Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't Turn Away From Me

November 1st.  Tomorrow is November 2nd.  Yep - Election Day, 2010. What will you do tomorrow?  Will you go to the polls, exercise your right to vote?  Will you make your voice heard?  What about those who can't - vote or make their voice heard?
My Fellow Americans...
With many issues and fates on the line, one that stands out to all who love animals is Prop B.  It's a symbol, really, of the swooping change our society is in the midst of, and yet also a well-defined image of who stands on which side of the issue.  On one side are mainly dog breeders, in particular puppy mill breeders; and on the other, well, pretty much the rest of us.  Yet, if we don't make our voices heard, the puppy mills will continue their relentless use and abuse of animals. Missourians to vote on Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act: "Proposition B tightens restrictions for dog breeders."

Prop B is an item on the ballot in the state of Missouri.  Why should we care if we don't live in Missouri? For starters, they are part of our society, and we care about animals no matter whether they are near or far.  More importantly, the state of Missouri ranks in the top, if not the top, of states where puppy mills conduct their horrible deeds.  There are over 1,000 in the state alone, and responsible for over a million dogs on the market (per HSUS statistics). So we all care, no matter where we are, about the outcome of this election on Prop B.

Furthermore, puppy mill dogs end up for sale on the internet and in pet shops.  Those dogs replace the homeless dogs in need of a home, by sheer supply and demand.  As a result, our shelters are overcrowded, brimming with dogs in need of a home - many of which in fact are purebred.  There is no justifiable reason for puppy mills to continue to operate, pumping out the huge numbers of dogs into our society each year.  For sheer greed, they exist to sell to unsuspecting people, and at ridiculous prices.

In addition to the overpopulation aspect, one that is easily understood and heart-wrenching is the conditions of the lives of the dogs kept at these breeding farms, both for the ceaseless breeding and bearing of litters that the females endure, and the horrible conditions of their physical surroundings and existence.  These breeders have hundreds of dogs, some with over 1,000 dogs!  Even the most well-meaning people would not be able to provide for the sheer numbers of dogs some of these mills have; dogs require maintenance, food and medicine, shelter from rain and snow, and human attention.  Dogs just don't belong in rows upon rows of cages for their life.

The term puppy mill certainly does not refer to family breeders; ones who breed a dog without doing incessantly or without regard to its health, and providing for the physical and medical needs of the dogs. Nor does it apply to small-scale breeders, those with 10 dogs or less. The category only applies to the businesses that treat dogs like products in a manufacturing line, having large numbers of dogs breeding at any one time.  The big commercial breeders.  The ones who stock the pet stores.  The ones who turn their noses up on the laws already existing on the state's books.

The proposition includes some rather basic, common-sense and, certainly, humane guidelines; it is extremely hard for anyone to argue that these are excessive requirements.  And yet breeders, farmers, distributors, all those who depend on the cash cow of these dogs will fight for this to not pass.  The main requirements as spelled out in Proposition B are:

provide at least 12 square feet , up to 30 square feet, of climate controlled living area per dog, depending on its size.
eliminate stacked cages and wire floors
provide food at least once per day, and clean water at all times
provide access to an outdoor area for exercise
limit the number of intact dogs to 50
limit the times a dog would have litters to twice in 18 months
have each dog examined yearly by a veterinarian
have necessary euthanasia performed by a veterinarian

Personally, I look forward to the day when we no longer have any puppy mills in existence; that these businesses find some other use for their property, some other form of income.  In the meantime, if you are a Missourian, or know one, make sure Prop B is passed.  It's the least we can do for man's best friend.

1 comment:

A kibble for your thoughts...

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