Updated on September 22, 2014
A Fight in Phoenix: The Faces of Good and Evil
In December 2013, Phoenix city officials passed an ordinance prohibiting pet stores from selling dogs obtained from commercial breeders. The law forbids pet shops from selling dogs from sources other than non-profit rescue facilities and shelters. Phoenix is one of more than 50 cities to have passed such legislation, all aimed at undermining the health of puppy mills, large scale commercial breeding facilities that serve as the primary source of puppies trafficked by pet stores.
Frank and Vicki Mineo, the owners of a chain of pet stores called Puppies ‘N Love, have filed a federal lawsuit in response to the Phoenix ordinance (why this is being handled on a federal level is unclear to me). The Mineos, fearful of losing their livelihood, have claimed that the city of Phoenix overstepped its bounds. A judge has granted an injunction prohibiting Phoenix from enforcing the law until the case is further evaluated.
If you have followed my blog posts, you know where I stand on this issue. I’ve been a long-time advocate of driving puppy mills into extinction, and have encouraged you to make a pledge to boycott pet stores that sell puppies. I believe I stand with the “good guys”- those who place the welfare of animals ahead of financial gain.
Unfortunately, some of the “bad guys” in the puppy mill battle are heavy hitters with deep pockets. One such “bad guy” is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). The PIJAC is one of the largest pro-puppy mill lobbying groups. Two of the movers and shakers within this organization are Ryan Boyle of the Hunte Corporation, the largest broker of puppy mill dogs in the United States, and Joe Watson of Petland, a huge pet store chain that retails puppies throughout the United States. PIJAC’s persistent support of puppy mills doesn’t surprise me one bit.
What did surprise me was learning that the American Pet Products Association (APPA) has gone to the dark side. This organization, in conjunction with PIJAC, has donated a large sum of money (talkin’ six figures here) to support the Mineos in their legal battle against Phoenix.
Exactly what does the APPA do? As stated on their website,
Founded in 1958, APPA is the leading not-for-profit trade association made up of over 1000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers. Our membership consists of a diverse group representing both large corporations and growing business enterprises worldwide.
APPA’s mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry and to provide the services necessary to help its members prosper. To accomplish these objectives and to provide APPA members with valuable benefits, the Association works hard to develop programs and services which serve our members’ unique needs.
Bob Vetere, President and CEO of the APPA, is practically an institution. For years now, he has been the voice of the APPA, announcing how much money the American pet-loving public spends on their pets every year. I wish he would stick to this script.
In relationship to the Mineo case, Mr. Vetere stated,
We all want to see puppy mills eliminated today. But America’s pet lovers have made it clear that banning the sale of dogs and cats at local pet stores in not the best way to do it. What this poll tells us is that pet owners want tougher breeder standards so that they can be confident that dogs and cats are raised humanely and in the best interests of the animal.
Attention Mr. Vetere! The poll you refer to appears to be a complete farce aimed at duping the public while protecting the best interests (make than monetary interests) of the for-profit businesses you represent. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the regulatory body in charge of promoting “tougher breeder standards” has failed miserably to improve conditions for puppy mill dogs. The USDA makes progress one millimeter at a time, when what is needed is one mile at a time. Additionally, efforts to enforce existing USDA guidelines are abysmal at best. Lastly, Mr. Vetere, what is wrong with tackling the puppy mill issue with a multi-pronged approach? Why not institute “tougher breeder standards” while, at the same time, eliminating the sale of pet store puppies?
Shame on you Bob Vetere and the organization you represent. I am deeply disappointed that you have gone to the dark side where financial gain trumps common decency. By the way, your online bio mentions that you have a Golden Retriever named Dakota. Did you purchase him from a pet store?
In honor of Puppy Mill Awareness Day (just happened on September 21st), I invite each and every one of you to take at least one small, simple step towards the goal of eradicating puppy mills. Take the pledge to boycott pet stores that sell puppies, educate people you know who want to adopt a puppy, organize a letter-writing party to send a message to your city leaders, give a talk in your child’s classroom, share this blog post with others, or better yet, write your own blog post! Go for it!
An addendum that is literally hot off the press- PIJAC has announced that Edwin J. Sayres, former president and CEO of the ASPCA, has been appointed president and CEO of PIJAC. Let’s hope this creates some positive change.
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
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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.