Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Where is the USDA?

Where is the USDA?

Anyone who thinks that the HBO special “Dealing Dogs” was some rare breeder out of control needs to “think” again. This is normal, this is common and this is growing.

After seeing the HBO special “Who needs China?” (in reference to the horrors going on in that country with dogs and cats)

We never had puppy mills in Maryland. Now we do. They are creeping over into Western Maryland from Pennsylvania, whose Amish community runs most of the mills. We have one right now that has perpetuated animal abuse on hundreds of animals and the USDA and the local animal control are nonexistent.

Why are these places such hell holes --

1. USDA visits once a year and turns a blind eye. You can’t even call it an inspection. Mills have months and months between inspections to go about the inhumane practices.
2. Usually located in rural areas with poor local enforcement of Animal Abuse Laws
3. The economics of it lead to more money for owners the less humane they are (or at least they think that).

Why in the world do we need these mills anyway?

I honestly don’t have much to say except that I think every local, state and federal politician you know should be sent a copy of the HBO special with a note explaining that this is common and is exactly what happens at puppy mills and dealers all over the country. Please distribute this video far and wide. We need allies.

As far as the USDA this is the enforcement agency that I dug up:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Regulatory Enforcement and Animal Care

Secretary 14 St. & Independence Ave. SW, Wash 20250

OR: Federal Center Bldg., Hyattsville, Maryland. 20782 301-436-7799

Animal Care = 4700 River Rd. #84, Riverdale, MD. 20737-1234
301-734-7833 fx=301-734-4978

15 Comments:

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sort of OT: Where is the USDA? Busy creating a fee for service plan so they can continue inspection of (foreign owned) horse slaughterhouses to spite Congress and the American people. Also busy fighting the injuction filed by HSUS, Fund for Animals, etc. to cease this activity.

I have a Class C (exhibitors) license for 2 rescued wolves. My USDA inspector is a female veterinarian, totally dedicated and knowledgeable. The USDA is overwhelmed and underfunded, but they obviously have a lot of dead wood and are engaging in activities outside of their function.

Another contact per Last Chance for Animals is Ann Veneman, USDA, 14th and Independence, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250.

Let's let them hear it loud and clear.

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric,

Your first poster is dead on, they are very busy fighting against the laws we the people passed to ban sale of America's wild horses and some domestic to slaughterhouses in the U.S.(now all foreign owned)who sell the meat for human consumption in foreign countries.

Gov't funding has been cut so it is true that they don't truly have the man power. The factory farm situation is horrendous and disgusting. I do find it intriguing that they can find the money and manpower to fight the ban on horse slaughterhouses. The priorities stink...

 
At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horses vs. Dogs. BOTH are important. The USDA needs more funding, and better manpower & laws from the Congress.

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Class B animal dealers make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year mostly by selling dogs/cats they get from pounds, steal from people's homes or obtain through "Free to Good Home" ads and then they sell them to research facilities. On the rare occasion the USDA finds these dealers in violation, they will assess a monetary fine but it will be suspended if the dealers promise to be good and not commit any more violations (ha!). If USDA would collect these fines, maybe they could afford to pay for more inspectors to shut these criminals down. And, yes, the USDA has been busting their buns to fight the ban on horse slaughter in order to placate 3 Belgian-owned horse slaughterhouses in the US. The USDA appears to have more loyalty to foreign interests than they do to a law enacted by the U.S. Congress to protect horses. For an intriguing history on how the USDA operates with Class B dealers, take a look at
http://www.arkonline.com/pet_theft_bill2.html

 
At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

37470. Tylertown Help Needed
by drowssap911, 2/23/06 22:29 ET
I have a list of pets still in Tylertown we need to try to see if we can find their owners. If you want to help, EMAIL ME. drowssap911@yahoo.comIf you have a blog where you can post, all the better. But what I don't want is duplications and people stepping over each other on the same cases. Causes too many phone calls, emails, confusion and frustration. THANKS

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might be a good campaign to ask the research labs to scan dogs brought in for microchips.

 
At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would the Amish be involved in puppy mills?

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I totally agree with Eric and just came up with that thought recently myself - what do all of these businesses have in common besides rampant animal abuse? They are inspected by the USDA who does a LOUSY job of enforcing the rules - it should be 3 strikes and you are out of business- they will comply then. Instead all they get is warnings year after year for the same things never really fixing anything.

As far as why do the Amish (and Mennonites) have puppy mills? They are greedy - MONEY!

