General Interest


posted July 15th, 2010 by
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By Ruth Steinberger

On May 5, 2010 Governor Brad Henry signed SB 1712, the Commercial Pet Breeders Act, commonly called, ‘the Black Market Breeders Bill,’ into law. His signature marked a major milestone for animal welfare in Oklahoma. The bill establishes an eight-person board which includes veterinarians, breeders and an animal welfare advocate who will work together to develop regulations to eliminate the cruelty and consumer fraud in high volume dog kennels. The start-up will be privately funded and enforcement will start July 1, 2011.

Breeders that sell puppies to a broker to be resold in pet stores must obtain a dog dealers license under the USDA. However, those that sell directly to the public, either through local ads or over the internet, are not compelled to get a USDA license. In order to halt the abuses that occurred in unregulated high volume kennels, many states began licensing breeders that sell to the public. Until now, Oklahoma had no such regulations. Avoiding regulations, many substandard breeders moved to Oklahoma, bringing animal cruelty, consumer fraud and ongoing law enforcement nightmares with them.

Efforts to pass puppy mill regulations in Oklahoma started in 2007. That year a far weaker measure failed to even get out of the first committee. In 2010, an unprecedented level of citizen lobbying, grass roots activism and electronic networking resulted in the passage of the strictest high volume breeder bill ever introduced in our state. It bears understanding the significance of this effort; animal advocates overcame a well established underground, but vocal, puppy mill industry.

SB 1712 was designed to eliminate substandard facilities called, ‘puppy mills,’ while compelling puppy producers to act as businesses, keeping appropriate records for sales taxes, etc. It is estimated that Oklahoma has been losing sales tax revenue on over forty million dollars in puppy sales each year. While earlier bills set forth standards that would equal USDA regulations, the Commercial Pet Breeders Act enables the eight person board to develop stricter guidelines than the outdated USDA standards of care. The ability to upgrade the standards of care may be the greatest single component of the bill. An example of this benefit is that the USDA mandates that a cage be at least six inches longer than the dog when measured from base of tail to tip of nose, and owners are encouraged to provide exercise time for dogs.

Recognizing that under USDA regulations an average Chihuahua could spend its life in a two-foot wide by two-foot long cage, and that exercise time would be virtually impossible to enforce, the new law empowers the governing board to establish rules which increase cage size to make dogs more comfortable in their primary enclosure. SB 1712 was written to do more for dogs than any previous legislation that was submitted. So how did it pass when weaker bills failed? SB 1712 was written by Enid resident and citizen lobbyist Sue Ann Hamm, an attorney who believes that the puppy producing industry should not be allowed to bypass the most basic animal welfare considerations while managing to evade taxes year after year. Hamm researched legislation introduced in the past two years, perused effective laws from other states and added provisions to safeguard dogs in a way which will hopefully become a model for other states.

Many of those who worked for the passage of SB 1712 were men and women in the Oklahoma oil industry who want to see Oklahoma communities thrive. One by one many unlikely Oklahoma legislators came on board and even some former opponents became vocal supporters of the bill. The Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) has actively supported puppy mill regulations since 2007, and early in the 2010 session the OVMA executive committee voiced their support.

SB 1712 was introduced by Senator Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) and was sponsored in the house by Representative Mike Jackson (R-Enid). Jackson said, “First I give credit to Representative Lee Denney (R-Cushing) who worked on this issue for two years prior to this session.” Jackson continued, “A group of citizens came to me about this issue. I liked the idea of addressing this and felt we could get through the process. We worked extremely hard and came up with something that was very good law…the language pointed right at the people we wanted to address.” Sue Ann Hamm said, “Legislators saw this was an unselfish bill. They knew the people working on it weren’t doing this for themselves.” Hamm explained, “The legislators saw that this was selfless; we worked together, we worked hard and we picked up a lot of heroes along the way.” Oklahoma animal welfare advocates across the state combined forces, creating an electronic network asking people to call representatives, senators and even local media.

Following an alert asking for thank you e-mails to legislators, one senator commented that he had been thanked over 1200 times. Oklahoma Alliance for Animals board members and donors individually purchased full-page newspaper ads and six electronic billboards.
Christy Counts, Executive Director of Oklahoma City based OK Humane, explained that two years ago she was approached by animal welfare advocates asking that she take a stand on the puppy mill issue. She said, “I was aware that a coordinated effort was underway but it needed help.” Counts rallied calls, letters and visits to legislators throughout the 2010 session. She said, “I’m proud to have had a small part in a huge thing which can have an impact on so many dogs.”

Noting the level of social media that moved messages across the state instantly, she said, “This was huge, so many organizations and individuals got involved. And no part of it was unnecessary.” Counts hopes the new regulations will become a template for other states to consider.

