It’s No Happy New Year for Many Dogs

Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If you drive around your neighborhood, you will see many chained up dogs shivering in the cold. Winter weather means extra hardship for ‘backyard” dogs, and, as responsible pet caregivers, we acknowledge that it is inhumane treatment, but we seem to just look the other way and are silent. These dogs suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration, and often have nowhere to go to escape the cold and snow. Why do so many dogs end up at the end of a chain? There are many excuses. Animals are still considered property in the eyes of the law, and some caregivers view their dogs as “possessions” to do with as they please. Others just shrug and say that people have always kept dogs that way. Some simply don’t want the animal in the house and resort to a chain to prevent him from running away. Most have tired of the responsibility of adequately caring for a dog or are not willing to deal with a behavior problem, and have simply relegated him to the outdoors—tied or penned up. There are thousands of chained dogs in this country who exist with deprivation and loneliness. Let’s begin the New Year by breaking our silence about all the chained and penned up dogs. Lori Oswald tells this true story of a backyard dog.

Donovan was not a special dog. He never pulled a child from in front of an oncoming car; he didn’t win a ribbon in a dog show; he was quite an ordinary dog. His owners could be considered quite ordinary too…a nice family with two children, who decided fourteen years earlier to get a dog. A dog would be fun. So one day, perhaps at a shopping center giveaway, or maybe from the pet section of the local ads, they found Donovan, and brought him home. At first the kids were excited, but the newness soon wore off. Dad build a small house and they staked him outside with a chain attached to it, agreeing that he would be “just fine” outside. I never met Donovan. Although I regularly visited his house, I never even knew he existed. He lived 24/7 on a six foot chain, digging holes for entertainment, watching as life passed him by. Mom assured everyone that he was “well cared for.” For 14 years Donovan lived out back on his chain, hungering for a little attention and affection. One day he finally escaped his little world on a chain and holes and dog house—he died. Donovan, unfortunately, is not a fictional character. Neither are his owners. They have been looking around for another dog. “We sure miss Donovan,” they lament.

How many Donovans are in your neighborhood? It’s no Happy New Year for dogs on chains, and it is up to us to break our silence and say “NO! It is not okay to allow dogs to be tethered for extended periods of time.” A dog is a pack animal and needs to be treated as part of the family.

 

Needy Dogs are All Around Us

I seldom repeat a column, but this is such a current problem, by request, I am sharing it again (originally published in 2012).

 

NEEDY DOGS ARE ALL AROUND US

As Iowa weather grows colder, I would like to share an observation by Cherine Bissinger:

“As the weather turns nasty, I cannot suppress my deep feelings of desperation for the countless animals forced to endure a torturous existence with owners who willfully neglect or casually ignore the basic needs of their four-footed companions. Every day I am surrounded by humans who never extend an act of kindness toward voiceless, living creatures. Driving to work, I am horrified by the sight of helpless animals without any visible shelter. ‘What is the matter with us?’ I think to myself. ‘How can we allow such suffering?’ As I drive into town I see total disregard for decency and blatant lack of compassion for animal welfare, and as I park my car at work, my attention is drawn to the sight of a dog wagging his tail. The sun has barely risen, and the home where the dog is tied is dark. Apparently this innocent dog has spent the night outside in the blustery wind and cold, while his humans slept contentedly indoors, apparently oblivious of the painful effects of such inhumanity. I walk toward the dog, and he jumps up as much as the length of his chain will permit. He is shivering wildly, and I whisper words of comfort to the dog. I tell him how sorry I am for his predicament, and regretfully turn to walk into my workplace. Each step I take away from the dog, I imagine his desolate look of devastation for having been forgotten and ignored. I think of the thousands of animals suffering in silence. Life is unjust, and like the neglected animals, I feel helpless. When will things change? Feeble anti-cruelty laws, little enforcement of existing laws, and most of all public apathy are overwhelming. What has happened to us as human beings that we can ignore the plight of so many animals?”

