Animal Advocacy

Animal Advocates Please Call In!

posted February 25th, 2011 by
  • Share
Rebel #3 2

By Ruth Steinberger. 

 The 2011 Oklahoma legislative session started with a bang as animal advocates closely watched four pieces of senate legislation intended to repeal or seriously amend the Commercial Pet Breeders Act, or SB 1712, a law which passed last year in order to regulate Oklahoma’s vast unlicensed puppy mill industry.  Following passage of that bill, an agency was formed to draft regulations which now await passage by the rules committee. The rules, which include mandatory inspections, will take effect later this year upon passage by the rules committees in both houses.  Breeders are still working hard to stop the regulations! 

Coming up on Monday, February 28 SB 637, a bill to disapprove the proposed rules will be heard in the ‘ag’ committee and SB 773, which combined two other bills, and which would seriously alter the new regulatory agency, remains under consideration. 

Essentially, SB 637 would stall the start up of the new agency for at least one more year, allowing breeders to continue to reap their unreported cash and SB 773 would tie the regulatory process to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture while also exempting many breeds of dog from protection under the law.  SB 773 has serious implications; the Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders would lose its’ self sustaining financial status and some dogs would be denied basic protections. It would strangle the ability to open and run the agency.

Considering that not one Oklahoma sales tax permit has been issued for a business declaring itself to be a dog breeder, and considering that the new agency was created as a self sustaining agency that relies on the licensing fees as many other agencies do, it is hard to understand why some Oklahoma legislators feel the need to punish dogs and Oklahoma tax payers alike by forestalling these regulations. 

Our successful efforts of last year are still being attacked by a misinformation campaign by breeders who hope to stop the regulation of the puppy mill industry. 

These breeders walked the halls of the capitol despite the proposed rules being changed to meet nearly all of the demands they made in a public comment period that ended in December, 2010.   The rules are virtually consistent with USDA dog breeder regulations and are considered a bottom line standard.   You can view a side-by-side comparison of the proposed Oklahoma rules and the USDA rules on the Oklahoma Humane Federation website at www.okhumanefederation.org

Please contact:

Agricultural Committee Members and Contacts

Senator Eddie Fields – Chair

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 514B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5581
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Becky Welch

Senator Ron Justice

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 423
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5537
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Terrill 

Senator Mark Allen 

Senator Mark Allen
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 415
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5576
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Suzanne Earnest

Senator Patrick Anderson 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 417A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5630
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Kathie Gasaway  

Senator Don Barrington 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 515
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5563
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Sandra Shelton

Senator Randy Bass 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 528B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5567
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Donna Ambler

Senator Jerry Ellis 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 535
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5614
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Jean McCurley


Senator Tom Ivester 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 529A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5545
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Pam McLerran

Senator David Myers 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 519
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5628
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Betsy Ingraham

Senator Frank Simpson 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 513B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5607
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Glenda Colbert

Senator Anthony Sykes 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 426
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5569
[email protected]ov
Executive Assistant: Tonya Lewis

Senator Charles Wyrick

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 521
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5561
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Bostick 

Inhumanity Back in Gear

posted February 8th, 2011 by
  • Share
Crowded pen3

Hello animal advocates–

PLEASE READ THE TALKING POINTS BELOW AND CONTACT THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS AS WELL AS YOUR OWN OKLAHOMA LEGISLATORS.  

A frantic campaign by some Oklahoma dog breeders who do not want to be regulated have stirred up fear by some legislators that passage of the proposed rules for dog breeding facilities will be over reaching or are unfair.  These rules must pass in order to implement the law which passed last year.

The proposed rules are very close to the USDA rules; no breeder should be unable to meet the mandates of a cage size simply twice the length of the dog which may spend years in it.  We want the proposed rules to pass.  We do not want this issue to be revisited and rehashed this year.

So far, four bills have been introduced to change or even repeal the legislation which we all worked so hard to pass.  These recent bills came about out of fear, not out of any reasonable plan to address the Oklahoma puppy  mill issue.  Puppy mills are not a part of Oklahoma agriculture-they are a disgrace.

Please read through the following talking points and contact (e-mail, call and visit) the legislators on this committee to ask that they support the passage of the rules proposed by the Oklahoma Commercial Pet Breeders Board.

Your voice is all they have!  Thank you! 

