United Kennel Club: AVMA
American Veterinary Medical Association--Are they turning their backs on dog breeders?
by Sara Chisnell-Voigt, UKC Legal Counsel
Recently the American Veterinary Medical Association announced a model bill aimed at regulating dog breeders. As these bills have been being pushed in many states across the nation in the past year or two, AVMA has decided to jump on board. The result is a bill that not only over-regulates responsible hobby breeders but also contains many sections that are just downright insulting. The bill is quite lengthy, so I’ll only cover some of the worst sections, but suffice it to say that nothing about the bill bodes well for dog breeders, and does not promise any sort of support or protection from AVMA with regards to dog owners’ rights.
I’ll preface this with my feelings and beliefs on these commercial breeder bills. I think they stink—they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing. Animal rights groups get these bills pushed through by screaming ‘puppy mill’ at legislators and selling it with the notion it’s all about dog welfare. Most of these bills, if passed, will end up hurting responsible hobby breeders, and even putting many out of business. One of the things on the animal rights agenda is to stop all animal breeding period, and putting all dog breeders out of business is the ultimate goal. Now, I certainly don’t want any dogs to suffer in the deplorable conditions some ‘puppy mills’ have, but these laws are not going to fix that problem. Between cruelty/neglect laws, and local kennel inspections and licensing, use of those laws should be enough to take action against the bad seeds. There is simply no need to micromanage dog breeding. I think the government has more important issues to worry about than to criminalize dog breeding. It’s all getting a little too big brother for me.
The bill is allegedly intended to provide basic standards of care for dog breeders, but one can see after reading this bill that it’s anything but basic. I won’t even get into the stringent yet also abstract care regulations—including requiring different forms of “enrichment” and “opportunity to partake in species-specific behavior”—HUH?! In the “Background and Context” document accompanying the bill, AVMA even admitted that “most facilities meet or exceed this level of care.” If this is the case, then why would legislation such as this even be necessary? The bill regulates “high-volume breeders” and “high volume retailers.” According to AVMA, a “high volume breeder” is one that whelps more than 6 litters in a year. Where does this number come from? AVMA cites AKC as defining “high volume breeders.” I have a real problem with defining whether a breeder is good or bad by the number of pups they produce in a year. Numbers don’t mean a thing. The number of pups whelped per year is in no way relative to the welfare of dogs belonging to the breeder. A person can just as easily neglect or abuse one dog as they can sixty dogs. I know a very reputable breeder of hunting dogs that whelped seven litters this year simply due to client demand. The breeder does not advertise, his dogs are sought after due to word of mouth and the dogs speak for themselves-they are fantastic. The breeder screens all buyers, and buyers must sign a contract agreeing the pup must come back to the breeder should it ever become unwanted. The pups are hand raised, and his kennel is impeccable—some dogs even live in the house. Is he a ‘bad’/commercial breeder/ puppy mill simply because of the number of dogs he’s bred this year? On the flip side, there’s a woman down the road who has started breeding some toy breed dogs, and probably has a maximum of 10 dogs total. The dogs live in a rusty wire pen, uncovered and unsheltered from the elements, and are left out all night in any kind of weather. Yet, under this bill the responsible breeder would be negatively labeled and regulated, and the woman breeding toy dogs whose welfare may be questionable would not be covered under the bill at all.
If that's what it means, then no, I don't support it.So you support....
...vets having to approve a breeding? Are they going to add a 5th year to vet school so vets have to actually learn something about behavior, training, determining breed worthiness, breed specific physical, temperament and health traits, pedigrees, bloodlines, etc...? And if breeding programs are now going to be subject to the whims of the personal agendas of vets, are they going to do anything about the vets who are fanatical for early spay/neuter and feel any intentional breeding is the devil's work?
...people's HOMES being subject to unannounced inspections without a warrant (in direct violation of the 4th Ammendment) by whomever the local municipality decides is qualified (HSUS worker? PETA supporter?)
...breeder's being subject to meeting criteria laid out by bureaucrats who don't know squat about dogs and that we all know are easily swayed by $ and pressure from bleeding heart constituants (who also often don't know squat about dogs).
...breeders being unable to mount any defense against any violations they are accused of (guilty until proven innocent.. and no chance to prove innocent)?
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not a single breeder regulation bill that's come out in recent years has threatened ONLY those they claim they are after (the BYBs and puppy mills) without also seriously threatening the good, responsible breeders.
I don't mean this personally, but frankly the trend of "I didn't read it all (or consider what it really means) but I support it" is a huge part of the problem.
I agree. People are so in the mindset of "something has to be done!!!" but the truth is, there are already regulations for commercial breeders and there are already anti-cruelty laws. Pushing for further and further restrictions is going to mean that in the future, the only breeders will be commercial breeders. They will be the only ones able to afford the licensing, fees, etc and provide the facilities that meet USDA guidelines.I don't mean this personally, but frankly the trend of "I didn't read it all (or consider what it really means) but I support it" is a huge part of the problem.
Yes, this is frightening. "I don't have time to read it.....but I'll blindly support something that strips peoples' rights and makes it even MORE complicated for GOOD breeders to breed good dogs..." I'm not even a breeder and I *do* take it personally. People admittedly won't really delve into these issues thinking they know who is "qualified" and who isn't (as if that's anyone's decision to make anyway....)I don't mean this personally, but frankly the trend of "I didn't read it all (or consider what it really means) but I support it" is a huge part of the problem.
Agreed. And why does a politician who's never bred a litter (or may never have even owned a dog in his life) get to tell somebody how to run their business?Yes, this is frightening. "I don't have time to read it.....but I'll blindly support something that strips peoples' rights and makes it even MORE complicated for GOOD breeders to breed good dogs..." I'm not even a breeder and I *do* take it personally. People admittedly won't really delve into these issues thinking they know who is "qualified" and who isn't (as if that's anyone's decision to make anyway....)
Theres one politician I remember who dumped his pregnant GSD at a shelter...he was going to breed her so didn't spay her after adopting her which was against SC lawAgreed. And why does a politician who's never bred a litter (or may never have even owned a dog in his life) get to tell somebody how to run their business?
This bill has the stench of PETA hanging around it, I'd guess.