We are all aware of dogs in our own neighborhoods who are not enjoying a good life. Maybe their caregivers don’t even realize that their dog is suffering. Without being judgmental, perhaps you could suggest ways to make life better. If you feel the dog is in danger, report it to the authorities, and follow up to be sure that appropriate action is taken. Each of us has a circle of compassion: the people and animals and things that we care about, that emotionally affect us. It may be our own family, our own friends, and our own pets, but not the family, friends, or pets belonging to others. It may be those just in our own comfort zone. Essentially, we all need the same things as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion: compassion, intelligence, and the courage to make the world a better place for both humans and animals. May we all strive to expand our circle of compassion.

 

 A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS

by Albert Schweitzer

 Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals,

 Especially for those who are suffering;

For any that are lost or deserted, or frightened, or hungry.

We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,

And for those who deal with them, we ask hearts of compassion,

And gentle hands and kindly words.

Help us to be true friends to the animals,

And so to share the blessings of the merciful.

 

Here A Mill, There a Mill

A puppy mill is a breeding operation where too many dogs are kept in overcrowded and often inferior conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food and water, or human interaction, and sadly they are found in every state in the country. Life in a puppy mill is grim. The dogs do not experience simple pleasures like exercise, basic grooming, treats and toys. A breeding female might spend her entire life confined in a filthy wire cage, bred over and over again, year after year, without human interaction. When she is no longer able to produce litters, she will be killed or abandoned. . “There they sit, huddled in dirty, cramped cages; frail bodies shiver in defeat, sadness reflected in their eyes. They long to be loved but no one seems to care. They are property to be bought and sold.”

Most of the pets sold in pet stores, through classified ads, and over the internet, come from puppy mills. Often puppy mills sell directly to consumers through web sites that give the impression that they are reputable breeders. If you decide to buy a puppy directly from a breeder, do not do so without seeing where the puppies AND THEIR PARENTS are being raised and housed. Reputable breeders should be glad to show you where the animals are housed and how they care for the animals. If a breeder refuses you this option, don’t walk, RUN away.

Puppy mills will continue to flourish as long as consumers keep buying dogs through stores, ads, and over the internet, and almost all these puppies come from puppy mills, regardless of what you are told. Make a better choice for animals by adopting from a shelter or rescue group, and by encouraging others to do the same.

If you want to add a dog to your family, please understand that,,,

  • Reputable breeders care where their puppies go, and interview potential adopters. They don’t sell through pet stores, newspaper ads, Craig’s List, or internet sites without meeting the prospective family.
  • Puppy mill/pet store dogs often have medical problems but pet retailers don’t care that poor breeding and lack of socialization may lead to behavior problems throughout the dogs’ lives. They count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won’t be returned.
  • ”Purebred” documents aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Even the American Kennel Association admits that it “cannot guarantee the quality of health of the dogs in its registry.”
  • A “USDA inspected” breeder doesn’t necessarily mean a good breeder. The USDA has very minimal standards, with many USDA licensed puppy mills operating under deplorable conditions.
  • The bottom line is for people to stop buying puppy mill dogs.,,if the mills and pet stores don’t make money, they will close….so it is up to you and me.

To improve the plight of puppy mill dogs, we must enact AND ENFORCE standards of care for the animals with higher standards for those selling them. The USDA is not going to do much to better the lives of these animals—it is up to us to become involved. I regularly hear, “It’s so sad, but there isn’t anything I can do.” WRONG…there is something everyone can do! Animal welfare and rescue groups are struggling to pass better legislation, but if things are ever to REALLY change for the animals that we claim to care so much about, we must ALL join the cause.

Dogs suffer deprivation and death in nightmare puppy mills…that is a documented fact. Puppy mills are deplorable places…that is a documented fact. The cruelty will stop only when people stop buying pet store dogs, and we pass better legislation to ensure better lives for our companion animals…those are documented facts..

UNSEEN THEY SUFFER; UNHEARD THEY CRY; IN AGONY THEY LINGER; IN LONELINESS THEY DIE.

 

Backyard Dogs

It is a widely held misconception that dogs will be happy and healthy living only in the back yard. Current studies in dog psychology indicate that dogs isolated in back yards are very likely to develop behavioral problems. Dogs are instinctively pack animals, and forcing a dog to live away from its humans goes against a dog’s most basic instincts. Isolated, a dog exhibits stress by digging, barking, chewing, escaping, and exhibiting troublesome problems.