Agricultural Committee Talking Points – Commercial Pet Breeding Legislation

  • The Commercial Pet Breeder Board commenced work in late fall 2010 and was appointed by state leaders as designated by SB 1712.
  • The CPBB has written and approved a set of rules to support SB 1712 which established the Commercial Pet Breeder Bill.
  • Throughout December 2010 the CPBB followed proper protocol and responded to comments and suggestions made by interested parties during the comment period.
  • The CPBB formed a task force comprised of breeders to amend rules to satisfy all parties and to ensure the rules would not adversely affect good breeders in Oklahoma.
  • A number of bills have been introduced to amend or repeal SB 1712 or the rules of SB 1712:

o   SB 637: Senator Wyrick: disapproves SB 1712 rules

o   SB 773: Senator Fields: amends SB 1712 rules, exempts USDA breeders from fees, puts final rule approval under the Department of Agriculture

o   SB 15: Senator Brecheen: repeals SB 1712

o   SB 128 Senator Schulz: exempts sporting dogs and working dogs from regulation under SB 1712

  • The current rules written and approved by the CPBB are composed mostly of USDA standards of care and would enable the agency to regulate all breeders under minimum standards of care. They are drastically different than the original draft.
  • Continued amendments and consideration of additional legislation will only stop forward progress being made on addressing the publicly known sub-standard dog breeding problem in the state of Oklahoma.
  • In 2009/2010 the Legislators voted to pass SB 1712 and widely accepted the need to stop sub-standard breeding practices in Oklahoma.
  • The law is supported by the public as evidenced by the Tulsa World statewide poll  on January 21, 2011 indicated well over 70% of the public favor leaving the law, SB 1712, as is and letting the agency begin its work.
  • The legislature needs to continue moving forward by disregarding new legislation and accepting the rules as written and giving the CPBB the opportunity to put a stop to this problem.
  • The legislature needs to work on the issues outlined by Gov. Fallin, not rehash a law that was overwhelmingly approved last year regarding a black market industry that is evading taxes due to the state, funds badly needed in the current economic climate.

- Ruth Steinberger

 

 

Agricultural Committee Members and Contacts

Senator Eddie Fields – Chair

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 514B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5581
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Becky Welch

Senator Ron Justice

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 423
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5537
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Terrill 

Senator Mark Allen

Senator Mark Allen
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 415
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5576
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Suzanne Earnest

Senator Patrick Anderson

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 417A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5630
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Kathie Gasaway  

Senator Don Barrington

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 515
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5563
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Sandra Shelton

Senator Randy Bass

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 528B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5567
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Donna Ambler

Senator Jerry Ellis

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 535
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5614
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Jean McCurley


Senator Tom Ivester

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 529A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5545
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Pam McLerran

Senator David Myers

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 519
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405.521.5628
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Betsy Ingraham

Senator Frank Simpson

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 513B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5607
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Glenda Colbert

Senator Anthony Sykes

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 426
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5569
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Tonya Lewis

Senator Charles Wyrick

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 521
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5561
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Bostick

Turn Your Head for Money?

posted February 3rd, 2011 by
  • Share
Rebel #3 2

Those in southern Oklahoma have found it difficult to make sense out of Josh Breechen’s recent diatribes regarding the puppy mill issue. The first thing one wondered was if Breechen had read through the proposed regulations; the second was if pinning his hopes on this declining industry is the best he can come up with to further economic development in southern Oklahoma.

Strengthening the economy in District 6 by working to develop a ‘pipeline’ to get local agricultural products to the farmers markets in Dallas and Oklahoma City, or taking steps to increase tourism to District 6 lakes would mean a lot more than creating phantom animal rights terrorists to pretend to defend southern Oklahoma from.  The fact is that the low-income and public services provided by animal welfare organizations in southeastern Oklahoma save money for the cities and counties and are major contributors to quality of life in the area.  They’re not extremists and his posturing is defending the area from nothing. 

To address some of Breechen’s concerns, the alleged search and seizure language is consistent with other regulatory inspections carried out when a business operator on private property applies for a license to operate.  In home child care, elder care and much more are regulated and inspected by the state.  Additionally, the dairy and poultry industries are regulated and inspected; agricultural producers are not exempted from, nor threatened by, inspections.  And child care inspections have not somehow undermined the constitution.  Are puppy producers so above poultry and dairy producers that it is unthinkable that their facilities should be inspected?  Or are the inspections of the other facilities ‘okay’ because animal welfare is not a consideration?  Has Breechen thought through his comments?

