Tag: department of agriculture
Two practitioners of one of this country’s most despicable occupations — even though it’s legal — entered guilty pleas yesterday and admitted they had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by research facilities for fraudulently obtained dogs.
Floyd and Susan Martin of Shippensburg, Pa., were what’s known as Class B, or “random source,” dog dealers, and between 2005 and 2010 they sold hundreds of dogs to some of the nation’s leading medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities.
There’s nothing wrong — at least in the legal view — with that, assuming one has a license, which the Martins did.
What the Martins got in trouble for was buying too many dogs from individual sources, and lying about it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Class B dealers may purchase dogs from unlicensed individuals — often called “bunchers” – who collect dogs from various sources. But, under the law, Class B dealers are not allowed to buy more than 24 dogs a year from any single individual.
According to the indictment, the Martins purchased hundreds of dogs from just two individuals while falsely certifying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they had purchased no more than 24 dogs from any single source.
Two co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment — those who supplied the dogs to the Martins – have not been charged.
Class B dealers have traditionally purchased dogs from “bunchers,” who often collect dogs from auctions, shelters, the street, and through responding to “free to good home” pet ads.
According to prosecutors, the bunchers working with the Martins procured dogs from sources in 10 states and sold them to the Martins for $50 to $75 each. The Martins then sold the dogs to hospitals and other research labs for hundreds of dollars in profit per dog, the indictment said.
In federal court in Harrisburg yesterday, the Martins, who operated Chestnut Grove Kennel, entered guilty pleas to reduced charges
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, under a deal with prosecutors, Floyd Martin pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, for which he will serve a year in prison, while Susan Martin pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy, for which she will be placed on probation.
The sentence, which also requires the Martins to to pay $300,000 in restitution, will not be official until U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III reviews a presentence report before their June 26 sentencing hearing in Harrisburg.
The case provides a glimpse into the shady world of dog-dealing, which first came to light in Pennsylvania in the 1960s after a stolen pet ended up in a research hospital in New York. Pepper, a dalmatian, was taken from her yard in 1965 and ended up being used in a cardiac pacemaker experiment, which killed her.
Her story helped lead to the passage of the federal Animal Welfare Act in 1966, establishing humane standards for animals in laboratory settings and regulating dealers that sold to them.
Despite those regulations, there was still plenty of room for sleazy behavior.
“We’re talking about an abuse-ridden system of acquiring animals for research,” said Nancy Blaney, senior federal policy adviser for the Animal Welfare Institute, a national advocacy group. ” ‘Random source’ is what it sounds like it is. They can get animals from individuals who respond to ‘free to good home’ ads or animals being stolen. We know because they have been traced through micro-chipping.”
Only six licensed random source dealers remain in operation in the country, and half of them are under federal investigation, the Inquirer reported. The National Institutes of Health said in 2011 that it would phase out use of dogs from Class B dealers by 2015.
In the 1990s, tens of thousands of dogs were being supplied to universities and other medical research institutes. By 2010, the number had dipped to 3,100.
About 3 percent of dogs used in biomedical research in the United States come from random-source dealers, with the rest being supplied by breeders who raise dogs for that specific purpose.
(Photos: Top, Chestnut Grove Kennel, by Dan Gleiter / The Patriot-News; bottom, Pepper and the Lakavage family)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, chestnut grove kennel, class b, dalmatian, dealers, dealing, department of agriculture, dog, dogs, experiments, floyd martin, free to good home, laboratory, labs, licensing, medical, pennsylvania, pepper, pets, random source, research, supply, susan martin, universities
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
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has failed to enforce parts of the state’s four-year-old dog law, according to a report by the Dog Law Advisory Board.
In a nearly 100-page report, a subcommittee of the board that was created to advise the governor on dog issues concludes the Dog Law Enforcement office has failed to enforce critical components of the law, leaving close to 500,000 dogs in 2,000 kennels at risk.
“The data show that, by design, everything was done to ignore enforcing the law,” said Thomas Hickey, of West Chester, a board member and one of the report’s authors.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the report says commercial kennels have gotten away with failing to vaccinate dogs for rabies, avoided health and safety regulations and have been allowed to renew their licenses despite convictions for cruelty. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek October 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advisory board, commercial, department of agriculture, dog, dog law, enforce, enforcement, kennels, law, licensing, pennsylvania, puppy mills, regulations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for violating the Animal Welfare Act after a monkey escaped from a university research laboratory.
Wake Forest Baptist is appealing the findings, the medical center told the Winston-Salem Journal Wednesday.
The citation was for failing to house the monkey safely and securely, but it wasn’t clear what punishment, if any, the medical center faces.
An inspection report noted the latch of the monkey’s cage was “easily manipulated to open.” Staff at the primate center have since installed a chain with a secure latch to the center’s outside corridors to prevent further escapes, the report said.
