July 30, 2007

Tribute Statue Must Appear "Neutered"

[Sacramento, CA] A marble monument to service dogs, originally set to be displayed in Sacramento, California, may be on its way out of the golden state. The reason? The statue's "manhood" is still intact.

Proponents of the recently-tabled state assembly bill AB-1634, the so-called "California Healthy Pets Act", which would require that most of the state's dogs and cats over the age of 6 months be sterilized, claim that placing the image of an intact male dog on public property is harmful and sends the wrong message to California pet owners.

Satire [snerk!] but spot-on. Read the rest here. [Original link doesn't always work, but you can give it a try.]

July 28, 2007

Counting my sheep before they're judged, and other news

"We don't racially profile out on the roads, nor do we do that with our dogs. We don't care what type of breed the dogs are." Trooper Steve Gardner and K9 Brei. Trooper Gardner is a head trainer with the Washington State Patrol -- Brei, a pit bull, is his Narcotics Detection dog.


From the American Cheviot Sheep Society:

Cheviots have several distinct advantages as a breed, not the least of which is its very attractive appearance. This has made the breed popular with wealthy patrons desiring a few sheep to create a pastoral scene on a country estate.
Indeed, the pastoral scene on my country estate [snort] could use a few more Cheviots, so off to the fair I go.

Open breeding sheep divisions will be judged tomorrow [July 28] at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, beginning at 10:00 AM. Yes, that Orange County. Shut up. Orange County has farms with sheep, ranches with cattle and wild, roadless areas with mountain lions that kill people. [Also: shopping.]

Three of the Cheviot spring ewe lambs at the Fair will be mine in about twelve hours. They've actually been mine for months, but their most excellent breeder wanted to show them a few times before I took possession. I'll try to get some snapshots. (Ulterior motive: to take pictures of sheep varieties bred only for show, because some of them look so different from sheep of the "same" breed raised for meat and/or wool. Show Dorsets and production Dorsets, for example, have become so different in appearance that for all intents and purposes they are now separate breeds. Does this sound familiar?)


The ASPCA has pit bulls everywhere on its website.
Adopt a pit bull and let your perfect pooch be an ambassador for the breed! Be sure to read our pit bull adoption tips before you start your search.
God bless 'em, the ASPCA even has pit bull wallpapers for your 'puter. Yes, I'm an ASPCA booster.


The BAD RAP blog is hoppin'. They have a link to the wonderful Lawdogs video that features Trooper Steve Gardner, pictured above, and two photos-worth-a-thousand-words of pit bull Nike, a rescued ex-fighter that went on to live a happy, peaceful life in a multi-dog home. Check it all out here.


Worst news for last. Tragic news: a child killed, mauled to death by two dogs. This local report in the Cookeville, Tennessee Herald-Citizen has the most details --- nine other news outlets carried a brief AP story. The victim was an eleven month old child. He was left alone in his playpen while the adults in the family visited and watched the older children playing in a pool outside. There were two dogs in the home: family dogs, inside dogs.

The breed doesn't matter.

What mattered was that the toddler was left alone with them. And based on the information in the Herald-Citizen article, it's possible the dogs had never been around a toddler before.

"[D]ogs are expert discriminators," writes Jean Donaldson, "and adequate socialization to women or six year old kids does not guarantee a generalization to men or two year old kids."

When a baby in L.A. was killed by a Rottweiler a few years back, reporters were quick to write that the dog "was socialized" and "loved children." Every news article mentioned that a twelve year old neighbor used to take the Rottie for walks. But the dog had never been around infants.

The socialization window slams shut when a puppy is about four and a half months old, and if they haven't had positive exposure by then, some dogs may never be comfortable around men or two year old kids. "100 new people by the age of 3 months," says Ian Dunbar, and that means people of every age, color and condition. The more people the puppy meets, and the more positive associations he forms with those people, the greater the odds that he will grow up to be a friendly, well-adjusted dog --- and the safer all the people around him will be.

Socialization is huge. You can't overdo it. There is no such thing as an oversocialized dog. But even the best dogs shouldn't be left alone with little children. It's axiomatic: never, ever leave a small child unattended with any dog. This was a preventable tragedy. Never, ever leave a small child unattended with any dog.

July 27, 2007

Barbie collies, bandana collies and the Unexpected Pit Bull

Where's Sart when you need him? My fave Mojo from the 2007 Unexpected Pit Bull calendar.

Dogs in clothes --- you love 'em or you hate 'em. Beedogs, for example: ginormous cuteness quotient, or sign of the Apocalypse? There's no middle ground. Don't even get me started on those miserable fashion accessories puppies carted around by the likes of Paris and Britney. (Don't buy from pet shops, you eejits!)

I hate dogs in clothes. No, I love dogs in clothes!

I hate dogs in clothes. Working border collies look best naked. [A plain collar is OK.] It's safer, for one thing. A real stockdog in a bandana? Totally cringe-worthy. It isn't just incompatible, it's inappropriate --- as awful as Roseanne singing the national anthem. It makes you want to switch the channel as fast as you can. Yeesh.

The "bandana collie" is actually a much-disparaged cultural marker in the world of working stockdogs. The bandana collie should not be mistaken for the Barbie collie, though the two categories frequently overlap. Barbie collies are fluffy, conformation-bred, AKC-registered "border collies" that don't work stock because they can't. Bandana collies, on the other hand, are a subset of pet. They often have clever names like Prufrock or Bernoulli and they live in Santa Monica with their clever owners and never see sheep and always wear that damn bandana.

Or Scout. Very popular name for border collies west of the 405.

Bandana collies go to dog parks.

I hate dog parks, and I hate dogs in clothes.

No, I love dogs in clothes! The wonderful American Pit Bull Terrier was born to rock bandanas, Doggles, leatha, reindeer antlers, Mardi Gras beads and tea-party bonnets. Pride Parade? Pit bulls are so there. Nothing, but nothing looks as cool as a pit bull in a bandana. Plus, he can function as a comfortable seat:

That great photo is from the 2006 Unexpected Pit Bull calendar, and if you haven't signed up for the 2008 version already --- the 2007 calendar sold out --- drop them a line. I've added a link [two links!] in the sidebar. These are big, gorgeous calendars, and the dogs are just terrific-lookin'.

Pit bulls seem to like playing dress-up, and they are also the rare breed that seems to enjoy being hugged. I suspect those two characteristics are related.

Jean Donaldson would probably agree. She thinks dog clothes are the greatest thing since bread came sliced. Take your pup to dress-up parties, she explains, and the little tyke will really, really get used to being handled: feet, ears, tail and all. And getting dressed/being handled means treats, yay.
It took me probably five ounces of smoked salmon to get Buffy to love her tiara, poodle skirt and pillbox hat and several jars of baby food to get her wagging when I cracked out the “Doggles,” but aside from the fabulousness of it all, I felt fancy indeed when my veterinarian remarked that she had never seen a chow so readily accept having her head restrained.
So take your pup to lots of dress-up parties [don't forget the delicious treats] and buy your pit bull a personalized football jersey or his very own little sweatsuit, but don't come near my border collies with that bandana. Don't even think of it. Some things are just wrong.