Dogs need companionship. When you have a dog, you become the dog’s pack and he wants to be with his pack. Forcing her to live outside with little human companionship is one of the most damaging things a pet care giver can do to a dog. Backyard dogs do not develop strong bonds with humans, making him harder to train than a dog allowed to be in the home with the family. Back yard dogs usually do not have the opportunity to become socialized to people and other dogs, so they may become fearful or even aggressive.

Dogs that are tied up or chained outside suffer great frustration!. They also are unable to escape from other animals or people who mean to do them harm. They can also become entangled and do harm to themselves. Several states are finally enacting laws prohibiting tethering your dog for extended time. Unless people have time to spend with their dog, it is best to not get a dog. A sad, lonely, bewildered dog tied out back only suffers, and hopefully no one wants to maintain suffering.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A DOG TIED IN THE BACK YARD:

Early morning: I can see and hear people moving around in the house. I am hungry and thirsty. I tipped over my food and water bowls last night when I got tangled in my chain. The chain is too tight, and it is cutting into my neck.

8:15 A.M: the people in the house are all leaving. I try to run toward them with my tail wagging, hoping they will notice me, but my chain snaps me backward. It is no use.

8:15 A.M. -2:00 P.M. : I am not sure what I am supposed to do. I can’t protect the house from my short chain. I don’t have any toys to play with. Maybe if I bark, someone will show me what to do, or come to play with me, so I bark.

2:30: The animal control officer arrives and posts a notice on the door of the house. He looks at me and sadly shakes his head. Do I look bad? I know I’m dirty but it is hard to be clean when I’m always sitting in dirt. I pace in circles and bark because I don’t know what else to do.

3;15: The smallest person in the family comes home, but he doesn’t pay any attention. I go to the bathroom in the same place, the only place I can.

5:30: the rest of the people come home. One of them removes the notice left by the animal control officer and yells at me to stop barking. I pace back and forth, confused.

6:00 I am still hungry and thirsty. One of the people from the house comes out and fills my food and water bowls. I am so happy for this attention I jump up in excitement, spilling both bowls and dirtying his clothes. He yells at me that this behavior is one of the reasons no one wants anything to do with me.

8:00: Another lonely night. I am sad and bewildered. I dream about being on a chain because it’s all I know.

Be realistic. Making the backyard your dog’s home does not make him part of your family. Dogs offer steadfast devotion, abiding love, and joyful companionship, and unless you have the time and commitment to return them in kind, please do not get a dog.

 

Beauty Comes with a Price

According to Statistica, more than 86 BILLION dollars were spent last year in the U.S on cosmetics, fragrances, and personal care products, proving that beauty truly does come with a price. Not only does it come with a price for the consumer; it comes with a price for thousands of innocent animals. You may have assumed that most major cosmetics companies have discontinued animal testing on their products, and that is definitely not true. For instance, Loreal, which doesn’t test on animals in the United States, pays for deadly testing in China, Estee Lauder and Maybelline both do testing on animals, and after years of upholding its policy to never test on animals, Victoria’s Secret has expanded sales to China and is now paying for cruel tests on animals in order to sell its products there.

Toxicity tests to estimate the safety of products and chemicals were developed in the early 20th century, including experiments that subjectively measure the irritation of chemicals in animals’ eyes, some of which are regrettably still in use today. Toxicologists often mention that they feel more comfortable basing their judgments on methods with historical contest and data than on data from new and emerging methods, failing to recognize the advances made in non-animal testing methodologies. The problem with animal tests is that many of the toxicity tests that are currently accepted by regulatory agencies were developed decades ago. Tests on animals are not always predictive of human health effects, and science has greatly advanced since the development of the animal tests that are still in use today. According to Human Society International, animals used in experiments are commonly subjected to force feeding, forced inhalation, food and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, the infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, These cruel and inhumane tests are done discreetly behind closed doors, away from the public eye. The USDA admitted that in 2016, more than 70,000 animals suffered pain during experiments.

The fact is that drugs that pass animal testing are not necessarily human-safe. In the 1950’s the sleeping pill thalidomide, which caused more than 10,000 babies to be born with severe deformities, was animal tested. The arthritis drug Vioxx showed that it had a protective effect on animals, yet the drug went on to cause thousands of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before being pulled off the market.

