A Response From Gorham, New York

Many of you have been following the recent approval allowing a husband and wife puppy mill team to open a new 500-dog breeding kennel within the town of Gorham, New York.  Mr. Doug Negley, a councilman for the Town of Gorham read my blog post and reached out to me for some candid conversation. During our talk it became clear to me that Mr. Negley is a true dog lover and that he was surprised by the rapid action taken by his town’s planning commission.  Mr. Negley told me that he remains unclear whether or not the decision to approve the puppy mill can be reversed.

Prior to this Gorham chaos (town leaders have been inundated with phone calls and emails), Mr. Negley admits that he was unfamiliar with the horrors of puppy mills. You can trust that I provided him with a solid education during the course of our telephone call. I asked Mr. Negley to provide me with his point of view in writing, something I could share with you, my readers. Here are his thoughts:

Dr. Nancy Kay,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your blog of February 9, 2012 “Shame on you Gorham NY.”

Your perception of “commercial kennels/puppy mills” is right on — this is a national if not international problem. In the last paragraph you mentioned learn what’s going on where you live. Educate others on “commercial kennels/puppy mills.” I would like to add instead of buying a new pup consider rescuing a dog.

On your comment “I suspect that the Gorham town board members have their eyes focused on the prize. Can you imagine the tax revenue stream from the sale of thousands and thousands of purebred puppies?” New York State law currently exempts USDA Class A “commercial kennels/puppy mills” from local dog licensing. Yes, that’s right Gorham receives nothing for this type of operation. And these breeders do not contribute to the state spay and neuter program to help low income people spay and neuter their pets, even though, each year they are contributing to the numbers of unwanted dogs.

As for this town board member’s eyes, they are focused on:

1)   The best for residents of the town of Gorham.

2)   Using education because it is the best weapon against puppy mills.

3)   Build a case supported by facts against puppy mills.

4)   Then take action at both state & federal level.

There is no reason why, over time as a society, we can’t get rid of such operations. I would like to help in their eradication. Like many topics the public is ignorant of this practice, me included.

I have thought about and continue to research the concept of “commercial kennels / puppy mills.”  I do not like the idea of having a facility in our town. However, if Gorham is going to be saddled with this business I want a golden pig with lipstick, not just another pig.

Thanks again, to be continued.

Respectively submitted,

Doug Negley, Councilman for the Town of Gorham


Mr. Negley told me that he would be happy to respond to your comments. Let’s keep it civilized!

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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26 Comments on “A Response From Gorham, New York

  1. Town government is run by the town board as the executive, administrative and legislative body of the town. It is important to understand my role in this process. I am 1/5 of the town board. We monitor the town business and pass local laws. Before entering upon the duties of office, each town board member must take and subscribe the constitutional oath of office. Unlike Washington dc I take that oath serious. If Washington would follow the constitution as originally set forth by the founders, think of how great our lives would be. That subject I intend to write about on another day. Now back to Gorham.

    The planning board received an application (December 19 2011) for a kennel; yes a kennel. They reviewed the application with the current laws then (January 23 2012) they had a public hearing. Then the planning board granted a special use permit with conditions to be met. After review it was deemed necessary to have the application reviewed by the county planning board. The applicant was notified of that and the application is on hold.

    Concerning a building permit….there has been no building permit issued.

    Moratorium The process is started to “Establishing a Moratorium on Kennels in the Town of Gorham” read announcements at http://gorham-ny.com/ we are going to have a public hearing on May 14. We are going to hear what the public has to say. Then vote on the Law. I intend to vote in yes to pass the law. I cannot speak for the other 4/5 of the board.

    Now if the Moratorium passes we can play all kinds of what if games I do not play those games.

    Attn: Susan Williams 02/28/12 @ 4:38pm you stated “There are many reasons, beyond the morality of large scale breeding, to deny or rescind this permit” What can we do legally?

    I am acutely aware of the importance of this issue. Any good solid ideas form any of you folks would be appreciated. My wife and I are not immured to the humanity of this issue. We euthanized our lovely Dory Mariah of 14 years the Monday before the Friday this issue became front and center. If we could legislate morality we would be spay and neutering some humans.

    As this process continues I will keep you informed. I am not going to speculate on where this is going because there is no answer at this time. I know we live in a fast food / instant message society however this process is going to take time. Let’s capitalize on what others have done then set the bar as high as we can. The bar is the golden pig with lipstick.

