By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
If you’re trying to kill or modify a proposed animal welfare law—for example one that regulates high-volume commercial breeders or “puppy mills”—you might want to enlist the assistance of the Tea Party, according to the Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB).
“The Missouri Tea Party picked up that Prop B [the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act] was important,” said MFB’s director of marketing and commodities Kelly Smith, “and that they should be opposing it. They were a big help in doing that.”
Smith laid out a detailed strategy including other ways to fight animal welfare groups in his presentation “Protecting & Growing Agriculture Amidst the Activist Conflict – A Missouri Experience,” made to the Animal Agriculture Alliance “United We Eat” Summit in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
‘These guys are good—we don’t like them, but they are good at what they do’: farm bureau about Humane SocietyPosted: August 17, 2012
By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
“The emotion of the puppy, man’s best friend. How do you not want to protect these little innocent puppies?” asked Missouri Farm Bureau’s Kelly Smith in a speech to commercial dog breeders and other farmed animal producers. “That was very hard. And that was something that the rest of animal agriculture had to learn and deal with. It was very, very hard to do.”
The protection to which Smith referred might have been provided by a Missouri law, Prop B, the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” proposed in 2010 by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal welfare groups, who said it would improve the lives of the tens of thousands of dogs—many severely neglected and ill—who are used to create about a million puppies annually in the state’s 1,000-plus commercial breeding establishments.
But the state’s dog breeders and farmers believed it was a law against which they needed to protect themselves, said Smith, the farm bureau’s marketing and commodities director. Read the rest of this entry »
By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
While in the past few years the Missouri Department of Agriculture has seized 5,500 dogs from neglectful commercial breeders, a representative of the state’s farm bureau said that not only is more regulation unnecessary, but that a 2010 law proposed to improve conditions for the animals would have set an anti-farming precedent and in some ways would have required that breeders take better care of dogs than of children. Read the rest of this entry »
While covering The Humane Society of the United States Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference recently, Animal Issues Reporter.org’s correspondent Catherine Cowan heard an impassioned speech by U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, a Democrat from California. TAFA and Rep. Farr’s staff members kindly provided the following transcript.
Speech at TAFA conference by Rep. Sam Farr:
You’ve asked a politician to say a few words tonight to a group of prominent animal lovers.
I thought it would be interesting to relate how I became first an animal lover and second a politician. Read the rest of this entry »
By Catherine Cowan
In a session titled, “How to Work with Local Law Enforcement and Animal Control to Address Animal Cruelty,” Sherry Schlueter, executive director of the HSUS South Florida Wildlife Center and Michelle Welch, assistant attorney general in Virginia provided the following advice to animal advocates.
• Know the laws and use them to your advantage. For example, even if a statute does not mention medical care, you may find language that covers neglect in the definition of terms.
• Show little emotion. Stay unbiased, fair and objective.
• Remember that the purpose is to resolve the case in the best interest of the victim. That might mean arrest and seizure of the animal, or it might mean education and assistance.
• Be polite. Ask for the name of the investigating officer, case number, and next steps. If you are getting no help, ask for a superior officer or set up a meeting with the chief.
• If law enforcement has no budget, volunteer assistance such as fostering an animal or paying for veterinary exams. Contact the HSUS or ASPCA to offer reward money.
• Never give up. Remember that one person can make a profound difference.
• While animal advocates are passionate, the average case takes over a year to get to court. Because they can’t be seen as trying the case in the media, prosecutors can’t discuss it until after the trial.
• Don’t come at prosecutors and animal control officers at full force or they won’t want to talk to you. Be respectful.
• Don’t assume everyone has underhanded motives. For example, a Virginia legislator proposed a bill that would have been detrimental to animal welfare because he had been told things that were untrue. When advocates showed him what was untrue, he withdrew it.
• Don’t write letters to the judge. Legal rules require judges to remain fair and impartial, which means they can’t read these communications. If you want to make an impression, show up the court case. Dress appropriately and be respectful.
• If you call a legislator or a prosecutor, be polite. Don’t act like you know more than they do, even if you actually do. Leaving nasty messages won’t garner any sympathy for your side
• Use HSUS state directors. While prosecutors can’t comment on an ongoing case publicly, state directors can. If you can’t get a response out of an official, the state director may be able to.
• Act as a witness. Animal advocates can sometimes collect the evidence needed to get law enforcement an entry into a puppy mill or other animal cruelty situation.
*Besides the HSUS, Taking Action for Animals is sponsored by Big Cat Rescue, Animal Farm Foundation, American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and E – The Environment Magazine. Other sponsors include Andy Nahas and the Prospect Fund, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, A Well-Fed World, Alley Cat Allies, Animals and Society Institute, Anti-Fur Society, Compassion over Killing, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Mercy for Animals, Rabbitwise, and World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Catherine Cowan has 18 years of experience in writing, editing, and communications. Starting as a reporter at a small-town newspaper in Indiana, she worked her way up to nation and world news editor at a top newspaper in Kentucky before moving into an editing role at a magazine on issues facing state governments. She has also done communications for a non-profit health care company and a state university research center. She is owned by four rescued and adopted cats and has a long-standing interest in animal issues and human-animal interactions.
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