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Monday, April 14, 2008

You Asked

Today I’d like to respond to some questions and comments that readers have sent me.

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In response to Oprah’s show on puppy mills:

Just watched the program on Oprah about puppy mills and I was horrified. How can this be allowed to go on? I thought that there were laws against cruelty to animals. —Denise R.

Denise, you are right that all 50 states have anti-cruelty statutes, but these laws have rarely been applied to puppy mills. Most puppy factories are in rural locations with farmers raising dogs on the side, and some law enforcement officials regard the animals as livestock, not pets. But with the increased awareness of puppy mills in recent years, there have been several arrests and raids in states like Maine, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Even though cruelty laws exist, we must pass specific reforms to restrict the mass breeding of dogs at commercial factories. Twenty states are considering legislation this year to crack down on puppy mills, and it’s important that your state lawmakers hear from you.

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In response to Washington Governor Christine Gregoire allowing the increased hound hunting of cougars:

I am completely disgusted at the fact that my governor went against the wishes of her constituents and signed this bill into law. This is not the way to handle an overpopulation problem, not that I even think there is a cougar overpopulation. I blogged about this on my blog as well and linked to you. Thanks for bringing attention to this matter Michael. —Billy

Billy, thank you for spreading the word. Since Governor Gregoire expanded the hound hunting of cougars, there has been even more attention to this reckless policy. Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton wrote in her article “Is cougar hunting breeding chaos?” that stepped up hunting is not solving cougar conflicts, but in fact is making the problem worse. And Liza Gross wrote in her High Country News feature, “Cougars in chaos,” that Washington’s outdated hunting policy is pushing big cats to the brink of extinction. It’s time for lawmakers to recognize that sound science and humane solutions should trump trophy hunting interests.

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In response to the presidential candidates' comments on the beef recall following the investigation at California slaughter plant:

In reading both Clinton’s and Obama’s statements regarding the cruelty to sick cows and tainted meat, I am not happy with either one’s reply and neither should the Humane Society be happy with them as they mainly speak of the health threat to humans and not enough if any emphasis on the horrible treatment of animals! Wasn’t that your point in posting these statements? —Donna R.

Donna, I do believe it’s important to acknowledge the candidates when they speak out on issues related to animal welfare. Hillary Clinton said in a statement that she “will crack down on the slaughter of sick or injured cows” and commented at a Wisconsin campaign stop on “sick and downed animals being pushed forward with bulldozers.” Barack Obama said in a statement, “I commend the Humane Society of the United States for bringing this important issue to the public attention and believe that the mistreatment of downed cows is unacceptable.” Animal issues are making their way into the presidential debate, and it also speaks to the broader issue of connectivity and the link between the fortunes of animals and ourselves. In this case, because animals were abused in such horrible ways, food safety and human health were also put at risk.

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