Animal advocates in rural Oklahoma indeed heeded the call as well. Rich Galyen is President of Clayton Animal Welfare, a Pushmataha County organization which sponsors mobile spay neuter clinics, assists local law enforcement and operates the local shelter in conjunction with the City of Clayton. Galyen placed ads for the bill in local newspapers, spoke at local meetings and organized a, ‘1712 party,’ an educational event which filled a room at Clayton City Hall. Referring to southeast Oklahoma, Galyen said, “We see the worst of these here. SB 1712 was absolutely vital…all of rural Oklahoma needed to step up to the plate and support this legislation.” And they did. Oklahoma Humane Federation board member Misti Stewart of neighboring Pittsburg County organized a grass roots legislative training session in McAlester.

Stewart said, “We had to work on this issue from every corner of Oklahoma.” Oklahoma Humane Federation President Anita Stepp said, “Oklahoma Humane Federation is very pleased the bill passed.” Responding to a last minute effort by J Paul Gumm to reconsider the passage of the bill, business owners in Bryan and Marshall Counties protested his actions at the state level and from as far as Madill, animal welfare advocates made their voices heard throughout the session.

Sue Hamm said, “I see this as a process. We worked as a team and there are so many people to thank…” Check out the text of the bill at


posted July 15th, 2010 by
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By Marilyn King

On a clear day, when the weather in Tulsa is near perfect, you might catch a strange site if you travel on 15th Street between Harvard and Yale Avenue.

At first one would think it a rather odd trio, a woman on a motorized scooter, with dogs in tow? I did a double-take the first time I saw her, cruising down 15th Street on a nice fall day. I spent about a year looking for her again, and finally succeeded this past spring.

Her name is Bernadee, and she and her long-haired Dachshund Patches and sweet-as-sugar Doberman, Buddy, explore and cruise down 15th for exercise and fun.

The outings are for the big guy Buddy, who needs plenty of exercise and stimulation. You see, Bernadee suffers from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal cord and column, and she can’t walk long distances. Being a lifelong animal lover, she fell head over heels in love with Buddy but knew he needed daily outings – long daily outings. So about four years ago, she invested in her scooter, and now off they go! They usually cruise down 15th to the Fairgounds, and explore what’s going on there, be it the horse or dog shows or other event.

Buddy loves his outings, and Bernadee says he often morphs into a Husky and virtually pulls the power scooter along. Patches will walk alongside, but tires during the walk, so she’ll hop atop the scooter and relax most of the way. They’ve been honked at and waved at, and even caught in rain storms.

But it’s all worth it to be able to get out and enjoy the day, says Bernadee. They are well equipped for their outings. Buddy pulls his weight by carrying bottled water in his back pack, and there’s plenty of space on the scooter for a water bowl and dog treats. Patches did her array of twirling and sashaying for treats, and Buddy sat at attention for his goodies.

So just remember, when the weather here is near perfect, you might see Bernadee, Buddy and Patches out and about. Don’t honk – just a smile and a wave will make their day.

Pet Nutrition Traveling with Fido

posted July 15th, 2010 by
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By Dr. Sean Delany, DVM

Traveling is always a stressful time for anyone. Handling the packing, making the arrangements – the days leading up to the big trip can be overwhelming. But once you hit the open road, all the stress quickly begins to fade away.

For pets, it’s a different story. With new sights and smells, travel can be both exciting and overwhelming for your pet. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend road trip or journeying from the air, traveling with your four-legged best friend can be an adventure for everyone.

For your peace of mind and your pet’s comfort, preparation is key in traveling. Before you hit the open road, check out these useful tips so you can plan and pack for your pet.

Feeding a Traveling Pet

Going into “foreign territories” is stressful for even well-adjusted pets and can lead to drastic appetite changes. Animals are instinctively cautious about eating in unfamiliar surroundings. This reduced appetite cannot only affect bowel movements and energy levels, but even a pet’s overall health. Maintaining her caloric intake should be a primary focus for you.

Make every bite count and travel armed with a tasty diet of foods that are just too good for a pet to pass up. Feeding a highly palatable, highly digestible diet can be helpful in overcoming a reluctance to eat. It is important to introduce your animal to any new foods before heading on your trip. Establishing good eating habits at home weeks prior to a vacation will allow ample time for your companion to adjust.
Foods that are higher in protein and fat are generally more palatable than foods higher in carbohydrates. Therefore, selecting a low carbohydrate food is a simple solution. For many brands, carbohydrate levels are not typically listed on packaging, but can be roughly calculated by adding all the percentages for protein, fat, moisture, crude fiber, and ash, and subtracting the total from 100%. The remainder is an approximation of the percent of carbohydrate in the food.

Dry foods with less than 18% carbohydrate for dogs and 12% for cats would be considered low in carbohydrate. Canned dog and cat foods with less than 2% carbohydrate would be considered lower in carbohydrate.

