Feb 152014


A registry to track persons convicted of animal abuse would cause great harm to innocent people and animals while doing virtually nothing to protect animals. This will likely seem counter-intuitive to many animal lovers, and I hope you will be willing to set aside your assumptions and openly consider the issues.

Consider a few grave chapters from our past: the Inquisition, Hester Prynne, the Salem Witch Trials, anti-Semitism, McCarthyism, Matthew Shepard, bullying.

Well-intentioned men and women possess a powerful urge to find, to label, and to stop people who do bad things, a primary reason we have laws and means to enforce them.  The historical record, however, unarguably reveals that whenever a community goes beyond law enforcement to create tribunals, registries, or civilian trials, little or no good follows.  Instead, innocent people are often profoundly injured, lives shattered.  Perhaps if most people were calmly rational, well-educated, and fully informed, abuser registries might accomplish their intended purpose – to reduce harm to animals.  But in reality, far too many of us are swift to judge and eager to condemn before we know facts and context or have considered consequences.

We live in perilous times for our cherished animals.  Most readers of this blog likely appreciate by now that animals and their people are under fierce and relentless assault by a veritable lynch mob.  And because each zealot believes unshakably that he and his fellow crusaders are morally justified in howling for “rights” because they “love” animals, together they are fearsomely dangerous.  Facts and truth are rendered meaningless in the face of such moral certitude.  And one certain way to set that mob ablaze is the merest hint or suggestion that someone neglects or abuses animals.  Along with the alleged guilty, the howling mob with equally ferocious mindlessness giddily torches the innocent.

And therein lies the problem: abuser registries give virtually unbridled power to a group that already wields and regularly abuses all the power; and they can destroy any innocent person any time they choose.

We are not talking about abusers at the moment; we are talking about any one of us with beloved creatures in our care.

Tomorrow at 5:30 a.m.; a knock on your door; men in uniform demand to see your animals: there was an anonymous call claiming that you are abusing animals.  The uniforms look around; they tell you they are seizing your pets.  You have a choice:

  • You can fight the charges.  You will be arrested and charged with felony abuse/neglect. The authorities are going through your house taking pictures for evidence, and of course they can stage whatever they want. They will take possession of your animals—the ‘evidence’ – until your court date.  They can starve them, injure them, terrify them, and do whatever they choose in the interim to make your animals appear abused. They will call their colleagues in the media and spread the story of how you abuse animals everywhere in 24 hours. They will make sure their thousands of members and supporters all get on the Net to condemn you and inflame the animal-loving public. They will call up their friends at the District Attorney’s office, the court, and everyone else involved in the process to make sure that everyone knows that you are an animal abuser. After a year or two of fighting and having your name dragged through the mud, if by some miracle you win, and prove that there was never any reason for them to even inspect your dogs, much less seize them, you will nonetheless owe the authorities the costs of every day they held your animals – an amount they incontestably determine.
  • Sign over your dogs to them “willingly” and they we will leave right now and your life will continue.

This scenario sounds like the ranting of a paranoid conspiracy loon in a tinfoil hat!  But we have all seen it happen now, over and over.  Why? A neighbor complains; a do-gooder genuinely believes animals are being abused; an Animal Rights zealot believes anyone owning more than one animal is an abuser by definition; a local shelter wants to take the animals and sell them for a profit; a bill is pending and advocates want a good case for the media; animal control wants to discredit an adversary, they want to shut down a breeder – or they simply believe that no one should own a pet.  Sometimes such actions are a conscious abuse of power, other times misunderstanding or societal inertia.  There are many reasons, but the unavoidable truth is that, as insane as it sounds, this is happening today, and with alarming frequency, and once the bell is rung there is little stopping the destruction that follows.  Because animal control and animal rights groups essentially hold all of the power and all the public bona fides, it is difficult to “prove” that this is happening: how can we prove that someone was not abusing or neglecting their animals, especially since a huge majority of people faced with this sort of unwinnable scenario go with option two, and do sign over their dogs “willingly”?

You might imagine that due process of law will ensure that the only people affected by registries are the truly guilty.  There are two problems with this: first, the way abuse laws are written in most states, virtually every dog owner is technically guilty every day, and there is little consensus—a dog in a crate, a dog not in a crate, a dog fed too little, a dog fed too much, a dog vaccinated too much, a dog vaccinated too little—however you care for your pets, I promise you there is someone out there who considers it abuse and can make a strong legal case. Second, the primary danger of a registry is how it is used as a threat long before guilt or innocence is established. Registries are the ultimate tool to intimidate, terrorize, and threaten anyone who does not acquiesce.  “Don’t do what we want, and not only will you be ruined personally and financially, but your name will be on a list, a list forever, a list that will keep you from getting work, that will make you a pariah in neighborhoods, that will make you persona non grata just about everywhere.”  First we threw away any expectation of privacy for animal owners, then any presumption of innocence; then we gave the accusers the right to retain the evidence (our animals) until trial, and to charge us for doing so.  And now they can put your name on a list and ruin your life.

Ask yourself: would an abuser registry have helped Logan, the dog who had acid thrown in his face by a stranger, and whose name is now synonymous with registries?  It would have done nothing.

There are few if any cases of animal abuse that would be prevented by an abuser registry: anyone who wants to acquire an animal to abuse will be able to do so.  Sadly, in this world there are evil people who rape and murder, who beat and molest children, who abuse animals.  And we all want to stop such people.  But would a registry make any significant difference?  Would it make felony animal abuse any more criminal?  Would there be any practical way for us to finance, implement, and enforce such a tool?  (The evidence confirms that public sex offender registries in almost every case make things worse, not better.)

The reality is that such a tool is virtually useless in protecting animals, but hugely effective in allowing an already unconscionably powerful group of bullies to terrify and coerce innocent citizens whenever they choose.

 February 15, 2014  Posted by at 10:27 pm Tagged with: , , , , ,
Jan 072014


Most readers are likely aware that Western black rhinos went extinct in recent years.  By far, the two largest factors in driving this extinction were habitat loss and poaching.  Despite millions of dollars spent and many laws passed attempting to stem the trade of rhino horns, Western black rhinos were wiped off the face of the planet largely in a few decades.

Let us imagine a different scenario:

Back around 1970, a small number of rhino were allowed to be removed from the wild and kept by private owners.  Several ranchers in Texas spent lots of money and each imported several rhinos.  They built them huge pastures—in some cases larger than the area they had in the “wild.” They spent lots of money on veterinary care and enrichment because their profit depended upon healthy, long lived animals.  They bred them and grew their herds.  Once every 18 months or so, each rhino was sedated and its horn removed at the same time routine veterinary procedures were performed. When they awakened, they were in no pain, and their horns grew back in around a year. The ranchers made lots of money, much of which they put back into their rhino operations, and they worked together to improve the care and husbandry of rhinos, and created a database so they could breed the healthiest and strongest.  They sold babies to other people looking to get into the rhino-horn business.  And a small but thriving industry was born.

