Here’s a mother — or at least an expectant one — who made sure she’d have plenty of flowers on Mother’s Day, building her nest of pine needles under this budding bush.
I came across her Sunday while visiting my own mom, who has a view of the nesting duck from her living room window and reports that’s she’s been dutifully sitting atop her eggs — about ten of them — for weeks now.
It’s baby duck season at Arbor Acres, the retirement community in which my mother lives, where residents eagerly await the appearance of the year’s first ducklings.
Nobody’s sure who the father is, but many suspect it’s the fellow to the left — he of the poofy hairdo – who is well-known for his amorous behavior and apparently considers himself quite the ladies man.
Then again, if I had hair like that, maybe I would, too.
He is believed to have fathered many of the baby ducks that were born last year, and indications are he’s at it again.
Yesterday, as the nesting mother sat atop her eggs, amid the blooming flowers, it appeared to me — though I’m better at interpreting dog behavior than duck behavior — that poofy head had moved on to new interests.
The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.
That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show
The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.
The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …
“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”
The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.
“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.
AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.
But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.
“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”
“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”
“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”
Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, aspca, breeders, breeding, club, conditions, dog, dogs, hsus, humane society, humane society of the united states, inspections, investigative, jeff rossen, kennel, laws, legislation, nbc, news, pets, report, today, today show, wayne pacelle
A Pennsylvania dog breeder who has been among the most often cited for kennel violations has been charged, and convicted, again — even though he seemed to have downsized his operation enough to avoid state regulations.
John Esh, of Lancaster County, was found guilty and fined $175 last week for running an unlicensed kennel, the Philadelphia Inquirer blog, Philly Dawg, reports.
Esh, and his son Daniel, who breed dogs on two adjoining properties in Ronks, in the heart of Lancaster’s Amish country, have a long history of kennel violations — dating back to well before the state toughened up its dog law.
In 1996, Daniel was held responsible for selling a rabid puppy to a customer whose child was bitten by the dog. In 1997, both father and son were sued by the state attorney general for selling hundreds of sick dogs without a license. Both have had their licenses revoked for operating kennels under substandard conditions.
John Esh closed down his kennel, Twin Maple, opting to keep fewer than 26 dogs on the premises to avoid stricter kennel regulations put in place for commercial breeders.
But recently he was found with 27.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture said Esh was selling puppies under the name Green Mountain Toy Puppies. A dog warden assigned to root out illegal kennels selling dogs on the Internet made the discovery.
In court, Esh was told to keep his dog population under 26 and not sell anymore dogs unless he has a kennel license.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agriculture, animals, breeders, breeding, commercial, daniel esh, dogs, fined, fines, green mountain toy puppies, john esh, kennels, lancaster county, law, pennsylvania, pets, puppy mills, regulations, ronks, twin maple, violations
With Westminster over and Crufts winding up, halfway between Miss America and Miss USA, it seems a good a time as any to look at our standards of physical perfection — for dogs and humans — and where they came from.
Recent evidence suggests that — at least when it comes to competitions — they all may have started with pigeons, or, more accurately, with humans in pursuit of pigeon perfection.
This, be warned, is not a scholarly presentation — just an impish one – but we will cite the work of some scholars, namely historians at the University of Manchester who say they’ve traced the first use of a physical standard to describe what’s desirable, appearance wise, for a certain a breed of dog.
That dog was a pointer, named Major, but what’s even more interesting to us is where the whole presumptuous idea came from that we humans get to declare what’s perfect when it comes to the sizes, shapes, coats, muscle tone, wingspan or snout length of nature’s creations.
It’s one thing to set standards for our own species — be they male bodybuilders wearing too-skimpy Speedos, or women in swimsuits competing in “scholarship competitions.” It’s quite another to think we have the right to decide the right look for the entire animal kingdom — and then fashion those creatures to better please our eyes.
Apparently we have the pigeon — or pigeon afficianados — to thank. Fancy that.
