Earlier this week I received my regular edition of Dr. Nancy Kay's e-mail missive on the subject of all things veterinary. In case you don't know of it, it's kind of like Fully Vetted — but without all the snark and sarcasm.
Her posts are definitely unmissable as far as I'm concerned, especially seeing as it offers me all kinds of well-written blog fodder, like this entry on puppy mills:
After the November election, I learned that Missouri voters passed legislation known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (Proposition B). As I began surfing the Internet to learn more, I anticipated reading about strict new regulations that would dramatically limit the number of dogs per "breeding factory" along with regulations that would enhance the physical and emotional well being of dogs unfortunate enough to wind up in puppy mills. Here is what I read. Proposition B stipulates that breeders may have up to 50 breeding dogs at any given time (no, the number 50 is not a typo). Additionally, this new legislation requires that dogs be provided with:
- Sufficient food that is provided at least once daily
- Access to water that is not frozen and is free of debris, feces, algae, and other contaminants
- Necessary veterinary care (an examination at least once yearly by a licensed veterinarian)
- Sufficient housing including protection from the elements
- Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely and fully extend limbs
- Adequate rest between breeding cycles (no more than two litters during an 18 month time period)
Fifty dogs at a time? Daily food and clean water required? Enough space to allow dogs to stand up and stretch their legs? Was this really the best that puppy mill reform legislation could provide –– nothing more than the bare basics to sustain a modicum of physical comfort for puppy mill "livestock"? How could this be?
What got me about these words wasn't just the truth in her findings; it was the truth of her understandable naiveté on the subject that did it.
After all, Dr. Kay is in the biz. She wrote Speaking for Spot, a book on how best to advocate for your pet in a veterinary situation (btw, right about now I'm feeling guilty for not mentioning this book in yesterday's post). But that doesn't mean she's aware of all things in the pet agriculture arena. I mean, why should she be? An internal medicine specialist in California's Bay Area isn't exactly exposed to the harsh wintry reality of Midwest puppy mills. Not directly, anyhow.
Not that I was any more aware of them before sticking my foot in my mouth a few times while writing my Dolittler blog (Fully Vetted by a former name). Because until you actually research the puppy mills, the contrary evidence smacks more of those ubiquitously creepy animal rights videos of questionable veracity than any reality you've ever contemplated.
I mean, we don't raise dogs the same way we raise cows, pigs and chickens ... do we?
As a matter of fact, I believe we do. And until now, very little has been done to bring industrial animal regulation to puppy mills. In other words, these large-scale puppy producers have enjoyed free reign that is way disproportionate to the regulations traditional animal ag businesses are subject to.
Despite the vociferous opposition of the breeder contingency in states who fear such confining laws, the truth is this: If you're going to produce animals, you should be held to the same standards as the rest of the animal agriculture industry, with respect for safety, comfort, and natural behaviors.
So buck up, busy breeders. It's the least you can do.
Dr. Patty Khuly