2700 Waialae Avenue Honolulu, Hawaii 96826 808.946.2187 • hawaiianhumane.org
Board of Directors
Hawaiian Humane Society’s role in the community is ever expanding and constantly changing as the dynamics between people and animals evolve. As our closest friends, I will be writing you from time to time to shed light on issues central to the humananimal bond.
Shelley B. Thompson Vice Chair
Ernest H. Fukeda, Jr. Treasurer
My passion for caring about animals really started almost 60 years ago in Olaa, caring for animals who strayed into our yard, a highly valued activity in our family. Fortunately for me, my avocation of protecting animals converged with my vocation when I became CEO of Hawaiian Humane 22 years ago.
Joyce Tomonari Secretary
Pamela Burns President/CEO
Eric Ako, DVM
Puppy mills may have taken the spotlight for the moment, but allow me to shed a broader light on the larger issue of puppies for sale.
Robert R. Bean Sharon Shiroma Brown Gerri Cadiz Bruce A. Coppa Nicholas C. Dreher Pamela Jones Lynn Y. Lally Naomi Loewe Stephen B. Metter Norman M. Noguchi Pauline M. Osborne Mark Polivka Lawrence D. Rodriguez Ginny Tiu Virginia S. Weinman Mary H. Weyand Rick Zwern
National estimates indicate that as many as 4 million puppies are born each year at large-scale breeding operations, and states, including Hawaii, must find ways to unite many sectors in the community around this important welfare issue. Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations that sell through stores and swap meets. However, our research shows that the majority of sales has migrated to the internet out of plain view – puppies are peddled through venues such as E-Bay and Craigslist. Protected by privacy and property access laws, facilities that mass produce puppies in Hawaii also remain hidden from public view – often on agriculture-designated lands that are exempt from a law that limits dog ownership to a maximum of 10. Sellers charge a lot of money for puppies – as high as $3,500 for a purebred. Yet the highest price is the cost of suffering endured by the puppy’s parents, who are often overbred and imprisoned in poor living conditions. Hawaii’s current animal cruelty law limits enforcement and wasn’t created with large-scale breeding operations in mind. Caring for animals in a large-scale breeding operation requires tremendous resources and expertise. What I have experienced in these types of cruelty cases is that these operations skimp on staffing, veterinary care, nutrition, socialization, integrity of the breed/breed standard and sanitation in order to maximize profit margin. Female dogs
The Hawaiian Humane Society is dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond and the humane treatment of all animals.
are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters throughout their entire lives. In contrast, responsible breeders place the utmost importance on these aspects of husbandry. While a photo may say more than a thousand words, what the public often does not witness through media reports is the unseen abuse that manifests as serious health and behavior issues: Parvo virus, heartworms, flea, tick, and parasitic infestations, along with severe dental disease that devastates overall health and well-being. These conditions are often synonymous with puppy mills. Hawaii’s cases involving commercial breeding operations mirror what’s found nationwide. In a 2011 Waimanalo case, we rescued dogs suffering from a range of ailments: brittle bones and muscle atrophy from a lack of nutrition and exercise, infestation of intestinal parasites so serious that they embedded in muscle, and debilitating dental issues in which nearly 200 teeth had to be extracted. In an investigation of a Windward pet shop in 2011, several puppies for sale were found suffering in the final stages of Parvo. In a 2005 case involving a Kahaluu breeder, dogs were forced to live in wire cages no larger than the size of a mini-refrigerator. Dogs are living beings reliant completely on people to meet their many needs. They are not a product or commodity and should not be indiscriminately or irresponsibly mass produced. Dogs bred in puppy mills are proven unable to cope fully with normal existence and demonstrate impaired health, according to a University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine study. Abnormal psychological and behavioral characteristics included elevated levels of fears and phobias, pronounced compulsive behaviors such as spinning in tight circles and pacing, house soiling and a heightened sensitivity to being touched and picked up. This was based on 2011 research of 1,200 breeding dogs observed two years after rescue – long after they had been removed from puppy mills. State and federal laws are inadequate. A legislative bill we aimed to pass last year would have allowed humane societies access to inspect such operations and to assure the welfare of breeding dogs. It resulted in a state audit to explore potential regulation, which recommended against licensing. Licensing would enable authorities inspection access similar to regulated home-based businesses. As of now, the only authority that can mandate access for the Humane Society to inspect a breeding facility on private property is a court-approved search warrant that meets the requirements to prove compelling potential for a crime. We will not be deterred. Hawaiian Humane Society will return again to the State Legislature in 2012. A law is needed to ensure care standards and oversight that will provide sanitary living conditions, proper and timely medical care, the ability for dogs to move freely at least once a day, and adequate shelter. This would be a small but important step in the right direction. In terms of a federal solution, the issue has finally caught the attention of the White House in 2011. As part of President’s Obama “We are the People” campaign, communities nationwide were invited to submit online petitions and rally support for issues of concern. The puppy mill petition generated 32,000 signatures, which made it one of the program’s most popular petitions, and focused on the loophole in the federal Animal Welfare Act that allows high-volume breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to avoid inspections and basic oversight. As a result, the USDA says it plans to improve oversight of commercial dog breeders and to issue new rules to regulate those who sell puppies over the Internet.