No-sweat Ways to Stay Hydrated

Hydration is also imperative for pets to avoid overheating when traveling by car or plane. To beat the heat, provide your dog or cat with frequent access to fresh cool water. This can be challenging when pets are physically separated from the rest of their traveling companions, such as on an airplane. Therefore on planes it may be worthwhile to see if the carrier will allow the pet to travel on board with you and if not, to consider using water bottles that can be licked. But remember to train your pet to use them before your trip.

A more convenient way to help with hydration is to feed canned food. The greater water content in canned food (up to seven times as much as dry food) can help meet a pet’s water needs and reduce how much water it needs to drink. Plus, higher moisture foods are often more appetizing to pets, encouraging healthy intake.

Hassle-Free Adventures

During travel most pet parents would like to minimize the amount of pet clean up they need to do. To reduce both the frequency and volume of stools, feed a highly digestible food. Highly digestible foods provide more calories per cup or can which means less waste.
Generally, protein from animal sources are more digestible than those from plants so selecting a food with meats and meat meals among the first ingredients listed can be an additional way to identify foods that may be more digestible.

When outside your normal sniffing grounds, it is always critical that your pet has proper identification through a collar and tag or microchip.
It is also important to pack any necessary medications, bedding, leashes and bowls that your furry friend may need along the way and remember that a health certificate from your veterinarian may be required by some airlines even when you’re traveling domestically.

Treating While Traveling

The more comfortable and satisfied a pet is during the trip, the more enjoyable the entire experience will be for everyone. Help your companion understand that traveling is fun. Provide treats at different points in the trip and make plenty of rest stops to stretch and discover new sights and smells. When packing snacks, choose ones from home that are easily stored and that come in a variety of shapes and flavors. These special pleasures will train your pet to enjoy the ride.

As responsible pet parents, it’s up to us to select the right pet food for every occasion but it is always good to check with your veterinarian before starting your pet on any new feeding plans. With a little planning, new experiences, sights and friends discovered while traveling can be exciting and fun for both pet lovers and their companions.

Publisher’s Letter

posted July 15th, 2010 by
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20100715 1

By Marilyn King

Happy hot summer to all pet lovers out there!
I hope this issue finds everyone well and thriving.
Gracing this issue’s cover is “Mauser” the bloodhound. He’s not a character in any of the stories, and he’s not famous. He was actually submitted for a Pets About Town inclusion and when I saw that face I knew I had to have him on the cover. He’s just as handsome in person, and I hope you enjoy his bloodhound good looks! Keep the Pets About Town pictures coming – you never know, your pet might just end up on the cover! This latest issue’s story on the search and rescue labs was truly one of the most fun and exciting things I’ve experienced. (As a mother to rescued labs, I am also a bit prejudice to the breed.) When I met them, all three (while very well-behaved and not anything like the heathen-type labs I have) seemed like regular dogs — until it was time to go to work. Then no amount of distraction could break their concentration. These dogs are simply amazing.

Pictured here is just a portion of the search and rescue “training field,” and I’m the spec of a person on the left in the hardhat. While I was walking the concrete piles used to depict rubble, I got totally stuck and could not go forward or backward. The firemen sensed I was in a bit of a distressed situation, so I was personally escorted off the rubble with a fireman on either side.

We have a fun contest to implement – we are going to ask for photos depicting a certain pet topic, and we’ll publish every one we receive on the web site. We’ll also judge the best three and publish them in the upcoming issue. We’re kicking it off with Pets In Action. Be they flying pets, playing pets, soaring pets, pets in pirouette, send them in. Please email your high-resolution photo to [email protected]

It will be fun to see how high the pets can fly. Some of you may notice that there is no Shelter Report in this issue. We have made the decision to post the Shelter Report on the web site, with its own separate page, as we feel this will be much more timely for the featured pets. So check on a regular basis for your new shelter rescued best friend!! Again and as always, thank you to everyone who has contributed to this issue – to my advertisers and writers and loyal readers, a huge thank you! See you in October – and stay cool!

Big Dogs, Small Yard? You need a POWERLOO!

posted July 10th, 2010 by
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Story by Kristi Eaton

No longer does disposing of your four-legged friend’s waste have to be unsanitary, time consuming or messy.

World's first outdoor flushable dog toilet

 PowerLoo is an outdoor toilet that flushes to get rid of pet waste. Installed in the ground, the product connects to an existing sewer or septic line, where it then travels to a treatment facility or septic tank.
The PowerLoo eliminates one of the most common methods of poop removal: picking it up with a plastic bag, placing in the trash bin and waiting for the city to pick it up with the other trash, as well as the most unsanitary: leaving it in the ground for the soil to absorb it or let the rain carry it away. The problem with the latter method is that the waste contains a high level of disease-causing pathogens that can seep into the rain sewers, therefore entering lakes, rivers and other bodies of water.  Moreover, burying the waste or composting it can spread E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia and other diseases.