    As for the comment “I find it hard to believe that as a councilman, you were not aware of the horrors of puppy mills” . I am aware of the horrors. The education I am getting is what little we can do as a town in these operations. That is why I mention the State and Federal government and other agencies i.e. public health, Canandaigua Lake watershed, the DEC yata yata and who knows what else.

    Again, I see no benefit to the town of Gorham having a commercial breeding/puppy mill. I am not looking for, nor do we (the town) receive any license or tax income from such operation.

    I reviewed the first 25 blog responses I hope I have answered most of your questions. To be continued.

    Doug Negley Councilman for the Town of Gorham

    Here is a local Facebook comment: From Stacey Sharpe – Post • 02/27/12 Monday at 11:43pm The Gorham Planning Board voted unanimously tonight to recommend that the Gorham Town Board adopt the moratorium. One tiny step closer! The next (and final, for now) Town Board meeting will be March 14th at 7pm, Gorham Elementary school.

  2. As just a regular dog owner and a person who has in 35 years raised 2 litters of puppies, I know how much it means to raise puppies who are properly socialized, handled and loved. All of the owners of my puppies still keep in touch with me. Their dogs were even tempered, great with children and adults, obedient and wonderful members of their families. My sister-in law bought a puppy mill pup and it is totally untrained even though they have gone to obedience school. It nips and bites constantly, jumps from the floor to try to bite you in the face, and cannot be around strangers at all. They love the dog and are torn about what else to do. Many people would have already turned it over to animal control which would only ad to the population the city would have to care for and eventially euthanize. This is just one story but typical of what happens when puppies are not raised like nature intended. Limited human contact, as in many species, limits the animals ability to bond with loving owners.

  3. I agree with Debbie Jacobs. Mr. Negley would be a hero to every dog lover in his community were he to actually stand up for those who can not speak for themselves. Sad that everything has to be reduced to a “political” issue, when morality, or lack thereof, is actually more of an accurate categorization for a stance on issues like this.

  4. Most of you have covered the animal issues so I would like to comment on the health/environmental issues of a large breeding facility. Having this many animals in one place produces areat deal of effluent. Any creeks/streams/high water table sites in the area would be potential sites for contamination. Depending on the temperature and wind the scent of the facility will contaminate nearby homes/businesses negatively. These sorts of outcomes could easily result in lawsuits for Gorham as well as the operators of the breeding facility.

    i am not familiar with the business/agricultural facilities of the Gorham area but if you do not run towards junk yards, hazardous materrial dumps, stock yards and large scale pig farms, a breeding facility of this size will make your town a less than desirable destination for visitors and employers.

    There are many reasons, beyond the morality of large scale breeding, to deny or rescind this permit. Gorham needs to decide what it wants for its long term future. I sincerely hope Gorham decides to look for something other than breeding facilities.

    Thank you to Dr. Kay and Councilman Negley for allowing our ideas and opinions to be heard.

  5. As a previous poster wrote re. puppy mill dogs: “…some of these dogs had either major physical problems or major behavioral problems.” My small dog was adopted history unknown. She’s little, white and fluffy and suffers both physical and behavioral issues. Her physical issues are cutting her life short and have necessitated considerable financial and emotional outlay. While I don’t know for sure that she was a mill puppy, I strongly suspect so. At any rate, her plight has caused me to become aware of the puppy mill issue.

    The public isn’t being served by adopting mill puppies with shortened or compromised life spans to say nothing of the cruelty and misery that lurks behind closed doors. I’ve recently starting looking ahead at small dog rescues for our next adoption. There are 2 sites that have a number of damaged mill dogs available for adoption — and their stories are horrific. In the months I’ve been visiting these sites, I can’t say I’ve seen very many happy endings; the same fluffy little faces appear over and over and over — after all it is an enormous commitment to take on one of these damaged creatures, most who are not at all suited for adjusting to life with a “regular” family. I’m all for responsible and ethical small-scale breeders. But this puppy mill hell has got to stop.

  6. I have to get to the airport today, so I need to keep this short (a relative term for a recovering attorney!), but wanted to update a couple of things – as well as compliment Dr. Kay and the readers who’ve commented on a remarkably reasoned and balance discussion of the issues. Just the term “puppy-mills” brings out our emotional response and all too often that’s all we see expressed.

