Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Truth About Canine Devocalization

An Open Letter to New York State Legislators

Re: A1204 (Zebrowski)/S2271(Grisanti) “restricts the performance of devocalization procedures on dogs and cats”


Dear Members of the New York State Legislature:

The Dog Federation of New York is a not-for-profit coalition of individual dog owners and dog-related organizations committed to responsible ownership, with a membership that spans the State of New York. Our members are animal shelter volunteers, dog trainers, pet owners, purebred dog breeders and exhibitors, animal control officers, and animal lovers. We are committed to helping public officials respond appropriately to the concerns we all share, including providing for the public’s health and safety while addressing concerns on animal welfare issues.

We write to express our strong opposition to the above-captioned proposal and our grave concerns regarding the damage enactment could do to the lives of caring dog owners and their pets.

The people of the State of New York deserve laws based on facts, and legislative proposals should correct shortfalls in existing law in order to safeguard public safety. Sadly, A1204 appears to be based on internet rumor and would subject both dog owner and licensed veterinarian to severe sanctions and penalties for a simple, humane and even life-saving procedure.

Contrary to the tall tales circulated by individuals who choose not to understand, bark softening or canine devocalization is a minor, humane procedure accomplished by licensed veterinarians. It is an unusual measure occasionally used as a last resort by dog owners desperate to prevent uncontrollable, loud and frequent barking which has become an issue with their neighbors and within their communities.

We note that the published policies of the American Veterinary Medicine Association do not support regulatory meddling in responsible veterinary care decisions such as the measures proposed by A1204.

The Dog Federation of New York always encourages dog owners to be sensitive to the concerns of their neighbors and community. When all other measures have failed, "bark softening" may be the last option for dog owners struggling to keep a beloved pet in their home, and out of over-burdened shelters which may have no choice but to kill a dog that simply barks too much.

Thank you for your consideration.


Note to concerned dog owners:  We encourage you to immediately contact your New York State Assemblymember and Senator to express your opposition to the above proposal.  We are happy to make this flyer available to assist you in your discussions.

Text of the proposal:  click here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Will the Animal Rescue Community Step Up?

"Duke" needs help now

[following written by DFNY member Susan Beals]

I volunteer at a small shelter in a small city in upstate NY.  I am very lucky in that it is a VERY good shelter.  They consider themselves to be no-kill, and they do not euthanize for space, or convenience or just because they can.  But they also consider that they have a duty to the public to make sure the dogs they adopt out are truly adoptable – safe to be in the community.

Now,  this is a small shelter in a small city in a largely rural area.  They are not tied in to the rescue communities active in the large cities.  As a no-kill shelter, they have a small network of local volunteers and foster homes.  And they have good volunteers and good foster homes, but they don’t have anyone with the skills to handle the doofus in the picture above.  Their volunteers and foster homes work with dogs that have medical issues, or puppies and kittens found abandoned and too young to wean, or animals that need to learn how to live in a home with a family.  They don’t work with 100 pounds of untrained, mannerless, anxious adolescent.  30 pounds – sure, 60 pounds – maybe, but 100? 

So where does this shelter, with its limited contacts and its limited resources, find a rescue or a volunteer rehabber for this dog?  According to last year’s version of CAARA it is up to the shelter to make that happen.  Who knows what this year’s version will say?  But in any case, it is not a do-able thing for this shelter.  I sent an email a couple of days ago to a man who writes a blog talking about his rescue activities in and around New York City, asking for suggestions.  Maybe he doesn’t check his email very often, but I haven’t heard back yet.  What else, Rescue Community, do you suggest I do on behalf of this dog.  Where do I find him the placement he needs before the shelter director has to decide that he has been given all the time and resources they have for him?

I do believe this dog is savable.  He came in as a stray, so we have no idea of his story, but based on working with him over the past several weeks I can come up with a scenario that describes how to get a dog with the behaviors he exhibits.  Imagine, if you will, a college student with his first off-campus apartment who goes to visit his girlfriend’s parents.  Their dog has a litter of 5 week old puppies and he takes one back to his new apartment – an apartment with 4 other 19 or 20 year old phys ed major boys.  The puppy is cute and they have a lot of fun with him.  They like it when he wrestles and they never teach him to keep his teeth off the humans.  They play with him, and they wrestle with him, and they never calm him down – always escalate.  No one trains him, or teaches him how to behave or how to be calm when people are around.  No one pets him – any touch leads to a physical game.  They play stupid college jokes on him.  And then one day they realize he is 100 pounds and completely unmanageable so they drive him somewhere and dump him out of the car.

I’ve been working with him for 3 weeks, and there is a good dog in there.  But an hour once a week is not going to bring that good dog out.  He needs a foster situation with daily skilled interaction and clear, consistent rules and expectations.  I can’t do it.  The shelter can’t do it.  The volunteers and fosterers for the shelter can’t do it.  The shelter is deciding his fate next Thursday and right now it’s not looking good. 