               Puppy mills refer to high volume puppy producing facilities in which the dogs are generally transferred to their new owners off the producers’ property, so that the facility operates out of view. 

               This industry popped up after WWII, when enough cash to buy the, ‘puppy in the window,’ became a bit more plentiful and at the same time farm families sought to increase their income. 

In the 1960s, horrific conditions in puppy producing facilities were revealed.  Federal laws were passed and the USDA was tasked with regulating puppy producers that sold puppies to brokers or other third party buyers. However, breeders that sold puppies directly to the public, (which were often smaller kennels that sold to local buyers or show kennels), remained unregulated.  The internet then changed our shopping habits; small time unlicensed breeders now sold puppies across state lines in increasing numbers.  The unlicensed kennel industry was growing fast, and some of the direct sales kennels that were not required to have a license now produced hundreds of dogs.  

               As heartbroken consumers came forth and as horrific animal welfare issues surfaced, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and other high volume puppy producing states passed statewide regulations to cover those not required to have a USDA license.  And as those states passed laws, breeders who were unable to meet their state’s standards flocked to other states.  A lack of regulations made Oklahoma into the destination state for many substandard breeders.

Between 2000 and 2007, the number of USDA dog dealers in Oklahoma doubled when state licensing and inspections elsewhere drove this industry over Oklahoma’s state lines. Additionally, newspapers and internet advertising revealed that unlicensed dealers had expanded at an even greater rate than their USDA counterparts.  Oklahoma continued to welcome the unlicensed dealers, and cruelty complaints to state agencies and humane organizations to report the purchase of a sick or dying puppy skyrocketed. 

In 2008, it was revealed that based on the numbers of unlicensed dealers that had surfaced in other states when regulations were passed, there were likely over a thousand unlicensed puppy producers here in Oklahoma.  This is a largely cash industry; a conservative estimate was that puppy producers were evading the collection and remittance of sales taxes on over forty million dollars in sales yearly.  Breechen’s antipathy toward licensing puppy producers will continue to financially punish southern Oklahoma.  

In 2007, dogs removed from an unlicensed Oklahoma County breeder were found to have been living in a building so filled with ammonia (from urine and filth) that upon removing the matted fur from the dogs’ faces it was revealed that their eyes were gone.  A December 2010 release of 100+puppy mill dogs resulted in eight of 12 long haired breed dogs having to have one eye removed due to ulcers from ammonia.  And puppy producers charged with felonies in Oklahoma were shown to have come here after facing charges in other states.  Indeed, in a gruesome 2008 case, 94 starving Pit Bulls were seized from Jerry Southern, a Kansas breeder who brought them here because he could no longer retain a Kansas license due to a cruelty conviction.  Breechen insisted to me on the phone that better tracking of health papers could solve this whole issue.   The six to eight week old offspring go to the veterinarian for the health papers, making it hard to imagine how (or if) Breechen believes better tracking of health papers will prevent cruelty in closed facilities.  The papers do not look back over their shoulder at the mother left in the dark and in filth, cold and with eyes scalded out.  

This is an odd issue for Breechen to champion in his maiden voyage into the Oklahoma Senate.

In 2008, Representative Lee Denney (R-Cushing), introduced a law which would have mandated that unlicensed puppy producers purchase an Oklahoma license. Her bill mandated rules that would mirror the USDA rules.  Breeders were outraged and their outrage continues today.

For the record, under USDA regulations the minimum cage size is only six inches longer than, and six inches taller than, the dog.  This is fairly consistent with the current proposed rules which Breechen has railed against.  The only difference between the new proposed rules and the existing USDA rules is that Oklahoma would mandate that a dog be allowed to have periodic exercise in a cage at least twice its’ length.  The rules Breechen opposes include that water must be provided ‘regularly,’ the same on food, and female dogs must be at least 10 months to be bred for the first time and must be in good health to be bred.  The breeders fought, successfully, to eliminate a mandated rest for the mother between litters.

Following a dog auction in 2007, I received a blind Pomeranian that was unwanted. The person who handed her to me commented on her scarred eyes, saying sheepishly that dogs don’t need eyes to breed.  I do not think that most Oklahomans believe that to be acceptable.