    Great news! One of our BlogPaws members, Joanne Brokaw, reports that Gorham beat me to the punch and has already imposed a moratorium halting the Martins’ project for further study. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/heavenlycreatures/2012/02/gorham-residents-speak-out-on-dog-breeding-facility-approval-nullified-for-now/

    @ Gail – On your question about phasing out non-conforming uses, that would first require the Town to adopt rules applying to all future applications. The normal result is that such rules don’t apply to “pre-existing non-conforming uses” (since that could be taking the owners’ property without due process), but a carefully written law that gives the owners a period to recover their investment by changing uses or bringing the one they have into compliance can get rid of the non-comforming ones.

    @ Marlene – Thank you for pointing out several serious concerns about the impact of well-intended laws on small breeding efforts. As you explain, many times we forget those consequences and I, for one, don’t want to see the wonderful diversity of dogs that breeding has brought us lost in our zeal to end puppy-mills. We can look to many laws that are intended to end dangerous or offensive practices by large commercial entities, but include special provisions or even complete exemptions for small and home-based businesses.

    I still hope we’ll hear more from Mr. Negley and think that Gorham has the opportunity to lead us all toward a solution.


  7. I am a dog trainer in northwestern New Jersey, and specialize in behavioral issues. Due to our proximity to Pennsylvania, I have had many customers who bought “cute, adorable” puppies from puppy mills in that state. Unfortunately, some of these dogs had either major physical problems or major behavioral problems. These people would go to a place advertising reasonably priced pedigrees, or cute mixes now referred to as designer dogs. They would travel to the “kennel”, and find themselves on a farm, where the “breeder” would bring out of a barn the perfect dog for them. Many people melt when they see a puppy. What they didn’t see was that inside the barn dogs of all ages and sizes were in crates stacked to the ceilings. These puppies had no socializing, no time to romp with littermates, etc. Only within the last couple of years did Pennsylvania start to reform laws regarding such places. One “improvement” is that every dog would have to be taken out of its crate for twenty minutes a day. Imagine, a living being stuck in a crate for weeks or months on end, and getting twenty minutes out of a cage to walk on solid ground.

    A five hundred dog breeding facility cannot give adequate one-on-one interaction, nor the attention needed to produce a well-rounded puppy. Supervised interaction, by people who have been trained to recognize acceptable or unacceptable behaviors as well as possible physical health problems for that amount of dogs is highly unlikely. It is doubtful that geneology lines will be checked which go at least three generations back. A conscientious, ethical breeder would breeder would be responsible to look at physical or temperament traits that should or should not be bred. A puppy mill breeder looks first at money. That is their motivation. It is not to breed the best of what a breed should be. This why I wind up working with puppy mill dogs who suffered from such isolation that they are terrified to interact with other dogs or humans, are afraid to be touched, or who have a very difficult time controlling their energy.

    I thank you, doctor, for speaking up for dogs who cannot speak up for themselves. I hope that the state law is updated, and that this town not allow or encourage practices that perpetuate animal cruelty.

  8. I am a resident of NY state and applaud those opposed to yet another house of horrors for animals. I have seen the canine residents of a mill in my area – smaller than the Gorham proposal – and thank God for the diligence of others there was enough evidence to get a court order and have the animals removed permanently What is different with this proposal, is that the animals, if I read the original article correctly, will be kept exclusively indoors. Hmmm….wonder what the reason could be for that?

    Mr. Collins states if the Martins have already been granted their building permit, it might be possible to “adopt a provision to phase out non-comforming uses”.
    If this were done, would it only effect future kennels, or the current Martins as well?

    Finally, IF all else fails, I wonder if the NY Consolidated Law could provide a means to inspect the premises more often than the typical yearly USDA inspection inasmuch as it states the commissioner may enter into an agreement with the community and delegate someone to inspect. Note paragraph 2:

    § 405. Inspection of pet dealers

    1. The commissioner or his or her authorized agents shall, at a minimum, make yearly inspections of pet dealers’ facilities to ensure compliance with the provisions of this article and with the provisions of article thirty-five-D of the general business law, [FN1] except for those pet dealers who engage in the sale of less than twenty-five animals in a year, in which case inspections shall be made whenever in the discretion of the commissioner or his or her authorized agents, a complaint warrants such investigation.