Undoubtedly a few incompetent, unscrupulous, or greedy people would do a bad job—a few rhinos would suffer and die. But the overwhelming majority would be well cared for, and the species would be safe and thriving.  There would be thousands of healthy black rhinos today, well-cared for on ranches not only in Texas, but in Africa and elsewhere.  There would be plenty of specimens to repopulate the wild. Yes, they would be “captive,” but would that be worse or better than extinct?

This scenario did not occur, and in fact was not even broadly discussed, because the animal rights movement was so effective at persuading people that animals cannot be humanely utilized, that animals belong only in the “wild.” They passed law after law “protecting” black rhinos from any captive future, and prohibiting the rhino-horn trade, but in doing so obliterated the very fiscal incentive that might have motivated some people to allocate land and resources to breeding these animals.  They protected black rhinos straight into extinction.

The phrase, “better dead than caged” has often been proclaimed by those who believe animals should never be kept.  I wonder, would the Western black rhinos agree?

This question is worth contemplating, not merely for our own edification, but also because there are many other species, and other subspecies of rhino, on a similar trajectory.  Should we save them to live with us or let them go extinct?


 January 7, 2014  Posted by at 4:00 am Tagged with: , ,
Mar 052013

TTTruck-1A woman left her dog in a crate in her car while she went into a store. A drunk drove into her car, breaking open the crate and smashing out the window. The woman returned to find her dog missing.

She posted about the missing dog in many places, and the vast majority—not one or two, but most—of the responses suggested that it was her fault for having her dog in a car.  That her dog was better off dead, roaming the streets, or finding any other home, than it was continuing to live with someone who would treat it so inhumanely as to leave it in a car.

This should send a chill down the spine of every informed animal lover: not only is it absolutely insane, it is a tangible demonstration of how devastatingly effective the animal rights movement has already been in making it socially unacceptable for anyone to have a dog:

They started with a reasonable assertion:  cars can get dangerously hot if left in the sun, and anyone leaving a dog in a car needs to be aware of the temperature and take appropriate precautions to ensure their dog is safe and comfortable.  Of course, everyone agreed!  They began passing laws mandating that dogs were not left in hot cars, and while a few wise individuals foresaw the risk in such statutes, most people cheered and voted yes.  Then they began lowering the recommended temperature until almost any day was ostensibly too hot for a dog to be in a car.  Then they suggested that cold cars could be a problem.  Then they suggested that dogs needed to be restrained in crates when in cars.  Then they suggested that dogs should never be stuck in crates because it is inhumane.


There you have it—dogs should not be in cars! Not ever.  It is un-natural, unsafe, inhumane.

Of course that it is absolutely untrue:   Most dogs love going places, love hanging-out in the car.  Love the awesome adventures and enriching fun in which they get to participate by going in the car.  Even if this means they have to nap in the car while mom runs some errands. Most dogs, given a choice, will get in the car and go almost every time.  Most dogs spend a huge portion of their time lounging about anyway, and doing it in the car is as good as anywhere, and if it means they get to go for a swim or a hike or even just hang with their mom all day, it is even better.  Most cars can be kept at a safe temperature on most days with a modicum of effort.

Yes, this means that a teeny-tiny percentage of dogs will die in car accidents or overheated cars or whatever.  So will some people.  Animals die every day out in the natural world, because life has risks. We must constantly be wary of invoking regulations that would save a few animals or people from harm by grossly diminishing the lives of millions.

It is stupefying that they believe dogs should not be in cars.  But what is truly scary is how easily most well-meaning animal lovers have been convinced to accept this propaganda.

For many years, pet lovers have shrugged their shoulders about the animal rights movement—sure, they are perfidious loons, but they are no real threat.  They may outlaw exotic species, or chickens or cows, but surely they would stand no chance if they came after dogs and cats.

WAKE UP!  They are going to eliminate pets without ever having to say a word about it:  They are simply going to make it socially unacceptable to have pets in cars, in crates, or on collars. It will be stigmatized to take your dog with you, or to leave your dog home alone. To feed your dog unnatural kibble, or to feed your dog dangerous raw food.  To own multiple dogs which means you do not have enough time for each, or to own a single dog who should not be forced to live a lonely life without canine companions.  Nobody should have a dog that does not have a CGC. Nobody should have a dog of certain breeds.  No dog should live in a home that is not air conditioned and heated. Nobody should ever have an intact dog. Nobody should breed a dog.

These are not the paranoid imaginings of a conspiracy theorist. Oh, how I wish they were!   But every single one of these things has already been stated, many have already been legislated, and most importantly, they are, with alarming rapidity, becoming accepted social norms.

Well-meaning pet lovers show up in droves to support bills and regulations that seem designed to make life better for pets, without recognizing that these bills are quickly making it impossible for anyone to keep dogs in any manner without being vilified.

Make no mistake about it, pet ownership is under serious and immediate attack, and it is up to those of us who truly love animals to protect it.

 March 5, 2013  Posted by at 7:33 pm Tagged with: , , , ,
Feb 132012

In all likelihood, tomorrow morning HB4021 will pass the Oregon House, and then will move to the Senate where it will likely also pass.

In many ways this bill is not a big deal: it merely shifts the power to commission humane agents from the Governor to the Superintendent of State Police which makes it a little easier for humane agencies to continue doing what they have been doing for years: running a private police force with state approval to seize any animals they want and then sell those animals for whatever amount they want, after, of course, charging the owner money to pay for its care while they kept the animal.

In each of the past four legislative sessions, seemingly insignificant bills have passed that subtly altered how humane agents are trained, how warrants are obtained, the process for seizing animals, and now how humane agents are commissioned.  But despite strong opposition in each session that explained how these bills combine to grant humane agencies clearly unjust powers, the legislators have consistently failed to seriously consider these dangerous consequences.

Some readers may not see why this is a big deal—after all, humane societies are wonderful institutions who have the extremely difficult task of going into awful homes where animals are being abused and saving those animals. And there is no question that in those cases in which the targets happen to be guilty, this is exactly what happens.  The problem is that there are no limits, no balances, to ensure that this process cannot collaterally trample innocent owners, and even more, innocent pets.

Do not for a moment forget that animal sales—even if euphemistically called adoptions—generate millions of dollars each year for Oregon’s humane societies, and that the media coverage generated during alleged abuse cases brings in millions more. Giving the same private agency the power to seize animals and the right to profit from selling them is insane. Not to mention that they also have the power to set the amount they charge for upkeep while they hold the animals, and full control of the only possible exculpatory evidence.

Humane agencies have been given nearly unlimited power to create a private police force and to utilize that force to seize any pet they choose, then turn around and sell that pet before trial has occurred, let alone guilt been proven.  Thus empowered, humane agencies can perform surgery on the animal, charge the owner for the care, demand a bond, destroy the owner’s reputation in the media, alter evidence, and sell or destroy the animal, all before the owner (presumed in American tradition and law to be innocent until otherwise proven) has the opportunity to face their accuser or defend themselves.  In the exceedingly rare case where the person was genuinely abusing an animal, such action may have helped an individual animal.  But in the overwhelming number of cases, innocent animal lovers AND innocent animals will have suffered irreparable harm. And in every case, the most fundamental of civil liberties will have been trampled.

