Letter to the Editor

Sad scenario

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dear Editor,

What is wrong with this scenario?

1. Building put in without proper zoning and approval within the two-mile limit of the McCook City zoning regulations. At first without adequate air conditioning and proper disposal of feces.

2. 30-plus breeding animals purchased from a breeder who was to be closed by the state for improper care and living conditions for 170-plus animals used for breeding purposes. (If the state closed it because of unsanitary conditions, then what kind of health were the animals in that were purchased and what kind of puppies will they produce?)

The remainder of the animals were taken in by the Omaha Humane Society and many of them needed medical attention and others euthanized because of their health problems.

3. No license or approval from the State of Nebraska before kennel was in operation.

4. As it has been several months that this kennel has been operating, how many dogs and puppies now are housed in a 10 x 20 building in small cages without an outdoor exercise area? And what kind of conditions are the litters being born in? Also is there someone there to see that the mother and puppies are cared for after birth?

Perhaps my question should have been, what is right with this scenario?

The final approval will be decided by the City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 4. If this bothers anyone who cares for the health and well being of any of God's creatures please express your thoughts to any Council Member or attend the meeting.

"Beyond the pedigrees, beyond the competition, beyond the trophies. There is caring, knowledge, and people who love dogs almost as much as dogs love people!"

Thanks for your interest,

Marilyn Cuellar

McCook Humane Society

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  • Dogs hold a special place in our hearts. Domesticated thousands of years ago, they were chosen to be our protectors, companions, and best friends. And although we have betrayed our responsibility towards them in many ways, none is so distressing or disturbing as the puppy mill. Yes, unfortunately, whatever term the kennel owner wants to use, it is still a puppy mill.

    The term "puppy mill," coined in the mid-to-late sixties to describe large scale commercial dog breeding facilities, has only recently arrived in the mainstream vernacular. It is a term that some claim is sensational and manipulative. The word "mill" refers to an operation that churns out dogs in mass, using female dogs as nothing more than breeding machines. The term conjures images of dogs crowded in wire cages, living in their own wastes, shivering from the cold, or baking in the heat. Tragically, this vision is not far from reality. Most people, not just those interested in animal protection, are shocked when confronted with the bleak images of dogs housed and bred in puppy mills. But in the 5,000 puppy mills found across the country, thousands of dogs are bred and raised for profit, valued not for their companionship or loyalty, but for the cold hard cash they bring.

    Many consumers possess an image of puppies at a family farm, lovingly raised and cared for. Others may not even think about where a pet store puppy comes from. Drawn to a pet store window by a bin of wriggling puppies, the furthest thing from a customer's mind is the origin of these cute bundles of fur. But by buying a puppy, often for a price of $500 or more, the consumer is unknowingly supporting a cycle of abuse that begins at the puppy mill.

    What the consumer can't see is the puppy's mother, imprisoned miles away, pregnant again, her body being used to produce more money-making puppies. Starting at six months, she is bred every heat cycle. She is often weak, malnourished, and dehydrated. Rarely, if ever, is she provided with veterinary care. She cannot maintain her productivity past her fourth or fifth year. After that, she is nothing more than a drain on the mill's operation and must be disposed of. If she's lucky, she'll be humanely euthanized. More often than not, she will be shot or bludgeoned to death. Discarded, her wasted body will lie forgotten in a local landfill or garbage dump.

    This is the picture the pet stores will never show. And until recently, the ugly truth of puppy mills has been hidden. But when problems with many of the puppies bought at pet stores across the country began to surface, consumers and animal lovers alike began asking hard questions. Puppies with seizures, parasites, infections, bacteria, and behavioral problems were being seen far too often to be merely coincidental.

    In addition, those small scale breeders who do treat their animals humanely, who raise them in their homes or in small, cleanly kept kennels, do not usually make a profit off their dogs. It is virtually impossible to breed in a humane fashion and make money at the same time. Although a pet store may sell a puppy for $500 or more dollars, most commercial breeders can only get around $35 per dog from a broker who in turns sells to the pet store for around $75. In order to make a profit and cover costs, corners must be cut, and puppies must be churned out at a furious rate. The cut corners are the animals themselves: their housing, their health, their cleanliness. Inherent in the profit-making mills is the sacrifice of humane standards in order to make a profit.

    Think about it -- Do we want McCook and the surrounding area to be noted for allowing this to happen under our noses?

    -- Posted by charlotte5050 on Thu, Aug 30, 2007, at 1:12 PM
  • According to the USDA dogs Need and are required to have...

    Physical needs

    There are many publications that provide recommendations for the dog's general husbandry (e.g., MacArthur 1987, HMSO 1989, 1995). These are based on experience and provide valuable information but there has been very little research into specific physical requirements apart from diet. In most scientific work a tightly controlled environment is required to reduce unwanted variation, however, the dog is a very adaptable animal and a healthy adult can cope with a range of conditions, particularly if it has access to areas with different micro-climates.

    Temperature, humidity, ventilation and lighting

    An indoor temperature range of 15-24oC, and humidity of 55 percent 10 percent, with 8-12 air changes per hour is suitable. New-born puppies require an ambient temperature of 26-28oC for at least the first 10 days of life. Lighting should be adequate for staff to work, and there may be a case for a low level of nocturnal illumination in totally enclosed facilities.

    Diet

    Dogs appear to prefer meat to cereal diets (Houpt and Smith 1981). Some breeds have a propensity for obesity (Anderson 1973), however, they will usually adapt well to the many proprietary diets available. Advice, if needed, should be sought from the suppliers.