    2. The commissioner may, pursuant to an agreement entered into with a county or city delegate the authority to conduct inspections of pet dealers and to respond to complaints concerning pet dealers to such county or city where the pet dealer is located; provided however such delegation of inspection authority shall only be permitted where the commissioner has delegated his or her authority to issue licenses pursuant to section four hundred three of this article.

    3. Any person conducting an inspection of a pet dealer or responding to a complaint concerning a pet dealer shall be specifically trained in the proper care of cats and dogs and in the investigation and identification of cruelty to animals.

    [FN1] General Business Law § 751 et seq.
    (Added L.2000, c. 259, § 4.)

  9. A large scale dog breeding facility does bring some money to a local economy, it has to be built, which means local construction gets business, that includes plumbers, electricians, concrete etc. It will require maintenance which brings more business. Somebody will have to work there to feed, groom and clean, a veterianarian will have to provide care. Drivers picking up puppies will likely eat, get gas, and possibly do some shopping. And food and other supplies may be ordered from local or at least American sources.
    that said, nobody would build a facility like this if there wasn’t a demand for puppies, especially small breed puppies. It really doesn’t make sense to talk about small breed puppies in the same sentence as shelter/rescue dogs. If somebody wants a Westie puppy or a Pomeranian puppy or a Maltese, Pekingese or other small purebred puppy or any other breed that is not so common, they are not likely to find that in a shelter. So if people can’t find a local breeder when looking for such a puppy, they will buy it elsewhere, but it would be foolish to assume that they will go to a shelter and adopt something other than what they want or need.
    People often say that puppy buyers should go to responsible breeders, well, there really aren’t enough of us to meet the demand of the puppy buying public especially for some of the more popular breeds. Plus many of us quit breeding due to ever more legislation aimed at breeders. Many who support such legislation do not understand or do not care what impact such legislation has on the smaller hobby breeders, but we are the ones hit hardest and the ones most likely to quit because we love our dogs and don’t want to become subject of having them taken from us. I won’t have another litter as I cannot meet my state’s requirements for breeding kennels. NRS 574.410 4. says that an immature dog/cat cannot be in the same room as other adult dogs or cats, except its mother. this means that breeders who have puppies in the same room as any of their other dogs/cats are violating state law. NRS 574.430 3b states that each primary enclosure has to be disinfected at least once daily and before placing another animal into a primary enclosure.
    Since my dogs are my companions and are in and out of my house and by definition rooms and crates inside my house are their primary enclosures, I would have to disinfect my entire house every single day, and in addition every time one of my dogs leaves a room I would have to disinfect that room or crate before another one of my dogs is allowed to enter.
    I can’t and won’t build a kennel building so I can meet those requirements by having my dogs live in a kennel building. So, I just won’t breed anymore.
    Do any of those who oppose commercial breeding facilities put any effort into supporting responsible hobby breeders? Does anybody read their state’s legislation and think about how it affects small hobby breeders? Of course not, in this anti-breeder climate most people support anything that restricts breeders without thinking about the consequences.
    Do any of those think this through and think about where their children and grand children will be able to aquire their dog/breed of choice? All that will be left is large commercial facilities and dogs brought in from out of country, and if domestic commercial facilities are being closed down, there will be a huge market for unregulated breeding facilities both within and outside our borders. It’s already estimated that thousands of puppies are being smuggled in from Mexico to meet the public’s demand. There are already rescue orgs outside of our borders bringing in adoptable dogs to meet the demands that many US shelters and rescues can no longer meet. Yes, this means shelters and rescues import adoptable dogs and at the same time complain about the numbers of less desirable dogs they are euthanizing instead. I really wish people would do their homework before they speak against breeders who do try to comply with the law and make an effort to meet all the regulations. If those breeders go out of business it just opens the doors for unregulated breeding, this is not in the best interest of the dogs.
    Another thing that doesn’t make much sense is the widespread belief that commercial facilities and backyard breeders are producing low quality dogs, however when the same dogs become shelter and rescue dogs, most of them are advertised as desirable happy, healthy, wonderful companions – how is this possible?