Modern day dog show standards were modeled after the scoring system used in the 1800s to rate pigeons, according to University of Manchester historians.
They say they have discovered the first attempt to define a physical standard for a dog breed – in an 1865 edition of a Victorian journal called The Field. It was written, in reference to a show-winning pointer named Major, by John Henry Walsh, who used the pseudonym of “Stonehenge.”
The historians say that makes Major the “first modern dog.” Walsh took the system of giving scores for different parts of the body from pigeon fanciers, paving the way for the pedigree dog breeds we know and love today.
That led the way to all the other breed standards, and inbreeding and all the resulting genetic problems, too.
Historians at the University of Manchester believe standards caught on because, prior to them, judging was a pretty arbitrary pursuit, and contestants — the humans hoping to win ribbons, trophies and money through their animals — were often unhappy with the results, leading to disputes.
In other words, with standards in place, the decisions of judges seemed less arbitrary — even though the standards themselves are mostly arbitrary.
In September 1865, Stonehenge published a classification for the pointer which outlined what it should look like, and gave point values to the various section of its body – head and neck 30 points, frame and general symmetry 25 points, legs and feet 20 points, color and coat 10 points.
Articles soon followed on the standards for gordon setters, clumber spaniels, Norfolk spaniels, truffle dogs and fox terriers. Walsh’s edited collection was published in 1867.
“The standard set by ‘Mr Smith’s Major’ must surely be one of the most important milestones in the six-thousand-year-old relationship between canines and man,” said Professor Michael Worboys, head of the University’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.
“As dogs came to be defined as ‘breeds,’ they were bred for greater conformity to breed standards, which meant more inbreeding, and more health problems as dogs were bred from a smaller gene pool … Stonehenge’s classifications set in chain a process where dogs were re-imagined, redesigned and remade.”
The standards weren’t pulled out of thin air. Most often they were based on traits a type of dog had already shown. The bulldog, for example was bred to have a form ideal for grappling with a bull, even though bull-baiting had been banned in 1830.
While both dog shows and breed standards got their start in England, Americans picked up on them, including P.T. Barnum, who after holding dog, bird and baby contests, is credited by some with staging the first modern American beauty pageant.
P.T. Barnum is also often credited with the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Numerous websites will tell you he said that; many more say he did not — that it was instead the owner of a competing circus.
(The Internet is one of those places that has no standards.)
We’re not totally against written standards, just a little bothered when they are arbitrarily imposed by one species on another, or by one majority on a minority.
There are plenty of places we can use some standards – among them hospitals, Congress and corporate empires, like the one belonging to Donald Trump, the modern-day P.T. Barnum who owns the Miss USA pageant.
When it comes to beauty though — human, dog or pigeon beauty — we think that decision is best made not by a checklist, but by the eye of the beholder.
(Photos: Top left, Sheena Monnin, a Miss USA contestant who, after claiming the pageant was fixed, was ordered to pay Donald Trump $5 million; top right, a pigeon, courtesy of U.S. Department of Fish and Wildife ; sketch of Major courtesy of Dr. Michael Worboys, University of Manchester)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beauty, beauty pageants, breeding, conformation, crufts, desirable, disorders, dog breed, dog shows, dogs, donald trump, females, first, form, genetic, humans, ideals, inbreeding, males, miss america, miss usa, perfection, pets, pigeons, pt barnum, shape, size, standards, westminster, written
An Amish man who shot a mother dog and her eight puppies told police in New York that he thought killing dogs was acceptable under his culture, as long as it was done out of sight and with discretion – or as he put it, “Shoot, shovel and shut up.”
“In the Amish it’s acceptable to put dogs down. I thought as long as you did it out back it was okay,” Jonathon Eicher reportedly told officers who arrested him and the breeder of the dogs in Wayne County.
The nine dead dogs were discovered in a ditch by a highway crew on January 17.