It matters not that some legislators are so confident in the humane society’s virtue that they cannot fathom why anyone would worry about giving such groups the power to seize animals.  It matters not that some of the humane agents are ex-cops. U.S. law is intended to ensure that no person or agency can violate individual citizens’ rights.  Oregon statutes should similarly ensure that no agency now or in the future should be empowered to seize a person’s property without due process, whether they are motivated by good intentions, profit, politics, personal vendetta, irrational extremism, or even a genuine-good-old-fashioned-mistake. The job of our laws is not only to find and punish the guilty, but also to protect the innocent.

Oregon’s current laws create a system in which virtually no private citizen, even if absolutely innocent, has a chance of defending themselves or their pets. Any time a humane agency feels like it, they can send their own deputized employees to any door in our state and seize the pets living there, and in 99% of cases the person will not even try to fight back against the overwhelming threat of losing their life’s savings and their good name in addition to the animals that they have already lost.

This is unjust, unconstitutional, and immoral, and hurts animals and humans far more than it ever helps them.

 February 13, 2012  Posted by at 8:03 am
Mar 202011

AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program is in many ways excellent: it invites people to begin training their dogs, to teach basic manners, to go to classes, and even to walk into the “ring” for the first time.  I have long supported this appealing program, have taught CGC classes, and have directed many novices to it as an appropriate beginning…

However, the CGC program, and state legislative resolutions endorsing this program, has some profoundly worrisome potential consequences for future dogs and their owners.  Please take a few minutes to carefully consider not only the details of the program, but also the way it might be used or manipulated in coming years. These questions may not immediately seem correct—they are contrary to how you have likely thought about the CGC program for years or decades—but they are well worth our careful contemplation.

First, let me recount a disturbing historical pattern: time after time leaders in the dog world have supported seemingly positive ideas that have been usurped by the Animal Rights movement to divide animal owners into little groups that could easily be conquered. Our own programs have repeatedly been distorted into weapons against dogs and the people who love them:

  1. We encouraged spaying and neutering for most casual owners for lots of seemingly good reasons and for years we told people it was the responsible thing to do. Animal Rights supporters took it over and legislated mandatory S/N.
  2. We encouraged people to revile pet stores, backyard breeders, puppymills, designer breeds. We said adoption was wonderful.  They took it a step further and said only adopt, and let’s make all those bad options illegal.
  3. We said vaccinate your dogs as appropriate.  They said keep all dogs ‘utd’ on all shots on our schedule, even if it is a bad schedule, or you are abusing your dog.
  4. We said that people should not get more dogs than they could handle as this would lead to inadequate care, they legislated that nobody can own more than X dogs.
  5. We preached that people not leave dogs in hot cars with the windows rolled up.  They tweaked that message to become never leave any dog in any car or you are an abuser.
  6. We encouraged people to provide better veterinary care for their animals, and now absurd veterinary choices like how often to clean teeth are being used to seize people’s dogs.

In essence, we have spent decades trying to share our views of the ideal, and how we can all nudge closer to perfection for our animals, and AR advocates have twisted our fundamentally good ideas to be horrific ideas by insisting that the loftiest of ideals ought to become the legal minimum.

I believe that the CGC is another initially positive program that will soon be used to divide dogs and owners. Just as in all the other cases above, the distance between the message that people should teach their dogs basic manners and the message that every dog must pass this test is a very short and slippery one.

Not only does the CGC set a very dangerous precedent, but also it contains some intrinsic problems:

  1. Dogs are NOT citizens.  People are.  People are responsible for ensuring that their dogs’ behavior is not disruptive to society.  The onus must always remain on owners to be responsible citizens, not dogs.  Otherwise we set ourselves up for ARs to start passing not only breed specific laws, but soon behavior specific laws.
  2. Dogs are not good or bad. They simply are what their nature and experiences make them, and “goodness” is not a relevant value judgment. Dogs that cannot pass this test are not bad.  Not even less good. Low drive, non-reactive, docile, agreeable dogs are not the only good dogs! There are many sorts of dogs (and other species) that may not be well suited to the CGC test but are fabulous pets.  People own different sorts of dogs for countless different reasons and in countless different ways. So long as they can keep those pets safely and humanely, that should be just fine.

The CGC program perpetuates the ever narrowing range of what is a “good” dog.  Prey drive, reactivity, fearfulness, over-confidence, exuberance, protectiveness, and playfulness are not bad. Whatever dog an individual wants to own is a good dog if its owner keeps it safely and does not allow it to impinge upon anyone else’s rights.  Nothing else should matter to society or our legislature.

People absolutely should be encouraged to teach their dogs basic manners, and much more, but as we support this process we must be extremely careful that we do not inadvertently support the notion that any dog that cannot pass a particular test must be a bad dog. If this is endorsed at the state level, what municipality would want to welcome dogs that are not good citizens?  What will happen to the millions of great dogs who are not suited to this test, or the millions of dogs whose owners are not willing or able to pursue the CGC?

The language and attitude of the CGC program plays perfectly into the hands of the AR movement. I have little doubt that the AKC believes it is a defense against such attacks—that by demonstrating how well-mannered these dogs are we prevent bad laws, but I believe this is exactly the same as the other examples I cited in that it will have the opposite effect over time—it will create a line that will eventually be used to criminalize everyone who is on the wrong side.  It may temporarily save the handful of dogs that have CGCs, but it will do so by sacrificing the vast majority of dogs and owners. Admittedly the CGC program becoming mandatory would be a huge financial victory for the AKC, and a huge practical victory for the AR movement, but it would be a huge loss for dogs everywhere.

40 states and the US Senate have already passed resolutions “endorsing the CGC test and supporting its effort to promote responsible dog ownership.”  Insurance companies have already offered discounts for dogs with CGCs. These are the first steps on a short path to making dogs without CGCs uninsurable and ultimately illegal. This test will simply become one more excuse to eliminate millions of pet homes and pets.

Some readers will perceive this post as being overly paranoid, others will feel that the benefits of the CGC program outweigh these risks, others stopped reading long ago! These are all fine responses, you must decide for yourself how you feel, I merely wanted to lay out some issues in hopes you will give some serious thought to future consequences.  It is no longer sufficient for us to innocently create programs that under ideal circumstances might be a good idea.  We must ask ourselves: How will this tool be used by those who seek to eliminate animal ownership?

 March 20, 2011  Posted by at 6:15 pm
Feb 062011

Whenever any animal care issue is discussed in the media or in the legislature, Animal Rights advocates describe their opponents as greedy, immoral, uncaring, “puppy-millers” who exploit animals for profit, or mentally deranged abusers who neglect or harm animals out of malevolence.