Just raise the lid with your foot on the pedal...

 Flushing the waste down a toilet has been found to be the safest and most sanitary way to get rid of dog poop, but many people do not want to carry their dog’s waste through the house to the bathroom toilet. Enter the PowerLoo, which has been featured on CNN and MSNBC. It comes in five different colors and two different packages. The standard package is $997 and the premium package is $1,197. For more information, visit

Push down further and flush your problem away!

 – Kristi Eaton

Photos courtesy of Tulsa homeowner.


The Struggle for Information About Oklahoma

posted July 1st, 2010 by
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Rebel #3

Story by Ruth Steinberger

My effort to learn the number of dogs transacted by USDA Class B, or “random source” dog dealers in Oklahoma each year, specifically for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, hit a dead end this week within the federal agency that monitors the Class B dealer licensees. The USDA’s system shields this information even from the agency itself, and it will likely, “take an act of congress,” to change it.

Oklahoma is one of the highest in the number of Class B dealers licensees in the nation (34 out of 969 active Class B licensees are located in OK) and this trade in dogs and other animals, which go to research, product testing, resale for pets and animals used in exhibits, may be even more hidden than in the puppy mill world.

The Class B underworld was exposed in undercover footage produced by Last Chance for Animals and shown in the 2003 HBO documentary Dealing Dogs.  That case involved the seizure of over 800 dogs from the Arkansas based USDA Class B dealer, CC Baird. Undercover videotapes gathered by Last Chance for Animals revealed that Baird and his associates were involved in purchasing large numbers of stolen pets for over two decades while he was licensed by USDA.  Ultimately Baird was charged by the State of Arkansas, but not by the USDA.

What I have learned is that information which reflects the number of dogs transferred by each dealer is actually collected from the dealer, but then is not forwarded to the USDA or tabulated or tracked in any way.  It is virtually impossible to find how many dogs are processed by a single dealer, much less how many are processed through a single state.  Despite the fact that wrongdoing has been exposed in the Class B system, and this wrongdoing has been exposed to congress, the system remains set up to prevent an elected official from determining numbers or seeking accountability. Some dog dealers have been tied to theft by deception, for example people called “bunchers” are known to respond to free-to-good-home advertisements posing as a prospective home and getting dogs for the dealer for a fee.

Despite a track record filled with wrongdoing, it would be virtually impossible for a law enforcement entity to use USDA transfer records if they suspect pet theft. And although a National Geographic expose’ revealed pet theft to be a problem nationwide, the numbers on the Class B dealers forms are still not tabulated.

Commenting on Class B dealers, Stephen Barthold, Director of the Center for Comparative Medicine at the University of California at Davis, was quoted in Feb 26, 2010 as saying, “There is a minority of dealers that is totally legitimate and doing the job well.”

Class B dog dealers mainly get dogs from “random sources” to be resold.  Some supply research facilities, they also supply pet retailers, and some are exhibitors, (this includes exotic animal exhibitors).   “Random source” is supposed to mean that owners who have raised the pets actually sell the dog or cat to the dealer. However, it’s unlikely that most people would knowingly sell a dog to go to research; having no method of accountability invites, indeed almost condones, wrongdoing.

On my first attempt to find out how many Oklahoma dogs are processed by Class B dealers, I was told by USDA to submit a request through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which I did.  Two months later a letter came explaining that USDA does not collect that information.

This week I spoke with a man named Wayne at the USDA Colorado office who did not offer his last name.

Wayne said that each dealer uses a disposition form which records anywhere from one to several dogs which are transacted, and that the dealer keeps one copy, one copy goes with the dog or dogs, and a third copy is held for the inspector who, according to Wayne, picks up the forms when USDA performs their inspection. He said the inspection is “annually, bi-annually or tri-annually…”  According to him, no copy is submitted to a central USDA office, nor are any figures or basic information tabulated by the USDA. Each inspector collects and simply keeps these forms somewhere. The numbers are kept from the public by omission, continuing a lack of oversight of a system which has been wrought with fraud, theft and cruelty for decades.

Wayne explained that essentially the USDA inspectors who receive the forms do not have a mechanism for allowing the forms to provide oversight or public access, the figures on the forms are not tabulated within a database, and inspectors do not submit numbers from the disposition forms to the agency itself.    Random source dogs end up as randomly released dogs, and their fates and numbers still cannot be determined from the USDA record keeping.

As it stands now, there is no mechanism that keeps the infamous CC Baird tragedy from recurring.

Please ask your federal representatives to mandate that numbers which are already collected on USDA forms be added up and posted so that the number of dogs processed in a county, state or within our nation can no longer be hidden from the public.

– Ruth Steinberger

Photos courtesy Last Chance for Animals