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The Ruff Report: A roundup of news about dogs Nov. 16 to Nov. 22, 2008

Nov. 16 to Nov. 22, 2008

Stricter breeder oversight proposed

Federal lawmakers are considering a proposal that would subject more breeders to USDA licensing and require dogs to have more exercise.

The Puppy Uniform Protection Statute, which has been introduced in the House and Senate, would require breeders who sell more than 50 dogs per year to the public to be inspected and licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under current law, breeders who have more than three females and sell at wholesale to pet stores and research facilities must be licensed and inspected.

Under the proposal, dogs 12 weeks or older must have a minimum of two daily exercise periods totaling at least one hour and must be removed from their primary enclosure for the exercise.

"Our bill simply requires that breeders obtain a license from the USDA if they raise more than 50 dogs in a 12-month period and sell directly to the public and sets forth reasonable standards of care for commercial breeders," said Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. "Responsible dog breeders are not the target of this legislation, but hopefully it will put the puppy mills out of business."

Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States, praised the proposal. "Dogs are not livestock, and they shouldn't be treated like a cash crop," he stated in a media release. "We are grateful to federal lawmakers for introducing this legislation to curb the worst abuses in the puppy mill industry. It's a much-needed upgrade to our nation's laws that protect man’s best friend from cruelty and harm."

The American Kennel Club, which had no involvement in the drafting of the legislation, states on its web site that it has concerns about the proposal's potential impact on responsible breeders. "We look forward to working with federal legislators to contribute language which ensures the health and welfare of our canine companions without infringing upon the rights of responsible dog breeders and responsible dog owners." the AKC statement reads.

AKC says breeders should be judged on the quality of care provided to the animals rather than the number of dogs they sell or own. "We encourage Congress to direct USDA to draft performance-based regulations which ensure dogs are provided with proper care and humane treatment including an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, exercise and socialization opportunities, and kind and responsive human companionship," the AKC statement reads.

A reminder about using safety belts

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, the busiest four-day travel period of the year, dog parents are being reminded about the importance of using specially made car safety belts or harnesses on their companions.

Wags to Riches Animal Rescue and Sanctuary of Union Gap, Washington, and of Amherst, New Hampshire, have issued a media release in which they warn about the risks of traveling in a vehicle with an unrestrained pet.
Wags to Riches recently responded to an accident involving an a 10-year-old dog that was thrown from a car and had to paw its way up a mountain to be rescued, five days after it had been thrown from the vehicle. When the dog parent was asked what he would do differently, he said: "Have a seat belt for my dog."

Wags to Riches and advise dog parents to:
  • Put a dog in a safety belt on all trips, even short ones.
  • Use restraints that offer mobility and freedom of movement. The dog should be able to move around a little and turn in the seat.
  • Put the dog in the back seat. The safest place is the middle of the back seat and airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for dogs.
  • Not put a dog in a crate or cage because a crate or cage can go airborne during an accident. Even if the crate is secure, a dog can be slammed against its walls.
Initiative urges adopting shelter pets

A new advertising campaign aimed at encouraging people to adopt pets from shelters could help save the lives of millions of dogs and cats, officials for two animal welfare organizations say.

The public service advertising initiative - a collaboration between the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council - will try to instill on people the importance adopting from shelters rather than other sources. Most people get pets from breeders, friends, neighbors and pet stores.

Only about 20 percent of Americans adopt pets from shelters or rescue groups, so increasing the percentage of people who adopt pets by just a few percentage points can solve the problem of euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Approximately 3 million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are killed in shelters each year.

"It will make a life-saving difference in securing loving homes for untold numbers of pets and get us closer to a no-kill nation," Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, stated in a media release.

Richard Avanzino, president of Maddie's Fund of Alameda, Calif., the largest foundation in the world focused on saving shelter dogs and cats, said his organization is "ecstatic" about the public service announcements. "This campaign has the potential to save all of our nation's healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats and change the course of events in the cause of animal welfare," he stated.

Pets as gifts OK in right circumstances

An Ontario animal welfare organization is changing its longstanding policy against giving pets as holiday gifts.

Sarnia and District Humane Society now says giving a pet as a holiday gift to friends or family members is acceptable if it is planned rather than done as a "surprise gift," The Observer of Sarnia, Ontario, reports.

In the past, the humane society would suspend pet adoptions during the holiday season, but the organization changed its policy after deciding to join with 2,500 shelters around the world in the Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption campaign.

The campaign, founded by the Helen Woodward Animal Center and supported by Iams, runs through Jan. 5. Families who adopt dogs, cats, puppies and kittens during the campaign get a starter kit containing tips to get the relationship off to smooth start.

"We are proud to be part of the annual campaign and work toward helping place one million animals into homes during the holiday season," Tami Holmes, president of the Sarnia and District Humane Society, told the newspaper. "We're asking everyone to open their hearts and be a hero to a pet who needs a home."

Visit for more information about the organization.

Obamas lauded for dog adoption approach

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are taking the correct approach to getting a dog, a pet adoption agency official says.

David Meyer, president of, which has 6,500 animal shelters and humane societies that post on its web site, says the Obamas are making the right decision by waiting to get a dog until they get settled in the White House.

"It is best to bring a new dog into a stable home with dependable routines," Meyer stated in a media release. "This is less stressful for the dog and for the people involved, and helps insure a great start to a lifelong relationship."

During a recent interview on 60 Minutes, Michelle Obama said that she and her husband decided to delay getting a dog because they do not think it would be "good to get a dog in the midst of transition." is gathering signatures for a letter to be sent to Obama advocating that he adopt from a shelter. People can sign the petition by visiting, a web site that has been started for the national campaign.

Obama has stated his interest in adopting a shelter dog, but he expressed concern that he would be unable to do so because his daughter, Malia, is allergic to dogs and needs a hypoallergenic breed.

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