Such miscreants unfortunately do exist, but they are not the people fighting against the AR Bills.

The people fighting against the AR Bills are a third group that is neither the AR side nor the animal abuser side: the huge army of dedicated animal owners that are the very best animal caregivers and most committed animal lovers in the world who believe that animals can and should share our homes and that with proper care captive animals can have lives that are every bit as rich and full as any wild animal’s existence.

Time after time, these serious animal lovers, despite outnumbering the Animal Rights supporters fifty to one, are essentially invisible in the conversation.

We need to show the legislators who we are! We need to show them that the genuine experts are not HSUS bureaucrats with “no particular fondness for animals,” but rather are those people who devote their lives to animals and who possess authentic knowledge and expertise regarding what is best for animals.

Gov. Kulongoski plays with Sampson.

To accomplish this, we must put together extensive pro-animal carnivals next to each state capital during each legislative session. One powerful asset that we often underutilize in politics is our amazing animals: we took a baby lion in to meet the Governor, and pretty much every person at the capital came and sat on the floor with us and played with the lion, gaining some hands-on appreciation for the animal and listening to us explain what animals really need… Picture an agility demo, TTouch, dock diving, Sacco cart rides, exotic animals, tricks, flyball, a really nice petting zoo, disc dogs, freestyle demo, 4H, FFA, falconers, etc. Imagine free sweatshirts, calendars, pictures, bumper stickers, and pamphlets all reiterating our message: animals can and should be happy sharing the world with us.

We must showcase our community of genuine, serious animal lovers who do such an astonishing job taking care of their animals but are being painted as villains. Show legislators what truly happy and well-cared for animals look like.  Animal people get together for fun matches and carnivals and demos all the time for far less important causes. With a little organization we could pull together a great, uplifting, Animal-Lover’s Day at the capital in each state that would convey how adored, pampered, and happy our animals are, what a large and vibrant community we are, how much expertise we possess, and how many votes we represent.

Lawmakers often support Animal Rights bills because they erroneously believe such legislation will help animals.  We need to introduce these influential people to the real animals who truly need legislators to step up and help protect them from those who value delusive animal rights more than animals.

I implore anyone who is reading this to organize such an event in your state!  You need not be a great animal trainer or knowledgeable lobbyist, you simply need to utilize your organizational skills, get permission from the capital, and get the word out in your state.  If you do, an army of eager compatriots will materialize to pull together all the details and help you put together a great demonstration that will truly benefit the animals of your state.

So please, get out there and organize an Animal Lover’s Day at your state capital, and report back here, because I would love to hear how it goes…

 February 6, 2011  Posted by at 11:04 pm
May 202009

Here is what I said to the judiciary committe on SB303A:

Good afternoon Chair and members of the committee. 


My name is Roland Sonnenburg and I run a successful studio animal training business and have trained animals for hundreds of films, television shows and commercials. I have degrees in philosophy and physics with graduate work in animal science. I am a published author on animal ethics, care, and training, and have provided consultation and expert advice to National Geographic, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Disney Company, and countless vets, trainers, and owners.


In candor, most of us here today are not objecting to SB303A per se.  We are objecting to a larger picture of which SB303 is only a very small piece.   Two sessions ago, OHS sought police officer status for its humane agents. That bill failed because OHS agents were not trained to the same level.  Now, by passing SB303, OHS will ensure that their agents are trained to the same standards, so next session they can rationally attempt to achieve police status.  Down the hall they are already pushing another bill that will grant them the power to obtain search warrants.  These are each incremental steps toward completing their original objective of having full police powers. I am deeply appreciative of the important work humane officers do. I have donated my time and money to help OHS, and absolutely believe they should be empowered to educate and investigate and assist animals in need, but when it comes to obtaining warrants, seizing animals, or making arrests, these are actions that must only be undertaken by genuine law enforcement personnel.


There are two important reasons why OHS should not have a private police force:


First, while there may have been a time when humane officers were innocent and caring individuals with no agenda other than helping animals, that is not the case today. The humane society sells dogs and cats.  They call it adopting or placing, but the simple fact remains that they take in a great deal of money each year in exchange for the animals they sell.  This creates a conflict of interest with them having the power to go into people’s homes and seize their dogs. We have broad reaching, vague, and subjective laws like, “every dog must have continuous access to adequate exercise.” This means that any time a humane society wants to seize a particular group of dogs, they can simply assert that the dogs did not have continuous access to the outdoors. Time after time people have claimed that they were providing excellent care to their dogs, yet the Humane Society seized their dogs asserting neglect, and a few days later these same dogs are being sold and they are not underweight and appear to have been well treated and socialized.  Of course the Humane Society kills the less cute ones and the entire event is publicized to generate sympathy and donations.   Many times Humane Officers starkly threaten people with criminal charges if they do not turn over their dogs and the terrified people relinquish their property under duress. This is nothing more than extortion and neither our governor nor the DPSST should sanction such behavior. Every serious animal lover has at least one friend who has been targeted by humane agents and lost their animals and had their lives ruined. In many cases they are later vindicated in court, but it is too late and their animals are gone. OHS may claim that they do not behave this way, while many private owners will claim they do.  But it genuinely does not matter. What matters is that no private group should have the power to get a warrant, enter someone’s home, seize the person’s property, and sell that property. Not only have you created a private police force, but also that force has a financial incentive that is directly contrary to impartiality.  It is not possible for Humane Societies to simultaneously generate revenue by selling dogs and have officers empowered with deciding whose dogs will be seized. 


The second issue is that while Oregon Humane is not officially associated with any Animal Rights organization, the private individuals who work for OHS are often committed to the Animal Rights ideal. Just a few moments ago, the director of OHS went out into the hall to confer with the Oregon director of HSUS. You must understand that the animal rights movement believes NO animal should EVER be captive, and they have stated over and over again that they are willing to infiltrate, lie, terrorize, burn and even kill in order to achieve their goal.

Many people who would like to be here today were afraid that if they speak publicly the people you want to give more power to will target them and seize or kill their animals and terrorize them.