Animal tests do not reliably predict results in humans; in fact, more than 90% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human clinical trials. A study in Archives of Toxicology states that there is strong doubt on the usefulness of animal data as key technology to predict human safety. Animal tests are also more expensive than alternative methods which are quicker, and more accurate. According to Senator Jeff Flake’s “Wastebook” of government funding more than 7 million taxpayers’ money was wasted on unnecessary studies involving animals in 2016.

Most experiments involving animals are flawed, wasting the lives of animal subjects. As English philosopher Jeremy wrote, “The question is not, can they reason, but can they suffer?” Animals are suffering in research labs across the country. The Animal Welfare Act has not prevented horrific cases of animal abuse in laboratories, but medical breakthroughs have been made without the use of animals. Many discoveries have been made by non-animal methods, making alternatives to animal testing more effective, more reliable, and more humane.

Most cosmetic brands are owned by a few giant corporations including L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Proctor and Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, and Unilever, and seemingly are making no real efforts to change their unethical policies. It is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain factual information from any of these corporations, and only when there is a large public outcry against these practices, will things change. Do a little research BEFORE you purchase personal care products. You may be appalled at what you discover (if you dig deep enough to get actual , factual info).

Unseen they suffer; unheard they cry; in loneliness they linger; in agony they die.

 

The Connection between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

Animal abuse is a daily occurrence in today’s world, and sadly, violence against humans is also all too common. It is sometimes thought that when children are cruel to animals, it is just an exploratory stage of development, but researchers have connected children’s acts of animal abuse with bullying, corporal punishment, school shootings, sexual abuse and developmental psychopathic behaviors. . Young children need to be taught that animals have feelings and are not to be treated as toys, explaining that it is not okay to hit or mistreat an animal, just as it is not okay to mistreat another child. Most children learn the importance of being kind, caring and nurturing , but if they are in homes where there is domestic violence, they may learn about abuse by being its victim….Dad hits mom….mom hits the child….the child hits the dog. Documentation shows that most violent and aggressive criminals have abused animals as children, with cruelty to animals being one of the traits that regularly appear in records of serial rapists and murderers.

All children who abuse animal certainly do not grow up to become serial killers, but a child who displays unusual or continual fascination with harming animals is in need of professional help Regardless of the cause, animal cruelty in children should not be taken lightly . Killing a hamster or torturing a dog is usually a precursor to more serious violent actions. Children who harm family pets are at risk for other kinds of inappropriate behavior and need help. (What goes along with torturing animals is often setting fires, which should also be taken seriously) ALL animal abuse situations should be taken seriously

  • Animal abuse may indicate that a deeper problem exists. Children who abuse animals may be living in an abusive situation, and may be the only visible sign of an abusive family. While child and spousal abuse usually occur behind closed doors, animal abuse is more often committed in the open.
  • Acts of cruelty to animals may be a child’s cry for help…..before the violence escalates to include human victims. Many animal welfare advocates say that children who harm animals are usually victims themselves. An abused child will often lash out, and an animal often is the closest, most vulnerable target.

What can be done?

  • Support legislation: Learn about the animal abuse laws in your state and advocate for stronger, appropriate legislation.
  • Report animal cruelty: If you witness an act of animal cruelty taking place, report it to the authorities, giving as many specific details as possible. Doing so may save both animals and human lives, and gives a voice to someone in need.
  • Educate others: Encourage others to show kindness toward animals. Without being judgmental, you can often improve living conditions of animals (and humans) by showing you care.
  • Increase public awareness: Work with your local animal shelters and domestic abuse shelters to raise awareness of the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence. Violence is violence, whether it is done against a two-legged or a four-legged being. When you hear about someone being cruel to an animal, your next thoughts should be, “Who else will be harmed?” and “How can I help?”

The cycle of violence can be broken only if caring, concerned people have the courage and empathy to act. If you suspect either domestic abuse or animal abuse, don’t ignore it. Animal abuse in families often is one of the first indicators that the family needs help. Paying attention to animal abuse provides an important tool with which to guard children from abuse and neglect, provide needed support to families, and protect animals.