  10. After I read the original blog that Dr. Kay posted I went online to the City of Gorham and got the names of the members of the planning committee who supposedly approved this facility, and wrote a letter to each one of them. I did not expect to hear back but I did need to speak my mind. I am delighted to see that Mr. Negley has responded to the blog and though I am not thrilled with what he had to say, I think we have opened some eyes and some minds on this issue. The possibility does exist to turn this around, as the lawyer mentioned, and make the City of Gorham a pet-friendly city that speaks out on behalf of their love for animals. This will set an example for other cities who may not “know and understand” what a puppy mill is and give them the power to say, “No. Not in our town.”

  11. As the owner/adopter of a puppy mill dog from the state of Missouri, I have firsthand experience with a puppy mill breeding dog. We rescued a Tibetan Terrier last year from a number of dogs picked up by the Colorado Tibetan Terrier Rescue group. She was seven years old, had
    most likely been born on the property and then used for breeding. She had been kept in a run with two other dogs (another female and a male).
    She had not had even basic vet care her whole life and needed extensive dental work and extractions, had double ear infections from several very resistant types of bacteria, was psychologically fragile and was afraid of men. After a year of Prozac therapy and intensive loving care and attention, she is beginning to normalize. Regarding the other two dogs that were housed with her, the female had dental and ear issues as well but also had serious gastrointestinal issues and neurologically based siezures which required that she be put down soon after she was adopted. The male is so psychologically damaged he is not adoptable and cannot be rehabilitated.

    I am appalled that the town of Gorham would even consider such an approval, expecially in light of no revenue or apparent benefit to the town not to mention the misery visited on the dogs. I will add my underlines to all of the environmental issues and other factors (none positive) that have already been outlined. Puppy mills are a ghastly blight on any town or state and I implore you to take a strong stand against this issue and work to see that it does not find a way into your town. As a previous writer said, “every dog lover in the community will remember that you stood up for those who can’t stand up for themselves”. You will be able to sleep well at night knowing you did the right thing by preventing such an abomination to have a refuge in your community. Thank you for your efforts.

  12. All of the above are valid points and should help Mr. Negley understand the depth of concern by true animal lovers. I’m just not sure you truly understand this problem Mr. Negley. I grew up in Kansas where my parents took me to just such a place on a farm to purchase a puppy. Even at the age of 6 I was horrified by what I saw.
    You need to revisit this and overturn the decision to allow if that has happened. If it hasn’t happened yet, then just say NO. Your town will receive no benefit, the rescue community will make this a public issue causing loss of tourism dollars in your area and your town will have to overcome bad press.
    It is never a good idea to use animals for personal gain, it can’t be done. It isn’t a right to have an animal it is a privilege, please keep that in mind in the future.

  13. To Mr. Negley:

    If you are not aware of puppy mills, then this is the time to become aware. The realities are this:

    1/they are for profit only, not for the health or betterment of any breed.

    2/the dogs live their lives in cages, often in groups (depending upon the size of the dogs) in their own waste, rarely get professional veterinary care so inherited diseases get passed on and on and on…

    3/once the puppies are sold, the buyer is most often left with a dog with lots of health issues and unlike reputable breeders, cannot get their money back. Sadly, these people are already in love with their dogs so their hearts are broken as well.

    4/the adult dogs are bred as often as possible for as long as their bodies hold out, then they are disposed of (read killed). I’ve met dogs at the age of 17 who were blind and deaf and had never felt grass under their feet (only cage wire) until their rescue from a puppy mill.

    5/yes, these dogs are registered “purebred” with the AKC, but no one checks the conditions of the breeding facility until there is a complaint. And who is the complaint made to? The USDA because they fall under the guise of livestock in most communities. The AKC is a breed registry, so does not see the facility either, as everything is done via paperwork not via in person visits.

    6/adult dogs who are lucky enough to be rescued out of these situations have fear issues around humans, are very hard to house train, and have high levels of stress because they were not properly socialized with humans. They were barely or harshly handled, not loved.

    It is a horrible life for these dogs. To me, it doesn’t matter who makes money or who gets a job, it is a cold, mean-spirited way to do so and at the cost of another creature’s feelings, health, and quality of life. Please do not allow this type of business to smear your town with their cruel ways of earning money. Please not only reverse the decision to allow them to set up in your town, but also take this opportunity to educate the population of your town so these type of facilities can be drummed out of business.

  14. I am shocked that Mr. Negley is unaware of the abuse dogs are subjected to in puppy mills! Since the town council voted to accept the “business application” of the puppy mill, there is no excuse as to why they didn’t educate themselves prior to making the decision. Did they not know that the Martins had a prior conviction for animal abuse?