Also charged with animal cruely was Merlin Schmucker, 26, who owned and bred the Australian red heelers, but was unable to sell the dogs because, he said, they’d become too big.
Schmucker asked Eicher, his employee, to put the dogs down, said Wayne County District Attorney Rick Healy.
“This is simply a case of animal cruelty,” he said. “They can’t treat the animals the way they want to treat the animals; they must treat the animals humanely.”
Both Schmucker and Eicher were charged with nine counts of cruelty to animals , WHAM reported.
Schmucker told police he had “raised the dogs and couldn’t put them down myself so I asked Jonathan to do it.”
Eicher admitted killing the dogs with a .22-caliber rifle, police said.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amish, animal cruelty, animals, arrests, breeders, breeding, crew, ditch, dog, dogs, eight, hidden, highway, killed, new york, pets, puppies, red heelers, shoot, shot, shovel, shut up, unsold, wayne county
Arnold has never been to Afghanistan. Or Iraq. But, under the auspices of the Department of Defense, he’s serving our country — in a manner you might envy, and with results most impressive.
Arnold, as you might guess from his full name — Arnold des Contes D’Hoffmann — is a stud.
Rather than getting deployed to war zones, the Belgian Malinois is sitting pretty at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where, working with a harem of 16 females, he’s fathered 149 offspring destined to become military working dogs.
Arnold joined the Department of Defense in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times.
His working skills were so impressive that it was decided he’d be of more use reproducing. Thus he has avoided getting sent to conflicts and settled into a life of making love, not war.
He’s one of only three male dogs at the base with that job description.
Officials say Arnold, who has five more pups on the way, is one of the more productive males in the breeding program at the military working-dog program at Lackland.
The program’s goal is to produce dogs — about 100 a year — that serve longer tours of duty with fewer medical problems than the dogs bought from outside vendors.
The Times reports:
“Dogs capable of sniffing out buried bombs, guarding far-flung bases or displaying aggression on command have been in great demand since the U.S.-led assault on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in 2001 and the Iraq war in 2003. Arnold, in his own fashion, has done his part for national security.”
Arnold is 7 now, and, of his offspring, about half have been found suitable as working dogs, said Stewart Hilliard, manager of the breeding program.
When Arnold’s not performing, he usually is in a kennel.
“If he gets to chase a ball for several hours, he’s had a good day,” said Hilliard.
About 15 percent of the working dogs that graduate from Lackland each year are from the Belgian Malinois breeding program..
(Photo:Darren Abate / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, arnold, Arnold des Contes D’Hoffmann, belgian malinois, breeding, dogs, iraq, lackland air force base, military dogs, military working dogs, pets, program, stud, working dogs
Last week, the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover investigation documenting the connections between pet stores and puppy mills (above) — and it threw a little praise Ohio’s way for passing new measures to curb abuses among high volume dog breeders.
“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Ohio lawmakers for working to pass this commonsense law to protect dogs and address the worst problems at puppy mills,” said Melanie Kahn, senior director of the HSUS “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign.
“No dog should be forced to spend a lifetime in a small wire cage with no human companionship or comfort,” she added.
Ohio’s new law requires the licensure and annual inspection of high volume breeders that sell 60 dogs or produce at least nine litters in a single calendar year.
It creates a Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board to assist the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture in developing standards, including rules on housing, nutrition, exercise, waste management, grooming, whelping.
It also prohibits anyone convicted of animal cruelty in the last 20 years from obtaining a license – a provision designed to stop the influx into Ohio of puppy mill operators who have been forced to close their operations in other states.
“For too many years, the state of Ohio has been known as a haven for low-quality, high-volume breeders that we call ‘puppy mills.’ This is kind of careless treatment of animals is not a reputation that should be attached to our state,” said Ohio Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus.
Ohio is home to 174 federally-licensed dog breeders and brokers – fifth most in the nation – and to at least another 1,000 additional high volume dog breeders, the HSUS says.