Most of the consumers who purchase these puppies will never see where their puppy came from, although according to polls, most do care.  Saving puppy mills will not create economic development in southern Oklahoma, and defending animal cruelty is not protecting the constitution. 

Breechen is not championing his district by riding a great white puppy to the capitol.  Many people voted for him because they do not want business as usual and they want meaningful solutions to real problems. Hopefully he will replace big posturing at the expense of small dogs with something better; hopefully he will lead through strength and insight instead of defending cruelty and tax evasion and fighting against extremists that are not there.

– Ruth Steinberger

This Week’s Wednesday’s Children

posted January 5th, 2011 by
  • Share
_IGP9821

This is a good looking group of our Wednesday’s Children available from the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter.   There are some beautiful dogs and cats for adoption so please go rescue one today!  Rescued pets make the best companions!!!  To see them go to: http://www.tulsapetsmagazine.com/shelter/ or click on the original shelter picture of our dog Elmer in the lower left of the Homepage.  All of these pictures were taken yesterday, January 4th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Transfer

posted December 6th, 2010 by
  • Share
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Story by Ruth Steinberger

On November 13th, Durant based Oklahoma Spay Network (OSN) received a call for help in removing over a hundred dogs from a high volume breeder that was closing down east of Ardmore.  It was hard to know where to start. Internet pleas for help can result in a mass of confusion, with breeders even seeing an opportunity in the event; it was important to reach out to reputable rescue organizations, particularly those with the resources to care for dogs that can have multiple problems. 

Sue Kent, manager of OSN, said it was a huge undertaking to locate appropriate organizations and to work efficiently as the facility and the rescues, whether in Oklahoma or Texas, would require mileage and coordination to, “make it happen.”  Kent said first and foremost it was vital that the dogs went to rescue organizations that would immediately spay those that may be bred, and ones that would screen the homes, making sure that the adoptive homes were able to deal with a dog that had never been outside of a breeding kennel before.  Kent said, “Our goal was to upgrade the lives of these dogs, not just move them around.”

Caroline Nolan

Caroline Nolan, D'Ann Berson (Executive Director, Tulsa SPCA) and Ruth Steinberger surveying the dogs.

               Marilyn King, publisher of Tulsa Pets Magazine, referred OSN to Caroline Nolan of Tulsa Schnauzer Rescue, who immediately offered to handle the rescue of the 34 schnauzers.  When Nolan realized that large scale rescue efforts were not the normal venue for OSN, which is a high volume spay/ neuter program, she offered to contact other organizations to coordinate a rescue effort on behalf of the other breeds as well.  Within days Nolan had located foster homes and shelters for many of the dogs, and the first pick-up was scheduled.

Ruth Steinberger with the dogs after transport.

Washington County SPCA, with an existing working relationship with OSN, received 28 dogs in the first pick-up, and through Nolan’s outreach, Tulsa SPCA (TSPCA) and Tulsa-based ARF committed to a combined 25 additional dogs. Small Paws Rescue took all of the Bichons and Because of You Chihuahua rescue agreed to receive five Chihuahuas.  Zoi’s Rescue of Claremore reached out to a mother and puppy in need of special care and Mary Dickey, Director of Stillwater Animal Shelter, offered to find foster placements for ten dogs. At the first delivery TSPCA took ten additional dogs, making their total 22 and leaving Dickey’s offer open for dogs in the final pick-up. Ultimately 75 dogs went into pre-adoption placements on the first trip.

The final pick-up was planned for December 3.  Places for the remaining dogs were located and Oklahoma Alliance for Animals had “Wheels of Hope” (their transport van) waiting in case the weather turned cold. Shortly before sundown, a final load of dogs were unloaded at City Vet on Peoria and 36th Street. Some would be evaluated and cared for by Dr Chet Thomas and then sent into local foster homes; others were given a comfortable overnight stay at City Vet before being transferred to Washington County on the morning of the 4th. Nolan arranged the morning transport.  In addition to Nolan’s efforts as a first responder and a place for rescued schnauzers, ultimately Washington County SPCA received a total of 42 dogs, Tulsa SPCA took many hard-to-place seniors and Mary Dickey located foster homes for many Chihuahuas, a breed which is now appearing in shelters in larger numbers than ever before.  The two Oklahoma Spay Network trips, combined with the Washington County transfer, totaled over 1100 miles of transport and in the two trips a total of 112 dogs went into a new life as companion animals.  The effort involved animal welfare organizations from the Texas to the Kansas borders of Oklahoma.