  15. Hats off to both Dr. Kay and Mr. Negley for engaging in a civil discourse about what is a very “hot” topic. You are setting an example for all of us!

    Maybe I don’t understand the issue completely, but why should Gorham be “saddled” with a business it does not want? Can zoning or other regulatons be put to good use in this instance?

    In my opinion, pet dogs cannot be humanely bred and raised as a product to be sold for profit. Responsible breeders have a terrible time just making ends meet. It can’t be that all but a few know how to manage money!

    I agree with the first two commenters. Say “no” to the puppy mill and find a way to enforce Gorham’s position. If you do, Gorham will make national, if not international, news as a truly humane city which backs up its love for animals with meaningful action.

    Which reputation does Gorham want? A city which caved in and let a puppy mill locate within its borders or a city committed to doing the right thing even when it hurts financially?

  16. Your letter is obfuscatory as well as disingenuous. I find it hard to believe that as a councilman, you were not aware of the horrors of puppy mills and that what Gorham is investing in is fundamentally wrong. You are not being “saddled” with anything all of you chose this for profit. A golden pig with lipstick indeed.

  17. Perhaps the peopleof Gorham thought there would be jobs at the site when they agreed to allow the dog breeders in their town. Bear in mind, the dogs do the real work in this type of ‘factory.’ Also, as a resident of NYC, within the same state, dog owners here are required to have licenses for each dog, which helps defray the cost of city run animal shelters. Does Gorham’s towns people support such a facility? Does Gorham have a waste disposal site or plan that will handle the large amount of dog feces (which cannot be used for veggie garden fertilizer) and urine that will eventually soak into the soil? Perhaps the town voted forthe ‘dog breeding facility’ because they thought in terms of license income without realizing there is no license laws in their town hecking their own town laws. (“New York State law currently exempts USDA Class A “commercial kennels/puppy mills” from local dog licensing” per Mr. Negley’s letter.) In any possible reason for allowing a large pet breeding site in their town it appears the town leaders did not fully consider / understand much beyond voting in a potential money making /taxable business into the town. I applaud Mr. Negley’s willingness to try to rectify or resolve this town council decision, and kudos for his willingness to learn about the tortuous conditions in a puppy mill, from the condition of the animals, and to attempt to prevent that from happening in his community.

  18. Can you clarify somethings for me? Is Mr. Negley saying that the decision cannot be undone? Is he also saying that he earlier voted to allow the puppy mill to open and that he now wants to reverse his decision? And is he saying that most council members had no idea what a puppy mill is?

  19. PS, there is no golden pig hiding behind the lipstick of any 500 dog breeding facility. The sheer volume of animals makes that impossible.

    Just curious, has anyone on the board considered how much effort goes into taking care of just one family dog? Multiply that by 500, and you begin to see why an operation of this size is never going to be in the interest of the dogs or anyone… except the owners.

  20. Bravo for productive dialogue. We animal advocates too often want to badger, lecture and vilify without hearing the other side – not that we will change our viewpoint, but listening gives us an opportunity to educate and to understand “their” viewpoint, which gives us a much better chance at real change than just preaching to the choir. In Tennessee, we have a Representative in the General Assembly who 1) advocates having a horse slaughterhouse in our state, 2) sees nothing wrong with cock-fighting and in fact believes it brings revenue into the state and 3) recently introduced a bill to consider our native white-tailed deer “livestock” so they can be farmed for meat and used in canned hunts. Next month I will be taking part in a “Day on Capitol Hill” with HSUS in which we will have opportunities to meet with members of the General Assembly. I especially want to meet with this man, not to scream at him (which I would like to do) but to honestly listen and understand what his thoughts are and why he thinks our state will benefit. Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, provides a great example in undertaking a dialogue with Michael Vick, which he recounts in his book, The Bond. Reading that made me understand and start to cease hating Micheal Vick, which was having an extremely corrosive effect on me and my efforts for animals. I can never condone any part of Vick’s actions and I am skeptical of his “rehabilitation”, but now at least I understand why/how some humans can do what they do. We all need to listen and try to understand. It will make our advocacy much more effective.