 

Redemption & Rehabilitation

Puppy mills abound across the country with facilities housing as many as a thousand dogs with breeding females being forced to give birth to litter after litter of puppies throughout their lifetime. The dogs are usually crammed into wire cages that are often stacked inside dark sheds or barns. Their urine and feces drop into lower cages, where the dogs are forced to stand or lie in the excrement. Many dogs become ill, and receive nothing to alleviate their suffering, because it is cheaper to get a new breeding dog than it is to pay for veterinary care. Many of the dogs have never seen the light of day or felt grass under their feet and they have had little human contact. The conditions that these animals endure are horrific, and pet stores and on-line sources get their dogs from puppy mills, regardless of what they tell you. The story of Buttons is a typical example of a puppy mill dog who was rescued, redeemed, and rehabilitated:

Buttons was a wretched creature, a small mini poodle dumped at an area shelter with six months of matted fur, and he was terrified of everything, including feet and newspapers. He had spent his early weeks in an abominable puppy mill, and was transported to a pet store where he spent four months, up for sale at half price, and then almost two years in a “home” from which he was given up without even a collar to call his own. He was so afraid of his owners, that, when they opened their car door at the shelter, he flew out and hid for a day in the wooded area behind the shelter. He refused to leave the crate in which the shelter put him when they finally caught him.

When he heard his original name, he quivered, rolled over, and peed. He was so thin that his bones showed through, and his frightened eyes peered out of a haggard face. In short, he was a mess, and even the shelter staff doubted that he could be “rehabilitated.” However, the little guy captured me with his eyes…huge, deep, black, watching everything around him intently, and oh so sad and scared. But in there with all the sadness and fear, there seemed to be a spark of hope, almost as if he was thinking, maybe, just maybe this will be different. Why he would trust anyone at this point is beyond me, but he did.

Buttons developed into a feisty, friendly, little fellow with thick black fur, and beautiful black eyes. Only occasionally does the old worried look reappear. He was reliably house-trained within a few days, and developed awesome house manners with everyone. He has become an affectionate little companion who loves his daily walks, and dances on his once pencil legs when he sees a treat coming…A few weeks ago Buttons graduated from obedience class, and has learned the meaning of “kiss” as a greeting, instead of “flip and pee.” The process of redemption and rehabilitation had few rough spots, and he is a better dog than anyone could have ever hoped for.

What can be done to eliminate the existence of these horrible places? First of all, do NOT shop at stores or internet sites that sell dogs. The only one sure way to combat the tragedy of puppy mills is to NOT SUPPORT THEM….no matter how cute the puppy in the pet store is, please don’t buy her. She comes from a puppy mill, regardless of what the salesperson tells you. PET STORE dogs come from puppy mills. You may think you are “rescuing her,” but in reality, you are only freeing up space for another puppy mill product, while supporting an industry based on abuse. Keep informed and educate your friends and neighbors about puppy mills, and monitor legislation that involves this unethical industry. Let your legislators know your concerns, and above all, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.

 

Dedication and Determination

Mary Lahay, president of Iowa Voters for Compassion Animals, is dedicated and determined to improve the lives of needy dogs. Mary shares her thoughts in this informative piece.

“It isn’t just the national political scene that seems turned upside down this year. Just as our efforts to improve the lives of Iowa’s puppy mill dogs allowed for light at the end of the tunnel, our own government decided to cloak this wretched industry in darkness again.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for oversight and enforcement of commercial animal care standards, pulled access to thousands of documents related to organizations and businesses regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This includes circuses, zoos, and . . . puppy mills. The result? Critical information about the welfare of dogs and puppies within Iowa’s 254 commercial dog breeding and dealing facilities – gone.

Inspection reports and court documents that allowed us to identify, monitor, and take action against animal abusers – gone. Documents that allowed you, us, and the general public to distinguish reputable dog breeders from the puppy mills – gone. The USDA unveiled a new database, with critical information including kennel, breeder, and dealer names, license numbers, addresses, and photographs — all blacked out.

And we know there are dogs suffering because of it!

Iowa Voters for Companion Animals has spent the past 5 years monitoring and analyzing breeder inspection reports which verify that 40-60% of Iowa’s 250+ USDA-licensed dog breeders are cited for significant violations each year. Many of these breeders keep more than 100 adult dogs, meaning that there are potentially thousands of dogs suffering in USDA breeding facilities right now! But we’re no longer given access to this information.

