Iowans Have Had Enough

Animal rescue organizations have been working tirelessly to improve conditions in the horrendous puppy mills thriving throughout the country. This shameful animal welfare problem has been allowed to fester for decades, and as we begin a new year, we implore people to initiate positive action. We are honored to have this week’s Paw Prints column authored by Mary LaHay, President of an Iowa grass roots organization whose sole purpose is to better protect our helpless animals. Please read the piece carefully, and then take appropriate action, whether in Iowa or another state.

“Our organizations, Iowa Friends of Companion Animals (IFCA) and Iowa Voters for Companion Animals (IVCA) have been working hard to get better state level laws to protect the more than 15,000 adult dogs in these USDA-licensed kennels, but to no avail. We’ve backed up our calls for action with reams of date—USDA data showing that way too many dogs are suffering and dying: dogs fighting to the death with incompatible cage mates, dogs suffering from illness or injury with no veterinary treatment. The list goes on and on. We have records from the USDA’s own inspections that 26 incidences of “direct” violations like these have occurred in 2016. Our analysis of USDA data show that, year after year, upwards of 50% of Iowa breeders are cited for violations to the federal Animal Welfare Act, but these citations seldom result in penalties. And when they do, a breeder only need ignore it and eventually it’ll be swept under a rug. (DM Register: 11/13/2016—Why won’t the USDA shut down these serial animal abusers?)

What we also provide is information about the huge consumer protection issue in this industry. People all across the country end up with sick and dying puppies exported from Iowa. They end up costing many an unwitting customer tens of thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, often ending up with broken hearts and broken bank accounts. One unfortunate New York state family suffered the first-ever confirmed transmission of a terrible zoonotic disease from an Iowa bred-puppy. Their three year old child was hospitalized and diagnosed with canine brucellosis as a result.

In the Iowa Capitol we’re stymied by the industry’s professional organization—Iowa Pet Breeders Association, but upon closer examination, the name is misleading. In fact, only half of the approximate 150 members of the association are breeders. The remaining members represent other ancillary special interest groups that stand to benefit from the status quo: pet stores such as Petland, puppy distribution companies such as Hunte Corporation, dog transport companies, kennel supply companies, veterinary supply companies and clinics – the majority of them don’t even reside in Iowa.

We, on the other hand, have 8300+Iowans who are members of our organization, Iowans who want to see increased oversight of this industry. Hundreds of these members have contacted Iowa legislators lobbying in support of better oversight. Hundreds have taken time out of their busy lives to join us on our annual Lobby Day for Dogs. (iowavca.org/lobby-day-2017) to speak with their legislators face-to-face to ask for better oversight. While many legislators “get it”, the unreasonable fears of Iowa’s agriculture result in the majority of them digging in their heels and saying NO to protecting the dogs, fearing it is all a ruse with the end in sight of affecting agriculture.

This is no ruse. It is a shameful fact. And those of us who care have had enough. We’ve had enough of being accused of fabricating data. We’ve had enough of being dismissed as “animal rights zealots”; we’ve had enough of legislators who work to oppose us in their effort to protect family members who participate in and benefit from this despicable industry.

Based on some of the decisions thus far, it appears the new administration won’t be empathetic to this issue. We won’t see a kinder and gentler USDA any time soon, so the urgency to address this on a state level is more important than ever. If this mistreatment of helpless animals matters to you, if you think Iowa can do better, please reach out to your state legislators, and governor and lieutenant governor, and tell them so. The dogs need each of us to reach out to all these leaders: FOR THE DOGS.”

Only by working together is it possible to change laws, and stop the incredibly cruel and inhumane conditions that flourish in puppy mills. To receive more information, or receive regular e-mail alerts, sign up at www.iowavca.org or contact Mary LaHay at mlahay@iowavca.org or by phone at 515-556-5949. If you still are not convinced, I challenge you to google, “Puppy Mill Photos.”

Remember that what you allow, is what will continue: BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS

Will You Help the Helpless?

