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puppy/kitten mills

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    harm to animals
    harm to communities
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    governmental failure

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breeder: kathy bauck

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breeder: dayna bell

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issue: hoarders


  issue > overview

harm to communities

 

KEY MESSAGE: Due to the fact that these businesses deal in the production of living, sentient beings, the burden on the community to monitor kennels, enforce laws, and care for, treat, house and re-home relinquished, rescued or unwanted animals can be enormous. Consumers, too, can suffer economic and emotional harm.

 

• Animal shelters and animal rescues

Breeders continue to mass produce puppies and profit from the production, while the local animals shelters, animal rescues and animal control "take in," care for and medically treat the animals without any financial assistance from the breeders or indsutry.

This is a tremendous financial and staffing burden for these entities; unwanted dogs, too, may be euthanized if homes are not found or if medical needs are too severe and costly, whch inflicts emotional harm on shelter staff (veterinarian) who have the duty of euthanizing the unwanted or sickly animals.

Example: A rescue of 120+ mill dogs and puppies from a breeder in Pine County cost over $200,000 for the local Animal Humane Society (AHS) based on Golden Valley, Minnesota. This included the seizure, transport, medical care and treatment of all animals, and housing for over 3 month due to court complications on the case.

An economic impact, prepared by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS, no affiliation with AHS or local humane societies), describes costs for the handling of "puppy mill" cases from other groups in other states. It is entitled: Puppy Mill Closure — The Economic Impact on a Local Community. Costs incurred typically include:

• Transportation — to move animals from the property. Vehicles and fuel are costly.

• Accommodations — multiple animals may require multiple days for set up, seizure and care

• Medical care — includes examination rooms, drugs, medical and surgical supplies, etc.

• Staff time — animals are stressed and expert handlers are needed

• Staffing — can include security, veterinarians, vet techs, other crime scene personnel (i.e., photographers, scribes, animal handlers, drivers), groomers, supply management, personnel for daily care, feeding, cage cleaning, etc.

• Supplies — such as bowls, food, cages, protective gear, leashes, toys, insurance, etc.

• Buildings — temporary and long-term (depending on case and number of animals) with sufficient ventilation, heating, or cooling, electricity, parking, etc.

Costs also are incurred long after the removal of the animals; all animals are potential evidence in a cruelty cae and chain of custody and other factors must be considered.

Animal shelters understand the high costs of care for animals, and the impact on animals if they stay "too long" in a cage or kennel (which is why well-run shelters try to re-home animals within a 10 day period). In 2010, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians compiled a highly respected manual for use by shelters: Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. At a minimum, similar standards should be applied to the care of dogs and cats in breeding kennels.

 

• Taxpayer costs: Law enforcement and county government

If suspected animal neglect and cruelty are reported to law enforcement, time and effort is incurred by the police department or sheriff office to investigate each claim. Most law enforcement is not trained in animal forensics, in regard to the health of all species and the details of all types of crimes against animals; most veterinarians are also not trained in forensic veterinary medicine.

If the investigation finds violation of Minnesota cruelty statutes, such as Chapters 343 and 346, animals must or may be seized. (Chapter 343.12 and Minn. Stat. sec. 343.29) Under Minnesota law, the county is responsible for costs related to seizure of animals (with judgment against the person if found guilty):

Minn. Stat. sec. 343.23: "The expenses of the investigation authorized by section 343.22, including the fee of the doctor of veterinary medicine, the expenses of keeping or disposing of any animal taken into custody pursuant to an invsstigation, and all other expenses reasonably incident to the investigation shall be paid by the county treasurer from the general fund of the county. If the person alleged to have violated section 343.21 is found guilty of the violation, the county shall have judgment against the guilty person for the amount of the expenses."

NOTE: Due to the high costs of animal cruelty cases, some larger animal welfare organizations will financially assist in the seizure, transport, care, treatment and re-homing of animals; however, the county is ultimately, per law, responsible.