    Noise

    Dog housing is often very noisy because of barking, and sound pressures of well over 100 decibels have been recorded (Senn and Lewin 1975). Ottewill (1968) provided recommendations to reduce noise, mainly with the aim of improving conditions for the humans. The dog has a hearing frequency range of up to 55 kHz (Gamble 1982) with the most sensitive frequencies at 500Hz -16kHz. At these frequencies their hearing can be up to four times as acute as that of humans. Prolonged exposure to sound pressures of over 90 decibels is known to damage human hearing, and many sites advise or require hearing protection for the staff. It is not unreasonable to assume that such levels might also damage dog hearing, although there is very little evidence on this subject.

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    To: Top of Document | Brief Background | Physical Needs | Social Needs | Environmental Enrichment | References | Dog Bibliography

    Social needs

    It has been known for a long time that inadequate housing can lead to behavioral problems in dogs (Fuller 1967, Solarz 1970). Normal husbandry for the dog should allow plenty of opportunities for social interactions with humans (Wolfle 1992) and conspecifics (Fox 1986). Group housing of compatible dogs in pairs or larger groups is the preferred housing method, (HMSO 1989, Hubrecht et al. 1992, Hubrecht 1993b) but care is needed to control any fighting. Regular human contact during the puppie s' socialization period (3-14 weeks) is particularly important to produce dogs that are relaxed with humans (Scott and Fuller 1965).

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    To: Top of Document | Brief Background | Physical Needs | Social Needs | Environmental Enrichment | References | Dog Bibliography

    Environmental enrichment

    Many laboratory enclosures are simple structures, with little or no complexity provided by cage furniture or subdivisions, and in some countries it is still legal and common practice to house dogs in what would seem to be very small cages. It is unlikely that such small enclosures can provide for the dogs' psychological needs (Hetts 1991). A good housing system should allow the dog to exercise an element of choice, to manipulate or chew safe objects, and provide opportunities for human and canine socialization (Hubrecht 1993a). Dogs sometimes have to be housed singly for experimental or quarantine reasons, in which case greater thought should be given to providing extra human contact time and an interesting environment.

    Dog pens should be subdivided into separate sleeping and exercise areas which provide complexity, choice and allows the dog to defecate/urinate away from its sleeping area (Fox 1986). Solid partitions between pens provide privacy and help to prevent injuries, but can isolate the dog from its surroundings. A good pen design should allow the occupants to satisfy their natural curiosity about what is happening outside the enclosure. One solution is to provide platforms at a height that allows the dog to see over the partitions whilst lying down (Hubrecht 1993a). Such devices have the additional advantage of increasing the useable space available to dogs.

    There have been a number of studies on the effects of exercise, and pen size (e.g., Campbell et al. 1988, Hughes et al. 1989, Bebak and Beck 1993, Hetts et al. 1992). There is no evidence that providing extra exercise per se improves welfare (Clark et al. 1991), although walks outside the enclosure are undoubtedly enjoyed.

    Olfaction is an important canid sense. We know little about how to enrich an environment through odors but Hubrecht et al. (1992) found that dogs housed in groups spend more of their time sniffing and investigating the floor of their enclosure. Dogs will also make extensive use of chews, particularly if they taste of food and are presented properly (DeLuca and Kranda 1992, Hubrecht 1993a).

    Breed differences and husbandry requirements should be kept in mind when considering enrichment options. It is also important to remember that dogs vary in temperament (Cattell and Korth 1973) and perhaps also in their housing requirements and ability to cope with a particular kennelling system. Go to the following link for references

    http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/enrich/dogs.htm#dog1

    -- Posted by amystrauch on Thu, Aug 30, 2007, at 7:08 PM
  • I should also say that the USDA has kennel size regulations (so many square feet per animal depending on their size) and fines will be placed if they are not followed. I have yet to find any documentation. I feel that if Mr. Miller can have adequate housing, staff to care for these animals, good quality food, veterinary care then I have no problem with him raising animals. There are many people that are responsible dog breeders but starting with poor stock won't get you very far in the business. Because of the nature of the business, these animals are somewhere between livestock and house pets in the care they recieve. Dogs owned by small quantity breeders get more care than the large quantity breeders.

    -- Posted by amystrauch on Thu, Aug 30, 2007, at 7:30 PM
  • I've heard some bad things said about our Humane Society lately. Let me tell you something about humane societies in general. They are usually non-profit organizations. They take in animals that are confiscated by our civil servants from horrendous conditions - housed in a shed and trailer made with chicken wire floored kennels and overcrowded crates in extremely unsanitary conditions. Most of the dogs are suffering from skin issues, mites, ticks, and many will need orthopedic surgery. as with what happened with the Nebraska Humane Society last May when the USDA confiscated 100+ dogs in Lexington. They will find new homes for strays, new homes for those who've lost their homes. They do what they can but when the health of these animals cost a fortune they must choose to cut their losses early and spend the money on those that they can find homes for. Sure, there are no kill shelters out there but I'm certain that they have a wealthy benefactor that not everybody has access to. Don't turn a blind eye to their knowledge and experience. They have a job that is hard on the heart and soul somedays, other days they are proud to do their job.

    I believe our Humane Society is concerned about overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. But since I haven't seen the facility I can't make a comment about how the place is run. From my years of experience as a Vet Tech, I know how quickly kennels can go from clean to filthy. Kennels can be clean one minute and filthy the next.

    I'm stuck shaking my head at how people try to cause conflict out of somebody trying to make a living. I'm going to bed now, perhaps tomorrow will be better.

    Have a good holiday!

    -- Posted by amystrauch on Sat, Sep 1, 2007, at 10:38 PM
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