Please note- this announcement was made for the vaccination clinic that took place on July 9th, 2010. There will NOT be a vaccination clinic on July 9th, 2011. The OK Humane Spay/Neuter Clinic (located at NW 16th & Meridian Ave. in OKC) will hold a low-cost vaccination clinic (offering other services). Please see details below! […]
URGENT Support Needed for SB 1712. Please act now–don’t delay. Contact your representatives NOW to tell them it is vital that they vote for SB 1712. Please contact your representative (find your representative here–scroll down to see your state reps) and ask other animal advocates to do the same. See below for a sample letter […]
As we reported yesterday, Howie’s surgery went very well. Here are a few pictures of him in recovery! Of course a big thanks to Dr. Beth Ruby at Quail Creek Veterinary Hospital for helping Howie through this and doing such a great job on the surgery. Many people have been asking when Howie will be […]
I recorded some video footage today with my new FLIP camera (which I won thanks to the Social Citizens Makeover contest by the Case Foundation). We have gotten the keys to our building and have begun the work of making this space meet our needs for our upcoming low-cost spay/neuter clinic (opening in June 09!!). […]
by Kristin Smith, OK Humane volunteer
It’s amazing how often you run into supporters of the Oklahoma Humane Society. I have recently learned that once you start looking…they seem to be everywhere!
I first made this discovery after attending the Grand Opening of the Humane Society’s Adoption Center. It was my first time to work with the group, and it gave me an opportunity to meet many faithful volunteers. The following week I stopped by a closeout sale at an electronics store across town. The woman in line ahead of me looked familiar, but it seemed unlikely she was one of the people I had recently met at the Adoption Center. When I walked out and saw a car covered in pet lover signs and stickers, I was sure it was the same person!
Shortly after that experience, I realized that Humane Society supporters not only shop where I do, they also eat where I do. While working at the Adoption Center one afternoon, I met a lovely older woman who picked out and adopted an adorable fluffy white dog from the Humane Society. And then as I ate at my favorite Indian restaurant a few days later, the very same woman walked in for lunch with a friend.
I also recently learned some of my friends are supporters of the group. I was thrilled to notice a Facebook friend had added herself to the fan page of the Oklahoma Humane Society. A week later, another friend had also added her name to the Humane Society’s fan page.
But I got the biggest surprise yet about people from the Oklahoma Humane Society last week. While at the Adoption Center last Tuesday morning, I met a woman who was bringing in her foster dog for the day. Having fostered dogs for years, she was an old hand at the process. It served as great encouragement for me, since I was nervous about picking up our first foster.
Lucy, Maggie and Pete having a tornado drill
Lucy, Maggie and Pete having a tornado drill
Later that day a tornado hit the north Edmond neighborhood where I live. I huddled in the dark hall with my scared animals and hoped for the best. When we emerged from the house, the tornado had caused minimal damage to our property. It had been traveling at an angle, which meant it hit our next door neighbor’s house and the house across the street from us. Luckily, everyone in our neighborhood was unharmed.
Lucy after the storm
Lucy after the storm
As things settled down a bit the next day, my husband and I went next door to see if we could assist in the cleanup underway at our neighbor’s house. I am embarrassed to say we had never met them before, but it seemed like the time had come for introductions. Fighting through our awkwardness, we went next door to check on them. To my surprise, the woman standing in front of me among the broken and mangled trees was the same woman I had met the morning before as she dropped off a foster dog at the Adoption Center.
You never know who you’ll meet at the Oklahoma Humane Society…It might just be your next door neighbor.
Wow! It was pretty exciting to be at the Oklahoma state Capitol last night, and not just because of the weather!
Supporters and opponents of the bill showed up in force, and there was quite a bit of tension in the room. Only committee members and people who were on a list of speakers were allowed to be in the main room; the rest of us sat in adjacent rooms and listened to the hearing over the intercom system.
First off, two amendments to HB 1332 were introduced and discussed. Both amendments were approved with little debate; all committee members seemed to agree that they would improve the bill.
The first amendment, added by representative Peters, exempts out of state breeders from the licensing requirements so they can come into Oklahoma for trials and shows. They would not have to be licensed in Oklahoma to come in and participate in these events. People traveling through Oklahoma with dogs en route to shows, sales, trials, etc. in other states would also not have to obtain a license just to travel through the state.