July 23, 2007

Just read it.

There's an essential, hugely important post over on the BAD RAP blog: I Am Not A Machine. Please read it.

Maybe there's hope. Maybe there's a chance the tide of ignorance and prejudice will begin to turn.

Maybe a thoughtful reporter here, or an honest politician there, will realize that only the most ginormously cretinous haters can lump some 4 million pit bulls and pit bull mixes together --- some full-grown at thirty pounds, others over eighty; some of them titled purebreds, others mixed with who knows what; some chained out and forgotten, many well-trained and well-loved; some eager to fight another dog, others terrified at the prospect; some badly-bred and human-aggressive, many random-bred and glorious with people --- and label all 4 million of them "loaded guns," "time bombs" and "hand grenades."

Turning the tide will be an uphill struggle. [Straight Dope motto: "Fighting ignorance since 1973. (It's taking longer than we thought.)"] The most fervent haters want to grow their hate, not give it up. Kory Nelson, the bureaucrat behind Denver's pit bull ban: "Pit bulls are the 'nuclear weapon' of dog breeds compared with the 'hand grenade' of other breeds." (Last Thursday "KoryNDenver" joined a news discussion thread on the Vick indictment in order to post just one message, an anti-pit diatribe filled with misleading generalizations.)

Are some pit bulls bad news? Sure, and so are some border collies. So are some labs. But other breeds generally don't have to be chained out, neglected, untrained and badly-bred to raise the odds of a bite. Most non-pits have only to be unsocialized. Or unworked: a well-bred border collie without a real job can be as edgy as a drug addict, and twice as reactive.

Given the problem of hellacious overbreeding and the abuse and neglect many pit bulls suffer, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of them bite. The amazing thing, to me, is that so many won't bite even in the face of heartbreaking mistreatment. I don't know of another dog that can survive the worst and keep its great, rock-stable temperament intact the way an authentic pit bull can. This is the reason Michael Vick's dogs deserve to be evaluated by breed experts. It's the reason these dogs deserve a chance at a decent life.

Pit bulls aren't "nuclear weapons." They're not "machines." Good pit bulls -- and there are countless good ones -- are great-hearted, sweet-tempered, wonderful dogs. I have one snoring on my foot as I type, and I know how inherently stable and trustworthy around shrieking teenagers and visiting toddlers she is compared to my border collies or my old German shepherds. Want a terrific family companion? Want to invest time in a dog more than two degrees north of stuffed? Don't get a border collie --- adopt a pit bull. But first, read that great post on the BAD RAP blog.

New: Los Angeles Pit Bull Training Academy & Adoption Center


Two years ago BAD RAP partnered with the East Bay SPCA to give us the trailblazing Pit Bull Hall, and now Los Angeles Animal Services and Villalobos Rescue Center have joined forces to create the new Pit Bull Training Academy and Adoption Center, celebrating its Grand Opening on August 4th.

The Pit Bull Training Academy will be located in the old South Los Angeles Annex Shelter on West 36th St., and organizers plan to move as many of L.A.'s impounded pit bulls as possible to the new location for socialization, training and adoption.

Directing the program will be Tia Maria Torres, named one of the city's most interesting people by L.A. Weekly in May. Torres is no upstart when it comes to pit bull rescue and training programs: in addition to running the Villalobos Rescue Center, she's been offering "pit bulls only" training classes at L.A. shelters for years. Under her guidance both the dogs and their future caretakers will be groomed for their new roles as model canine citizens and informed, responsible owners. (The Pit Bull Training Academy even has a MySpace page. Dude...!)

Pit bulls make up nearly half of all dogs impounded in Los Angeles, and last year 41% of all dogs euthanized in L.A. were pit bulls, according to LAAS general manager Ed Boks. Torres has pointed out that impounded pit bulls are often kenneled alone due to dog-aggressive behavior, and bringing them to the South Los Angeles Annex Shelter will make more space available for other dogs in the shelter population.

The Pit Bull Training Academy & Adoption Center is located at 3320 W. 36th St., Los Angeles, CA 90018. The Grand Opening will run from 10:00AM to 5:00PM on August 4th, with "trainers on hand for advice, food, fun, music, and celebrity dogs (pit bulls, of course)." Phone and email contact information can be found on the flyer. Be there -- or be square.

July 21, 2007

Dueling vet hospitals

Mary Lou Masone, a radiation therapist, with Horace, a pit bull. The linear accelerator at NYC Veterinary Specialists has been used to treat Horace's brain tumor.

In Sunday's NY Times Allen Salkin covers the rivalry between the old, established Animal Medical Center and the up-and-coming NYC Veterinary Specialists. You'll find the article in the Fashion & Style section, not Science or Business or Technology or even Health. Go figure.

Nowhere is the competition for deep-pocketed pet owners more apparent than at the city’s leading specialty hospitals. NYC Veterinary Specialists touts its $1.25 million dollar linear accelerator for radiation therapy and shows off a $750,000 M.R.I. and $350,000 CT scan machine. Across town, the Animal Medical Center says it is planning to install its own linear accelerator and upgrade its M.R.I. It trumpets its hemodialysis clinic for pets with kidney disease and a new $300,000 rehabilitation clinic with an underwater treadmill.

The two hospitals are not shy about dropping the names of celebrity clients to enhance their appeal. A few nights before Christmas last year, Steve Martin's blond Labrador, Wally, gobbled down some chocolate and his regular veterinarian advised him to rush the dog to NYC Veterinary Specialists, said David Gersholowitz, the hospital administrator. The attending vet induced vomiting and by the next morning Wally was home safe. The bill: $935.

Check out the fine selection of photos by Librado Romero which accompany the article. [I've reprinted one above.]

Not all dog owners have deep pockets, of course, but many of us would be happy to take wash in if it meant getting the best vet care for our dogs.

Once in a while an email from the rural Midwest reminds me that veterinary specialists are a two- or three-day drive away from many of the country's dog owners. I'm fortunate to live in SoCal, with veterinary specialists in surgery, dentistry, ophthalmology, dermatology and oncology just an hour's drive away and a good emergency clinic ten minutes from the farm. Friends and relatives up north have taken dogs to the specialists at UC Davis. One memorable night a decade ago I called a Pet Ambulance service, on the advice of a veterinarian friend, to transport a dog from a local vet hospital to a specialty hospital in Orange County. [My dog lived, but it was a squeaker.] Pray God I never have to do that again, but I'm glad to know the service is available.