This is exactly the situation that CAARA is supposed to be there for.  So come on, Rescue Community, put your money where your mouths are and help THIS dog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dog Federation of NY on Proposed Change to APHIS Regulations: OPPOSED!

Re:  Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003 Animal Welfare;
Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions


To Whom It May Concern:

The Dog Federation of New York is a not-for-profit coalition of individual dog owners and dog-related organizations committed to responsible ownership with a membership that spans the State of New York. Our members are animal shelter volunteers, dog trainers, pet owners, purebred dog breeders and exhibitors, animal control officers, and animal lovers. We are committed to helping public officials respond appropriately to the concerns we all share, including providing for the public’s health and safety while addressing concerns on animal welfare issues.

The rate of pet ownership is at an all-time high in the United States and a strong majority of citizens are pet lovers, based on the estimated 62% of households which include at least one pet animal. The most common pet, of course, is the family dog. The growth of the pet industry continues to significantly outperform many sectors of the national economy. Despite the recession, Americans spend record-breaking amounts of money on their pets.

In short, we are a nation of dog owners and pet lovers, and our desire to obtain and live with pet animals shows no sign of abating.

Prospective purchasers currently enjoy a range of responsible sources for pets, including small “hobby” or non-commercial breeders, shelters and rescues, and pet retailers. The Dog Federation of New York believes that it is vital to the public interest to support and encourage lawfully conducted and humane breeders and retailers and to resist efforts to unreasonably curtail the supply of healthy pet animals to families in our country.

We write to express our opposition to the above-captioned proposal and our concerns regarding the damage implementation could do to the lives of caring animal owners and the pets they love by pointlessly and counter-productively suppressing the responsible breeding and sale of pet animals through over-reaching and poorly-considered regulation.

Such regulation will only further restrict public access to healthy pets.

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, June 22, 2012

For the Rescue Community: Aphis/USDA Implications

As a follow-up on the likely impact of proposed new rules for a host of pet and animal suppliers, DFNY encourages members of the rescue community to carefully consider the ramifications of USDA regulation on the activities of shelters and rescues if and when the federal government includes them within the scope of the Animal Welfare Act, USDA regulation and APHIS enforcement.

Not just a problem for "breeders."

The author of this essay, and the earlier one posted below, is Susan Beals.

Monday, June 04, 2012

APHIS, USDA Regulations and YOU

If you pay any attention to internet lists, you may have seen a big flap that started in the middle of May about the new USDA proposed regulations. Well, it is a big deal. Federal regulation impacting your ability to own pets is something you need to understand, form an opinion about, and then submit a comment to USDA during the public comment period. You should also send copies of your comments to your senators and to your congressional representative. If you own pets and want to continue to be able to own the pets of your choice – all pets, not just dogs or cats – you can’t just let this one slide and expect someone else to take care of it for you.

First a little history.

 USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), in the person of its enforcement arm APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), has been responsible for the administration of the rules and regulations written to enforce all of the various animal welfare acts beginning with the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act passed in 1966 to the Animal Welfare Act of 1976 and the Food Security Act of 1985. As part of this enforcement, APHIS has been responsible for the licensing and inspection of anyone who, for compensation, acts as a broker or dealer of animals, or operates an auction house, or transports animals, or uses animals in an exhibition such as a zoo or rodeo, or operates a research facility using animals. In other words, APHIS has primarily been concerned with animal wholesalers, exhibitors and researchers. All of these people or businesses or organizations have been required to be licensed and to meet minimum standards for care and treatment of their animals and to comply with the other regulations written for enforcement of these Animal Welfare Acts for many years – those standards being enforced by APHIS through regular inspections of records and property.

The regulations to which we have all been subject since at least 1971 do contain some exceptions. If a person or company meets the exception, they are exempt under the federal law and are not required to be licensed or inspected by APHIS. The current exemptions are for:

1. Retail pet stores that sell nondangerous, pet-type animals at retail only;

2.  A person who receives no more than $500 gross income from the sale of animals (not including dogs, cats, or wild or exotic animals) in the course of a year, no matter whether they are sold wholesale or retail;

3. A person who maintains no more than 3 breeding female animals and sells only their offspring born and raised on the person’s premises for pets or exhibition;

4. A person selling less than 25 dogs or cats in a year for research, testing or teaching, or to a research facility;

5. A person arranging transportation of animals solely for purposes of breeding, purebred showing, boarding, grooming or medical treatment;
6. A person who buys, sells or transports animals only for the purposes of food or fiber;

7. A person who breeds and raises domestic pet animals for direct retail sales to another person for the buyer’s own use (e.g., a purebred dog or cat fancier); or