The second amendment deals with part of the bill that really seemed to bother many people, including Rep. Charles Key, one of the most outspoken opponents of the bill during the evening. The bill (before amendment) stated that an animal control officer or peace officer (basically, a police officer) could come to a breeding facility and do an inspection at any time, and seize the property (i.e., the dogs) if violations were found.
Many people viewed this as a heinous violation of personal privacy, and a violation of our rights under the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. HB 1332 was amended last night to remove the language about an animal control officer and a peace officer, and replace that with a representative of the Department of Agriculture.
This makes sense because the execution of this bill, should it become law, would be the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, which is a state agency. Animal Control and Police Departments are city governments, and wouldn’t have jurisdiction in many rural areas (where many offenses are taking place).
This didn’t satisfy Representative Key regarding the privacy issue, but individuals’ privacy is not at risk because of this bill. Here’s why:
Say you want to operate a day care center in your home. You have to apply and be licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS). Once you apply, DHS will come out and inspect your facility (in this case, your home) and make sure it meets the guidelines and standards that are necessary to be licensed as a day care center. Once you have obtained your license (and passed that inspection), then you are still subject to unannounced “spot checks” at any time, if a DHS worker wants to stop by and take a look around. If they do, and they find the children in your care are not being properly cared for, they will remove those children from your premises immediately and shut you down. There is nothing unlawful about this, nor in violation of the 4th Amendment, because you have voluntarily entered into that license by applying to have a day care center. By becoming licensed, you are submitting to the terms of licensure.
This bill is absolutely no different, except we’re talking about dogs instead of children! If you want to be a licensed breeder or shelter or rescue, and “sell” more than 25 dogs per year (adopting/rehoming are considered “sales” under this bill), then you are subject to the standards and requirements outlined by this bill.
So this won’t be Nazi Germany. Average citizens won’t have troopers storming into their homes in the middle of the night. This is no different than license requirements for all sorts of fields that currently require inspections, including barbers/stylists, estheticians, day care centers, restaurants, etc.
The USDA currently inspects and licenses “wholesale” operations that sell dogs to brokers (who in turn sell to pet stores, etc.). This legislation would expand the licensing to “retail” breeders, those that sell directly to the public. That would include breeders that sell over the internet, on the street corner, in parking lots, and that sell to pet stores.
This legislation would also require that licensed breeders (and rescues and other groups) permanently ID each dog, either by microchip or tattoo or some other type of permanent identification. The Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) is a big supporter of this area of the bill because there has been a real problem with “baiting and switching” of puppies: Brokers who ship puppies to buyers out of state must obtain a certificate of health. Sometimes the dog they present to the vet to be examined is not the same dog they ship, and so unhealthy dogs are being shipped out of state. Unique identifiers on each animal would eliminate confusion as well as this fraudulent practice.
Everyone present—breeders, rescue organizations, legislators—agreed that commercial breeding operations that care little for the welfare of their dogs are a blight to our state. We just seem to have some different ideas on how to deal with these individuals. In particular, some small/hobby breeders who were present felt that they were being lumped together in the same category as “puppy mills.”
Rep. Key asked why we can’t rely on existing animal cruelty laws to solve the problem of irreputable breeders keeping animals in deplorable conditions. Rep. Lee Denney (the bill’s author, and also a veterinarian) said we could do that, but why wait for it to get that bad? She hopes this legislation could keep such conditions from occurring in the first place.
The Dept. of Agriculture can’t currently prevent bad conditions from occurring—and local authorities have to step in to enforce animal cruelty laws. This legislation would give the state dept. of agriculture purview to enforce minimum standards and hopefully prevent cruelty from ever occurring.
Christy Counts, Executive Director of the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, spoke in support of the bill. Christy described the horrific conditions we often see on the news of “puppy mill busts” and the state of the animals that are rescued out of these breeding facilities. She said these conditions are allowed to develop because there are no inspection protocols or means of regulation for this industry.
OK Humane receives calls every single week from people who have purchased a dog on a street corner or in a parking lot that soon became sick and even died; they want to know what OK Humane can do about it, what recourse we or they have. Right now, nobody can do anything.
So we take in as many as we can, and our donor dollars go to pay to rehabilitate these animals. For these reasons, Christy said, that this is a consumer protection issue. Our tax dollars are being spent to kill animals that are the offspring of the animals in this unregulated industry.