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the Amish - Unfortunately the general conception by the public of the Amish is that they are a good religious sect who has strange lifestyles of living two centuries in the past. They frown on modern conveniences such as electricity, automobiles, telephones, styles of dress, etc. The truth about the Amish is that they operate hundreds and hundreds of puppy mills where dogs/puppies are kept in deplorable and inhumane condition in order to reap in bundles of modern dollars. The Amish puppy mills are very prominent in Pennsylvania and Ohio and anywhere else an Amish community exists. Envision hundreds of dogs/puppies living in filth in PA or OH in an unheated barn in the winter time in Amish country. The USDA seldom issues these people any citations. Below is a recent news article about an Amish puppy miller that was a recent court case:

Amish man sentenced to prison for operating dog ‘factory’

By STEPHANIE FARR-sfarr@sungazette.com
02/25/06

An Amish man used to spending his days on open land at his Washington Township farm was sentenced to 30 days in County Prison Monday for operating what county Judge Nancy L. Butts called a “factory for dogs.”

Bonnets, long beards and solid-colored clothing were common dress in the courtroom when Aaron Lapp, of 848 Leisure Acres Road, Washington Township, was accompanied by more than 15 traditionally-dressed members of his community ready to act as character witnesses.

Lapp was before Butts on a summary appeal of two charges of operating a kennel without a license and one charge each of possessing dogs without a license and cruelty to animals.

He was appealing the sentence handed down by District Judge C. Roger McRae in October. McRae sentenced Lapp to 145 days in prison and more than $4,500 in restitution and fines.

On June 17, two SPCA humane society officers and a state dog warden went to Lapp’s farm after receiving numerous reports of animal cruelty in regards to the approximately 100 dogs he had on the premises.

Nine dogs in need of “immediate care” were taken into SPCA custody as a result of the search, humane society officer Lawrence Woltz said. Some were matted with dried feces and urine while others had rashes and skin diseases, he said.

Woltz showed a video recording of the farm taken on the day of the search. It showed dogs living in cramped wire cages, kennels overflowing with feces, urine and matted hair and drinking water that was bright green in color.

Most of the cages did not have boards for the dogs to rest their feet from the wire and some dogs were chained outside with no shade, he said.

‘‘It’s pretty clear what you’re operating is a factory — for dogs,” Butts told Lapp as she pronounced sentence. “If you need to grow something to sell it, don’t grow animals, grow vegetables.

‘‘If this is the way life is over the mountain, it’s going to stop,” the judge added. “There’s a way you treat animals and this isn’t it.’’

Attorneys for both sides spent two hours Monday morning discussing a plea agreement. Lapp agreed to plead guilty to two counts of operating a kennel without a license and one count of owning dogs without a license and to pay a $200 fine on each count.

As part of the plea agreement, Lapp is to withdraw his current application to obtain a kennel license and will have 30 days to sell or give away nearly 70 dogs still in his care.

Lapp also agreed, though begrudgingly, to plead guilty to cruelty to animals, with no sentencing recommendation.

Mostly stoic throughout the proceedings, Lapp answered the judge’s questions with brief two- and three-word statements and had to be asked to speak up on several occasions. He neither apologized nor tried to excuse his actions, except to say he had never beaten the animals.

Butts explained that the cruelty to animal charge covered a broad range of abuses, including neglect.

Butts sentenced Lapp to spend 30 days in prison, fined him $750 and ordered him to pay $2,552 restitution to the SPCA. She allowed him 30 days to report to the prison so he can file a second appeal, if he chooses, she said.

Lapp’s pleas ended the appeal process, and Butts’ order replaced District Judge McRae previous sentence.

Public Defender Eric Linhardt, who represented Lapp, said his client’s actions did not warrant prison time and told the judge that a jail sentence would ‘‘impose a serious hardship on his family.’’ Lapp said if was to go to prison he would have to find someone else to milk the cows and take care of the farm.

Many of Lapp’s Amish brethren were in the courtroom to testify as character witnesses.

Witnesses for the prosecution viewed the situation a bit differently. A veterinary technician who groomed one of the dogs taken from Lapp’s farm said that matting over the eyes had obscured the dog’s vision and matting of the fur on the dog’s legs and abdomen prohibited free movement.

Woltz said that the ‘‘stench was overwhelming’’ and the cages were ‘‘overflowing’’ with feces and urine.

The final witness for the prosecution was Bernadette Miller, a woman who adopted one of the Yorkshire terriers taken from Lapp’s farm by the SPCA.

‘‘It was traumatized. It was shaking, very scared. It was an empty shell. It had no personality,’’ she said of the dog’s disposition when she first brought it home. ‘‘It’s a work in progress.’’

Miller said the dog had to learn how to run, jump and play because it was never exposed to those activities before. She said that she had to take the animal to the veterinarian many times for treatment of its constant vomiting and diarrhea.

In his defense, Lapp said he received a federal license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to operate the kennel a month before his farm was searched.

But state dog warden Scott Shurer said he had told Lapp several times that he needed a state license to operate a kennel. The federal license is needed to sell animals to pet stores or out-of-state dealers, but the state license is needed for sales to the general public, he said.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another spin on this...
The AKC could shut puppy mills down overnight by refusing to issue papers for these dogs. Why don't they? They are the folks who turn a $50.00 puppy into a $500.00 puppy. I guess they make too much money registering all those poor animals. They should be held accountable.

 
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