Under the federal law, failure to correct problems documented by inspectors can result in fines and confiscation of animals.
The 8-pound female macaque — used to breed other monkeys for research purposes — got out of her cage at the Wake Forest Primate Center on June 29. She opened a latch on her cage, then managed to open a chain-link fence and get out of the center, officials said.
She roamed the woods for 11 days before she was captured.
The federal action is the result of a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“We had hoped that WFU would honor the monkey’s indomitable spirit by sending her to an accredited sanctuary after she was recaptured, but the university has not given any indication that it is pursuing this compassionate option,” said a PETA spokesman.
(Photo by Crystal Hughes, via Fox 8)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, cage, citation, department of agriculture, escaped, findings, inspection, lab, laboratory, latch, macaque, medical center, monkey, peta, research, usda, wake forest
State dog wardens and police removed 206 Chihuahuas – many of them sick – from a home in Columbia County in northeastern Pennsylvania last week.
Dog wardens and state police executed a search warrant Thursday at the home of Albert and Thomas Ambrosia, in Benton, after receiving tips that dogs were being hoarded.
Officials removed several dead dogs from the home, and many more that were suffering from skin, eye and dental issues, said a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture. State police are determining whether to file animal cruelty charges, she said.
The dogs were taken to the Farm Show complex in Harrisburg to get medical treatment and were being divided up among shelters on Friday and over the weekend.
According to the Reading Eagle, two Berks County animal shelters were among those that took in some of the dogs. The Animal Rescue League of Berks County announced Friday that it would take in 30 of the dogs, and the Humane Society of Berks County received six.
“This is one of the worst cases of animal hoarding we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, but through the efficient work of dog wardens, state and county animal response teams and local animal shelters, the dogs are one step closer to finding healthy forever homes,” said Mike Pechart, a deputy secretary who oversees state Dog Law enforcement at the Agriculture Department.
The two men who kept the dogs at their home treated them as pets and identified them by name to law enforcement officials who took them away.
The Animal Rescue League reported that 10 of the 30 Chihuahuas it received are older dogs that require more extensive care and will be placed with the group’s foster home program for older animals.
Officials from both the Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League said it is unclear when the dogs will be available for adoption.
“This is a terrible event, but we’re grateful that the Office of Dog Law Enforcement took the initiative to rescue these dogs,” said Dylan Heckart, Berks County Humane Society director of development and pubic relations. “We plan to offer the Chihuahuas the best veterinary care available and place them for adoption as soon as they’re ready.”
(Photo: Dylan Heckart, director of development and public relations at the Humane Society of Berks County, with Chihuahuas rescued from a Columbia County home; by Bill Uhrich / Reading Eagle)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Albert Ambrosia, animal rescue league, animals, Benton, berks county, chihuahuas, columbia county, dead, department of agriculture, dogs, hoarded, hoarders, hoarding, humane society, pennsylvania, pets, seized, sick, Thomas Ambrosia
Dog breeders who avoid animal welfare laws and regulations by selling puppies over the Internet would face tighter scrutiny under a rule change proposed last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Under the change, dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies electronically, by mail or over the phone, would be subject to the same oversight faced by wholesale dealers as part of the Animal Welfare Act.
The proposal is aimed at closing the loophole created when the Internet became a new venue for puppy sales. The thousands of large-scale breeders who advertise there have not been subject to oversight or inspection.
Under the changes, sellers either must open their doors to the public so buyers can see the animals before they purchase them, or obtain a license and be subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, according to the Associated Press.
The Animal Welfare Act, written in 1966, set standards of care for animals bred for commercial sale and research. Retail sales were exempt from inspections since those customers aren’t buying dogs sight unseen.
“We feel this is certainly a much-needed change to an outdated system,” said Rebecca Blue, deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Blue said it’s designed to ensure that dogs sold and shipped to buyers are healthy, treated well and genetically sound.
“This is a very significant proposed federal action, since thousands of large-scale breeders take advantage of a loophole that allows them to escape any federal inspections,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Dogs in puppy mills often live in small, overcrowded cages, living in filth and denied veterinary care. We need more eyes on these operations, and this rule will help.”
The change does not affect backyard breeders who sell puppies from their homes or other physical locations.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animal welfare act, animals, change, department of agriculture, dogs, hsus, humane society of the united states, inspection, internet, merchants, mills, oversight, pets, proposal, proposed, puppy, puppy mills, regulation, rule, sales, usda
The United States Department of Agriculture, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, released hundreds of pages of new evidence last week from its investigation of NFL quarterback Michael Vick to Atlanta’s WSBTV.
The documents include summaries of interrogations by federal investigators with member of Vick’s dogfighting ring and confidential informants in the case.
