As animal lovers become more aware that purchasing a dog from a pet store supports the inhumane practices of puppy mills, commercial breeders are using online sources to get their dogs directly into homes across the country.
On August 3, seven puppies died of suspected heat-related complications in the cargo hold of a plane en route from Tulsa, OK, to Chicago, IL. The victims were seven of 14 pups transported by the airline, and reportedly came from a commercial breeder in Oklahoma—many of the puppies were booked on connecting flights, making it likely that they were purchased online by buyers in different cities.
“Puppy mill operators are creating professional looking websites that convincingly dupe consumers into thinking they are reputable breeders,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “A sure way to spot a scam is that they often offer to ship the dogs to the buyer without ever meeting in person. No reputable breeder would ever ship a puppy to a buyer sight unseen.”
Buying a puppy over the Internet is just as risky as buying from a pet store—you can’t see the puppy’s breeding premises or meet his parents. Furthermore, those who sell animals online are not held to regulations established by the Animal Welfare Act.
“The Animal Welfare Act requires breeders to be licensed and meet specific minimum standards of care for animals bred for resale, but a loophole allows puppy breeders who sell directly to the public—which includes over the Internet—to go unregulated,” says Menkin. “They are able to keep inspectors away and operate without being accountable to anyone.”
“The bottom line is the only way to be sure your new puppy isn't a product of cruel and inhumane conditions is to see for yourself where he lives—visit the breeder’s facilities and meet the puppy’s parents,” Menkin states. “Or better yet, adopt from your local shelter.”
For more information on the risks associated with buying a puppy in a pet store or online, please visit our online Puppy Mill campaign.
On August 10, Brooklyn, NY, resident Vernon McClam was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. The 55-year-old is accused of neglecting and severely starving his 2-year-old Pit Bull, Lena. This is McClam’s second arrest for animal cruelty—he was taken into custody by ASPCA Special Agents for an unrelated incident in 2003.
The initial investigation began in early May when an ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Dispatch Operator received a tip regarding the animal’s poor condition. On May 12, ASPCA Special Agent Pat Breen responded to the scene, where he discovered the severely emaciated dog in dire need of medical attention—her weight had dropped to only 26 pounds.
"Unfortunately, Lena’s case is far too common—we often see Pit Bulls that have been severely neglected by their owners," says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel of the Humane Law Enforcement Department.
Lena was rushed to ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, where she was treated for dehydration and an infected ulcer on her hip. Veterinarians performed additional tests to determine whether her condition was due to neglect or illness. The final report concluded that malnourishment was to blame—all muscle and fat had been exhausted.
This is lena today, currently weighing in at 54.5 pounds—a 106% increase in body weight.
“This is not the first time Mr. McClam has been arrested for animal cruelty—we hope the courts take this into consideration and see fit to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law,” states Wolf.
On August 4, the ASPCA filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting new policies be implemented to strengthen its enforcement of the federal Horse Protection Act (HPA). The ASPCA, along with the Humane Society of the United States, American Horse Protection Association, Friends of Sound Horses and former U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings, is specifically asking APHIS to toughen its enforcement of laws banning the inhumane practice of horse "soring."
Soring is an illegal training method in which pain-causing chemicals or objects are applied to horses' limbs or hoof pads to achieve the "big lick"—the exaggerated, high-stepping gait of some horses in the multimillion-dollar Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The practice often involves applying chemicals such as diesel fuel, kerosene, or mustard oil to the horse's limbs, causing severe pain. Another commonly practiced form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting the horse's hoof to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, causing an extreme amount of pain every time the horse bears weight on his hoof. The Horse Protection Act was enacted in 1970 specifically to prohibit these inhumane practices. Unfortunately, soring continues to occur in the gaited horse industry.
The ASPCA’s petition seeks to permanently disqualify from competition any violators of the Horse Protection Act and any horses found to be victims of soring. It also requests that mandatory enforcement protocols be implemented and any non-compliant horse inspection groups be decertified by the USDA.
"The ASPCA is dedicated to improving the lives of horses across the country and we will continue to speak out against the illegal practice of horse soring," says Sherry Rout, Legislative Liaison for the ASPCA. "Soring is a particularly cruel form of abuse as the horses are forced to endure years of chronic pain throughout their show careers while the USDA does little to enforce existing laws."
For more information on the ASPCA’s mission to fight horse cruelty and neglect, visit our Equine Cruelty section. Please stay tuned to the ASPCA Blog for updated information on the legal petition to protect horses.
Sunday, August 1, marked the official kickoff of the $100K ASPCA Challenge, and so far, participating shelters are reporting record adoptions and community involvement. Contestants reported more adoptions in one day than ever before, more visitors to their shelters, and more traffic on their websites and Facebook pages.
How'd they do it? The 46 participating shelters are celebrating the Challenge with parties and promotions galore. Browse our list of events, which include:
Celebrations at malls, baseball stadiums and brew houses
Adoption specials, waived fees and themes like "Find Your Cougar or Silver Fox"
Puppy and kitten extreme makeovers
The Challenge contestants' ingenuity promises to save thousands of lives this fall. Last year, from August to October, these 46 shelters saved 45,603 animals' lives. This year, they're each working to save at least 300 more lives in the same period, and they're off to a great start.
A team of three ASPCA shelter medicine experts and one veterinary representative from Texas A&M are traveling to Austin this week to spend two days at the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC), assessing the shelter's programs and working with leaders to develop a plan for the future. TLAC is a city-funded, open-intake facility and ASPCA partner shelter. The visiting experts hope to gain insight into the shelter's daily operations and a holistic understanding of its programs.
"An on-site visit provides a chance to explore together with the shelter opportunities that may improve animal health and welfare and ultimately save more lives in Austin," says Dr. Miranda Spindel, ASPCA Director of Veterinary Outreach and one of the attending experts.
This week's assessment is being performed as part of TLAC's participation in the ASPCA Partnership program, a collaboration with communities and shelters nationwide to save more animals' lives. The program emphasizes reuniting lost pets with families, increasing adoptions, promoting spay/neuter solutions and supporting feral cats. As part of the program, all ASPCA partner communities receive assessments at no cost to the participants. The other Austin partners—Animal Trustees of Austin, Austin Humane Society and emanciPET—will receive their assessments later this year.