And after paying for various pound rescues to have surgery for torn ACLs, elbow dysplasia and a ruptured extensor tendon, far be it from me to laugh at Steve Martin's $935 chocolate emergency ;~)

Shameless tie-in of the year

dog fighters across California are battling AB 1634

That made me laugh hysterically.

And what's up with the "tough new tools" business --- isn't dogfighting already a felony in California? I'm pretty sure state and federal laws against animal fighting are much tougher tools than a "fix it" ticket, but that's just me. And did I mention that all the ACOs I know oppose this bill? I did, didn't I --- once or twice ;~)

: Christie Keith's commentary is priceless ---
check it out.

July 20, 2007

Straight dope on pit bull rescue

Can't beat the SF Chronicle for pit bull hate. There probably is a special pit bull section in their style manual with terms like loaded gun and furry time bomb, and if the Chron has a code of ethics, I imagine there's an addendum: "except for articles about pit bulls." Prejudice is the Chronicle's stock in trade when it comes to these dogs, and breed-bashing is their default behavior.

But pit bulls are the victims, now, so everything has changed --- for the moment, at least. A front page report by sports columnist Gwen Knapp in Thursday's Chronicle covered the wave of sympathy for fighting dogs, the tsunami of revulsion towards dogfighters, and an organization that is making hay from the publicity.

Knapp writes that donations have swamped the Humane Society of the United States, a powerful lobbying group that runs no shelters or rescues and is not affiliated with your local humane society, yet appears, Zelig-like, in most major news stories about rescued animals.

The HSUS -- with net assets over 200 million dollars -- doesn't need your money. But they'll be happy to take it, and use it to lobby in favor of bills like AB 1634.

HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle states that his frequently-cited "one generation and out" comment was taken out of context and never meant to refer to all domestic animals --- only to heritage livestock breeds. Yet in an interview for the book Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt Pacelle told author Ted Kerasote, "I don’t want to see another dog or cat born."

The HSUS believes all pit bulls that have been fought are unsuitable for adoption. Experts who actually know pit bulls, and work with ex-fighters all the time, say this is nonsense. So: in this corner we have smart folks who know the breed better than anyone on earth, and in the "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out afterwards" corner, a group run by a man who has never kept a dog and thinks no one else should keep dogs, either.

The HSUS will have to manage without my donations.

Want more people to hear the truth about pit bulls from those who know the breed best? Want to cut through the ignorance, hysteria and urban legends? Want to help pit bulls (including ex-fighters) with great temperaments find wonderful homes --- and cool jobs?

Don't send money to the HSUS. Donate to an organization that actually saves dogs. BAD RAP and other groups save dogs from shelters, rescue them from the streets, foster them and train them and place them in great homes. The HSUS does none of this, and thinks no pit bull used for fighting should get a chance at a better life.

Knapp's Chronicle story failed to mention BAD RAP, the top pit bull advocacy group in the country. [Check out BAD RAP's annual conference, scheduled for September 22 - 23 this year.] And if you don't live in the Bay Area, here is a list of pit-friendly rescues across the nation. They could all use your donations and support. HugABull covers part of the Great White North --- you might contact them for information on pit bull rescues elsewhere in Canada.

These groups don't have $200 million in assets. They need your generous donations.

What a shame it would be if the Michael Vick/dogfighting coverage did nothing but help raise funds for the next AB 1634 campaign or an updated Guide to Vegetarian Eating. Want to help pit bulls? Donate to a pit-friendly rescue or a rescue/advocacy group like HugABull or BAD RAP. Donate to Pit Bull Rescue Central. And as always, please consider adopting a wonderful pit bull of your own. [Jon Stewart has two.]

July 17, 2007


The truth about dogfighting

I was all set to describe Diane Jessup's dogfighting pages as "the web's most extensive look at dogfighting," until I remembered that the sick, sad people who fight dogs have websites, too.

My revised description: here is the web's most thorough, truthful and informative look at the reality of dogfighting. [Warning: graphic images.] Writer Diane Jessup is the founder and program director of LawDogsUSA and the author of many books about the American Pit Bull Terrier.

And in contrast to the suffering and dying caused by people who should know better, here are some of the happy endings all dogs deserve. If only Michael Vick's dogs had been so lucky.

Vick indicted on charges of dogfighting

RICHMOND, Va. - NFL star Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation so grisly the losers either died in the pit or sometimes were electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others were charged with competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

Wikipedia has ongoing, comprehensive coverage of the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation. And you can read all 18 depressing pages of the indictment here, courtesy of The Smoking Gun.
If convicted, Vick and the others — Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor — could face up to six years in prison, $350,000 in fines and restitution.
If they're found guilty, I hope they serve every minute.

July 15, 2007

AVMA: Dog Bite Prevention

I've added a link to A community approach to dog bite prevention, the AVMA's groundbreaking report, in the sidebar* under More Dog Links.

Statements from this comprehensive report were taken out of context, distorted and misinterpreted by supporters of the California mandatory spay/neuter bill, AB 1634. [More information on that here.]

What the report does say:
Which dogs bite?
An often-asked question is what breed or breeds of dogs are most “dangerous”? This inquiry can be prompted by a serious attack by a specific dog, or it may be the result of media-driven portrayals of a specific breed as “dangerous.” Although this is a common concern, singling out 1 or 2 breeds for control can result in a false sense of accomplishment. Doing so ignores the true scope of the problem and will not result in a responsible approach to protecting a community’s citizens.

Dog bite statistics are not really statistics, and they do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite.
[A] dog’s tendency to bite depends on at least 5 interacting factors: heredity, early experience, later socialization and training, health (medical and behavioral), and victim behavior.

Note that the Task Force report does not recommend breed specific legislation, nor does it recommend mandatory spay/neuter.

I hope everyone will give it a read, but particularly reporters, editors, and municipal groups concerned with public safety and responsible dog care.

[*AKA the "gutter column," as Terrierman renamed it for all time.]

July 13, 2007

Jack Knox clinic

Kate takes on a stubborn young ram.
[Photo by Denise Wall, used with permission. Click on the photo for a larger view.]

Cool news from Anna Guthrie, my sheepdog trainer down in San Diego County:

The Stockdog Ranch will be hosting a Jack Knox clinic December 12, 13, and 14th in Valley Center, CA (this is northern San Diego County). All levels of dogs and handlers are welcome. Participants can enroll for all three days, two days, or just one day. There is space for RVs (no hookups) on the grounds; motels are about 20 minutes away. Please email me for available slots and pricing.
Jack Knox is a top Open handler (and USBCHA judge) and a genius at helping people learn to work with their stockdogs. The last time he was on the West Coast I drove hours for a lesson with Jack and the landshark.

This mention is more publicity than Jack's clinics usually get, and they fill up so fast that I better call Anna back and be sure there's a spot saved for me ;~) If you're in the area, come and spectate: Jack isn't in California often, and he's the kind of teacher that really makes you think and keep thinking. Should be a great three days.