8. A person who buys animals solely for his own use or enjoyment.

Continue reading by clicking HERE

Monday, August 01, 2011

Dog Federation of New York Announces Results of First Study of NY Pet Dealers

Strong Majority of Licensed Pet Stores and Breeders Comply
with Animal Welfare Mandates

New York, NY – August 1, 2011: The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY), a not-for-profit statewide coalition of individual dog owners and dog-related clubs and organizations committed to animal welfare, announced today completion of their first analysis of inspection records of licensed New York State pet stores and non-residential breeders referred to as “pet dealers” under state law. With a growing effort from radical animal rights activists in New York and nationally to permanently close all pet stores and submit dog and cat breeders to overly-burdensome regulation, the findings are of particular importance to New York’s elected officials. Copies of the study will be made available to public officials.

Because elected officials may have few facts and little more than Internet rumor on which to base their deliberations, the Dog Federation of New York will offer relevant sections of its database to Suffolk County legislators. Earlier this summer, Suffolk County considered a proposal sponsored by Legis. Jon Cooper which would have closed most pet stores in the county by prohibiting the retail sale of dogs under the age of one year. The proposal has since been withdrawn.

A key finding of the DFNY study of calendar year 2009 showed that during regular annual inspections statewide, very few infractions cited by inspectors involved the hands-on care of animals. Other than a failure to renew pet dealer licenses on time, a whopping 82.1% of inspections statewide identified no short-comings during regular annual inspections.

A “critical” violation with the potential to immediately impact the health or safety of animals was identified in 7.8% of annual inspections conducted of each pet dealer in New York State. Only one New York pet dealer was cited for more than one critical violation during a regular annual inspection in 2009.

"This study is an important first step in establishing a fact-based picture of licensed New York pet dealers, kennels and catteries. Our data provides real information for animal lovers and public officials who may be unfamiliar with requirements and levels of compliance,” commented Dog Federation of New York spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “While there were pet dealers with unacceptable conditions of care, and such facilities must be brought into compliance with the law immediately, we believe New Yorkers will be surprised with the generally high level of compliance with our laws designed to protect the welfare of animals held by pet dealers.”

The Dog Federation of New York obtained records from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) covering each of the 571 annual, “special” and re-inspections of pet dealers conducted by NYSDAM in 2009. Analysts examined each inspection report, tabulating identified strengths and weaknesses, levels of compliance with regulations designed to safeguard the health and safety of animals, and probing areas of apparent shortfall. Licensed pet dealers include pet stores and some dog and cat breeders selling animals directly to the public in New York State.

NYSDAM inspects licensed pet dealers at least once a year to assure compliance with state laws governing housing, sanitation, food and water, and veterinary care for animals in the care of pet dealers. In addition to regulations designed to safeguard the welfare of animals, New York pet dealers must also comply with requirements for record keeping and documentation, and provide their customers with consumer rights notices and other educational materials.

“Protecting the welfare of pets is a concern we all share, whether the animals reside in private homes, institutions such as shelters and rescues, or in the care of pet dealers. We hope our data will contribute to an informed understanding of the licensed, inspected New York pet dealers in our communities.”

About the Dog Federation of New York:

The Dog Federation of New York is a statewide coalition of dog clubs and organizations that serves the public interest by educating citizens and legislators on responsible dog ownership and advocating for strong, and humane dog-related legislation. The Dog Federation of New York welcomes all dog owners and dog-related organizations in New York.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Syracuse Animal Hospitals Receive Commendations from Dog Federation of New York

Syracuse Animal Hospitals Celebrated for Rescuing Kittens in Desperate Need

The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY) today issued letters of commendation to the staffs of the Fairmount Animal Hospital and the True Blue Animal Hospital of Syracuse. Employees at the two area veterinary facilities responded compassionately to the dire needs of abandoned kittens found nearby. Their hard work and commitment to the welfare of animals saved the lives of the young kittens apparently left alone in an area park.

Kittens as young as the ones rescued by the animal hospitals require round-the-clock attention and must be fed every three hours. They are given a special formula to compensate for the loss of their mother’s milk.

“On behalf of animal lovers everywhere, we want to express our gratitude to the staffs of the Fairmount and the True Blue Animal Hospitals,” commented DFNY spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “Without their dedicated efforts and commitment to animal welfare, these kittens would have died.”

“It is important to celebrate the compassion and commitment to animals we all share, whether we’re dog owners or cat fanciers,” she continued. “So often everyday pet owners and animal lovers don’t hesitate to respond to an animal in need, and they go unrecognized. It is a pleasure to commend the staffs at these animal hospitals, as well as the many volunteers and donors who support them in their efforts.”

Permanent homes have been found for some, but not all, of the kittens. People who would like to add a kitten to their families should contact the hospitals for further information.