential industry in any book. The world can live without it. It could even be argued that any society would be better off in the absence of commercial dog breeding as inevitably it causes problems that have to be cleaned up by someone. So many dogs being commercially bred are genetically unsound and these dogs (when they survive) are adding these substandard genes to the general gene pool of the canine world - no wonder the incidence of hereditary diseases is on the up.

Society, as a whole, pays for the regulation and cleaning up of the mess through taxes to support the legislators, regulation authorities, enforcers and courts and donations to charitable groups that look after the large number of canine victims. Individually, people pay from their own pockets when the puppy they have purchased has problems caused by the methods used to bring it to the market.

It can be painted as pretty as you like it but no amount of glib talk about producing quality puppies or maintaining high standards, humane methods, friendly staff, caring environment cuts the mustard. It is pure production for profit - money is the motivation. The industry is not important - it gains us nothing - it drains society and the profits made go to the people that run or work in breeding establishments not into a social pool. Ban commercial breeding and societies that are free of it will be better off all round - financially, ethically and morally better off - so don't fall for the sales talk - these are living creatures that are being taken advantage of.

Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue covers the states of Missouri and Kansas in the USA. In recent communications with them we have been exchanging experiences about puppy farms in our countries. Our own experiences in the UK have taught us that people who run puppy farms sometimes have links or contacts through common interests, be it business, friends or family with the authorities that are supposed to regulate the industry. In the USA it seems that this also applies.
In the UK there sometimes seems to be a reluctance to investigate reports of individuals expressing their concerns about activities of commercial breeders and when we have become involved in cases in the past, sometimes the information flow has been very one sided and on occasions the feedback thin or non existent. No one has yet told us to go away and mind our own business but on occasions we have been given the strong impression that the authorities have better things to do and we have often found ourselves fobbed off with trite responses, having been told that "the matter is in hand and has been/is being dealt with, so there is no need for further concern" on more than one occasion. However, later, we find that the transgressor is still operating as before and nothing has changed to benefit the dogs involved.
 In certain instances the policy seems to be to warn the transgressors that a report has been made and invite them to tidy up their affairs. Often, when inspections are made to premises reported for animal welfare transgression, nothing is done by the authorities involved other than to supervise cleaning up the mess. Prosecutions are as rare as hens teeth but prosecutable offences are widespread in the commercial breeding industry. Offenders keep their licenses and continue to offend.
The way we humans legislate for (and enforce standards covering) the animals that are exploited by commercial dog breeding leaves much to be desired. If the interests of the dogs conflicts with the interests of the humans the dogs so often draw the short straw. The laws we have in the UK and the USA (and no doubt elsewhere in the world) are weak, confusing and weighed on the side of the exploiters and to the detriment of the exploited. There seems to be no will to enforce the laws even when they are in place. This may have something to do with some of the points made in this editorial below.
Please read it and support Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue in their campaign. They are not 'Animal Rights' nutters. They, like us, have found that a proportion of the work and problems they have to deal with daily are caused by puppy mills and puppy farmers. Support any efforts that are being made to ban puppy farming by any sensible organisation anywhere. The more of us that are against it, the more likely that politicians in central and local government will actually do something about it. If we just sit back and say - "Oh dear, isn't it awful, I hope someone does something about it for the sake of the poor little doggies" - it WILL carry on because the people who profit from this industry are not hoping that someone else is going to work on their behalf - they are active in promoting and defending their right to exploit - and they want your money. They wont go away and if unopposed they will figuratively - 'sell us all a pup'!

An Editorial

From the Desk of Bridget Byrne

Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue has had as its primary mission the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of unwanted and neglected Border collies in Kansas and Missouri. Until recently we only had indirect contact with the realties of the “puppy mill industry” in Missouri including the relationship between commercial dog breeders and auctions and the folks who are supposed to regulate this “puppy agriculture".

Our learning experience came when we were contacted by an individual who was aware of a breeder who allegedly had close to 40 dogs that were being inadequately cared for. This individual had been shocked when visiting the breeding operation by the body of the sire of his own puppy rotting in the Missouri sun.

We notified the Missouri Department of Agriculture who indicated they would make a visit and if in violation, would seek to have the owner relinquish the dogs and then turn them over to rescue. As we attempted to negotiate with the Missouri Dept of Agriculture on behalf of the dogs what we were told changed and ultimately the 26 seized dogs were sent to an auction house. We were then told we “would be considered” for adoption but were never contacted back. Meanwhile some friends of rescue made their own contacts and in at least one case were told they would not send any of the dogs to a rescue organization. They in fact contacted the Humane Society in this individual’s home town to be sure this individual was “not a rescue person.” We were assured the animals would be seen by a veterinarian and sold to “good homes where the dogs would be working dogs and not couch potatoes”.