Bryant: "Mark my words, Ontario will be safer"

Ignorance, hysteria and urban legend are terrible grounds for legislation. Want proof? Take a look at AB 1634 Attorney General Michael Bryant of Ontario, Canada. Bryant yields to no one when it comes to ignorance and hysteria. He wanted a pit bull ban for the province, and he got one: Ontario banned the ownership of pit bulls in 2005.

CBC News reported:

The legislation prevents people from acquiring a number of breeds of dogs classified as pit bulls, and requires those who already own the dogs to neuter and muzzle their animals.
There had been a number of highly-publicized attacks, but never any pit bull-related fatalities in the province of Ontario.

Banning the breed might give people a false sense of security, worried Sheila McDonald, director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. "There are other breeds that have been involved in dog incidents [...] [One] huge thing that is extremely lacking in Canada is a database of dog bite incidents. And that has been recommended at several inquests into fatal dog attacks and has never been followed up on."

Nonsense, said Bryant. "Mark my words, Ontario will be safer."

Anyone who knows anything about dogs could have predicted what would happen next:

toronto.ctv.ca July 2, 2007

A 17-month-old girl is dead after being mauled by her grandparents' dog near Ottawa on Canada Day.

Police say the Korie-Lyn Edwards was visiting her grandparents in Montague Township when their 10-year-old Rottweiler-German shepherd mix attacked her.

"Basically the girl had just wandered where the dog was tied up. The dog had no history of biting, socialized with adults and children, so this is obviously just a tragic circumstance," said Const. Paige Whiting of the Ontario Provincial Police on Monday.

Edwards suffered severe head injuries. The girl's parents rushed her to the local hospital and she was later airlifted to the children's hospital in Ottawa, where she died.

The dog has been turned over to Lanark County animal control officials and is expected to be euthanized at the family's request.

"It's just a wake up call for most dog owners that even pets, we have to be vigilant especially around small children, they can be very unpredictable," Whiting said.

An autopsy will be performed in the next few days. Police don't expect to lay charges.

Michael Bryant bears a measure of responsibility for this child's death. When someone in a position of authority insists that there are "safe" breeds and "dangerous" breeds, and encourages people to believe that their responsibility for preventing dog bites begins and ends with the selection of a "safe" breed, he is lying to the public, and he is putting children, in particular, at risk of serious injury.

For more about Bryant, pit bulls, generalizations and stereotypes, see Malcolm Gladwell's article Troublemakers: what pit bulls can teach us about profiling. Link in the sidebar --- it's a classic.

Swift foxes

There are some incredible photographs of Texas swift foxes at russellgraves.com. You can click on the photos to enlarge them. Check out the fox in flight in photo #2. Photo #3 is simply amazing.

Swift foxes are rare: there were no verified sightings in Texas between 1986 and 1996. You can read a bit more about the species here.

July 12, 2007

Got a comment?

Now with new commentary goodness. "Jane, you ignorant slut!" "Wow, I love your blog! ¡Besitos!" Moderated, so thanks in advance for your patience.


I've added a link to the Save Our Dogs site in the sidebar. They oppose the currently-malingering AB 1634, and I believe they've made a real effort to present factual info without distortions and hysteria.


Know a great shelter pit bull that could use a home? Of course you do --- they make up the majority of dogs in California shelters. 41% of the dogs euthanized last year in L.A. were pit bulls or pit mixes, according to Ed Boks. Most of you are familiar with Petfinder, and PetHarbor is another good search tool if you're looking to adopt a shelter pit bull.

My advice: if you're new to the breed, get your first pit bull from a good, established rescue like BAD RAP or from a shelter where the animal control officers are pit-friendly and pit-experienced. Ask if the ACOs have pit bulls of their own [many do] and how they evaluate temperaments.

At one municipal shelter near me the "temperament test" [don't mention Sue Sternberg to these folks] involves giving a dog free run of the office for a few days. That means dealing with resident cats, a resident alpha dog, phones ringing constantly, chew toys on the floor, treats on the counter and a constant stream of people. It's the best, most reliable temperament test I know.

I have a strong bias in favor of shelter pit bulls, myself. Dogs in rescue are safe. Shelter pit bulls are dead dogs walking. 41% of all dogs killed in L.A. are pits. 20,000 of them are killed each year in Bay Area shelters. Care about shelter dogs? Adopt a pit bull.

July 11, 2007

Plus c'est la même chose

Pet Connection's Gina has tagged me in the latest meme round. No, this is not a chain letter. It's a meme. Or so they tell me.

Terrierman explains the rules:

Players are asked to post a blog entry that:
  • Explains the rules of the game

  • Contains eight random facts about themselves

  • Lists eight other bloggers who are tagged to write similar posts

  • Finally, players should notify (by email or blogpost comment) each person that they have chosen to play the game, referring them to your post for further details.

Terrierman tagged Gina, and Gina tagged me. And this branch of the meme is in danger of dying on the spot, since I am a newish blogger and most of the bloggers I would have tagged have been tagged already. Anyhow ---

Eight Random Facts about Me:

*I spent much of my childhood in a California mountain cabin that had no electricity and no indoor plumbing.

*I know how to pronounce Shongopovi. That's the name of a Hopi village on Second Mesa where a friend and I spent an afternooon on a rooftop watching the Niman ceremony. One of the most amazing experiences of my life.

*I don't have a high school diploma.

*My first border collie and I got full points for an international shed. It was a huge double lift, Rob Lewis was the judge and oh, who am I kidding [weeps]. It was huge, Rob was the judge, and we did get full points but only because the sheep miraculously shed themselves and Rob was too kind to make us do the shed over. This random fact shouldn't really count since I've been stopping total strangers for years and telling them, "My dog and I got full points for an international shed."

*My Oregon cousin is President of the Tillamook County Dairy Women. My Iowa cousins raise Herefords. I'm the only one in the family with sheep.

*Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run in the 1988 World Series opener landed four rows in front of us in the right field bleachers at Dodger Stadium. You can see me in the highlights video hugging total strangers and screaming myself hoarse. It totally, totally rocked.

*I was an extra in a movie with Benicio del Toro, who is very tall and sweet and cleans up nice. People who get to be extras because their wonderful friends/relatives are working on a movie are called "politicals."

*My great[x5] grandfather's brother Lot Woodbury was killed by Indians in the French and Indian War. He is buried in Royalston Corner Cemetery in Vermont. I could, if I wished, join the DAR. [My grandmother was a member, but she quit.]

*I'm a natural history wonk. I've been bitten by most of the non-venomous snake species in Southern California. I take interesting road kill to the county museum. I grew up assuming everyone owned a field guide to birds and made notes in it.

OK, I know that's nine, but I got an extra one on account of the international shed thing.