You must understand that these people are not interested in helping animals—they are committed to animal RIGHTS. Rather than try to tell you who these people are that we do not want in our homes, let me simply share with you a few words from the presidents and leaders of HSUS, PETA, ADL, and other AR groups:

1.      …. going onto their farms, releasing their animals and burning the place to the ground, that’s morally justifiable, in our opinion…—–Dr. Jerry Vlasak, Animal Defense League

2.      Arson, property destruction, lying, burglary and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animal cause.—–Alex Pacheco, PETA

3.      Animal liberation…is a war! It is an all-out bloody war….—–Robin Webb, Animal Liberation Front

4.      I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many … I think for 5, 10, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.—–Dr. Jerry Vlasak, Animal Defense League

5.      If killing is the only way to stop them, then I say killing them would certainly be justified.—–Dr. Jerry Vlasak, Animal Defense League

6.      In a war you have to take up arms and people will get killed, and I can support that kind of action….—–Tim Daley, British Animal Liberation Front

7.      I don’t want to see another dog or cat born—–Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President

8.      I would go to work early, before anyone got there, and I would just kill the animals myself….I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day.—–Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA

9.      I will be overjoyed when the first scientist is killed by a liberation activist.—–Vivien Smith, Animal Liberation Front

10.  Breeders must be eliminated….If you know of a breeder in the area, whether commercial or private, legal or illegal, let us know and we will post their name, location, phone number—–Animal Defense League

11.  ….keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy; she’s an animal killer!—–PETA comic book

12.  Businesses are terrified. They have no idea what I’m going to do next.—–Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA

13.  Hit them in their personal lives, visit their homes… strike hard and fast and retreat in anonymity. Craig Rosenbraugh

14.  I don’t approve of the use of animals for any purpose that involves touching them—–Dr. Neal Barnard

15.  The children are enjoying a lifestyle built on the blood and abuse of innocent animals….They are a justifiable target for protest.—–Robin Webb, Animal Liberation Front

16.  We will break the law and destroy property until we win.—–Dr. Steven Best

17.  We have a 100 per cent success rate. Whoever we choose to target is finished.—–Heather James

I know this sounds maniacal, but that is the point—these are not my words, they are the words of the leaders of a movement with millions of members and annual budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is not conspiracy theory paranoia.  Last month the FBI stated, “Animal rights pose a significant domestic terror threat. To date, extremists have been responsible for more than 1,800 criminal acts and more than $110 million in damages. Currently, we are investigating approximately 170 such extremist incidents across the country,” and their members have been regularly committed of felonies in furtherance of their belief that no animal should ever be captive. Oregon must protect its citizens from these people, not give them police powers and invite them into our homes. The only people who should have such access are police and sheriffs who are accountable to the public, enforce all laws equally, and are not motivated by the above agenda.

 May 20, 2009  Posted by at 8:57 am
Mar 092009

The first Environment and Natural Resources Senate Committee meeting on SB391 on 5 March 2009 was a perfect reminder that the legislative process depends upon us.  Our votes determine who sits in the capital, and we need to do a much better job of not electing politicians who support laws that hurt animals.  Even more urgently, we must provide our legislators with the information they need to make the right choices.  Our legislators are generally well-intentioned and compassionate people who are trying to pass fair laws that will ensure public safety while also protecting animal welfare.  But all too often, these men and women do not see the underlying problems with animal related bills. Because they do not have the experience with animals or with the Animal Rights groups to read between the lines, they simply do not know what we know.  With so many pressing issues demanding their attention, busy legislators often spend only a few minutes thinking about the animal bills. HSUS/PETA assails them constantly with countless newspaper and television ads, mailings, private member visits, and pressure from paid lobbyists.

 If we want our legislators to make the right decisions, we must inform them.  We must show them the bigger picture so they understand the facts. It is up to us!  

 First a quick reminder. Senate Bill 391 would effectively prohibit all private ownership in Oregon of:

  • Any member of the family Felidae, except Felis catus (domestic cat);
  • Any nonhuman primate;
  • Any member of the family Canidae except Canis familiaris (domestic dog);
  • Any bear;
  • Any member of the order Crocodylia.

 Before I even begin to report on the testimony we heard, here are some general impressions:

  1. Most of the legislators seem to have absolutely no understanding of the underlying AR issues. They genuinely think that this bill is about public safety, not eradicating captive animals.
  2. Many seem to feel that since this bill has been on the agenda for several legislative sessions, it should pass this time. The reality: if HSUS has the money to keep trying year after year, they eventually win…
  3. Senator Mark Hass, the bill’s sponsor, claimed to have “worked with” animal breeders and owners to address our concerns since last session. In fact, no one in our small and close-knit community (who virtually all oppose this ill-conceived and misguided bill) was ever contacted by the senator or his staff or representatives. And none of the crucial changes we believe would improve this bill were added.
  4. Why would responsible lawmakers NOT consult the state’s genuine animal experts? For five years we have been offering, begging, to be allowed to participate in shaping this bill so it might actually accomplish its stated goals. We have proposed reasonable amendments and constructive compromises: why do advocates of this bill refuse to work with us, the men and women who devote our lives to the study and care of animals? If there are problems with animal laws in Oregon, those of us who work every day at understanding and solving the core issues of safe, compassionate, and responsible animal care are fully prepared to help draft and will support a bill that actually improves our state’s animal laws.
  5. Our legislators have little knowledge of the current animal statutes. They evidently believe anyone can acquire a tiger tomorrow! They appear not to know, for instance, that in Oregon anyone contemplating keeping a tiger as pet faces daunting requirements, the first being the accumulation of 500 hours of documented experience working with tigers. Because establishments possessing tigers will not risk their licenses by employing inexperienced labor, this is essentially impossible. In the unlikely event a person were to accumulate the 500 hours of experience needed to qualify for an Oregon Department of Agriculture license, the would-be tiger keeper would next need to spend thousands of dollars on suitable housing, then meet with the state vet, arrange an ODA inspection to ensure that cage, housing, and secondary perimeter fence are sufficient, and provide a written plan for the animal’s proper nutrition, health maintenance, and general welfare. Next is the stipulation to allow the ODA to inspect the applicant’s home and property unannounced so long as the animal lives. Moreover, such property cannot be within city limits in virtually any city in Oregon; and several counties also prohibit such animals. Even after the applicant has complied with every regulatory requirement, the granting of a permit remains the sole discretion of the ODA. Next, because it remains illegal to transport a tiger across state lines as a pet, the applicant must find a tiger seller in state – virtually impossible. And of course once acquired, the tiger can never be loose anywhere off the owner’s property. Are these regulations inadequate?
  6. Many elected officials seem to believe that citizens must prove that their activity benefits society if it is not to be banned. That idea plainly violates a bedrock American principle that every citizen has the right to pursue happiness so long as that pursuit does not endanger or harm others. Not the stamp collector, the golfer, the beer drinker, the television watcher, nor any other persons are obligated to demonstrate that their pursuits are worthwhile. Under our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, we the people have a presumed freedom to pursue happiness unless and until it is demonstrated that such pursuit is harmful to others. If someone has a pet serval, and that makes the person happy and the serval happy and harms no one, the person has no obligation legal or moral to justify their pursuit to anyone.
  7. Similar to HB2470, it was alarming to note that virtually every person in the hearing room who had actual hands-on experience with animals opposed the bill, while virtually every person supporting the bill had, by their own assertion, no actual experience, only great certainty and passion.