The dogs in transport.

Caroline Nolan said, “I wish that everybody could see the conditions that puppy mill dogs are in.”  Referring to this event Nolan said, “These are certainly not the worst dogs we’ve seen by any means, but I wish people could see what it’s like when these dogs come out of the mills. Even if their basic physical needs were being met, they’re very frightened, shy and afraid of people.  It’s heart wrenching to see dogs like this, and it was just incredible to see the cooperation of these organizations, along with Dr Thomas at City Vet, that came together for the benefit of the animals.”

OSN’s Sue Kent said, “Oklahoma Spay Network sends a warm thank you to all of the organizations who came forth to help in this enormous feat.  It takes partnership and cooperation to really be there for the animals when a call like this comes in.”

– Ruth Steinberger

The Breeders Are At It Again!

posted December 3rd, 2010 by
  • Share
Rebel #3 2

Story by Ruth Steinberger

Urgent plea!

The breeders are at it again!

Puppy mill owners are inundating Oklahoma legislators in an effort to halt breeder regulations from being implemented!   We need your support!

Please Attend

A hearing on the proposed rules will be held December 9, 2010 at 4 P.M.  at First Christian Church in OK City,, at 3700 N. Walker Avenue Oklahoma City, OK, 73118

Please attend this hearing in support of regulations!  Also please contact your legislators immediately to express support for these efforts.

History:

  • On January 12, 2008, in order to undermine efforts to create minimum standards for unlicensed dog breeding facilities in Oklahoma, AKC Field Inspector Stacy Mason testified to incorrect information, misleading the Oklahoma house agriculture committee into believing that USDA regulations were difficult to comply with.   
  • In 2008, as meetings between animal welfare advocates and breeders convened, breeders argued against instituting regulations based on the minimum USDA standards, arguing against even having to provide a cage at least six inches longer than the dog. In the meetings, breeders argued that people with felony animal cruelty convictions should be allowed to hold a breeder’s license or that children of convicted felons should be able to hold the license for them. Mason made a plea for license holders to be able to pay their fees up to one year late.
  • In February, 2009, in a conference call Ms Goff of the AKC legislative branch requested that Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) ‘pull’ proposed legislation which mandated that USDA regulations be set as a minimum for all breeders in our state. Acknowledging that the standards were very low, Goff said the bill still, “bothered,” her.  Apparently, cruelty does not.
  • During the first months of the 2009 legislative session, breeders circulated altered versions of the proposed bill. Words were removed and other words pasted in in order to create hysteria at the capitol. 
  • Breeders had complained that they had no input into the proposed regulatory process.  So in 2009 Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant) submitted a bill for them.  In this bill, the only penalty for felony cruelty was to be named a, “puppy mill.” Name calling, that’s a tough penalty!
  • On November 29, 2010 (this week) the name of the new breeder regulatory agency was somehow “hijacked” online, taking readers straight to the American Kennel Club website. When you typed in the name of the agency, an AKC page came up informing you of how to fight against regulations. Proposed regulations are being circulated as already having been passed—one more attempt to confuse the truth.
  • They intend to block regulations from being implemented!

 

What you can do:

  • Between now and next Thursday call and e-mail your senators and representatives to let them know that you support breeder regulations as passed in the 2010 session.  Make sure they know you are a constituent and that you supported this legislation.
  • Get five friends to do likewise.
  • Find your legislator at http://www.capitolconnect.com/oklahoma/default.aspx
  • Contact Governor elect, Mary Fallin to let her know that this regulatory agency is important to Oklahomans. Contact her at (405) 521-4317
  • Ask friends in other states to contact the Governor elect to let her know that being a, “puppy mill state,” does not serve Oklahoma well. 

 

PLAN TO ATTEND

Please show your support for moving the regulatory process forward.

The Rules Hearing will be December 9, 2010 at 4 pm at First Christian Church in Oklahoma City, at 3700 N. Walker Avenue Oklahoma City, OK. 73118

Depending on the number of persons wishing to speak there may be a time limit given on comments to accommodate all persons at the Hearing.

– Ruth Steinberger