Leslie's Omnibus

Traveling Companions

It appears the animal rights nuts are at it again, and this time in a manner that may make it impossible for anyone to purchase a pet of almost any kind from anywhere but a pet shop. You don't have to be a breeder to find this frightening -- just an animal lover and/or concerned pet owner.

Here's what Joan Miller, Legislative Coordinator for the Cat Fanciers' Association has to say:

Alert from the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)

Appropriate forwarding/cross posting is appreciated.


The Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on PAWS (SB 1139) is expected to be scheduled near the end of September. This is the time to concentrate on effectively reaching the eleven subcommittee members.

Members are listed on the CFA website - the Agriculture "Research, Nutrition and General Legislation" Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Rick Santorum (author of PAWS).

Each member's state is noted. They will listen to their own CONSTITUENTS.

If you (or family or friends) live in the following 11 states PLEASE write to your member of the subcommittee. Letters sent to senators by FAX are preferred.

Your help is needed NOW.

Arkansas (Lincoln)
Idaho (Crapo)
Indiana (Lugar)
Kansas (Roberts)
Kentucky (McConnell)
Michigan (Stabenow)
Mississippi (Cochran)
Montana (Baucus)
Nebraska (Nelson)
Pennsylvania (Santorum, Chair, Author of SB 1139)
Vermont (Leahy)

Send a copy of your letter to Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Chairman of the full Senate Agriculture Committee.

If you do not live in a subcommittee member's state your letters are still important. Continue to use the CFA pre-addressed email form to reach the full Agriculture Committee Legislative Assistants. Add your own words or paste a copy of your letter to the Subcommittee here.

Continue to follow instructions so that your cat club, breed council or organization will be listed on the Opponents List.

PAWS contact information - http://www.cfainc.org/exhibitors/PAWS-committee.html

It has become apparent to anyone who has examined the PAWS bill that this proposal is confusing, badly drafted and full of uncertainties. Even the supporters acknowledge flaws in this bill, which they believe can be rectified with some language modifications. Others are aware that if PAWS were to become law the needed US Department of Agriculture rulemaking would go on for years. There is little chance that standards of care or regulations suitable for the newly licensed "dealers" raising cats and dogs in a home environment could be easily established. Existing Class A dealers with commercial separate facilities will object to special considerations for hobby/retail breeders' homes.

Letters to the congressional subcommittee members need to include points that are basic and simple in addition to addressing the specific objections. Here are some suggestions that are directed toward fundamental problems with PAWS.

***The PAWS bill does not simply "close a loophole" in the Animal Welfare Act, as supporters claim. The PAWS bill is against individuals selling cats, dogs and other animals to the pet owning public. The PAWS bill is a step toward eventually ending the breeding of pure bred dogs and pedigreed cats in a home setting. [Emphasis mine.]

***The PAWS bill is a dramatic change in the fundamental concept of the Animal Welfare Act, which is to license dealers who sell to the pet trade (to pet stores and brokers).

***The PAWS bill federalizes the breeding of home-raised animals - the optimum source of well socialized pets. If fanciers and hobby breeders are forced to discontinue or reduce their breeding programs, the public demand for well socialized pets will shift to less desirable sources. Fewer breed enthusiasts will result in the loss of genetic diversity - many rare breeds will no longer be preserved.

***The PAWS bill does not benefit the welfare of dogs in large substandard commercial kennels. In fact the thousands of added cat and dog hobbyists will greatly overburden the US Department of Agriculture making it harder to properly enforce the Animal Welfare Act.

***The PAWS bill was written without solid facts and without input from all stakeholders. Radical changes to the Animal Welfare Act should not be implemented without some investigation and data.

Senator Santorum's office says they will "mark up" the bill to correct some wording and unintended consequences, such as breeders who would become dealers if they sell only one bird, rabbit, guinea pig, or other warm blooded animal. The Senator has said he will find a way to exclude the "true" rescue groups. There seems to be some recognition that the "high-volume" thresholds established in the bill would unnecessarily impact small or moderate sized breeders of pedigreed cats.

Unfortunately the PAWS bill cannot be easily "fixed". Taking care of the problems in this bill is beyond the ability of one Senate subcommittee or one hearing.

PAWS supporters claim the legislation is needed because there is a growing problem of large scale selling of dogs/cats through mass media outlets such as magazines or the Internet. But reports of large dog kennels selling direct to the public at retail have not been validated. Only 3 to 6% at most of all pet cats in the United States come from cat breeders and there are few large scale breeders of cats. At least one national pet owner survey shows that cats and dogs are NOT acquired through mass media sources like the Internet or even newspaper advertising. Pet dogs are mostly acquired from friends/family, shelters or private breeders. Cats are mostly acquired from friends/family, shelters or as strays.

The alleged growing threat from mass importing of dogs from outside the United States has not been verified. Is this problem perceived as unfair market competition? Are concerns health related? Does it even exist? The USDA cannot regulate facilities of breeders in other countries. Animal brokers are already licensed. If supporters of PAWS are opposed to imported dogs from other countries being sold directly to the public is this any different from those importing and selling through shelters?

There are some enforcement provisions included in the PAWS bill. Will these improve regulation yet be fair to the dealers? A report from the USDA on the ways in which the Animal Welfare Act can be best enforced, the risks of noncompliance and whether the numbers of inspectors or other resources are adequate should be made available.

***Urge the Senate Subcommittee members to OPPOSE SB 1139 entirely - this bill is fundamentally misdirected, poorly written and without substantiated findings.

***Ask the Senators to request that the USDA, as a government agency, convene a STUDY COMMITTEE to investigate the facts or problems surrounding large scale marketing of pets in America including an evaluation of the current enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Ask that adequate stakeholder input be assured.

***We care about the welfare of animals and how they are raised. The large commercial breeders selling to the pet trade may have the resources to comply with USDA regulation; but the PAWS bill will be the end of the breeding programs of many conscientious pedigreed cat/purebred dog breeders, along with other animals. Those who lovingly raise animals in their homes and sell directly to the public provide the optimum pets. Help them to survive - defeat PAWS.

Joan Miller
CFA Legislative Coordinator

There's more:

HSUS is actively recruiting support for PAWS from shelters and rescues. Below is the text of a message from Joanne Bourbeau, HSUS NE Regional Director that went out to all animal workers in Massachusetts yesterday.

"Attention shelters and rescue groups, 2 minutes of your time can really help.

Attached is an endorsement form to use to record your support of the federal Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS) legislation.

PAWS, commonly known as "the puppy mill bill" will go far in regulating commercial, high-volume breeders of dogs who escape inspection through a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act. Small, hobby breeders are not covered under PAWS. [UNTRUE!]

PAWS is supported by all major national animal welfare groups including The ASPCA, American Humane Assocaition, Animal Protection Institute, Doris Day Animal League, Humane Society of the United States, Society for Animal Protective Legislation and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. We hope you will add your name to this list!

Please sign and fax, or fill out and respond via email, completed forms to: Kelley Dupps in The HSUS Government Affairs department. You can reach Kelley at kdupps@hsus.org<mailto:kdupps@hsus.org> or via fax at 202-676-2301.

For more information about PAWS, go to www.hsus.org/pets

Thank you!
Joanne Bourbeau
Regional Director
New England Regional Office
The Humane Society of the United States"

Write to your senator. Spread the word to your friends. This requires action, and FAST.

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