Written by PETA
A couple in Tucson was caught by Arizona authorities this week with close to 800 dogs (mostly Chihuahuas) and 80 parrots in filthy conditions inside their trailer. CBS News quoted workers on the case as suggesting that the owners were “breeders with good intentions,” which is rather like calling someone a well-meaning child abuser. According to the news reports, more than a dozen dogs were found stuffed inside a single crate in some cases. Some dogs had reportedly been found missing paws from fighting with cage mates.
The story has received national media attention (including an interview with PETA VP Lisa Lange on Nancy Grace last night), and we’re hoping that, as horrible as it is, it helps to dispel myths about breeders being people who care about animals. It seems pretty clear that these folks were running a puppy mill for profit, and PETA is calling on authorities to take this case extremely seriously, including vigorously prosecuting the couple and, should they be convicted, pursuing a provision in their sentencing to ensure that they never be allowed to have even one animal again.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that selectively breeding dogs for certain “aesthetic” traits like a shiny nose, or perky ears—or whatever the hell it is that breeders are looking for in the animals they use for self-gratification and profit—isn’t good for the animals, and in fact can cause extreme health problems. All of the animals who won awards at the AKC-sponsored Westminster Dog Show this week have something in common beyond having been deliberately bred into a world where millions of animals are dying on the streets for lack of a good home: They’re all genetically predisposed to be highly susceptible to a laundry list of debilitating diseases.
In first place, we have Uno, the first beagle ever to take home the “Best in Show” honors at Westminster. As a beagle, Uno has a significantly higher risk of hypothyroidism, demodectic mange (a condition that occurs when a dog’s immune system can’t regulate the number of mites living in the skin), umbilical hernia, epilepsy, eye and eyelid problems, cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, and luxating patella. But I’m sure his Westminster crown will console him when one or more of these ailments set in.
The two poodle contestants, Vikki and Remy, who were just edged out by Uno in the competition, probably won’t live as long as he does either: Poodles are prone to cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, allergies, severe skin disease, hip dysplasia, runny eyes, ear infections, Von Willebrand disease, bloat, and Addison's disease—an adrenal gland deficiency which requires lifelong medication and monitoring.
Uno also defeated a Weimaraner named Marge (elbow dysplasia, bloat) a Sealyham terrier named Charmin (bronchitis, early tooth decay, poor digestion, severe spine problems), and an Australian shepherd named Deuce (hip dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy, chronic eczema, gastric disorders, spinal paralysis).
So everyone’s a loser. Thanks, breeders, for contributing to the problem. Can’t wait to see you guys next year.
What was the most difficult thing about this investigation for you?
Being Jewish, I grew up believing that kosher food was better supervised and therefore cleaner, healthier and produced more humanely. Like the famous kosher slogan, I thought the kosher food industry always “answered to a higher authority.” It was disillusioning to see, yet again, such callous violations of the most fundamental Jewish principles, such as tsa’ar ba’alei chayim (kindness to animals) and to witness this horror face-to-face with the tortured animals.
Why did you agree to do this investigation?
As someone who keeps kosher, I feel ashamed and embarrassed that the kosher food industry has been complicit in some of the worst farmed animal abuses. PETA has been instrumental in bringing about humane improvements to kosher slaughter within the United States and much of that has been due to our undercover investigations. We have also tried for years behind the scenes to get the important companies to end this hideous “shackle and hoist” kosher slaughter method in South America but unfortunately these companies were more concerned with hiding what goes in their slaughterhouses. Undercover footage is the best way to expose the truth and ultimately hold people accountable to make conditions less cruel for the animals. I desperately want kosher food to live up to the highest standards and I know other kosher consumers demand the same.
You can watch the results of the investigation below, and if you’d like to take action, please click here to write to Jewish leaders asking them to enforce tougher standards on kosher slaughterhouses like this one to ensure that these horrors never happen again.
I talked a bit yesterday about the ad we have running during the Westminster Dog Show, which is like a great big frat party for dog breeders, but what I didn’t mention was that we also had a team on the ground waiting to greet attendees, and inform passersby exactly what the breeding industry means for animals. The demonstration—which involved body bags to symbolize the millions of homeless animals who won’t be getting a mention at the dog show and signs reading “Breeders kill shelter dogs' chances”—was a big success, and the pics are really striking. Here’s what PETA VP Daphna Nachminovitch had to say about the protest:
"Breeders churn out puppies for a buck and go so far as to oppose spay/neuter laws that can save animals' lives. All dogs are created equal, but millions of wonderful mixed-breed dogs across the country are paying with their lives because of purebred mania."
Oklahoma ranks close to the top nationally in the number of breeders currently doing their dirty work in the state, and The Tulsa World recently featured a fascinating investigation into Oklahoma’s culture of breeding, from the hideous puppy millers to the other vile breeders, who parade their sickly “pedigree” animals around and worry about their posture, while they completely ignore the fact that the miserable animals are languishing in hutches and cages not fit for a rock, let alone a living, breathing animal. Much like the shelter animals down the road from them, who will die because these people have chosen to make their living bringing more dogs into a country that has millions more than it can handle.
It’s all a little depressing, but definitely worth checking out—particularly this video, which shows the legal conditions that licensed breeders keep their animals in, because the USDA has told them it’s “acceptable.”
On a much more positive note, The Chicago Tribune is holding a contest to pick Chicago’s most beautiful dog. If you’re a dog lover, a Chicagoan, or just someone with an interest in canine aesthetics, you can go check it out here, but be sure to vote for a mutt. Because everybody loves a mutt.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.