The Shame of Pennsylvania
Puppy Mill Propaganda, Part Two
Entering the Web
The Beauty of a Web
Trying to explain how the AR web works would be extremely time consuming. There are so many intricate details related to web building. Rather than to expound on these intracacies, take a look at the picture of the web below - know and understand that THIS is exactly what you are dealing with. Using this web to illustrate the complexity of the system, picture each individual strand as a group or organization that is ultimately connected to one control center. That center, of course, is that unseen, unheard, unknown power that is ready to strike at a moments notice.
Look a little closer at the hub (the center) and surrounding it, you can see space with no radials connecting to the hub. This is called the free zone and that is where you are. No matter which way you turn, you are surrounded by the radial lines of the web. It's actually a thing of beauty - unless you are the ones in the free zone.
United They Stand: Divided We Fall
The web of Pennsylvania politics is tightly woven and amongst the different patterns and textures is one particular thread that binds them all together. Unless you are an animal owner, the tapestry of the web looks very pretty. Each thread, however, has a story and purpose, but their ultimate goal is the same.
Guilt before Innocence?
Any breeding operation or shelter has the potential to be substandard. Animal welfare is a genuine concern, but it must be dealt with fairly and with common sense. What has happened to our country? Are people judged guilty before proven innocent? What about the disregard for laws that already exist? Is it now considered socially acceptable to break the law and walk away? Is it now acceptable to be falsely accused of a 'crime', lose everything you have worked for just to provide more wealth (and power) for those that are the accusers? Why, and a very important question, does the majority of the media only seem to focus on the side of the accusers?
Furthermore, the mainstream press is under tight deadlines to publish stories. They go with sensation and like the animal rightists, they thrive on the emotions of the public– it sells papers. The same goes for television reports. They want ratings. They do not have the time or resources nor the personal desire, involvement, or possibly, the 'permission', to unravel the web thread by thread. We do. Research is our business.
The list of players in Pennsylvania is long, indeed. For this part of the series, we are going to concentrate on the two main players. Main Line Rescue and United Against Puppy Mills, with a little nudge from Dogs Deserve Better and a few of the other linked associates.
Controversy and Creativity
Although Main Line Rescue and United Against Puppy Mills have been promoting their campaigns for some time, perhaps the creativity and controversy began with the arrest of Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, when she violated laws of the state by removing a dog from it's owners property. This well staged event brought down the house. With assistance from Best Friends and the incident being published on every animal rights website, including the Animal Liberation Front website, the media focused on Pennsylvania. The Animal Planet channel hosted a "Hero of the Year" award sponsored by them and Fresh Step, a Clorox company, and allowed Tammy Grimes to be a nominated part of that contest. This should not surprise anybody. Animal Planet has partnered with more than several non profit organizations. View the list of these non profit organizations. Also take a look at The American Humane Association. See HSUS Hollywood - for more detailed information.
The Stage is Now Set
Main Line Rescue used their creative talents when they opted to put up billboards touting Lancaster County being home to hundreds of Puppy Mills. They contacted the Humane Society of the United States to ask if they could list their website on the billboards and noted that the HSUS has been very supportive.
Main Line Rescue has not been without its problems. They lost their "facilities" at Dee Solitaro's property but recovered quickly with the help of their friends and who would not love to have these kinds of friends.
A little Main Line Information (Public Records)
Main Line Rescue
Reported net assets of
$2,760,600 in 2002
$ 31,621 in 2003
Negative balance -$53,346 in 2004
138 Cambridge Rd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Helen M. Smith, President
William E. Smith, Treasurer
Francine Diggs, Secretary
Betsy Fadem, Member
Anne Hamilton, Vice Chairman
Barry Katz, Esq., Legal Council
Vincent T. Donohue, Secretary
Julie Becton, Director
Betsy Legnini, Chairman
Marsha Perelman, Vice Chairman
Michelle Rice, Member
Quite a list of impressive friends. We'll be getting back to them later on in the series.
Some others in Main Lines circle of friends includes, but is not limited to, the following groups. Look what Save-A-Dog promotes on their website -- HB1911. Readers are advised to help move this bill from committee to the floor for a vote by clicking on Dogs Deserve Better. They are told that DDB has an incredibly simple form they can click on to send a letter to every targeted committee member. The Save-a-Dog website also takes you to Save-A-Pet, and Petfinders, which boasts camaraderie with Drew Barrymore, Kelsey Grammer, Rue McClanahan, the Taco Bell dog, Weight Watchers and many more. North Shore Animal League sponsors both organizations.
Same old Party Line
Did you notice the same old party line? "Did you know that many backyard dog breeders and pet stores who supply the majority of purebreds simply are selling inbred pets without care for preventing genetic problems? Mixed breed pets have less inbreeding, generally less inherited genetic disease, and therefore overall lower vet bills and happier pets! And the best place to find a mixed breed dog or cat is at an SPCA, a humane society or an animal shelter." Let's not forget the other line..."Don't buy from a breeder or pet shop when you can adopt from a shelter."