Several of these dogs were purchased by friends of rescue. When they arrived at the auction they noted that all of the breeding females were already sold. None of them were even asked for any references and most were not even required to give their names. No paper work was exchanged nor was information regarding the dog’s health provided. The cost per dog was $30.00. No discussion of spaying or neutering took place. The dogs all had hookworms, fleas, and ticks. One was so anemic he almost required a transfusion. So there was no evidence that these dogs had had any veterinary care.

We were shocked to discover that the agency responsible for the regulation of animal breeders in Missouri had themselves been sighted for conflict of interest, poor and infrequent inspections and a reluctance to seize animals even those in the worst situations. This information was in two letters put out by the Missouri Auditors office which indicated no improvements in their last audit in 20004. We were also surprised by the apparent antagonism that the Missouri Dept of Agriculture showed towards the Humane Society of Missouri as well as the lack of cooperation between the state and federal regulators. When we first contacted our Missouri Department of Agriculture representative we were told “The Humane Society would not be welcome and would only create confusion.” We were also told by this same representative that the fate of seized dogs was usually either euthanasia or to be sent to the auction house.

The reality seems clear. The production of puppies is a major “crop” in Missouri. The annual revenue is estimated at forty million dollars in Missouri. It is also clear that the economic interest involved have significant influence in our legislature as at each session a bill is introduced to make it a felony to record or take pictures in any of these facilities. We have also learned that one of the largest “wholesalers” of puppies the Hunte Corporation has been given a loan of $900,000 by the USDA in addition to previous loans in the amount of 3.5 million dollars.

Most ethical and concerned people already know what the issues are regarding puppy mills. Females are breed continuously until no longer useful. They are often crated in small cages and given little socialization. Even though the law states they cannot be sold until the pups are 8 weeks, they are often sent out as young as five weeks. These puppies are transported all over the country. Many die in route and unsuspecting people buy what are often sick puppies that may have genetic or temperament problems. The issue then becomes more than one of compassion and more than a Missouri problem. There are six other states that are known as “puppy mill states.” These puppies born of registered parents are becoming pets all over the country. One can’t help wondering if the increase in dog bites and the increase in a variety of illnesses in many of our dogs is the result of these poorly breed and socialized dogs. It is a well known fact among reputable breeders that each bitch should have at most one litter a year and that all breeding dogs should be screened for genetic and temperament issues. It is also well known that puppies need socialization with humans from a very early age to be able to bond and to have appropriate stimulation to enhance their ability to learn.

Pet stores like PetCo and PetSmart refuse to sell puppies or kittens and instead host adoption events. They know of the conditions in puppy mills as well as due to pressure from the public. They also know that over 6 million animals are euthanized in our shelters each year.

So it seems our mission has to broaden. We need to take a stand on some of these issues that affect the health and welfare of thousands of dogs. There are two opportunities at this time. One is national legislation know as the Pet Animal Welfare Statute or the Pet Safety and Protection Act. A bill has been introduced in the Senate (1139) and the House (HR2669) addresses regulating pets sold over the internet which has been a loophole for wholesale breeders. This applies to breeders of 25 or more animals. At a national level the economic interests which seem to be so powerful will be diluted.

The Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation www.maal.org. This is a lobbying group in Missouri which monitors all legislation which affects animals. They will provide legislative alerts to individuals via e-mail when letters to our senators and representative are needed for specific legislation. It seems that politicians are sensitive to some degree to their constituents concerns. We are told that we have the most effect with our own legislators and that individual e-mails or letters have far more impact than just adding one’s name to a prepared letter or e-mail.

So join us in our broader mission. Already friends of Mo-Kan have saved and improved the lives of many Border collies and that will not ever be of less priority to us. But we can add our voice to helping thousands of  dogs and impact on the unspeakable suffering these poor creatures endure in the name of profit.

 Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue - Working for Border Collies in Kansas and Missouri


 

So - now you have read the article - surprised? Don't be. It is not an isolated situation - it's international.
 If you live in Missouri or any other US state (or any country in the world) get in touch with your local Humane Society, SPCA, Animal Welfare group or Border Collie Rescue group and find out more about the problems of puppy mills and puppy farming in your area - and how you can help to stop it.  In fact it doesn't matter where you live.  You can join the fight against puppy farms anywhere and everywhere from anywhere in the world.  Perhaps the people in power would be surprised to get letters or emails from people in other States or other Countries that feel strongly enough about what they are seeing and hearing about to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Impress them - Write letters, join campaigns, hassle politicians, report offenders - do it legal and do it right - but please - DO IT!
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Border Collie Rescue is a UK based charity, working Internationally to Rescue and Re-home Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs and promote a better understanding of the breed and its Welfare.

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