Christy also said that this bill affects what is a quality of life issue. More households in America have pets than have children. Pets are important to American families. Surrounding states have laws very similar to this one, so why can’t Oklahoma step up and follow the current trends in animal protection legislation?
So what happens now?
The bill has passed out of committee, which means it goes before the full House for a vote. There is also a companion bill in the Senate right now, in committee. Once it passes out of committee, it has to pass a vote on the full Senate floor. Once those things happen, the bill becomes a law. Of course, this is a long and arduous process of debate, revision and lots of press conferences. We are talking about government, after all…the ultimate bureaucracy!
There was a great deal of discussion last night, and I have finally finished transcribing my 10 pages of notes! I have a much better understanding of the bill. As the author herself said, this is not a perfect bill. But it’s the best shot we’ve had in a long time at regulating an underground industry that gives our state a black eye on the national scale and causes dogs unspeakable suffering every day here in Oklahoma.
To those of you who wrote and called the committee members, THANK YOU! Please take a few moments to call back and thank those who supported the bill, and if you’re a constituent of one of its two opponents, please (POLITELY) encourage them to rethink their vote (we’ll need every vote we can get in the full house, after all).
For contact info for all committee members, click here.
To read the full text of the bill, click here (note: this does not have the amendments; we’re working on getting it with amendments asap)
We went into this hearing with only 3 known supporters on the committee. By the time the vote was taken, we had 11 supporters. So ALL of us, working together, are responsible for that change! The people who spoke last night had influence, sure. But these legislators (hopefully) care about YOU, the constituents. So it really does make a difference. YOU really do make a difference.
If you have any specific questions that I didn’t address, please post a reply here. I’ll do my best to find your answers and quote my sources. I’ve made it my personal mission to know everything about this bill, and to dispel any misunderstandings about it. So if you aren’t clear on something, or there’s something in the way of you supporting it, ask away!
Please post all thoughts and responses, too, no matter which side of this issue you’re on.
This is a repost of an email from Ruth Steinberger. Ruth is with Spay Oklahoma in Tulsa and has been an incredible force for animals in Oklahoma and across the nation and is just a really awesome person, to boot. Ruth supports HB 1332. Please read her email for a little different perspective. I have hyperlinked a few things in the email so you can further research these subjects yourself.
Click here to read the full text of the bill.
You can contact Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just sent this to someone in OK City. This is an emergency. Please forward to rescue groups ASAP and call the committee to support the bill.
An animal industries group (OAIA, which is an offshoot of a group called NAIA) is leading the rescue community in a campaign against the Pet Quality Assurance Act. They do not care if they are fabricating information as long as it kills the bill. Please read below.
NAIA is solely dedicated to halting animal welfare legislation and represents the hunting, trapping and agriculture industries. They work by falsely appealing to those who “love animals.”
We need rescues to e mail the committee hearing the bill first thing this morning and show up to support it tomorrow.
The rescue folks who are falling for it are now slamming the committee with opposition to the bill based on misinformation that is being generated for this purpose. If they kill the bill they will not care if they are caught having created scam information afterward; the damage would be done.
For example, in order to enjoin the rescues in this, one of the claims this group circulated this week included that it would cost $10,000 for a rescue permit. In fact it is $25, which is cheaper than the current rescue permit in Tulsa which generated no such repsonse.
After that one, in order to enjoin the USDA dealers in it, the USDA breeders were told the bill would automatically close them down, even though the fact is that they would automatically be licensed (the exact opposite of what the NAIA said).
Please circulate this to anyone in rescue and ask them to support the Pet Quality Assurance Act by looking at who is opposing it.
PLEASE DO not allow the rescue community to be pawns used against dogs.
We had all sorts of animals and families come our way on Saturday. Children showed up with their favorite animal playmates, young adults brought their new puppies, and older Oklahomans came with their beloved animal companions in tow. One newly groomed dog was waiting at the door so she’d be first in line to sit in Santa’s lap. Other families spent as much time dressing and primping their animals for the picture as they did preparing their children.
PLEASE READ: Media Clarification Alert A local news station is reporting on ongoing legal issues between the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s office and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). As a result of the segment, we’ve received messages from OK Humane supporters concerned that our organization will be confused with HSUS and that the lawsuit will […]