Christie Keith says it's against her religion to tag other bloggers, but I'm new and still somewhat agnostic so I'll tag extend an offer to Julie Zickefoose, because I love her dog blog very much, and to Bill Fosher, because I want him to write more about dogs, sheep and farming.

And if they aren't interested in writing about themselves, or if they've been down this road already, maybe they can share some random facts about Chet Baker and Fern.

AB 1634 "dead for this year"

Mercury News:
State Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, withdrew the measure this morning, before a key Senate committee vote that he was certain to lose.

Levine says he will press ahead with the bill in 2008, but perhaps in a vastly scaled back form. Responding to critics who said the bill was too broad and would punish responsible pet owners, Levine suggested amending the bill so it would apply only to people cited for other pet-related offenses, such as letting their dogs run loose or illegally housing too many pets.

"While I'm disappointed," Levine said after the hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee, "I'm optimistic in the medium term we're going to be able to solve the problem." He said that lawmakers at least are acknowledging that too many pets are being euthanized in California - several hundred thousand each year - even if they disagree with his solution.

At the same time Levine expressed frustration with opponents, whom he said have shown little willingness to bend. "Every time we put an exemption in the bill, they tell me it's not good enough," he said.

Sacramento Bee:
"I think we can get to a solution," Levine said. "But the first thing opponents must do is to acknowledge that there's a problem and work with me to solve it."

SF Gate:
"We have six months to educate the committee," said the bill's author Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys (Los Angeles County) after he decided not to bring the bill to a vote. "I want to reach out again to the opponents."

Yeesh. Levine's ignorance, his arrogance and his dishonesty just defy belief. Get back to me, Lloyd, when you care enough about shelter animals to adopt a couple pit bulls. [Pits and pit mixes made up a heartbreaking 41% of all dogs euthed in L.A. during fiscal year 06/07. And as I've said a few million times, I have two pit bulls, both adopted from the local pound. Did I mention that every animal control officer I know opposed this bill?]

There have been heaps of suggestions in editorials and elsewhere outlining better approaches than mandatory spay/neuter. USA Today's article pointed out that the most successful spay/neuter programs in the country are voluntary [but we knew that].

Research in Utah showed that about 85% of pet owners were already sterilizing their animals. "A big overpopulation problem was traceable to just 15% of animals," says Gregory Castle, who heads the No More Homeless Pets Utah program launched in 2000 by Best Friends Animal Society.

At the city or county level, California needs to do the basic research necessary in order to identify owners responsible for the shelter problem --- and target them, rather than opt for the Judie Mancuso, "if you have an intact dog, you're part of the problem" carpet-bomb approach. It's beyond insane, and beyond offensive, to insist that a stockdog trainer/handler like Suzy Applegate is no different from the cretin breeding his dysplastic, human-aggressive pit bull on every heat or the idiot dumping a litter of pups in an orange grove. That's PETA ideology no matter what you do to disguise the smell. No-Birth Nation? No thanks. I don't want to live in a world without border collies and bully breeds and hunting hounds.

As always, more news and great analysis from Gina and Christie at the Pet Connection blog. And a big thanks to all who helped kick this bill to the curb.

AB 1634: Middle of the night blogging flurry

The [very] early morning scuttlebutt is that... is that... aw, dammit, I'm too superstitious to post the headline [and SacBee.com won't let me maintain a live link. Go to Google News, search for AB 1634 and click on "Spay-neuter bill in big trouble"]. Reporter Jim Sanders did some footwork and got comments from all but one of the senators on the Local Government Committee.

Fave quote:
"Once people get a chance to see my supporters and the opponents side by side, it's clear which side has logic and reason and fact on their side," [Levine] said.
I couldn't agree more.

[Member of the Senate Local Government Committee, Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego] said AB 1634 would impose an entirely new program on San Diego County, which she represents, because local government there does not currently license cats.

"The bill does appear to be in trouble," Kehoe said. "I'm going to listen to testimony. I never promise my vote ahead of time. But I do think that there's a lot of concern about whether the bill should continue to move."
This surprised me a bit, since I'd formed the impression Kehoe would be the most likely committee member to vote in favor. (My local animal control supervisor told me months ago that AB 1634 would require cats to be licensed. Dude, you were right!)

The San Jose Murky Mercury News has an editorial in opposition:

[A] simple, small tax on cat or dog food - as an alternative to Levine's law - would help raise enough money to build more low- or no-cost spay and neutering clinics and accomplish Levine's goal of sharply reducing the number dogs and cats put to death throughout the state.

Only then would the Legislature be barking up the right tree.

And may I add that I first suggested a pet food tax back in early April, on the Pit Bull Forum?
If the target for 2008 is to reduce shelter deaths to 200,000 and we reduce shelter deaths to 160,000 that year, the tax goes down an extra bit in 2009. Rebates at the end of the year if you adopted a shelter animal, if your dog earned a CGC, TT or show title, or if you had a dog or cat of your own neutered during the year.

The taxes collected would be used to fund educational programs, public service announcements, shelter improvements, etc. And when the final, state-wide target of no-kill/no homeless pets is reached, the tax ends.
You're welcome.
If the bill passes, there will be no 10th generation Lassie. Never registered with the AKC, Lassie does not fall within AB 1634’s convoluted labyrinth of rules that would allow for a government-issued “intact permit.”

Lassie’s entourage includes owner and trainer, Bob Weatherwax, and Jon Provost, who from 1957-64 audiences grew to love as “Timmy” and who now serves on the Board of Governors for Canine Companions for Independence.

Very cool that Jon Provost serves on the CCI Board. And good boy, er, girl, Lassie!

Finally, a tip of the hat to reporter Mike Zapler of the Mercury News for bringing us up to date about AB 1634's lobbying group and the increasingly shrill Judie Mancuso:

The proponents have hired Nielsen Merksamer, one of the state's top lobbying and political law firms, to press their case with legislators. This week they held a news conference with Bob Barker, the longtime host of "The Price is Right" and spay-and-neuter advocate. Their leader, Judie Mancuso of Laguna Beach, labels some of her foes "Petpac monsters" (a reference to the political action committee opponents created) and "liars" who are "all about making a buck."

Opponents, many of them pet breeders, are playing their own political hardball. One leader, a longtime lobbyist and dog breeder named Bill Hemby, accuses adversaries of engaging in "character assassination" and suggests that spay-neuter leaders are serving as proxies for animal rights extremists.

"We're convinced their ultimate goal is the elimination of all animals," he said in an interview, before clarifying that, on the whole, he believes proponents are well meaning.
Wish I could be in Sacramento tomorrow...! [Er, later this morning.] Off to set the alarm for 6:00...

July 10, 2007

That'd be a great name for a blog...

"I think Lassie's trying to tell us something...what is it, girl?"

Lassie to the rescue! And an oddly familiar title over at the Pet Connection blog ;~)

In other news, is there any proof at all, anywhere, that mandatory spay/neuter legislation has lowered animal control budgets? Not in Santa Cruz, apparently.

