EXCEPTION to ''The Exemption''
Referencing TheDogPress.com Editorial, Dec. 28, 2005
by Roberta Pliner 02/06
With great respect for BJ's long and active commitment to defeating PAWS, I wish to correct some ambiguities in her editorial, as follows:
First, as of now, January 17, nothing has changed since the PAWS bill was first announced by Senator Rick Santorum on May 26, 2005. The text of the bill is exactly as it was introduced, with its 6-litter/25-dog threshold numbers for defining hobby vs. commercial dog and cat breeders and its special singling-out of sellers of hunting, security, or breeding dogs.
Following Santorum's farcical November 8 hearing on the bill, attended by none of the eleven members of the Senate subcommittee allegedly hearing the bill, except Santorum himself, AKC board members Stephen Gladstone and Ronald Menaker announced amendments to the bill that would exempt AKC registrants from USDA inspection provided such registrants agreed to be inspected by AKC in compliance with USDA standards. As well, breeders of hunting, security, and breeding dogs would be treated just like breeders of other dogs and cat breeders. Further, Gladstone and Menaker speculated that USDA would set kennel standards for AKC registrants that would allow them to continue their breeding operations within their homes, thereby subject to performance rather than USDA' s usual engineering standards for commercial kennels.
Senator Santorum's office announced revisions to PAWS as discussed at the November 8 hearing would be written and made public in a few weeks. That event was postponed twice. Most recently, on January 13, Jeff Stoltzfus, the senator's chief aide working on PAWS, said the revisions were still being worked on and would probably be ready by the end of this month.
What does all this mean? There are several possibilities. First, AKC's expectations of revisions to the bill are AKC's wish list. There is thus far no indication that HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) or DDAL (Doris Day Animal League), both of which were as active, if not more so, as AKC in advising Senator Santorum on PAWS, will accept any special treatment for AKC's registrants. Equally possible, the commercial kennels already federally regulated might well object to special treatment for AKC registrants, considering that complying with USDA's engineering standards for commercial kennels requires a huge capital investment compared to in-home breeding conducted by most of AKC's registrants.
It might be that all these delays in revising PAWS are due to internal strife among Senator Santorum's advisors.
A second possibility is that Senator Santorum has no intention of revising PAWS and is stalling until Congress is back from its holiday recess and in full swing for this term (following the President's state of the union speech), at which point he will submit PAWS as now written to the subcommittee for a vote and then to the full Senate Agricultural committee for a vote. As it is, PAWS now has 23 co-sponsors in the Senate and 129 in the House, about half of those acquired through active HSUS and AKC lobbying since November 1.
A third possibility is, if Senator Santorum thinks he does not have the votes to pass PAWS as a stand-alone bill, he might attach it as a floor rider to another larger and popular bill, the sort of bill that no one would not vote for, even if they don't like PAWS. If that happens, there will be at most a few hours advance notice.
Some other points; Contrary to BJ's statement, the hunters have won no exemption. The NRA did not lobby for the hunters with respect to PAWS, although other hunting-interest organizations did. Even if AKC's wish list does constitute all or most of the revisions to PAWS, breeders of hunting, security, and breeding dogs will be subject to the same threshold numbers and requirements for commercial kennels as breeders of any other dogs or of cats.
Among the most active lobbyists opposing PAWS, though, is MoFed (Missouri Federation of Animal Owners), the large and politically very experienced organization representing all animal owners in that state, including but in no way limited to the big wholesale commercial breeders (CB's). MoFed has been in the forefront of the battle against PAWS, among other things, sending its chief registered lobbyists to Washington to lobby against PAWS during the November 8 hearing, with the full support of its CB clients.
The CB's, in other words, are on our side. They don't want PAWS, either, even though it doesn't affect them directly, because they are already federally regulated. But, unlike hobby breeders such as AKC registrants, the CB's recognize the central point of PAWS. As the worst breeding restriction law ever to be proposed, it is a great big step on the road to prohibiting all breeding of all animals.
Finally, of all the flaws in PAWS, what is most wrong with it and the chief reason it should be killed in committee is that it breaches the historic line between retail and wholesale pet selling. Once that line is breached, it's just a matter of time and not much time, perhaps just a few years, before the threshold numbers are lowered to one litter/one dog sold. In other words, all breeders will be federally regulated, and since most cannot afford to comply with USDA standards and/or obtain the zoning variances for commercial kennels, most hobby breeding will end. Future pets will all come from big commercial producers or overseas breeders who are under no obligation to breed to American standards either for quality of pets or kennel conditions. Many dog breeds will become extinct.
The show/breeding world as we now know it will be history.
For further information and contact information for your senators and congressmen, log onto: http://www.nopaws.org/sponsors.asp and http://pet-law.com/index.html
TheDogPress Editorial December 2005 -
The PAWS "Breeder" Exemption