In 2010 the USDA revealed that no Iowa breeder had ever lost their license due to failure to comply to the regulations. That is simply not feasible. But since our organization has been holding the USDA accountable, at least 4 breeders have either had their license revoked or were “encouraged” to allow their license to lapse. Our work is not done.

The information is still there in USDA files, and it belongs to us, the American public whose taxes fund the work of the USDA, but now we have to fight — and pay — to get it.

The USDA can’t legally stonewall us or hide public records, so it defends the change by claiming that it will provide information through formal Freedom of Information Act requests. Sounds like a great system, right? But since March, we have submitted 465 FOIA requests, and the USDA’s response time for each one averages five months! What’s worse, more than 90% of inspection reports received are simply pages and pages of blacked-out information So, the bad breeders get protection, but there’s none for the dogs they abuse!

Adding insult to injury, many of our FOIA requests now also incur hefty fees, much higher than are required to cover the USDA’s routine administrative expenses. With our last filing for information on a single Iowa puppy mill, we got hit with a fee of $250! This obstacle doesn’t have to be an insurmountable one, but it means the dogs need help from each of us more than ever.

The ‘D’ in USDA should not and must not stand for ‘Darkness.’ We are fighting for daylight, working to educate the public about puppy mills, and we will continue to lobby for legislation in Iowa to ensure all dogs and puppies are protected. But that ‘WE’ has to include YOU. We must all be dedicated and determined!

Please contact Iowa congressional and legislative representatives today and ask them to tell the USDA that this data blackout is unacceptable. The information is critical to efforts to ensure animal abusers are held accountable and the dogs and puppies of Iowa are protected!

We’ll be hosting our annual Humane Lobby Day on Tuesday, February 20 in Des Moines. Please join us! At our pre-lobby luncheon we offer information and training on how to effectively lobby your legislator. Then we go to the State Capitol as a group to meet with state senators and representatives. We’ll hold your hand through the whole process, if you want. It is truly an amazing experience. You’ll go home feeling like you’ve done something very important for the dogs. ..because you have..

Please visit our website at www.iowavca.org/lobby-day-2018 for more information and to register. For the dogs.”

 

Scandals, Secrets and Lies

A headline in a recent major newspaper read “Stories of scandals, secrets, and lies” which focuses on various scandals that make us cringe. The past week I have been almost obsessively researching scandals, lies, and especially secrecy concerning dogs being used in the testing industry. We have accepted the fact that rats and mice are routinely used in laboratories for experimentation and research, but it has been a maze of scandals, secrets, and lies as I researched the use of dogs in testing. According to the California based Beagle Freedom Project, approximately 70,000 dogs are used in research lab experiments every year. However, accusations abound about the statistics presented by the BFP, and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, as this is a practice that is intentionally hidden from the public, with testing taking place behind closed doors. Research institutions often purchase animals from “Class A” Licensed animal breeders who produce animals for the purpose of selling them for experimentation. Some research institutions purchase dogs from Class B dealers, licensed dealers who sell “random source dogs” obtained from animal shelters, dog pounds, auctions, or individual people. The United States Department of Agriculture admits that tens of thousands of dogs area used for “research, testing, teaching, or experimentation” in the U.S. every year by research facilities.

The Humane Society International claims that a large percentage of dog used in lab experiments are beagles, because the breed’s trusting and loving nature makes them easier for lab technicians to handle. I have personal knowledge of a lab facility within an hour’s drive from my home that used beagles….I know because I am friends with the designer who built the windowless. Soundproof facility….but the public never knew about it. (I do not know if the practice still continues in this facility, since it is under new ownership, but I KNOW that took place there, and that the dogs were routinely euthanized at the end of experiments. )

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), dogs have been especially popular for use in toxicology tests, which determine safe levels of an unknown substance for humans, and to evaluate the hazards of ingredients in consumer products. It is now evident that tests on animals do not necessarily predict outcomes in humans, and many non-animal methods are available and continue to be developed.