 The varied arguments presented in opposition to SB391, included:

  1. Laws cannot justly be based on species, color, breed, race, or any other personal criteria. They must be based upon actions.
  2. Responsible ownership is what must be legislated.
  3. Exotic animals can be, and often are, suitable, wonderful pets.
  4. We have laws that work. The historic record is remarkable: legally owned exotic animals have caused virtually no harm in our state. In the past decade in Oregon, exotic animals as defined by this bill have caused the public a single injury (a trespassing child was bitten), zero disease transmissions, and zero invasive species problems. Let us be fair and honest here: any animal can be dangerous, and we do not assert that there is zero risk from such animals. But the reality is that more people are hurt in a time period per capita while bowling than are hurt by exotic animals.
  5. SB391 targets all owners regardless of their skills and circumstances. Reasonable laws must be based on the owner and not the animal. If an owner can keep a captive animal happy and healthy, and can ensure that the animal does not get loose, then it is not a hazard to anyone.
  6. This bill would reduce the population of knowledgeable and skilled animal experts, precisely the people working within the state to prevent exotic animals from ever becoming a problem. Several law enforcement people testified in support of this bill because they feel unqualified to handle exotic animal situations should they arise. This response appears reasonable until matched with the historic evidence. While problems arise from ILLEGAL ownership – ownership that would not be altered by this bill – the solution is invariably to call one of the animal experts in the state, the very people its advocates are trying to drive out of Oregon with this law. It is such experts who offer advice, who come to safely capture the animal, and who are often asked to keep the animal, and otherwise resolve a problem situation.
  7. Keeping exotic animals is not intrinsically dangerous or cruel, despite what HSUS may claim. In most cases, these animals are pampered and loved, and enjoy lives significantly superior to what they could experience in the modern wild world or in a large zoo or other institution.
  8. The current bill makes no distinction between a two-pound Fennec Fox and a 600-pound tiger.
  9. The current law makes no provision for USDA-licensed animal owners who want to retire in the future. Upon retirement, these capable people would no longer be able to keep their animals and would be forced to destroy them.
  10. There is effectively no way for anyone in the future to become a USDA licensee: a person must already possess verified animal experience and animals that they are now planning to use professionally: but under the new law, such qualification would not be possible.
  11. We believe it is our duty as the leading experts in the field to help inform our legislators on animal issues, even if the bill does not directly impact us or those supporting the bill, so that they can make the best decision.
  12. When a special interest group seeks to pass laws that are immoral, unconscionable, and wrong, we stand up and say “No.”
  13. We care deeply about what happens to the animals. You may believe those people who have no animal experience when they tell you that this bill would help animals, but we know better. We know it firsthand from our decades of experience. We know that animals will suffer because of these bills.
  14. If we want future generations to care about the natural world, we need to have captive animals for our children to meet and come to love.
  15. None of these steps is final-each is another stumble towards the single goal of the AR movement: the eradication of all captive animals.

Arguments in favor of the bill included:

  1. Public safety! After carefully reviewing the past decade for the very worst instances of exotic animal malfeasance, we heard these harrowing tales: in 2002, “Al,” the four-foot alligator got loose and waddled around for a day before he was safely recaptured; and in 2007, a capuchin monkey got harmlessly loose for several hours before being safely recaptured. (Senator Hass described four-foot “Al” as a “snarling” man-eater…)
  2. Zoonotic diseases! Of course no human has ever gotten a disease from a primate outside of a lab where monkeys were intentionally infected, but it could happen: there have been some scary movies.
  3. A woman representing a sanctuary condemned private owners as irresponsible despite the fact that the ONLY exotic animal-related injury in Oregon in recent history occurred at her own facility, where an intern was bitten by a chimp after a cage was left unlocked. She also referenced a chimp incident in California a few years ago which also occurred not at a private owner facility but at a sanctuary similar to hers. Such testimony suggests that sanctuaries need stricter regulation, but highlight the near-perfect track record of Oregon’s private animal owners.
  4. Tony Vecchio of the Portland zoo was a reasonable and effective speaker, except that he seemed not to recognize his own point: he admitted that there are some private owners who do a fabulous job and are at least as knowledgeable as any zoo employee. But, he argued, for every good owner there are several bad owners. That is a perfect statement of the situation: We need to write laws that target those bad owners and allow the good owners to continue doing their good work. Similar to the sanctuaries, I would suggest that the AZA track-record in recent years is arguably worse than the private owners’. Mr. Vecchio and the rest of the AZA had better wake up before it is too late: they are helping the AR zealots destroy private animal ownership, and zoos are next on the list. Zoo administrators will be unhappily surprised when none of us animal lovers are left to defend them. This is a simple issue-either you believe animals can be safely and humanely kept by humans, or you do not. If you believe they can, then you should stand together with those of us who are challenging those who believe they cannot. Obviously we need to have appropriate rules and regulations that define who can have animals, but that step comes after we agree that animals can and do thrive in captivity.
  5. A sheriff from Oakland, Oregon, claimed that in his small town there have been two recent primate attacks: one involving a child whose head was “ripped open,” and another involving a man who was bitten and spent six months in quarantine. Despite extensive searching, we have been unable to locate ANY record of these events – not even on PETA’s comprehensive list of such things.
  6. Wild animals “deserve” to be in the wild “where they belong.” Perhaps the most important item on this list, this idea underlies the entire controversy. Time and again, this bill’s supporters casually invoked this assertion as unassailable wisdom, an article of faith. Of course wild animals are better off in the wild, and only a crazy person would question that truth. I submit that it is crazy not to question assumptions, not the other way around. Why are wild animals better off in the wild? Because Bambi told us so? Animals consistently live longer in captivity; they receive optimal veterinary care; they do not starve and fight, they have water, they are not eaten by predators nor plagued by parasites; they are kept warm and dry; they are given exercise and enrichment and ideal nutrition; they are not bred every year; they are not shot, poisoned, run over, or trapped. If we are ever going to have a productive conversation about animal welfare and whether or not captivity is desirable, such dialogue will need to begin with everyone being willing to genuinely question their assumptions about how captivity enhances or diminishes animal welfare.

SB391 would not increase public safety, it would not improve animal welfare; it would do one thing: advance the personal agenda of people who erroneously believe that NO animal can or should be kept in captivity and want to eradicate them all.

SB391 will likely go to the senate floor and be voted on by all of our senators. I implore you: contact our senators and urge them to vote “no” on this bill as it stands. (http://www.leg.state.or.us/senate ) Tell them not to be swayed by dramatic tales of animal horrors that can not and do not occur in our state under our current laws.  There is not a single example of exotic animal misconduct that cannot be remedied by simple enforcement of universal and fair laws requiring that all owners behave responsibly. Why anyone would not want the same law to be in place for all owners is baffling.  Are they really okay if children are mauled by a Poodle?   I think not.  Tell our senators that we will not sit by while they pass immoral and ineffective laws simply to placate a powerful lobby whose members want to eradicate animals.