Views from both sides [PetPAC, Bob Barker] here.

We know that universal spay/neuter laws get results because they are working in other states across the country. In 2006, Rhode Island passed a spay/neuter law that has been hailed as a success in reducing the number of animals entering the state’s shelters. Also, Massachusetts has seen a drastic reduction in the number of homeless animals due to aggressive spay/neuter programs. In California, universal spay/neuter laws have been implemented in nine areas from Stanislaus to San Bernardino. Santa Cruz County cut its animal shelter population in half after it passed a universal spay/neuter law.
Rhode Island's law affects cats only. San Bernardino County's law is months old. The Stanislaus law is new as well. Mandatory spay/neuter has a very brief, spotty track record. And Santa Cruz? It may help to remember that their law bears no resemblance to AB 1634, and what works in Santa Cruz may not work in Kern County.

As USA Today points out, the nation's most successful spay/neuter programs are all voluntary.

Hey, kids! Check out the AB1634 Dysplasia Primer!

See Spot.

Spot is sad.

Spot can’t run or play.

Spot has elbow dysplasia.

Can you say “dysplasia”?

Spot is very sick.

Spot’s elbow bones hurt.

Can you feel the bones in your elbow?

Spot has elbow bones, too.

The bones in Spot’s elbow are falling apart. They are grinding together.

That really hurts!

Spot visits the doctor. The doctor says, “Spot needs an operation.”

Spot cries and cries.

Spot’s human mommy cries and cries.

How did Spot get dysplasia?

Spot got dysplasia from his parents.

When a mother dog has dysplasia, she should not have puppies.

When a father dog has dysplasia, he should not have puppies.

But Spot’s parents didn’t know until it was too late.

Poor Spot!

Poor Spot’s human mommy!

How can the doctor tell if a father dog has dysplasia?

How can the doctor tell if a mother dog has dysplasia?

The doctor takes x-rays.

He takes x-rays of the mother dog’s elbows.

He takes x-rays of the father dog’s elbows.

The doctor sends the x-rays to the OFA.

The OFA knows all about dysplasia.

People at the OFA look at the x-rays.

They look at many x-rays.

They say, “This dog has normal elbows! And this dog has normal elbows, too. But this dog has dysplasia. His elbows don’t look good. We hope he never has puppies!”

Spot has an operation.

His elbows still hurt.

Spot takes medicine. He feels a little better.

Spot’s human mommy says, “I love Spot! I hate dysplasia!”

Some people don’t have dogs.

They don’t know about dysplasia.

They wrote a bill. A bill is an idea for a law.

Some bills are good ideas.

Some bills are bad ideas.

Their bill is called the “Healthy Pets” Act.

The “Healthy Pets” Act is a very bad idea.

The “Healthy Pets” Act will not make dogs healthy.

The “Healthy Pets” Act says, “A father dog with dysplasia can have puppies!”

The “Healthy Pets” Act says, “A mother dog with dysplasia can have puppies!”

The “Healthy Pets” Act says, “A mother dog must be bred before she is two years old!”

The “Healthy Pets” Act says, “A father dog must be bred before he is two years old!”

The OFA says, “Like the hip certification, the OFA will not certify a normal elbow until the dog is 2 years of age.”

The “Healthy Pets” Act will not make pets healthy.

The “Healthy Pets” Act makes Spot cry.

[This educational service has been provided free of charge for reporters, bureaucrats, newspaper columnists and AB 1634 supporters everywhere.]

*“Spot” is my ten year old pit bull. He was adopted from the local pound after being dumped near a freeway offramp when he was about four months old. He developed mild dysplasia in one elbow, and had surgery for severe dysplasia in the other elbow. He has been treated with acupuncture, herbs, Adequan injections and prescription painkillers.

I'm amazed --- OK, not that amazed, but plenty angry --- that the “just one litter for all” provision of AB 1634 mandates that dogs be bred before they are old enough for OFA hip or elbow certification.

The beauty of badly-written bills

Bill Fosher comments that AB 1634's stockdog exemption is "so badly constructed as to be meaningless." [Adds Eileen Stein, attorney and ABCA Director, " Unless you've read the rest of the bill, you don't know the half of it."]

The exemption:

The dog is used for herding or guarding livestock, and the dog’s owner resides on or is the owner of property designated for agricultural use.

Bill points out that

[t]he law doesn't say the dog has to reside on the land that is owned by his owner. For that matter it doesn't even say that the land has to be in California.
One quick call to the Iowa cousins should do it. I'll spread the word.

July 6, 2007

El corrido del AB 1634

The N.Y. Times once again examines “Mexican immigrant culture,” and in the interests of solidarity I have composed a corrido about AB 1634. Because it’s our way.

A corrido is a little bit like a twelve bar blues in that you can add syllables somewhat irrespective of meter and yes, that means I can squeeze in as many syllables as I like. ¡Es mi corrido!

But the best thing about a corrido is that you don’t need a good singing voice to sing one. In fact, it adds a certain cachet if you sing like a hinge.

In the immortal words of Chalino Sánchez, “No canto, ladro.” [I don’t sing, I bark.]

El corrido del AB 1634
[sung to the melody of some corrido or another ]

Voy a cantar un corrido
De un político sencillo,
Su ambición ha causado
Un enojo explosivo.

Como un Anti-Noé,
Él quería esterilizar
A cada animal doméstico,
“Por su propio bienestar.”

Pero, para sorpresa suya
Los animales se movilizaron
Y en masa los perros y gatos
Hasta Sacramento marcharon.

Y le dijeron en voz unida,
“Tu proyecto no es solución
No vas a ayudar a nadie
Sino causar nuestra perdición.

“Si quieres defender a los gatos
Y a los perros callejeros
Mejor adoptar a unos “pit bulls”
Antes que castrar a todos los perros.

“Mejor ofrecerte de voluntario
En la perrera – y en vez de legislar,
Seguir el ejemplo de Maddie’s Fund
Para lograr el No-Matar.

“No necesitamos leyes malas
Que sólo producen división.
Trabajar juntos, unidos
Es encontrar la solución.”

Senadores, ya me despido,
Ya se acaba mi canción.
Ojalá que ustedes me escuchen,
Que mi canto es oración.

¡No al AB 1634!

[I’m going to sing a corrido about a simple politician whose ambition caused outrage. Like an Anti-Noah, he wanted to sterilize all domestic animals “for their own good.” But to his surprise, the animals mobilized and marched on Sacramento. And they said in one voice, “Your bill isn’t a solution --- it won’t help anyone and will only cause our downfall. If you want to defend cats and homeless dogs, it would be better if you adopted some pit bulls before neutering everything. It would be better if you volunteered at a shelter – and instead of making laws, you should follow the example of Maddie’s Fund to reach your goal of No-Kill. We don’t need bad laws that only cause division. Working together, united, is the way to find a solution. Senators, I’ll say farewell now, my song is finished. I hope you’re listening to me, because this song is an entreaty.]