 

• Taxpayer costs: animal control

A bit dated but of interest: In 2001, it was estimated that “U.S. animal care and control strategy on exterminating homeless dogs and cats … was costing the U.S. approximately $600 million per year in tax-funded expenditures, and close to $2 billion a year when the diversion of charitable contributions to capturing and disposing of homeless dogs and cats is factored in.” (Merritt Clifton, editor, Animal People)

No recent research has been conducted showing exactly how much animal care and control services are costing local governments or private, nonprofit animal shelters. However, based on a few (dated) facts using the city of St. Cloud:

• In fiscal year 2004, the city of St. Cloud spent $186,249 on animal control efforts. Pet licenses and fees, however, for that year in St. Cloud were only $47,858. The difference was $138,000, which taxpayers needed to cover. Local animal pounds in Minnesota handle many of the pet-related issues within our State. They are under-funded and under-staffed. 

• Only 25% of pet owners in St. Cloud licensed their dog, which is true of most other cities and counties in Minnesota. The national rate of compliance with dog licensing is 28%. By law, people are require to obtain a dog license; a majority don’t. If the public were made aware of this fact, this could be a potential revenue source to care for unwanted animals and help pay for animal protection efforts. (The average cost for a license varies by city and averages between $5 and $50, depending on whether the animal is sterilized.) 

• Assume one city spends, on average, $180,000 per year for its animal control efforts — a low budget considering the problem and needs. (Larger cities with more animals will spend more; smaller cities, less. Some cities operate their own Animal Control; others contract the services.) Not all cities have Animal Control departments, so if we conservatively multiply $180,000 by 87 counties (not cities), the estimate is $15,660,000 yearly. Millions of dollars more must also be added to this figure to account for all the private money raised to support over 175 nonprofit animal shelters in Minnesota and millions more to account for volunteer labor. (Note: Local Animal Control budgets are difficult to obtain. Most of these budgets fall within a city’s main budget; many, if not all, are under-funded for the level of problem and need.)

Local communities, pounds and shelters are left to handle the growing problems of unwanted, surrendered and abandoned animals with no or limited State financial assistance, and little or no time for addressing the root of the problem.

 

• Consumers: Econmic and emotional costs

Substandard breeding conditions often ‘produce’ puppies and kittens that are sick, psychologically or physically, but, from outside appearances, these animals may look healthy. Dogs, cats, puppies and kittens housed within unclean facilities are subjected to a wide variety of ailments. As a way to cut costs, profit-driven breeders choose to limit or not pay for proper medications and veterinarian care.

As a result of poor care, unhealthy puppies and kittens are sold directly to consumers through the Internet or classified ads or to brokers/dealers who sell them to pet stores throughout the United States. Diseases and ailments are spread between animals during transport and within stores. Ailments common to pet stores: Parvovirus, worms, mange, distemper, upper respiratory disease, diarrhea, giardia, ear infections, eye infections, and coccidia.

Example: “His blood sugar was so low that he had brain damage.” That quote came from an article by Steve Neavling in the Detroit Free Press in July 2006. It was said by a woman, Jennifer Moodie of Northville, Michigan, who had bought two Yorkshire terrier pups at a Utica pet store. Within a day, one of the pups, named Jasper, went into seizures and later died. The full story is at the link below. The point: The puppies were purchased by Utica Pet Supply, one of Detroit’s largest importer of puppies, from a breeding operation in Minnesota. This breeder, Happy Tails Kennel, had been cited repeatedly for violations.


Some breeders also sell the animal without the proper health documentation as specified in the Pet Lemon law (Minn. Stat. sec. 325F.79 - 325F.792) or provide other misleading information about the animal, which violates the Minnesota consumer protection law (Chapter 325F.69) an may constitute fraud.

Consumers experience financial and emotional harm. If the animal is sickly, the consumer (who has already established a bond with the dog or puppy) may incur high veterinarian bills in an attempt to treat the animal — and/or relinquish the animal to the local shelter if they cannot afford the veterinary care.

 

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