WILL YOU COMMIT TO HELPING THE HELPLESS?

Animal welfare groups across the country are struggling to raise awareness of the plight of hundreds of thousands of puppies suffering in cramped, crude, filthy puppy mills where there is constant breeding of unhealthy and often genetically defective dogs solely for profit. . It is common to find dogs housed in makeshift shelters such as salvaged trucks, semi trailers, or old buildings without heat or adequate ventilation, meaning that the dogs freeze in the winter and die of heat in the summer.. Kept in small cages their entire lives, their fur is matted and filthy, and bodies are covered with sores. Many have bite scars because of the dog fights that occur in such cramped conditions from which there is no escape. They aren’t exercised, and lack socialization or human compassion. They are not provided adequate vet care or nutrition. Adult dogs are bred until their bodies are so worn out that they stop producing or develop serious health problems, at which time they may be shot, abandoned, or sold at auctions. Unfortunately this is a reality for thousands of dogs in Iowa puppy mills.

Iowa is still the second worse state in the entire country for the number of puppy mills, and it seems like everyone “feels bad”, but improvement is slow… until we become involved, really involved, things will not change. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” In a world of people who seemingly couldn’t care less about puppy mill dogs, , hopefully excerpts from this letter I am sharing (with permission) from a rescuer to a puppy mill owner, will inspire us all to become people who couldn’t care more! One of the most powerful things we can do is to spread compassion to animals. The power of animal lovers joined together can change animal protection and welfare. Let’s use our power and decide to help the helpless!

“Dear Puppy Miller,

I have been involved in dog rescue essentially my entire life, and for the record, I am not an animal rights activist. I am simply a person who believes in the right of humane treatment for all living beings. What I witnessed on your property was far from humane. Hundreds of terrified ailing faces, imprisoned in their wire confines, some staring at me, but most too fearful to look into my eyes, so unsure of how to interpret human contact. That experience has caused me countless sleepless nights and to this very day, the sadness and the fear in their eyes haunt my very being.

I am completely aware that you were operating within USDA standards and that many of your dogs are AKC registered—what a despicable thought this is. I am also aware that in your circles, commercial breeding dogs are considered livestock. Dogs are not livestock…years ago, man domesticated dogs to be our protectors, hunters, herders, guardians, but most of all our companions.

I focus on just one of your dogs, Lily, that I brought home with me. It was agonizing for our family to watch her survive through four surgeries to remove mammary tumors, to attempt to repair her decaying face, and to spay her, removing the papery black, pus filled organ that was once her uterus. How selfish of you to never see her pain, just dollars. You spent more than forty years of your God given life, using dogs for personal gain. No regard to their physical or mental well-being, just cashing in on their ability to reproduce. Think about the thousands of dogs that passed through your hands—you robbed them of the simply joys they so deserve…a good meal, a warm, comfortable place to sleep, medical attention, and most of all, a human companion to make their lives whole. In our home, Lily learned about being a family member, being a dog, being worthy, being loved. She changed our lives forever, and she died as a direct result of the neglect she suffered for seven years in your care. How many others have suffered the same fate? Your industry has been hidden far to long. The word is out. The days are numbered. People like you will soon venture out into fields of honest work and leave the care of God’s creatures to those of us who truly care.”

To see the complete story of Lily and other puppy mill dogs,  go to http://milldogrescue.org

If you are really concerned about the plight of Iowa dogs, we invite you to mark Saturday, October 3, on your calendar. The TLC, 602 East Chaney Street, Newell, Iowa is hosting an informational meeting and a PIZZA PARTY!!! Come join us at noon for pizza, and learn the facts about Iowa dogs. We are privileged to have Mary Lahay, President of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, as our honored guest. Mary will share specific ways you can be involved in making life better for Iowa dogs.

Please RSVP that you will join us for free pizza and inspiration – call 712-272-3553 or e-mail plarsen@rconnect.com

There may be times when it seems we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to try…A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history—Gandhi