I'm keeping the day job.

This just in!

Dammit, I thought I had a scoop. Read all about it! I coulda been a contenda.

Yeah, the CVMA thing. Huge news of the day. Gina over at Pet Connection was first, and with a great post, too, dammit, dammit, dammit. I have to get one of those new fangled cell thingys so I can blog from anywhere.


I was in Senator Negrete McLeod's office when I got the news. I'd just finished talking to the senator's rep when a pleasant man walked in sporting a "No on AB 1634" button.

"I got word right after I pulled into the parking lot," he said.

High fives all around.

We chatted for a minute and then I jumped in my truck and headed home, roaring down the freeway and writing the post in my head: CVMA! Rescinds! Support! Lassie, Get Help scoops the world! And it was a hot day so I had to drive by the farm to check on the sheep, and by the time I got to a computer, well... as they say, it was all history.

The senator's rep was an intelligent, friendly, courteous person. Patient and helpful, too, even though we both knew I wasn't a constituent. The rep has three dogs, all adopted from a local shelter.

The rep had never heard of puppy mills.

I forget, sometimes, just how vast the gulf is between people who love dogs and people who are dog people. Dog people search PubMed for abstracts on immune mediated hemolytic anemia, know who belongs to the local raw food group, and can explain why dogs with excellent hips can produce a dysplastic pup. Dog people read up on epilepsy, vaccines and tick-borne diseases and know how old a dog has to be to get an OFA hip score.

Real dog people have opinions on OFA and PennHIP, vaccines vs. rattlesnake-proofing and AKC vs. working breeds.

Dog people know that you don't make a working dog work, you make him stop [and I wish I knew who to credit for that quote --- they say short-term memory is the first to go]. Dog people know that a responsible breeder will take back any dog she's bred, at any time, for any reason, and real dog people know that responsible breeders have been writing this promise into puppy contracts for decades.

Which brings me to Patt Morrison of the L.A. Times.

Patt, I've been a fan forever. You are a smart, brave, big-hearted woman, and I love you for looking out for lost and unloved dogs. But your take on AB 1634 was a huge disappointment.

Reporters are supposed to be demons for research and crusaders for truth, and that may be a joke for many but I never thought it would be a joke for you. You haven't read the bill, Patt. You don't know enough about dogs to understand why people like me oppose it, and you couldn't take the trouble to find out.

Pity, because if AB 1634 passes, the shelter situation is going to get a lot worse.

You rail about "all those backyard puppy mills churning out defective Dalmatians or border collies or whatever purse-sized dog happens to be hot. My vet took in an abandoned puppy-mill Chihuahua — Scooter, born without front legs because of overbreeding."

AB 1634 sanctions all that. Puppy mills get a free pass. Any chucklehead willing to jump through the hoops will be able breed his dog, and it doesn't have to be a temperamentally sound dog or even a particularly healthy one. (We know there won't be any hip dysplasia screening.) Inbreeding? No problem! And California pet stores will go right on selling misery puppies born by the hundreds of thousands in Midwest puppy mills.

This store just opened not far from me. Are you cool with that? AB 1634 is.

You wrote,
I'm one of those who cleans up your messes. Every dog I've rescued and found a home for is one you flicked aside like an empty Arrowhead bottle [...] I'm tired of cleaning up after you. California is tired too; its cities and counties have no room or money to keep all the homeless kittens and puppies, all the old dogs and cats you allow to overbreed or leave out on the street like an old refrigerator. And so they have to kill them.

Patt. This bill won't stop a single Californian from relinquishing a dog because "we're moving" or "he barks" or "I'm having a baby." And the mouth-breathing dropout who chains his poor pit bull bitch in the garage and breeds her on every heat is not an L.A. Times reader.

That dropout doesn't know AB 1634 exists. He doesn't license or vacccinate his dogs now, and he won't get them neutered if this bill passes. The dogs he produces --- pit bulls and pit bull mixes --- make up 80% or more of the dogs in some California shelters and the great majority of dogs euthanized in the state. Last year in L.A., 39% of the dogs euthanized were pit bulls or pit mixes. (Those rescue organizations you support? Not a pit bull in sight.)

Bay Area and OC rescues make regular runs to the Central Valley in search of non-pits for people to adopt back home. Some people like to say that 25% of the dogs in our shelters are purebreds, but what they don't say is that most of those purebreds are pit bulls.

Patt, I know all this because unlike the great majority of people wringing their hands over the plight of shelter animals, I have a pit bull. In fact, I have two --- both adopted from the local pound. I've supported pit bull rescue for twenty years.

AB 1634 won't make a single Californian adopt a pit bull. (Have you adopted one? Thousands of wonderful pit bulls need good homes.) AB 1634 will encourage -- no, it will mandate -- careless breeding. It will not make dogs healthier. It will not save the state a cent.

What AB1634 will do is sanction "just one litter;" force many law-abiding Californians to neuter their dogs before it is best for the animal; allow puppy mills and pet shops to flourish; and create such a burden of veterinary paperwork, criminal background checks, home inspections and record-keeping that our already overworked and underpaid ACOs will have no time left to play testicle police.

You write: "The objections to Levine's bill run from the selfish to the ridiculous."

Not if you've read the bill, Patt. Not if you've read the bill.

July 5, 2007


Whew! Made it through the Big Bang without too much unhappiness. Lots of local fireworks this year --- the pit bulls slept through it all and the collies made anxious ears and stuck close. (Do you have a sound-sensitive dog? Make a [free] contribution to science!) It's been quiet outside for over an hour now. One of the collies is asleep on my feet: the landshark. We'll all enjoy a restful night.

At the risk of my head exploding [TM Christie Keith] I can't help but puzzle over the requirements of the new AB 1634 revision.

On the one hand, there are seven single-spaced pages of Health and Safety Code Section 122045 - 122110 for John Q. "just one litter" Public to comply with, and a fair amount of that concerns "congenital or hereditary conditions." Example:

[I]f within one year after the purchaser has taken physical possession of the dog after the sale by a breeder, a veterinarian licensed in this state states in writing that the dog has a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the dog, or that requires, or is likely in the future to require, hospitalization or nonelective surgical procedures, the dog shall be considered unfit for sale, and the breeder shall provide the purchaser with any of the following remedies that the purchaser elects:
(1) Return the dog to the breeder for a refund of the purchase price, plus sales tax, and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees for diagnosis and treating the dog in an amount not to exceed the original purchase price of the dog, including sales tax.
(2) Exchange the dog for a dog of the purchaser's choice of equivalent value, providing a replacement dog is available, and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees for diagnosis and treating the dog in an amount not to exceed the original purchase price of the dog, plus sales tax on the original purchase price of the dog.
(3) Retain the dog, and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees for diagnosis and treating the dog in an amount not to exceed 150 percent of the original purchase price of the dog, plus sales tax.
Etcetera. This is fairly standard puppy-contract stuff.