I was shocked to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to conduct archaic and painful tests, even in instances where reliable non-animal tests exist. The FDA has acknowledged that data produced from such tests are not reliable. During a recent meeting about funding for research, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, former National Institutes of Health director, told his colleagues that “The problem is that animal testing hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies. There are modern alternatives, including in vitro testing, computer modeling, tissue engineering, and microdosing , that take less time and money and do not inflict pain on animals.” Thankfully almost all medical schools across the U.S. have completely replaced animal testing with simulators and systems like TraumaMan which are more effective in imparting lifesaving skills than courses that require students to experiment on dogs.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel as more people become aware of the practice of lab testing on animals. Be a hero for dogs and tell your friends and family to demand that Congress help end animal testing. Ask the FDA to stop requiring cruel, unreliable tests on animals, and to accept data from humane, non-animal methods instead. Make personal choices by refusing to buy products that are tested on animals. Contact your favorite brands to determine whether the company does any animal tests on their products, realizing that they may be less than truthful. Leapingbunny.org has an online shopping directory of companies that don’t test on animals, and the Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty-Cutter smartphone app. Allows you to simply scan an item in the store and you’ll get an immediate response about its animal testing status. Download it at cruelty-cutter.org

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

What we allow – will continue

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, but as we make plans to honor the person who loved and supported us throughout our lives, we pause to remember the thousands of mother dogs in puppy mills who live out their lives in these inhumane places. Puppy mills are everywhere, and the US Department of Agriculture estimates that there are over 2 MILLION puppies bred in mills each year, and as long as “we the people” allow this, it will continue.

Puppy mill dog breeding operations may be large or small, but they all put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs. Breeding dogs spend their lives in dirty, unsanitary confinement and it is common to see wire cages stacked on top of each other, often without any protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather . They receive little or no veterinary care, and the bottom line is all about profits.

The two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in mills are pet stores and the internet. Almost ALL puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and pet stores are a primary sales outlet for puppy mills, and they are shipped all over the country in conditions that often force the dogs to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and many puppies do not survive.

“We the people” are the key to stopping this cycle of cruelty, and wringing our hands and moaning that “we feel so bad” about the situation, is not enough to stop these inhumane atrocities.

Until we initiate serious intervention, the situation will continue. Pledge to end this cycle of cruelty by choosing to not buy a pet from any pet store or internet site, refusing to buy supplies from any store or site that sells puppies, and supporting federal and local laws to stop the operation of puppy mills.

“The Life Of A Puppy Mill Dog” is not pleasant reading, but it presents an accurate account of what we allow to continue in those despicable places.

“Some humans in this world have decided with the worst selfishness and greed, that my fate shall forever be in a cage, and to just stay alive, I must breed. I will never be a pet, only a breeding machine. “Please release me from this prison,” I bark in vain, but the miller does not care that we live out each day in desperate pain. The truth is that I am the miller’s property…I never get to play or become a pet, and when I am sick or injured, the miller doesn’t bother to call a vet. Again and again the miller comes to collect my pups, so tiny and sickly with eyes and nose runny. I bark, “It’s too early …they need a mother’s care, but he ignores me, knowing that younger pups bring more money. My feet are always bleeding, cut by the wire floor, and my legs are crippled from never being allowed to run. In the winter I shiver; left out in the snow and rain. In the summer, the hot rays beat down from the sun. I am missing many teeth, the rest cracked and broken. My matted fur is falling out in clumps from a terrible rash, and the world is getting dark because an untreated infection that is making me blind, but the miller does not care as I can still bring in cash. As time goes by, I feel my body grow weaker each day. Ragged and worn, I look like I’m twelve though I’m only five. My uterus is swollen and infected from too many litters, and to breed lots of puppies is the sole reason I am kept alive. I can no longer make a product for him to see, so I am now a burden and waste of money to feed. I await my fate in silence….I’ve seen it all before. Now he is yanking me by the rope he uses as a lead. He drags me, as my legs are useless, to the weeds behind the mill and ties me to a tree with a rusty old chain. He walks away without a backward glance, leaving me to face death which will offer release from a lifetime of pain. There are thousands of mill dogs out there with lives as sad as mine. Please stop the puppy mill business. You do have an option; Don’t support mills by buying puppies from pet shops or bad breeders. Instead, go to a shelter or rescue and apply for adoption.” –by Petshub.com forum

It is our choices that reveal what we truly are: what we allow, is what will continue.