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NRA Has a Dog in This Fight

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Virtually anyone who has hunted birds has done so with man`s best friend. Few things are more awe inspiring in the hunting world than studying well- trained dogs relentlessly searching for upland birds or being signaled on a blind retrieve of a downed duck. Countless other hunters pursue bears, raccoons, foxes, cougars and other species with the help of hounds. Many of us not fortunate enough to own a Lab or spaniel aspire to have one, someday.

Dogs have been an integral part of the hunting world long before George Washington ran his fox hounds at Mount Vernon. For this reason, any threat to continued dog ownership in America is a threat to the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Many Americans find it hard to believe that there are groups lobbying across the country to malice it much more expensive and difficult to obtain dogs or occasionally breed them for others to enjoy. It should come as no surprise, however, that the lead agitator is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Its president, Wayne Pacelle, publicly pronounced in Animal People News, "One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding” Recognizing the ineffectiveness of whacky animal "rights" groups like PETA, Pacelle has worked hard to moderate his public persona since making this statement in 1993, but his views and goals have not changed. He accepts that he might not see it in his lifetime, but he wants his work today to ultimately end the pet industry, animal agriculture and hunting. He knows that if he can detract from Americans` ability to own dogs, he`s also interfering with traditional hunting practices. It`s a win-win for him and his followers.

HSUS` lobbying seeks to impose burdensome government regulations and licensing fees on anyone owning dogs that have their reproductive capabilities intact. It labels homes and sporting dog kennels with intact dogs as "puppy mills" and dog owners who sell a litter of dogs or more as "pet dealers:` It wants the government to arbitrarily limit the number of intact dogs an individual may own or care for at anyone time (this should sound like a familiar concept to gun owners). The limits sought in each state vary according to how sympathetic and radical HSUS believes the state to be. The limit proposed in Massachusetts, for example, might be three dogs, while in Utah it may be a more "reasonable" 25.

The public`s perception of a "puppy mill" is a place where dogs are bred in cramped, inhumane conditions for the commercial market. HSUS helped to create this perception and, as it does with other campaigns, it exploits a misinformed public with emotion-evoking terms in order to further its objectives. Its lobbyists tell legislators in each of the three-dozen states it has been working that their state is the "puppy mill" capital of the country. Apparently lobbying is much easier when you`re not bound by the truth.

The standard "puppy mill" bill, such as those NRA has recently battled in Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wisconsin, compels an owner of a few intact dogs (not the hundreds often claimed) to adhere to myriad costly and subjective care requirements. The clear intent is to run sporting dog kennels out of business and discourage people from breeding their dogs.

"One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding"

--Wayne Pacelle, president,
Humane Society of the United States

Kennel construction must meet one-size-fits-all standards. The fact that most kennel owners do not have the resources to retrofit their facilities pleases HSUS. Fewer kennels mean fewer dogs trained to engage in the hunting it despises.

Government inspectors are empowered to inspect kennel facilities at virtually any time without cause. Like the truth, HSUS views the Fourth Amendment as a minor inconvenience. The potential for abuses and harassment in this area is limitless.

Those who have been fooled into believing these HSUS "puppy mill" bills are about the humane treatment of dogs need to read them. Publicly run animal shelters and local humane society operations are routinely exempted, so that`s clearly not what this is about.

Recent legislation should eliminate any doubt that HSUS` real objective is to end dog ownership altogether. The group has gone to one of the most radical states in the country, trying to impose a law that requires all dog owners to spay or neuter their dogs. This brand of legislation abrogates basic private property rights and ends the traditional practices of hunters. For generations people have bred their dogs to provide quality puppies to family members and hunting partners, or to sell to good homes to offset the costs of care and training, California`s A.B. 1634, introduced in 2007 at HSUS` request, required all dogs four months of age or older to be spayed or neutered unless the owners obtained an annual may-issue "intact permit` from their local government. The cost of the annual permit was unspecified and could be unilaterally denied on any grounds. This legislation also discriminated against the less affluent, could not afford the annual permit even if they were able to find a sympathetic government official. With the NRA`S the bill was defeated but HSUS is back this year with S.B. 250 to try again.

There`s no doubt Pacelle is working hard to keep his promise of "one generation and out:` Faced with a number of failures, HSUS has decided to water down its legislative efforts by changing definitions or increasing the number of intact dogs an owner may keep, sell or transfer each year. However, following the gun-grabbers` model, they are simply attempting to lay the groundwork to return later and "close loopholes" that allow "average citizens" to breed their dogs.

Appropriately, on April Fools` Day 2009, HSUS` executive vice president, Michael Markarian, wrote in his blog entitled, "NRA Has No Dog in This Hunt” that NRA has no business opposing his efforts to incrementally eliminate dog ownership in America. If Markarian thinks he can fool us as easily as he fools some elected officials, he`s mistaken, the fact is that we have millions of dogs in this fight. It`s one we intend to win.

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