On the other hand: AB 1634 requires JQP to breed his dog before she's old enough to get an official hip [or elbow] score from the OFA.


"Do NOT sell a pup that's going to develop hip dysplasia. Oh, and be sure to breed your dogs before they're old enough to get an OFA rating --- it's the law!"

Yes, that popping sound was my head.


Another thing that's making me crazy: dwelling on the number of terrific working dogs I know that belong to people who don't live on farms or ranches. (Classic case in point: everyone who knows anything about border collies is familiar with Kate Broadbent and her tremendous working dogs. Her border collies are legendary, and they've produced great workers.) Too bad the AB 1634 authors don't know anything about the nature of agricultural work --- or good stockdogs.

[* pop *]


I've just added the Michigan State University College of Law: Animal Legal & Historical Web Center to my list of links. This site has been a great resource for up-to-date, factual information on animal laws around the country. Great fun for info-wonks ;~) Enjoy.

July 4, 2007

Hail, Hail Freedonia! Hard at work on those revisions

We do the research so you can watch fireworks ;~)

The June 27 revision of AB 1634 introduced the "just one litter for the Average Joe" concept and required that all puppies from such litters be given away.

The latest [July 3] revision will allow puppies from every "just one litter" to be given away or sold. However,
[a]ny adoption or sale of the offspring of the unaltered dog shall comply with all of the requirements and duties of a breeder, as set forth in Article 1 (commencing with Section 122045) of Chapter 5.

They are referring to California Health and Safety Code Section 122045 - 122110, the Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act, which currently applies to those who have "sold, transferred, or given away all or part of three or more litters or 20 or more dogs during the preceding 12 months that were bred and reared on the premises."

Who will enforce all this stuff? No, let me rephrase that:

Who?! will?! enforce?! all?! this?! stuff??!!!!

No wonder my local ACOs think this bill is insane.

[And yes, I know the photo is from A Night at the Opera and the quote is from Duck Soup. "Land of the brave, and free...!"]

AB 1634 to stockdogs: "Drop dead." (Part II)

Pearse Ward and his great dog Riel in the double lift final of the 2005 USBCHA National Sheepdog Championship. The latest revision of AB 1634 will not protect stockdogs like Riel whose owners do not keep livestock on their own property. [Photo by Denise Wall, used with permission.]

The train wreck that is AB 1634 just gets worse and worse. The latest revision is up, and stockdogs are finally -- badly -- addressed. It's painfully obvious that the authors of this bill 1) know next to nothing about dogs and 2) know absolutely nothing about agriculture. Under "Article 3. Permits":

(6) The dog is used for herding or guarding livestock, and the dog's owner resides on or is the owner of property designated for agricultural use.
This new language won't protect my working border collies: my sheep are kept on a twenty-acre farm ten minutes from my home, and I don't own the farm.

It wouldn't protect the good dogs owned by the commercial sheepman who gave me my first ewes --- he ran his thousands of ewes on government land. God forbid his dogs should foul the gene pool.

It won't protect the flockmaster's dogs at ag schools like Cal Poly: the flockmaster oversees cattle, sheep and hogs, and the last time I checked, her job description required her to bring two stockdogs to work each day. (If the flockmaster lives in an apartment, does that mean her good border collies don't deserve to be bred?)

I'm not sure AB 1634 would exempt Bill Fosher's dogs ... and he runs the best sheep forum on the web. Good thing Bill lives in New Hampshire.

As always, puppy mills and pet shops get a free pass.

Have a safe and happy Fourth! And Californians, you are now free to keep your great stockdogs and LGDs intact --- all you have to do is buy a ranch.

July 3, 2007

BAD RAP on the 'Why Bother' bill

This has become the 'Why Bother' bill and it's a heartbreaker. We've changed our original position of support and have submitted our official letter of opposition to legislators.
Here's their letter of opposition. It's clear, intelligent, concise and utterly damning. I won't pull excerpts to post --- better you should read the whole thing:

BAD RAP's crew is right --- the dogs and cats [and people] of California deserve better than this mess of a bill.

July 2, 2007

Well played, BAD RAP

The move took guts and it took integrity: BAD RAP, an early supporter of AB 1634, now opposes the bill.

On Friday, June 28, the directors of BAD RAP faxed legislators to announce that they no longer support AB 1634 and will oppose the bill rather than adopt a neutral position. They asked the author campaign manager to remove the BAD RAP logo from the bill's official website. And I actually cried when I got the news, because BAD RAP and the dogs they love are so worthy, and deserve so much better than this useless, punitive legislation.

I can't say enough about BAD RAP --- they've been the #1 pit bull link in my sidebar since this blog began. They are known and respected across the country for their innovative programs, their informed defense of a maligned breed and their tireless efforts on behalf of shelter dogs. Did it kill me that they supported a bill I hated?

I was plenty steamed --- but BAD RAP stayed in the sidebar.

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes make up the vast majority of dogs euthanized in California shelters. I know this, because unlike most of the AB 1634 supporters wringing their hands over the fate of shelter animals, I actually have two pit bulls, both adopted from the local pound.

Here's heartbreaking for you: day after day, BAD RAP members look into the faces of shelter pit bulls with glorious temperaments --- and turn away in tears because there aren't enough foster homes, there aren't enough adopters, and scads of irresponsible, unscrupulous jerks continue to breed their pit bulls non-stop, litter after unwanted, homeless, impounded litter.

If anybody could have been excused for supporting AB 1634, it was BAD RAP.

And for sheer integrity, consider that BAD RAP cared enough about other dogs to lobby publicly for a stockdog exemption, and urge the inclusion of sensible language supporting the ethical standards of responsible breeders. The common-sense revisions suggested by BAD RAP would have eliminated the backyard breeder who is breeding for profit, barred puppy mills, and protected working stockdogs which, in some cases, are neither registered nor trialed.

Instead we got the AB 1634 revisions made public on June 27: designed to eliminate the most responsible owners and breeders in the state. Designed to protect puppy mills and pet stores. Designed to be an evasive, confusing mess.

AB 1634 won’t cause a single pit bull to be adopted from a California shelter. It won't stop unscrupulous breeders from producing more litters of unwanted pit bulls. It won’t stop owners from relinquishing their dogs due to a move, a new baby, or too much barking. It won’t make dogs healthier, and it won’t save money. It is a frightening, deeply offensive government intrusion into the lives of responsible, law-abiding citizens and their companion animals.

And now BAD RAP has joined the opposition. Want to show your appreciation? Hint: they take PayPal. [And no, I am not affiliated with BAD RAP in any way.]