Responsible dog breeders and owners should certainly discuss these advertised comments with their attorneys while compiling a class action suit against such slanderous remarks. Shelter pets often come with behavioral problems, possible disease, unknown history and genetic factors that may make them less than desirable pets. In fact, they accuse the responsible breeders of what they themselves are guilty of. They seem to accuse responsible breeders of making so much money, yet, we found no evidence of any responsible breeders that had the backing of such 'distinguished' people ... or bank accounts....as the board members of Main Line Rescue and UAPM. Nor did we find any responsible breeders with checking account balances that held a balance of several million at any time. We looked. We asked. We interviewed. We also tried to find any shelter or 501(c)3 non profit organization that did any genetic testing on their adoptable, free from genetic defect animals. We found none. Perhaps this is why the non profit organizations have so much money and the responsible groups do not. Responsible breeders test their animals and therefore, what they may get for an animal is used to pay for same. What do you say, Non Profits? Do YOU test all your animals that you take in prior to placing them in a home? Or do you only make sure you spay/neuter and give them shots? What is your policy when a dog that you have adopted out shows up with a genetic problem down the road? We found information that you can "pick and choose" the animals you want from other facilities. What becomes of the ones that were not choosen? Do they continue to be "hoarded" by those facilities and for how long? Will they and do they all get the 'required time out' for exercise to "feel the grass under their feet?" We have found many articles and facts regarding "importing strays" while the shelters scream of 'overpopulation', and we have also found some shelters that actually 'breed' to keep their available numbers of adoptable dogs up. We certainly would not want Governor Rendell and the new board to become confused when they learn that the non profit entities are not exactly what they claim to be, so we'll just postpone this for another issue in the series.
MORE CREATIVE CONTROVERSY
More creative controversy began when United Against Puppy Mills (UAPM), based in Lancaster County, obtained 33,500 signatures of Pennsylvania residents and urged Governor Rendell to remove the Bureau of Dog Enforcement from the Department of Agriculture. Bowing to public pressure, and hoping to garner 33,500+ votes during his next election campaign, Rendell removed the 14 member advisory panel and put together an ad hoc committee.
The Governor's new ad-hoc commitee was kept hush-hush and secretive until an October 17th press release. Rendell was caught up in the animal rights push for tougher laws and sweeping changes -- laws and changes that have the potential to harm innocent, law abiding pet owners and animal breeders. Dogs fetch good prices and the animal control/animal sheltering network is now in a position to profit from the hard work and dedication of others. We now have information that the "secret" committee had sent a 55 page Rule and Regulation Change to the Attorney General for approval. It seems that AFTER it is approved, the good Governor will allow those Rules and Regulations to be seen by the public and comments on the approved changes and additions in those 55 pages can be made at that time.
It is no secret that animal forfeiture cases have risen in number since the early 1990’s. All an animal rights activist needs to do is call in an anonymous tip to the proper authority. Animal control officers have been taught, via HSUS and ASPCA literature, that animal hoarding is a big problem in our country. They are taught that animal cruelty is rampant – even though the criteria to establish an “animal cruelty” is mostly subjective. The dog catchers are watching the dog house, so to speak, or are they? One of Governor Rendell's Rule changes affects the sizes of cages, crates and indoor/outdoor runs of breeders, but NOT of the humane societies, claiming that those dogs are only there temporarily. What is the definition of 'temporary?' Our investigation shows Humane Societies crying for lack of space. They then transport animals to other states that do have space to accomodate these animals - temporarily, again. How do they manage to transport all these animals without proper paperwork from one location to another, expecially from state to state? Then we found the HSUS report on this subject, including euthanasia of these 'temporarily hoarded' animals.
Conflict of Interest
It is a conflict of interest to allow ACOs to have power and authority over a sector of legitimate business and animal ownership rights when they have such a strong incentive to take the animals that they can profit from! When animals are seized from a person, daily charges accrue for their “room and board.” Actual criminal charges are not filed until at least a month after the animals are taken. If the person is fortunate enough to prove their innocence and regain custody of their own property, they usually cannot afford to do so after lawyers fees have piled up. Thus, they look guilty to the general public, who knows next to nothing about how this system operates.
Who pays for the exorbitant boarding, food and vet bills while animals are in custody? Generally, the taxpayers do. The shelters and holding facilities are allowed to keep any money they make from adoption fees and often these match or exceed the price a legitimate and reputable breeder sells an animal for! Confiscated animals often suffer cruelty from those who have rescued and saved them. Animals often pick up disease at the holding facilities. They are examined by vets who are over worked and trained to look for justifications why the animals should never be returned to their owners. The animals suffer stress from being torn away from their families and homes. Some die in the shelters and pounds; others are euthanized.
This brings us back to the Animal Control, Animal Rights, Rescue/shelter infrastructure. This grassroots network has been cultivated, blade by blade, for several decades. They are now in a place to reap what they have so diligently sowed. On a national, even a global level, is the Humane Society of the United States – a power so vast and wealthy, it boggles the imagination. We could write volumes about their key part in weaving the webs that now blanket America and smother our Constitutional rights, but for now we focus on just one corner of Pennsylvania. See Humane Society Police Officers Registry.
A New Web
As you can see, the original web we started with has now turned into a different kind of web. We'll show it to you in the next issue.
Who are the new advisory board appointees? Who runs UAPM? Who are the people associated with Main Line Rescue? How are the Pa. politicians associated with them all? What were the new "secret" Rules and Regulations that were proposed? Which Golden Retriever Rescue group in Pa. has the Governor as a member? Which Golden Retriever Rescue group member in Pa. is Bob Casey's right hand aide?
All questions you have submitted to us, so we will continue to press on and research the facts.
Who was appointed to the new dog advisory board? Surprise! Jessie Smith, 20-year veteran of the PA office of Attorney General and president of the BOD for the Humane Society of Harrisburg since 2003. (Listed as one of the HSUS Federated Humane Societies.) Check out the HSH adoption fees.
This is a double knockout for Pennsylvania animal owners. Smith has incredible knowledge of the legal system we explained in our first paragraphs, the contacts, the influence and the power. As the president of a Humane Society, Smith has double the inside knowledge, contacts, influence and power.
Next issue: A New Web Forms