The tragic deaths of seven puppies in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet in early August sparked outrage across the country and shed light on a serious defect in the way the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been tracking and reporting pet-related incidents on commercial flights.
Because the DOT interprets the relevant U.S. law (49 U.S.C. § 41721) as applying only to animals considered “pets,” commercial airlines are not required to report losses, injuries or deaths of animals who are considered “not owned” at the time of their transport—this includes dogs shipped by breeders and puppy mills, as well as show dogs being transported by handlers.
In response, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) have submitted a joint letter to Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, asserting that the DOT’s “flawed interpretation of laws” has allowed reporting of many airline animal incidents—such as the deaths of the seven puppies in August—to “slip through the cracks.” The senators propose that the DOT review and expand its definitions and regulations to better reflect the intent of Congress that all animal-related airline incidents be reported, regardless of the ownership status of the shipped animals.
The ASPCA would like to remind pet parents that shipping a pet in an airplane’s cargo hold can endanger the animal’s safety. Dog breeds with short or flat noses (“brachycephalic” breeds) like Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs face particular risk—the DOT reports that these breeds represent about half the pet dogs who die in flight while being transported by their guardians as cargo. If you must transport your pet in this manner, please review our Air Travel Tips.
National radio personality Trey Morgan has long sought to give back to his community—but like many of us, he wasn’t quite sure where to begin or how to make the time. Not one easily defeated by challenge, Trey took the initiative to create a campaign that would prove to both himself and his listeners, that volunteering can be easily done
On September 21, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team in conjunction with the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) removed 71 dogs from an overrun puppy mill in Camden County, MO. The dogs—which include Dachshunds, Maltese, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Huskies and Boxers—were transferred to the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri in Springfield and HSMO in St. Louis, where they received medical treatment and will be cared for until they're ready for adoption.
"This case was unique in that the dogs were voluntarily relinquished by the kennel owner who could no longer afford to feed them," explains Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. Last week the mill owner contacted a local rescue group, Half-way Home Pet Rescue in Cedar County, for help, and Half-way Home then reached out to the ASPCA.
"When breeders are no longer able to care for their animals, the problem lands squarely on the shoulders of local shelters," says Half-way Home's Latisha Duffy, who works closely with breeders in Missouri to find homes for retired breeding dogs.
Known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of America," Missouri is home to more than 3,000 commercial dog breeding facilities and provides more than 40 percent of all dogs sold in pet stores nationwide. "We see some of the worst conditions in Missouri puppy mills," explains Rickey. "The dogs, often very ill, are forced to live in overcrowded, filthy conditions."
In an effort to end the many cruelties associated with puppy mills, the ASPCA, a founding member of Missourians for the Protection of Dogs/YES! on Prop. B, is supporting Proposition B, also known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. This landmark measure, which will appear on Missouri's November ballot, promotes the humane treatment of dogs in the state's large-scale commercial dog kennels. If passed, Prop B would limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility, and would require large-scale breeders to provide sufficient food, water and space for the animals under their care.
For its latest music video, the popular band OK Go employed the services of some very cute co-stars. The video for “White Knuckles” features several rescue dogs, who perform alongside the band members in a carefully choreographed routine. To further show its appreciation of rescue dogs, OK Go is generously donating a portion of the sale of the video on its website to the ASPCA! Check out the video below, and help us send a big THANKS to OK Go!
The wait is officially over: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant, an in-depth look behind the scenes of the Michael Vick case and “where are they now” account of the dogs rescued from his property, hit bookshelves nationwide on September 16. The Lost Dogs can be purchased at your local bookstore and through online retailers including Amazon.com. (Tip: If you purchase the book on Amazon.com using this link, the ASPCA will receive a small donation at no extra cost to you!)
Naturally, the ASPCA is excited about this book because of our firsthand involvement in the investigation—but having gotten our hands on an early copy, we’re very happy to report that it is a terrific, compelling read for anyone interested in animal welfare, canine behavior, the evolution of animal protection laws or our country’s criminal justice system.
Last month, we showed you where to get an advance look at the book on Parade magazine’s website. That article proved so popular with readers that Parade enlisted the ASPCA’s Pam Reid, Ph.D., CAAB, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center, to pen a follow-up piece called “Top 5 Myths about Pit Bulls” that addresses the most common perceptions—and misperceptions—about this maligned and misunderstood breed.
Pick up or order a copy of The Lost Dogs for yourself or the animal lover in your life! To learn more about the book and see videos of the featured dogs, please visit author Jim Gorant’s website, www.thelostdogsbook.com.