Say It Isn’t So…

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) has really stepped in some doggy doo-doo this time by donating a large sum of money (six figures) ostensibly in support of puppy mills.

In December, 2013 Phoenix, Arizona city officials passed an ordinance prohibiting pet stores from selling dogs obtained from commercial breeders. The ordinance is aimed at undermining the business of puppy mills, the large scale commercial breeding facilities that serve as the primary source of puppies trafficked by pet stores.

Frank and Vicki Mineo, the owners of a chain of Arizona pet stores called Puppies ‘N Love, have filed a federal lawsuit in response to the Phoenix ordinance. Fearful of losing their business, the Mineos have claimed that the city of Phoenix overstepped its bounds. A judge has granted an injunction prohibiting Phoenix from enforcing the law until the case is further evaluated.

It appears the Mineos have low friends in high places, helping them fund their lawsuit. Please remember these names: The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is one of the largest pro-puppy mill lobbying groups in the country. Two members are Ryan Boyle of the Hunte Corporation and Joe Watson of Petland. And then there is the APPA, the leading not-for-profit trade association made up of more than 1000 pet product manufacturers. Their mission is to “promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry…” The voice of the APPA, Bob Vetere, President and CEO, tells us, enthusiastically every year how much money we Americans are spending on our pets.

The APPA has donated a large sum of money to support the Mineos in their legal battle against Phoenix. Is that really a good use of APPA money, Mr. Vetere? Why did you feel that the APPA needed to become involved in such a controversial case?

In response to the APPA’s involvement with the Mineo puppy mill case, Vetere released this statement: “We all want to see puppy mills eliminated today. But America’s pet lovers have made it clear that banning the sale of dogs and cats at local pet stores is not the best way to do it. What this poll tells us is that pet owners want tougher breeder standards so that they can be confident that dogs and cats are raised humanely and in the best interests of the animal.”

In her recent blog, Speaking For Spot, Nancy Kay, DVM responds to Vetere’s statement: “Attention Mr. Vetere! The poll you refer to appears to be a complete farce aimed at duping the public while protecting the best interests of the for-profit businesses you represent. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the regulatory body in charge of promoting “tougher breeder standards” has failed miserably to improve the conditions for puppy mill dogs. The USDA makes progress one millimeter at a time, when what is needed is one mile at a time. Additionally, efforts to enforce existing USDA guidelines are abysmal at best. Lastly, Mr. Vetere, what is wrong with tackling the puppy mill issue with a multi-pronged approach? Why not institute tougher breeder standards while, at the same time, eliminate the sale of pet store puppies?”

By the way, there have been several pet stores across the country who have voluntarily stopped selling puppies and changed their business model. They are now successfully partnering with local shelters and rescue groups to offer homeless pets for adoption. That’s a good, pro-active start to eliminating puppy mills, without any assistance from the slow-moving arm of the government. Independent business owners taking a stand.

On a related note: Miami has placed a six-month moratorium on “new” stores selling dogs or cats. Commissioners were pressured by Don Anthony, spokesperson for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, who stated that retail pet shops “get their dogs from puppy mills…” The plan, for now, is to “research the effects of the moratorium in order to reach a decision on whether or not to institute an outright ban.”

To view a list of other Florida municipalities that have instituted retail pet sale bans, visit this page, created by Best Friends.

The New Barker would like to know your thoughts on the poll that Bob Vetere and Dr. McKay referred to earlier in this post, and the “tougher breeder standards” the USDA is attempting to set up. We would like to hear from breeders and shelter/rescue group volunteers. What are your thoughts on how puppy mills can be eliminated?