A Wolf in Lobbyist’s Clothing

By Jenny Stephens, http://www.nppmwatch.com/ (Reprinted with permission)

Puppies in the penA few weeks ago, a guest came to the North Penn Puppy Mill Watch rally, an educational function held at The Pavilion shopping center every Saturday in Lansdale, PA.  As he made his way through the ranks he was heard to remark that he was going to ‘solve all of our problems.’

That man was Michael Glass, National Field Representative for America’s Pet Registry, Inc. and a registered Pennsylvania lobbyist.  APRI is a canine dog registry currently competing with a slew of other ‘clubs’ to capture the attention and business of puppy mill operators (and ignorant consumers) in order to capitalize upon the registry fees that tally well into the millions annually. 

APRI, along with the ACA, CKC and many other money hungry organizations happily accept funds in exchange for fancy canine birth certificates that they indiscriminately issue to any four-legged animal belonging to the Canis familiaris species.

Don’t get me wrong, AKC is also in competition for these registry funds albeit with a tad more professionalism and discretion… their interests remain with pure bred dogs and they issue papers with a disclaimer that appears on their website:

"AKC Registration and Quality: There is a widely held belief that "AKC" or "AKC papers" guarantee the quality of a dog. This is not the case.  AKC is a registry body. A registration certificate identifies the dog as the offspring of a known sire and dam, born on a known date. It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog.  Quality in the sense of "show quality" is determined by many factors including the dog’s health, physical condition, ability to move and appearance. Many people breed their dogs with no concern for the qualitative demands of the breed standard. When this occurs repeatedly over several generations, the animals, while still purebred, can be of extremely low quality."

Regardless of whether or not you find the AKC statement disconcerting, at a minimum the Club is up front about what ‘papers’ really are and, rest assured, you won’t see any such notice on any of the other breed registry websites.

APRI, ACA and the rest of the canine registries are after one thing and one thing only: money. It stands to reason that the more puppies being produced, the more money these outfits hope to capitalize upon.  Anything that could or would impede the production of puppies represents a tremendous threat to these quasi-dog clubs including the implementation of regulatory and legislative changes that would better the lives of breeder dogs held captive in puppy mills across the state and the nation.

Michael Glass and I had an interesting conversation that afternoon in December.  He assured me that he has been meeting with the commercial breeders and encouraging them to ‘clean up their act.’  That he’s been meeting with legislators on the state and local levels to find ways to treat the breeder dogs more humanely and that, if we (the animal advocates and the puppy mill capitalists) could only work together, a solution is sure to be found. Glass acknowledged the well known problems in the mills yet was emphatic when he said that the two sides have more in common than I could possibly realize…. 

The fact of the matter is that we have little to nothing in common and share but one thing: the knowledge that commercial canine breeders place profit above the health and welfare of breeder dogs and puppies alike. 

Some might say that I am too quick to judge Michael Glass and his seemingly altruistic intentions but, as sure as truth and oil always rise to the surface, a copy of the latest APRI newsletter quickly puts to bed any misgivings you may have about who and what Michael Glass is.  Page three of the newsletter reads, verbatim, as follows:

Ugh, What is the latest news about the Current Legislative Proposals? 

The NEW DRAFT of the horrendously written proposals has been released.

This is what we are doing.  I had the opportunity to meet with Lisa Meade.  Lisa is the Legislative Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.  We thoroughly discussed the NEW DRAFT.

I have also had personal discussion with KEY members of the House of Representatives as well as influential members of the Senate.  APRI and my opinions have been well received.

I am continuing to maintain contact with many of the dog breeders and other dog owner groups in Pennsylvania.  Collectively, there have been dozens of interested groups in the dog industry that have been brought together to interpret the new draft of the proposals.

We have been in direct discussions with the administrators from department of the Dog Law Office.  I have been assured that we will be kept updated on the release of any new information.

Here is what you can do.  Be ready and stay alert.  We have discussed this before.  At this time we need to continue to gather information and be prepared for the next step.

The good news.  You, the professional breeder have the support of America’s Pet Registry, inc.  We will continue to attend meetings and supply the TRUTH to the legislators. AND, we will continue to supply the TRUTH to you about what is happening legislatively.  When the times comes… APRI will once again write the proper letter to the legislators to defeat this proposal.

IMPORTANT:  APRI, together with experts in the professional dog breeding industry from Pennsylvania and other states will continue to fight irresponsible legislation.  With your help we will stop this unfair legislation.  We have STRONG position against this unfair legislation supported by documentation.  We will NOT help to re-write the NEW DRAFT because the whole proposal is flawed beyond repair.  Together we can DEFEAT the animal activists and their supporters.



Puppy mill dogMichael Glass and APRI have lots in common with the commercial breeders: they have their annual membership dues; they have the revenues generated by supplying new puppy owners with fancy, yet meaningless, papers; and, they have their battle cry to squash any attempt to improve the conditions under which breeder dogs are forced to live their sad, lonely and largely neglected lives.

Despite Glass’s best efforts to convince me otherwise, animal advocates and APRI have about as much in common as did Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf with one exception; instead of saying ‘what big eyes you have’ advocates might be more inclined to remark ‘what big lies you have.’

As we begin 2008, dog lovers and animal advocates alike must remain steadfast in our quest to create laws and standards to better the lives of Pennsylvania’s breeder dogs and their puppies.  During 2007 the Bureau of Dog Law demonstrated, via beefed up enforcement, that there are many aspects in the commercial kennels that need change and that enforcement of the current laws alone will not do the trick. 

The new regulatory and legislative endeavor recently proposed by the Governor’s office is the beginning of long needed reform in the state.  Instead of laws that allow worst case scenarios to manifest, the proposals offer standards to prevent these crisis situations from ever occurring in the first place and are, in their nature, progressive and pro-active.

It’s only natural for human beings to resist change but change we must if we are ever to solve the problem of long standing abuse in Pennsylvania’s commercial kennels and actually help the dogs.  If we learned but one thing over the last year it’s that those who profit from dogs are depending upon the inability of animal advocates to create a united front.

This year instead of professing to care about Pennsylvania’s dogs it’s time to prove it and, make no mistake about it, the only winners or losers in this battle are the dogs. 

Are you up to the challenge?


Jenny Stephens  is director of North Penn Puppy Mill Watch, http://www.nppmwatch.com/