Puppy mills are commonly defined as breeding operations that mass-produce puppies for sale through pet stores, over the Internet and directly to the public. Dogs are often kept in crowded, filthy conditions where they receive little or no socialization, affection or exercise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering applying minimum federal animal welfare standards to breeders who sell dogs directly to consumers. Such breeders are currently exempt.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, breeders, breeding, connection, department of agriculture, direct, dogs, hsus, humane society of the united states, internet, investigation, large scale, law, ohio, passed, pet stores, pets, puppy mills, regulations, sales, tougher
Could it be that – when it comes to providing unnecessary and disturbingly human goods and services to dogs – South America is becoming as bonkers as North America?
One look inside Motel Pet (with its ceiling mirrors, romantic lighting and plush red decor, Motel Sex would have been a better name) indicates the answer is yes.
The motel — aimed at offering dogs a cozy and romantic place to breed – was opened earlier this year by Animalle Mundo Pet, a pet superstore in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
It’s modeled after the kind of themed love motels that aren’t uncommon in Brazil — like Swing, Absinthe and Alibi — that offer lovers a place to do just that discreetly and, if desired, by the hour.
And it’s just the latest evidence that, at least in the more urban areas, Brazilians are taking doting on their dogs to new extremes.
A New York Times article about the motel points out that Brazil’s pet population has jumped to 36 million, and that in some large cities plastic surgeons are offering Botox injections for dogs. It traces the rapid growth in doggie services to the emergence of a middle-class Brazil.
At Animalle Mundo Pet, the doggie love nests — at $50 a night — are the latest addition to a spectrum of services once reserved for humans. The store sells a beef-flavored dog beer, and offers a spa with a Japanese ofuro soaking tub, as well as several lines of designer canine apparel.
After spending $500 on clothes for her Yorkshire terrier, customer Andreia Kfoury checked out the motel area and said it would be perfect for Harley’s romantic pursuits.
“I’m definitely bringing Harley back here when it’s time for him to breed,” she said. “He is very macho, and would be a hit in this place.”
Our guess is that Harley, even though he’s a Yorkie, would be just as happy to get it on in a vacant lot, but, as those who offer humanesque services to dogs are well aware, dog owners are the ones who hold the money, and fall for the marketing ploys.
For those rendezvous that don’t produce results, Animalle Mundo Pet also offers to arrange artificial insemination. They don’t offer cloning, but give them another 10 years.
According to the Times article, per capita income has risen in Brazil to about $10,700 a year. At the same time, family size has gotten smaller, with the average number of children dropping from 2.5 in the 1990s to 1.9. Life expectancy has climbed from 67 to 73. With more time, more money and fewer children, many Brazilians have turned to dogs, and the country is now No. 1 in per capita ownership of small dogs (those 20 pounds or less).
(Photo: Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Animalle Mundo Pet, animals, behavior, belo horizonte, bitches, brazil, breeding, dogs, heat, humanizing, humans, love motels, motel pet, ownership, pet, pets, romance, romantic, sex, small dogs, south america, studs, superstore
Under a policy adopted last year, Santa Monica-based Macerich will not renew the leases for any pet stores that sell live animals.
Instead, only adoption centers with rescued animals will be allowed in Macerich-owned malls.
In Arizona, that impact of that change is becoming visible, according to the Arizona Republic, and it’s serving to help out a lot of animal shelters and homeless pets. At many a mall pet store, animals in need of adoption have replaced those pumped out by breeders.
The change in the company’s policy reflects shifts in public opinion regarding pet buying, and a growing recognition that many of the dogs sold in stores come from puppy mills. A 2011 survey by New Jersey-based Hartz Mountain Corp., a pet-product company, found that, of more than 1,000 pet owners only 4 percent would buy their next pet from a pet store.