When Congress enacted the Animal Welfare Act in 1966, an exemption was created for pet stores who run their own breeding operations or those who sell puppies direct to buyers. The rationale was that consumers would be able to inspect the conditions at breeding facilities if they buy a dog directly from a breeder. The law passed long before the dawn of the Internet, which changed the marketplace in how puppies could be sold. Regardless of the loophole, breeders are not in compliance with existing federal law that mandates licensing if they own more than three breeding females and sell dogs to brokers or pet stores. In Hawaii, federal enforcement is non-existent. A Honolulu pet shop disclosed to the Humane Society that they work with more than 90 local breeders. We have found that not one of them – nor any in Hawaii – has a federal license. The demand for purebred puppies in Hawaii is staggering. In a recent research project conducted by the Hawaiian Humane Society, we found 360 puppies for sale online and in Oahu pet shops during a two-week period. Based on this, we project that profiteers will yield an annual revenue of more than $9.4 million in puppy sales. This is a major industry in Hawaii – completely unregulated. On Oahu, dog ownership has doubled in the last 20 years. Our research shows that about 43 percent of homes have a dog. That’s more than 330,000 dogs statewide. According to a 2008 Ward Research poll, 13 percent of dogs were purchased from pet shops and 14 percent adopted from Hawaiian Humane Society. Nationwide about 16% are adopted from shelters, 31% are purchased directly from breeders, and about 6% are purchased from pet stores each year. Approximately 44.8 million American homes have at least one dog as a pet for a total of 74.8 million dogs that share our lives, according to the American Pet Products Association. In February 2011, 153 dogs were found caged in neglected and filthy conditions and were rescued from a commercial dog-breeding business where money was more important than the animals. Bradley International pleaded no contest to 153 counts of animal cruelty at the December 2011 criminal trial. We hope that justice will be served at the upcoming court sentencing on Feb. 15, 2012. Charges were filed against both the puppy mill manager who directly oversaw daily care of the animals and the corporation that profited. The Humane Society believes the company officers should be held responsible and prevented from owning dogs in the future. With a father and son as corporate officers and a daughter who owned the breeding operation’s property, as well as two pet shops, it seems clear that this is a family business. Despite the Hawaiian Humane Society’s presentation of thousands of records and meticulous documentation to meet legal requirements to prove cruelty, the puppy mill manager fled Hawaii before he could be charged. The corporation claimed it had gone out of business. A January 2012 Hawaii News Now report found that the officers of this company have started a new breeding operation on the Big Island. Fortunately in this Waimanalo case, the court awarded all of the animals to the Society under the existing forfeiture law and we adopted the dogs to caring families – many of whom served as foster care providers during the case. In addition, the court ruled that the unborn puppies at the time of rescue
were also subject to the forfeiture ruling. This represents the first victory involving a case in which the forfeiture law was successful and resulted in animals being awarded to the Society prior to the outcome of a criminal trial. As long as the demand for purebred puppies continues, puppy mills will continue to operate. We are not against puppy sales nor breeding. We stand for responsible breeding. And responsible breeders would never sell through a pet shop because they want to create a relationship with buyers and invite inspections of housing and care of the dogs they breed. Government should pass stronger protection laws to help animals used in breeding operations and we are working toward that end. However, we also believe that laws, regulation and enforcement are just part of a solution. The majority of the solution must be driven by a welleducated public that acquires puppies responsibly and considers that nearly 10,000 dogs and puppies arrived at our open admissions shelter in 2011. Sincerely,
Pamela Burns President & CEO Established in 1883, the Humane Society is a local, independent nonprofit and is not affiliated with ASPCA or HSUS or any other animal welfare organization. In my next letter, I will discuss peopleâ€™s passion for pets, and variety of issues relating to the human-animal bond.