Among the revelations:
• A confidential informant told investigators that Vick drowned dogs, shot them to death and killed others “with a shovel.”
• A Delta Airlines employee from Virginia was fired “when he attempted to get Vick around security” during the peak of the dog fighting operation. Vick “felt responsible” and went on to hire the employee.
• In 2003, Vick and two other men attended a dog fight in Blackstone, Va., bringing with them two pit bulls. Both lost so the dogs were left with the owner of the property. Vick did not keep dogs that lost matches.
• In April 2007, Vick tested several dogs to determine if they had the predisposition to fight. He ordered six or eight dogs destroyed because they did not meet his standards. The witness said Vick personally helped drown three or four dogs, a process that took two people to hold the animal’s legs while the dog’s head was held under water. Vick also hung dogs.
• The witness told investigators Vick “seemed to get an ‘adrenaline high’ when killing the dogs.”
Vick served nearly two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal animal fighting charge. He was released in 2009 and joined the Philadelphia Eagles.
WSBTV.COM submitted the request for the records in March 2008. The information was delivered by the USDA last week.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, adrenaline, atlanta falcons, department of agriculture, documents, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, drowned, freedom of information, high, killed, killing, michael vick, philadelphia eagles, ring operation, usda
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is reminding Oregonians that dogs aren’t welcome in grocery stores unless they’re providing a service to the disabled.
“Of all the complaints we receive … pets in a grocery store — especially dogs — is by far our number one issue,” said officials said in a press release on the DOA website. “We’ve received complaints about dogs urinating in the aisle of a grocery store, jumping up and licking packages of meat, or sniffing food items on the shelf.”
The new public awareness campaign uses dog-shaped posters that will provide definitions of service animal and “tips” for consumers who see pets inside stores. Pamphlets will also be distributed to business owners to help them “know what to ask” and “when to ask” when an animal enters a store.
State officials say it is against state and federal law for live animals to enter establishments selling or preparing food, unless the animal falls under a specific exemption of the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.”
Citations will be issued to businesses in violation, not animal owners, according to the DOA website.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: americans with disabilities act, assistance, banned, campaign, complaints, department of agriculture, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, grocery stores, guide dogs, illegal, oregon, pamphlets, posters, service
The owner of the Almost Heaven Kennel in eastern Pennsylvania has been fined more than $150,000 and is facing over 230 charges of violating the state’s dog laws.
Breeder Derbe Eckhart has 15 days to appeal the $152,900 fine from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, according to the Associated Press.
The fines and charges stem from a raid on Almost Heaven Kennel in Emmaus last month by the department and the Humane Society of the United States .
A Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokesman said Eckhart failed to get rid of 216 dogs after he lost his kennel license. Almost Heaven was also raided in Oct. 2008. At that time, animal welfare officials said hundreds of animals were living in filthy conditions. Eckhart faces animal cruelty charges from that raid.
(Photo: A Humane Society of the United States staff member removes two of the hundreds of dogs seized from Almost Heaven; courtesy of HSUS)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: almost heaven, charges, department of agriculture, derbe eckhart, dog, dogs, emmaus, fines, hsus, law, pennsylvania, puppy mill, raid, video
Despite easily available alternatives, more than half of American colleges and universities are using live and dead dogs and cats for teaching and training purposes — including animals that were once pets, according to a new report.
The report, “Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply of Dogs and Cats to Higher Education,” is the result of a two-year investigation by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS). The report was released today by Animalearn, the education division of AAVS.
You can download the full report, learn how to take action, and explore alternatives to animal dissection at the new AAVS website, dyingtolearn.org.
The report says 52 percent of the colleges and universities covered in the study still used dogs and cats to teach and train students in life science, veterinary, and medical education.
According to the report, former pets are also ending up in the mix — either obtained by universities directly from shelters, or sold to universities by an animal dealer. With more pets ending up in shelters due to the economic downturn, the likelihood of that happening is growing.
“The numbers of pets being relinquished to shelters is drastically increasing. This puts an ever increasing number of former pets at risk of ending up in labs,” said Animalearn Director Laura Ducceschi.
The report traces the route that sent dogs like Cruella, a shepherd-mix from Michigan to end up being used in a college laboratory. Once someone’s pet, she was purchased from a shelter and sold to a university. The dogs and cats are used for live surgeries and other procedures.
The reported looked at animal acquisition procedures at 92 public colleges and universities in the U.S.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aavs, american anti-vivisection society, animal welfare act, animalearn, animals, cats, class b dealers, colleges, cruella, dealers, department of agriculture, dissecting, dogs, dying to learn, education, experiments, higher education, investigation, labs, medical, pets, science, shelters, student choice policies, surgeries, surgical simulation, teaching, tracie letterman, training, universities, veterinary, virtual dissection