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30 April 2000 Issue
Dateline - Puppy Mills

 

by KarenDawn1@aol.com 

Last night's Dateline (Wednesday, April 26) was everything we had hoped for and more. Chris Hansen's story (the same journalist who brought us the dog and cat fur expose) made it clear that puppies in most pet stores, including the huge chain Petland, and elite little pet shops in Manhattan, come from puppy mills. This was demonstrated despite the claims of all pet store employees interviewed, that their puppies came from "reputable breeders."

It was shown that USDA certification of breeding facilities meant little, and that American Kennel Club pedigrees could mean nothing. Via mail, Dateline managed to get two 13 year old cats certified, by the American Kennel Club, as Golden Retriever puppies. Hansen brought our attention to the conflict of interest the AKC has when certifying breeders, given that pedigree licensing is a 26 million dollar business.

A hidden camera investigation done by Dateline, backed up one done by PETA. Chris Hansen described seeing dogs at a breeding facility "living a life on wire." (Footage shot from below showed paws struggling on the wire floored cages.) "They are warehoused in cages their entire lives for just one purpose: to breed."

The following quotes will demonstrate how hard hitting the Dateline story was:

"Both our videotape and PETA's show violations and disturbing conditions. And remember, you're looking at a federally licensed facility. We saw waste piling up. There were dogs with runny, infected eyes and rotted teeth. Deformed dogs. Some were filthy. Others had bare patches of skin from a contagious infection called mange. And still others had open sores like this Doberman. Almost every cocker spaniel we saw had what's called 'cherry eye,' a hereditary disorder that must be corrected with surgery. This Jack Russell Terrier's foot was trapped in broken wire. And this toy poodle's leg was accidentally broken when it was taken from its cage. And there was this Lab, his collar grew too tight, but no one had noticed until it was too late. The skin actually grew around it, and the collar had to be torn off."

AND "The few pets that were allowed to roam stood in stark contrast to others, especially those who, due to confinement, showed strange neurotic behaviors repetitive jumping or pacing in distinct patterns. One dog spent his days spinning so furiously it's hard to believe the videotape you're now seeing isn't in fast-forward. There were signs of aggression. Inevitably, bloody battles broke out."

Given the frequent portrayal of PETA as a radical fringe group, an interview with President Ingrid Newkirk was a blessing. Viewers saw and heard a rational, compassionate woman saying, "The consumer will never see those mother dogs and the condition they're in.... The law does agree with me. This is no radical position. It simply says there's a minimum standard of care. If the animal is sick, you must provide medical care or destroy the animal, but don't allow the animal to suffer. That is illegal."

Hansen interviewed Veterinarian Karen Overall, who runs the behavior clinic at the University of Pennsylvania animal hospital. She made it clear that responsible dog breeders will not sell to pet stores. Hansen said, "What you're saying, just to be clear, is that nobody should ever buy a dog from a pet store, ever, ever, ever." Overall responded in the affirmative.

The final segment began with Stone Phillips reminding viewers that their are millions of mixed breed dogs available. However, for those people set on a pure breed, Hansen and Overall discussed how to find a reputable breeder. But then Hansen mentioned that you don't have to go to a breeder. Overall responded, "They can talk to rescue associations, animal rescue leagues, humane shelters and those can be wonderful places to get even young animals."

Hansen commented "In fact, we were surprised to learn that about a quarter of all dogs in animal shelters are pure bred, 8 to 12 million dogs and cats enter shelters every year. Of those, 60 to 70 percent are euthanized for want of a home."

Followed by Stone Phillips, "If you're in the market for a pound puppy, mixed breed or pure bred, our Web site can help you have find the nearest animal shelter."

During the piece, Veterinarian Karen Overall was quoted as saying, "If Dante were writing today, there would be a special circle of hell for people who do this to young, helpless animals, who rely on them for their guardianship and everything else."

I think there a special spot in heaven reserved for Chris Hansen and the Dateline team. Please thank them at Dateline@NBC.com 

Yours and the animals,

Karen Dawn

www.DawnWatch.com

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