Demand just laws that target all humans who are behaving irresponsibly and not those people who are responsibly and effectively taking care of their pets and keeping them safely and happily, regardless of species or breed…

The best statement of the day was made by Senator Hass, who commented that he did not mind someone breeding or possessing exotic animals, what he found objectionable was irresponsible owners who purchased these animals and then allowed them to escape or otherwise become a danger.  Bravo! That is precisely the point of those who oppose this bill, so please contact your senators and urge them to reject this bill and to work with the animal community to draft legislation or amendments addressing irresponsible owners instead of innocent animals…

 March 9, 2009  Posted by at 10:12 pm Tagged with: , , , ,
Feb 272009


For three hours we heard testimony on this bill, and there were some interesting points raised on both sides.  I thought it might be useful if I posted a summary of what I observed.  This is not an objective report-it is my biased perception… If you want objectivity, go to this link and listen to the whole session yourself:


Representative Hovey opened the session with some insightful remarks about how everyone present shared a common goal of ensuring that all the animals in Oregon were “treated correctly.” He also immediately clarified that he and the other legislators recognize that this bill is flawed, and that their intention is to use this bill as a starting point and refine it over the next few months…  This is a very important point-I think he listened politely to what everyone said, but in essence he knew going in that he was going to assemble a team to revise the bill and resubmit an amended version later in the session, so all of the objections were not perceived as opposition so much as suggestions… He also explained that the bill was his idea, but that he sought advice from the “humane society” when drafting it.  (We really need to get people to understand that HSUS does NOT speak for animals or informed animal lovers!)

Scott Beckstead of HSUS sounded fairly reasonable. He asserted that HSUS does not oppose captive animals and in fact they support good breeders.  It almost sounded like he believes this.  He also asserted that HSUS does donate some money to shelters and does in fact now own several shelters and that anyone who claimed the HSUS did not help animals was uninformed.  Never mind that they only did these things in what seems an obvious ploy to allow people like Scott to say things like that…

Sharon Harmon of OHS asserted two primary points:

  1. All this bill would do is ensure that every dog in Oregon can “stand up, turn around, and lie down…” Somehow she missed the rest of the bill, and thought that it was absurd that anyone would object to a bill that did nothing more than ensure that every dog can, “stand up, turn around, and lie down!” My question is this-since the CURRENT Oregon laws requires that every dog have “continuous access to an area with adequate space for exercise necessary for the health of the animal,” how would a law requiring LESS improve anything?
  2. We in the dog community have failed to police our own for many years and are obviously unable to take care of the puppy-mill problem. Of course, OHS is the largest humane society in the state, with a large annual budget and a large staff and numerous volunteers, so if “we” have failed in the last ten years to eradicate puppy mills, I think OHS has to accept a significant portion of the culpability.

 The most interesting thing to observe was the unmistakable distinction between the people opposing the bill and the people supporting the bill: experience. 

 The people supporting the bill were mostly enthusiastic animal lovers with relatively minimal hands-on personal animal experience.  The gist of their argument seemed to be that horrific neglect is in fact horrific (they showed lots of pictures). In general they presented moving testimony concerning some of the atrocities committed by unscrupulous or insane animal owners.  Most of their examples seemed to make the opposite point of what they intended: story after story about how well our current laws work and how horrid animal abusers are routinely stopped and their animals seized every bit as surely before HB2470 as they would be after.  There were a few particularly puzzling comments:

  1. A lady who had owned a single dog that she bought in a pet store was very unhappy that her dog died from immune mediated hemolytic anemia at age six and somehow attributed that to the breeder whence she came. Here is a person who has owned one dog, never bred a litter, and is so uninformed about basic dog care that she likely contributed to her dog’s death by overvaccinating, but she is pleading tearfully with the legislators to listen to her advice on what laws should be passed to regulate dog breeding.
  2. A lady asserted that many heartless breeders debark their puppies without sedation… (obviously this is simply untrue)
  3. One vet explained how much his dog enjoys his 30 minute walk each day, and I had to laugh thinking about the hours upon hours of exercise, training, socializing, grooming, and care that most of us provide to our dogs, often 20 hours per day every day…
  4. Several supporters basically argued that nobody can adequately care for more than a few dogs. I suspect they do not realize that some people do this full time and have considerable help. I think they are imagining a single person trying to care for her animals after her day job.
  5. Oprah says we need laws against puppy mills…

The people opposing the bill were the most experienced and educated experts in the animal community: dog trainers, judges, and breeders. It was almost comical how much expertise was arrayed against the bill, and I wish there were some way to get the legislators to understand that many of these people were authentic legends who have done immeasurable good for dogs in the last century. Most of them were not personally impacted by this bill, but believe it is wrong and would be counterproductive-it attacks breeders based on irrelevant criteria such as number and enclosure size while completely ignoring the true issues of care and condition of the animals. Consequently it would harm precisely those breeders who are providing the best care available, who serve as the most dependable source of healthy pets in our state, who provide training and support for less experienced animal owners, but would add virtually no value in remedying neglect cases. It in no way improves upon existing laws which apply to every dog, it merely imposes number limits.

The disparity in experience cannot be overemphasized, and I really believe it created such a differing perspective that we were simply not communicating.  On the one had you have someone with a single dog whose love is very passionate, but rather anthropomorphic and uniformed.  They would never put that dog in a crate, or in a cold room, they feed it Hagen Dazs and walk it on a diamond leash.   On the other hand you have someone who has raised many dogs and is caring for them as dogs.  They sometimes put them in crates for safety or training, they provide a variety of enriching experiences that are fun for a dog even if they may get dirty or cold or tired, they feed organic raw meat as part of a diet that they have spent years analyzing with nutritionists, and they exercise them daily according to a program carefully designed to maximize health. They have read every book and taken every class and are extremely informed about what is best for their animals. Each group believes they are doing the best thing for their dogs… Most of us started in the first group-we had a single dog upon whom we doted, often doing the wrong thing because we did not know better and because our love was not tempered by reason or experience.  Over time, if we were serious, we acquired enough experience to grow beyond this position.  Some people never do-they either stop owning animals, or they keep repeating the same experience, but they never expand their perceptions, and they become fanatical about believing that their view is the right view because they cannot stand to imagine that they might not actually have been doing what is best for their animals. So we get bills like this…

There was one point agreed upon by almost every person, and I have to say I think it is wrong.  “Puppy mills are bad and we must stop them.”    On the face of it, that sounds reasonable, but I think it is very misleading. Animal Rights zealots are brilliant at many things.  Altering language is certainly one of those things.  “Ethical, humane, guardian, rescue, sea-kitten, etc,” are all words that they have twisted to their agenda.  In their desire to vilify all breeders, they have been particularly effective-first they attacked the “backyard breeder”-anyone producing only a few puppies or litters per year was obviously not serious and should be stopped.  Then they created the term “puppy mill,” and for years they have been classically conditioning us that puppy mills are evil-every time we hear the phrase we are shown horrifying images of unspeakable suffering.  Now that we all recognize puppy mills as evil, they are attempting to define them solely in terms of number of dogs.  Never mind that they may be beautiful situations doing everything perfectly, they label anyone breeding more than 3 litters as a puppy mill. If you breed more than three litters you are a puppy mill, if you breed fewer than three litter you are a backyard breeder, and either way you must be stopped.

