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
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
Yours and the animals,
Go on to AR2000
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