Vigilance by state authorities is more important now than ever before because in recent years the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licenses about 2,900 puppy mills nationwide, including about 800 in Missouri, has abandoned its responsibility to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Photo by Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Just days after the release of our annual Horrible Hundred report, Missouri’s attorney general has sued to shut down one of the puppy mills named in it. The owners of Little Bit Ranch in Unionville, Missouri, failed to provide adequate veterinary care for their dogs and left them with only frozen water, or no water at all. Some of the animals had caked or moldy food available to them; one food bowl even had a maggot in it, state inspection records show. The facility had been warned in the past about dirty conditions and dogs in cages that were too small.
Altogether, state inspectors had found 50 violations of state law over the course of eight inspections at the puppy mill since August of last year.
This is the fifth puppy mill from our Horrible Hundred list that Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office has filed a lawsuit against in the last two years. Earlier this year, Schmitt sued Debra Ritter of Cornerstone Farms, who had appeared in five Horrible Hundred reports, for repeatedly failing to provide veterinary care and decent living conditions for her dogs. The massive puppy mill closed down soon after.
In a press release yesterday, Mr. Schmitt promised “swift action against substandard or non-compliant breeders in Missouri wherever possible,” adding that his office would continue to work with the state agriculture department to address breeders who violate the state’s animal welfare law.
We applaud the attorney general and his office for moving decisively on problem puppy mills. We also urge him to do more: Missouri has a major puppy mill problem and the state has topped our Horrible Hundred report every year that we’ve compiled it. This year, 30 of the 100 mills in our report were located in Missouri.
Vigilance by state authorities is also more important now than ever before because in recent years the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licenses about 2,900 puppy mills nationwide, including about 800 in Missouri, has abandoned its responsibility to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. As we’ve been reporting, the USDA has drastically scaled back on issuing citations to breeders, giving them free rein to continue hurting animals even after they have been caught.
We also urge Missouri to put in place stronger penalties and better enforcement to ensure that puppy millers who hurt animals do not just go back to business as usual.
In 2019, Schmitt filed suit against two other breeders in our current report, Puppy Love Kennel, aka Cory’s Cuties (Cory Mincey) and Cedar Ridge Australians (Marlisa McAlmond), but both of the operations are still open at this time, to the best of our knowledge. Mincey, a notoriously problematic AKC breeder whose mill, Cory’s Cuties, has appeared in two of our Horrible Hundred reports, was fined $5,500 after state inspectors repeatedly found underweight animals and poor conditions on her property, but most of the fine was suspended as long as the operation does not have any new “substantial” violations for two years. We have called upon the AKC to stop supporting puppy mills like Mincey’s, but the group continues to fight laws that would better regulate puppy mills and that would make it easier for law enforcement to permanently confiscate suffering animals.
Unfortunately, the suffering of the dogs at Little Bit Ranch, the breeder that was just sued, may not be over. We have learned that the dogs are going to auction—a common problem in Missouri where breeders who are shut down can sell their dogs to other breeders at auctions and make tens of thousands of dollars, pushing the animals into yet another cycle of breeding and abuse at a different puppy mill. This is simply not acceptable. Missouri should order the owners of Little Bit Ranch and other breeders who are shut down to turn in their mistreated dogs to licensed, reputable shelters or rescue groups that can rehabilitate them and give them an opportunity to live out the rest of their lives as cherished pets.
The HSUS is working on many fronts to stop puppy mills—through legislation at the local, state and federal levels, through the courts, through our investigations, through reports like the Horrible Hundred, and by raising awareness. We are making progress every day, but stopping puppy mills for good will require support from concerned citizens and conscientious consumers. If you are aware of any puppy mill abuse, please contact your state attorney general and local humane law enforcement and file a complaint. If you have purchased a sick puppy from a problem seller in any state, please report it to us here. And if you’re in the market for a pet, do not buy a puppy from a pet store or online, because that animal is very likely to be sourced from a puppy mill. There is no doubt that the United States has a big puppy mill problem, but working together, we can end the suffering of thousands of companion animals who are now trapped in this abuse.
Published at Thu, 21 May 2020 15:44:26 +0000
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
The text of the final NPS rule is expected to closely mirror a previously released proposal that would have overturned a 2015 rule prohibiting practices, including killing hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in the den with the aid of artificial lights and shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens. Photo by Anton Sorokin/Alamy Stock Photo
The Trump administration has just delivered a one-two punch to Alaska’s wildlife: it has announced that it will release a final National Park Service rule allowing some of the cruelest practices for killing black bears, wolves and other wildlife on national preserve lands in Alaska; and it has announced it will propose overturning Obama-era protections for brown bears and other animals on two million acres of public lands in the state’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
While the text of the final NPS rule has not yet been released, it is expected to closely mirror a previously released proposal that would have overturned a 2015 rule prohibiting practices like killing hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in the den with the aid of artificial lights, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using bait to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable caribou while they are swimming (including with the aid of motorboats), and using dogs to hunt black bears. Many of these cruel practices aim to reduce numbers of iconic predators in order to boost prey species for hunters.
The NPS rule would be unlawful because it conflicts with clear statutory directives from Congress that the agency must conserve and protect wildlife in national preserves. The NPS itself had, during the Obama years, pushed back against Alaska’s increased use of fringe hunting methods that prioritize trophy hunting over conservation by outlawing such hunting methods. But under the Trump administration the agency has flip-flopped and has come out in support of expanding trophy hunting opportunities on federal lands. The practices sanctioned today are the worst of the worst in wildlife management, and most Alaskans do not support them.
The Humane Society of the United States, along with a coalition of organizations, is currently in federal court defending the Obama-era NPS and Kenai rules. The new Kenai rule announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would potentially allow extreme practices like the hunting of brown bears over bait, and expand trophy hunting and trapping in high-use zones, which are recreation areas for the public. It would also remove a prohibition on the discharge of weapons within one-quarter mile of campgrounds, trail heads, public buildings and near congested river areas where anglers and those boating on rubber rafts and canoes are recreating, creating a public safety problem.
Baiting bears is a horribly cruel practice. Trophy hunters leave out piles of junk food like doughnuts and candy to lure the animals and then shoot them. Mother bears, with their higher energy needs, are often attracted to bait piles and when trophy hunters shoot them, they leave behind cubs who will often die of starvation, predation and exposure. Bait piles also habituate bears to human scents and can lead to conflicts at campgrounds, picnic areas and other spots where there is food.
Easing rules to make it easier to hunt brown bears is also not scientifically sound because these animals have suffered tremendously at the hands of trophy hunters, and the FWS had already outlawed this practice in 2016.
We are calling out this FWS proposed rule, and the NPS rule finalized today, for exactly what they are: gifts from the Trump administration to trophy hunting interests. These are people who would prefer to deprive most Alaskans—and indeed most Americans—of the joys of seeing these beautiful animals in the wild, and instead hang their heads and hides in their homes. By siding with these special interests our government has failed us today, but more importantly, it has failed the animals who are a shared national treasure.
Last year, the HSUS released a shocking video that showed a father-son duo shooting at a mother bear hibernating in a tree hollow, then slaughtering her two little cubs. Now, with the finalizing of the NPS rule and the proposed rule taking away protections for brown bears, we can expect this to become a common occurrence on Alaska’s public lands. But we are putting the administration on notice: we will fight these rules with every tool at our disposal. The violence they embody goes against everything that is good and decent about our country, and we will not stand by while a handful of trophy hunters terrorize and hijack our wildlife.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 22:26:54 +0000