I reject the term “puppy mill.”  Every breeder, and indeed any owner, regardless of number, who keeps his dogs inhumanely should be stopped. Everyone who breeds dogs is a breeder, and we should evaluate their performance based on how the animals are treated and the results of that treatment. We must stop ALL inhumane practices, and if we do that there will be no more bad breeders, neither large nor small. We MUST maintain focus on the correct issue-HOW are the animals treated. I do not care if a breeder has 2 or 200, I do not care if they make money or lose money, I do not care what breed they produce, I do not care if their dogs are sometimes crated or sleep on the bed or have indoor/outdoor runs. If they can do it well and the animals are happy and healthy and puppies are successfully placed in lifetime homes, then great. If they cannot meet those conditions (which very few large scale operations will ever meet), then their behavior is unacceptable. Period. Oregon laws already accomplish this, if we chose to enforce them. And pet stores and shelters should not be exempted so that they can continue neglecting animals and setting an atrocious example. What we must stop is not “puppy mills,” it is abuse or neglect wherever they are found… 

The second portion of the bill was less discussed–the lemon law piece.  Most everyone who talked about this portion agreed that the bill was absurdly unreasonable.  It somehow expects breeders to be able to ensure the health of living animals far beyond what is possible, and to bear the burden for veterinary expenses over which they have no control.  It also does something else that is profoundly worrisome–it reinforces the notion that breeders bear all the responsibility for the health and welfare of animals.  Unfortunately, this is a huge portion of the problem in animals today–blame the breeder for everything.  In truth, the shelters are full because of owners who fail to live up to their responsibilities.  Almost all of the problems in dogs today are caused by this one simple truth, yet legislators and naive animal owners want to keep pointing the finger at someone else because it is less painful.  Very few of the dogs in shelters come from breeders or serious dog people who own multiple dogs.  They are almost all there because casual owners get dogs and later decide they are too much work so they take them to the shelter.  If we want to improve the lives of dogs in this country, this is the problem we need to address…

So, HB2470 is going to be discussed and refined and amended.  You need to write to Representative Hovey, and your legislators, and the other members of the committee and voice your opinion, and you also need to stay attentive-there will be another hearing and it will again be critically important that people call, write, and show up to offer their opinions of whatever the next revision says. Representative Hovey is ostensibly assembling a team of experts to work with him to rewrite the bill, and hopefully they will include some of the real experts on that team.  I suspect the final bill will remain deeply flawed, but perhaps not… As soon as I hear more, I will certainly post here…

 February 27, 2009  Posted by at 8:14 pm Tagged with: ,
Feb 232009

In Oregon, the 2009 Legislative Session is underway, and there are several proposed bills that would significnatly impact animals. Some of them are excellent, others are quite bad.  In this post I will briefly articulate the three bills I believe animal lovers must oppose. These bills are an outright attack on animals and their owners.


Please take a few minutes to review these bills and contact your legislators. Send email or snail mail, talk to them on the phone, arrange meetings, or attend hearings.   Please go to http://www.leg.state.or.us/index.html to read the bills and find contact information for your legislators. If you have not done this before, it may seem daunting, but it is really quite simple.  These legislators work for us, and all you have to do is get in touch and share with them your opinions!


SB391: would prohibit all exotic animal ownership in the state except for federally licensed exhibitors, breeders, and research facilities. It is unnecessary, counterproductive, and unjust.

1.      The historic record is unimpeachable—legally owned exotic animals have caused virtually no harm in Oregon. We have excellent laws that work.

2.      The rare problem that does occur with exotic animals invariably stems from the actions of people who are breaking current law. When people follow the current regulations of USDA, ODA, and ODFW, problems do not arise. If we merely enforce current law there can be no problems.

3.      This bill would reduce the population of knowledgeable and skilled animal experts who are precisely the people working within the state to prevent exotic animals from ever being a problem. Captive exotic animals pose virtually no threat of interbreeding with local animals.

4.      Keeping exotic animals is not intrinsically dangerous or cruel, despite what HSUS may claim.  In most cases, these animals are pampered, loved, and enjoy lives far superior to what they could have in the modern wild world or in a large zoo or other institution.

Simply put, we have laws that work.  This bill provides no benefit for any resident of this state: its only effect if passed would be to advance the personal agenda of people who erroneously believe that NO animal can or should be kept in captivity.

SB303: would allow the state to commission “humane officers” and empower them as peace officers to enforce animal related laws.

These positions could be filled by anyone, and the primary intent of this bill is to make it easy for Animal Rights zealots to gain entry to private homes to search for anything they can use to further their agenda. This is an absurd invasion of privacy.

Surely if we are going to empower civilians to start searching homes for illegal conduct our energies would be better spent on child welfare, drugs, terrorism and other central issues of our time rather than harassing animal owners in the hopes of finding the few bad seeds who are mistreating their animals.

HB2470: would impose strict new regulations for dog breeders. It is counterproductive, unnecessary, and unjust.

HB2470 would harm the animals of our state, and their breeders and owners, as well as consumers and numerous small businesses.

HB 2470 is not a puppy mill bill—it targets all breeders regardless of quality. Because it fails to target only substandard breeders, it is, quite simply, an anti-breeder law. It utilizes incorrect factors like number and enclosure size rather than the correct criteria: quality of care, conditions, and effective placing of any puppies. How many intact dogs people possess is irrelevant if they are able to care for them well.  Number limit laws have never successfully addressed irresponsible breeders, negligent rescue operations, or hoarders, and have been found to be unenforceable and vulnerable to court challenge.

HB2470 purports to solve a problem that simply does not exist in Oregon.  There are very few large-scale breeders in this state, and they are already required to be federally licensed and meet appropriate standards of care. We already have some of the strongest and best animal cruelty laws in the nation, making this bill unnecessary. Time after time people who provide substandard care for their animals have been shut down using existing laws.

HB 2470 attacks precisely those breeders who are providing the best care available and who serve as the most dependable source of healthy pets in our state. These are the very people who provide rescue resources when there are problems, as well as training and support for novice animal owners.

HB 2470 would have a significant negative fiscal impact by eliminating small businesses that routinely have charge of more than 25 intact dogs. These businesses include boarding kennels, daycares, professional handlers, and professional trainers. The bill infringes on privacy without conferring any benefits, and it exempts shelters and pet stores who are often the most egregious violators and who routinely keep animals far longer than other animal businesses.

HB2470 serves the agenda of animal rights organizations who seek to eliminate all animal ownership, but it would do nothing to prevent puppy mills, reduce the numbers of unwanted pets, or improve the lives of any animals. It was written without consulting any of the state’s genuine animal experts who almost without exception oppose this ill-conceived and misguided bill. If you believe there is a problem with the current animal laws in this state, let me suggest that you consult those of us who genuinely understand the issues and devote our lives to solving them: we would be happy to help draft and support a bill that would genuinely improve our state’s animal laws.

 February 23, 2009  Posted by at 5:59 pm Tagged with: , , ,