MARTINSBURG, W.V. -- The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), long known for its contempt of animal breeders, is touting another "victory" in getting law enforcement to raid a dog breeder and seize 132 dogs on June 19. According to its website, HSUS, campaigns to halt dog breeding and solicits people to report "animal cruelty" such as "puppy mills." The Journal in Martinsburg reported on July 6 that HSUS received a "complaint" from someone through its online complaint form at http://humanesociety.org/puppymillstory about a breeder selling puppies on Craigslist and then "HSUS investigators supplied information about alleged mistreatment of the animals at the residence located at [redacted]." http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/581376/Humane-Society.... While the breeder has not yet appeared before a magistrate, HSUS and The Journal in Martinsburg are quite comfortable branding the breeder as keeping dogs in "horrific conditions" and have posted the breeder's address online.
Charges of "animal cruelty" began when the breeder refused to permit HSUS investigators to enter the home. The Journal reports that "the HSUS investigators observed feces on the floor and multiple dogs with feces on them roaming in the house. A foul odor was noticeable from the outside even with the door to the closed." HSUS bought a puppy from the breeders and described the pup with a favorite cliché of HSUS as being in "deplorable condition" for having fleas, feces on its fur, and worms. HSUS further complains that the animal cruelty laws of West Virginia are not strong enough.
This HSUS investigation and seizure coincides with its aggressive campaign to reduce pet breeding. HSUS owned Doris Day Animal League was instrumental in drafting some of the language in the current proposed rule change for USDA APHIS regulation of pet breeders under the Animal Welfare Act. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001. Currently, regulation only applies to breeders who transport pet animals across state lines before making a sale. Sellers who sell directly to buyers or who operate as a retail pet store outlet are exempt. APHIS proposes deleting the "direct sales" exemption and to restricting the "retail pet store" exemption to only those breeders who permit the general public to enter their homes. APHIS claims that this rule change is necessary because pet breeders sell on the internet and they claim that state laws are not strong enough.
HSUS has long lobbied for strict regulations of animal enterprise, such as breeding, in every state and at the federal level and is being quite aggressive in its support of the APHIS proposal according to the Journal that reports, "According to the HSUS, West Virginia has no statewide laws to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule that would require large-scale, commercial puppy producers who sell pets to consumers over the Internet, by mail or by phone to be regularly inspected and abide by the same basic standards of care as producers who sell to pet stores. The proposed rule remains open for public comment until July 16. The HSUS estimates that two to four million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the U.S., many at pet stores or through online advertisements."
"Large scale" as defined in the proposal is not based on the number of animals sold but on possession or custody of four or more intact female pet animals that may include any combination of dogs, cats, and pet (but not meat or fur) rabbits, regardless of whether any animals are sold. Animal ownership groups, hobby breeders, and other animal advocates are actively opposing the APHIS rule change through comments at the regulations.gov website, through social media, through communication with their breed clubs, and with communication to their representatives in congress.