“Our focus is now directed to working with local pet-rescue organizations in our communities and pet-accessory retailers to serve the needs of our shoppers,” said Melissa Rupp, assistant marketing manager at Macerich-owned SanTan Village in Gilbert.
The trend toward adoption centers, which had begun in some Arizona retail locations even before Macerich changed its policy, has accelerated, the Republic reports.
Many large retailers already operate adoption programs in with animal-welfare organizations, including and Petco and PetSmart, which reports the adoptions of more than 5 million cats and dogs since 1994.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 1,700 pet stores across the country have signed its “Pet Friendly Pledge” not to sell puppies in their stores. Fifty-three of those locations are in Arizona.
The Humane Society Petique at the Biltmore Fashion Park opened in November 2009, two years before Macerich’s policy change, and it marked the first time a retail developer partnered with a Valley rescue group. More than 2,000 animals have been adopted out of the rescue storefront.
The venture has helped the local Humane Society, which charges adoption fees of $10 to $160. The money goes to programs for homeless animals such as Second Chance Animal Hospital and daily sheltering needs, Nelson said. The society also runs Petopia at Desert Sky Mall.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control partners with PetSmart to host adoption events, and it runs the storefront Under One Woof! at Metrocenter Mall, a shopping mall not owned by Macerich.
(Photo: Michael Schennum / The Arizona Republic)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, adoption centers, animals, arizona, attitudes, breeders, breeding, dogs, don't buy, hsus, humane society of the united states, leases, macerich, malls, pet friendly pledge, pet stores, petco, pets, petsmart, phoenix, policy, public, puppy, puppy mills, selling, shopping centers, surveys
The Humane Society of the United States has released a report calling on the American Kennel Club to protect dogs from abuses at puppy mills.
The report accuses the AKC of “pandering to the interests of large-scale, commercial breeding facilities,” even though ”smaller-scale, high-quality breeders” make up the majority of its membership.
Numerous puppy mill operators who have been charged with animal cruelty have been selling AKC registered puppies and some of them even passed AKC inspections, the report notes.
“The American Kennel Club bills itself as ‘The Dog’s Champion,’ but our report shows a pattern of activity that is entirely at odds with that self-description,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO.
“The AKC has opposed more than 80 bills and proposals in the last five years that would have implemented common-sense, humane standards of care at large-scale breeding facilities. We are shocked that a group that should be standing shoulder to shoulder with us is constantly lined up with the puppy mill industry.”
The report is based on information uncovered during HSUS-assisted raids of puppy mills, AKC “alerts” sent to breeders, materials published on AKC’s website, and AKC’s lobbying activities over the past five years.
In just the past six months, AKC-registered dogs were among those removed from three puppy mills in raids conducted by authorities in North Carolina, HSUS says.
In 2012 alone, AKC asked its supporters to oppose laws in several states that would have required puppy producers to comply with basic care standards; legislation in three states that would have prevented the debarking of dogs without a medical reason; an ordinance in a Tennessee town designed to prevent dogs from being left in hot cars; a Rhode Island state bill to prevent people from chaining or crating a dog for more than 14 hours a day; and a Louisiana state bill that would have prevented breeding facilities from keeping dogs in stacked, wire-floored cages.
The HSUS report discloses that some puppy mills that had been inspected by AKC but were still the subject of law enforcement-led rescues – with their operators later convicted of animal cruelty based on the poor conditions of their dogs.
Most recently, AKC has been lobbying breeders to oppose a proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would regulate Internet puppy sellers under the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The HSUS report calls on AKC to distance itself from the large-scale, commercial dog-breeding industry and return to its original focus of representing small, responsible breeders who have the welfare of their dogs as their top priority.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animal welfare, animals, breeders, breeding, commercial, conditions, critical, criticizes, dog, dogs, hsus, humane society of the united states, inspections, internet, large scale, laws, legislation, opposition, pets, puppy, puppy mills, regulation, report, sales, standards, wayne pacelle