“Education” Assumes the Breeder Actually Gives a Damn

puppy mill protestU.S. Inspector General Releases Audit of USDA/APHIS
By:  Jenny Stephens, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch

On Tuesday afternoon I received a copy of the Inspector General’s audit of the APHIS Animal Care Program – Inspections of Problematic Dealers.  This report was not based on a handful of breeders, either.  In fact, the report looks at 4,250 violators.  The inspection was spurred by significant media coverage concerning large-scale dog dealers (i.e., breeders and brokers), animal rights groups, Congress and the public.

In part, it says:

"In this audit, one objective was to review AC’s (Animal Care’s) enforcement process against dealers that violated AWA (Animal Welfare Act).  Accordingly, we focused on dealers with a history of violations in the past 3 years.  Another objective was to review the impact of recent changes the agency made to the penalty assessment process.  We identified the following major deficiencies with APHIS’ administration of AWA:

AC’S Enforcement Process Was Ineffective Against Problematic Dealers:  AC’s enforcement process was ineffective in achieving dealer compliance with AWA and regulations, which are intended to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals.  The agency believed that compliance achieved through education and cooperation would result in long-term dealer compliance and, accordingly, it chose to take little or no enforcement action against most violators.

However, the agency’s education efforts have not always been successful in deterring problematic dealers from violating AWA.  During FYs 2006-2008, at the re-inspection of 4,250 violators, inspectors found that 2,416 repeatedly violated AWA, including some that ignored minimum care standards.  Therefore, relying heavily on education for serious or repeat violators – without an appropriate level of enforcement – weakened the agency’s ability to protect animals."

To use education as a tool to improve the care received by breeder dogs assumes that those caring for these dogs actually give a damn about their health and welfare.  Bottom line:  they don’t.

Other conclusions in the report include:

AC Inspectors Did Not Cite or Document Violations Properly to Support Enforcement

APHIS’ New Penalty Worksheet Calculated MINIMAL Penalties

APHIS Misused Guidelines to Lower Penalties for AWA Violators

Some Large Breeders Circumvented AWA by Selling Animals Over the Internet

This almost 70 page report contains information that those heavily involved in advocacy won’t find surprising – it’s what we’ve been trying to raise awareness about for years BUT… for those who have denied that dogs in large scale commercial breeding kennels AREN’T neglected, aren’t denied vet care and aren’t suffering, we’ll let’s just say that we now have official confirmation that the facts, as we’ve presented them, are indeed true.  This report reaffirms the dismal conditions the breeder dogs have now had to endure for DECADES.

Our take on the report is that a large part of the APHIS agency is a farce and that many of the individuals employed to inspect the large scale commercial breeding facilities have blatantly ignored minimum care standards that are intended to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals. 

Now that this report is public, we wonder how many pet shops will continue to brag that their puppies come from "USDA Licensed" breeders.  For this reason, it’s important that the contents of this report be circulated, reported in the media and made as public as possible.

Finally, educating consumers not to purchase puppies in pet shops falls into the same category as this editorial’s title; we assume that those contemplating the purchase of a pet shop puppy actually give a damn as to where the mother of the puppy resides and how she is taken care of.  Sadly, there is a portion of shoppers who want what they want when they want it.  These are the people who don’t care where their puppy comes from, they’re not bothered by the misery the mother will continue to suffer, are the same people who, for whatever reason, have no problem dumping their dog at a kill shelter.

While we’re thankful for this truthful and frank report, we’re saddened by its content and reminded that there are far too many members of our society with hardened hearts.

Give Hope to the Mill Dogs
North Penn Puppy Mill Watch
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