    One more thought in a long post: sometimes things get steamrolled through that we can’t stop, but I do like Mr. Negley’s approach of not giving up but taking the opportunity – whatever it is – to teachand raise consciousness.

  21. If ground has not been broken, perhaps the city of Gorham might want to consider rescinding permission. After a building is up, it is much harder to shut an operation like this down. I can’t imagine that running a 500 dog kennel is in any way in the interests of Gorham. Clearly, someone was not thinking this through.

    If they are going to be permitted to continue with this puppy mill operation, a law should be enacted requiring breeders to donate a % of their operation to breed rescue… every breed that they produce… because rescue will certainly be saddled with new animals as a result of this operation.

    Shelter dogs deserve a fresh chance, it’s true, but purebred dogs are not the problem here. It is the irresponsible breeding for profit operation that puts money ahead of animal welfare. I support breeding of purebred dogs as long as breeders are conscientious of their animals and legacy…. but that is pretty hard to legislate.

  22. Hi Dr. Kay and Mr. Negley,

    In my former career I practiced law in upstate NY and, if Gorham wants to help solve the puppy-mill problem, this could be a golden opportunity to become a national leader.

    Here’s how you can ensure that the Martins won’t add to the horror: Amend your building and zoning laws to require all commercial breeding facilities to be constructed and operated to meet the standards for square footage of kennel space per dog, ventilation, cleanliness, and so on. Such standards exist for animal shelters and, if you mean what you say, the online pet loving community can help you and the Town Attorney find and adapt them.

    Adopt standards and apply them to all building permits. If the Martins don’t have theirs yet, adopt a moratorium in which to study and act. If they already have theirs, adopt a provision to phase out non-conforming uses.

    The simple truth about the Martins and their business is this: If they care about the dogs, they’ll comply willingly; if they only care about the money, they’ll move elsewhere or find some other endeavor to invest in. Either way, both Gorham and the dogs win!

    If you and the other Town Board members have the conscience and the backbone, you certainly have the opportunity to enter the national spotlight on the side of decency and humane treatment of animals.

    We look forward to your response and action,

    Tom Collins, Co-Founder of BlogPaws

  23. Dr. Kay can you perhaps translate the respone?

    Elsewhere in your conversation, did Mr. Negley offer some clue as to how the town benefits? What type of golden pig – with lipstick – is normally offered by puppy abusers to placate the elected officials?

  24. I appreciate Mr. Negley’s response, but I’m a bit confused on a few points:

    1. He states that “New York State law currently exempts USDA Class A ‘commercial kennels/puppy mills’ from local dog licensing. Yes, that’s right Gorham receives nothing for this type of operation.” Does that mean that this puppy mill — a business operation — would pay NOTHING in sales and business taxes? And if not, why?

    2. He mentions “building a case at the state and federal levels” … but why wait for the wheels of justice to turn as slowly as they always do? Gorham itself has the power NOW to stop this travesty in its tracks — and I would argue that, knowing what they now know about puppy mills, they have a moral obligation to stop it. Now that they know the truth, what reason could they possibly have for allowing this facility to commence operation?

    3. If board members truly “want the best for the residents of Gorham,” they should consider some of the consequences of allowing this facility to be built. Groundwater pollution from the disposal of dead (and diseased) animals, air pollution if they are incinerated, an increase in the number of physically and temperamentally unhealthy dogs in the local animal population, an increase in the number of animals dumped at local shelters (when owners no longer want to deal with those health and temperament issues) … and, perhaps, worst of all, sending a message to local children that animal torture and abuse are A-okay, and that pets are a disposable commodity of little value.

    I’m sure there must be SOME reason why Gorham wishes to move forward with this abominable project, but I can’t for the life of me imagine what it is. I suggest that before this goes any further, every one of those board members be required to take a tour of a puppy mill … and prepare to be sickened at what they’re sure to find.

  25. With all due respect, Mr. Negley – How can being a safe haven for a puppy mill be in the best interest of the citizens of your fine city? Yes, education is critical in this matter. So is saying “NO – you aren’t welcome here!” to the millers.

  26. Kudos to Mr. Negley for doing his due diligence in regard to this issue. Puppy mills present another example of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ -the community ends up paying the price while the millers make the profit. I’d also suggest that it’s good political move as well. Show clips from Oprah’s show on puppymills or any of the other numerous resources available about the realities of puppymills and every dog lover in the community will remember that you stood up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.