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In October 2008, 7 dead and 12 starving dogs were found at a dog-training kennel near Youngstown, Ohio. An eighth dog died subsequently. The owner, who had been a respected trainer, claimed he was going through a divorce and did not have the money to care for the dogs that had been left with him by their owners for training or boarding. He lived on the same property and kept his yard mowed even as the dogs’ carcasses were decaying in kennels out back. At no time did he notify his clients of financial problems.
The owner was convicted of only four counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty under Ohio law. He received a four-month jail sentence, was ordered to pay restitution of $1,796 plus $1,000 in fines. He avoided civil penalties by filing for bankruptcy. In 2012, his probation will end and he can once again own or harbor companion animals.
The owners of one of the dead dogs — a beloved Rottweiler named Nitro — launched a campaign to overhaul Ohio’s outdated animal cruelty laws so that future tragedies will conclude with a proportional punishment. Nitro’s Law would make animal abuse a felony; Ohio is one of only eight states that classify even the worst offenses in animal cruelty as misdemeanors on the first offense. Despite this embarrassing fact, Ohio’s lawmakers have allowed the proposed bill to die once; it will die again if not passed by the end of 2012.
Here’s how you can help:
Does This Dog Scare You?
It shouldn’t. Pit bulls — a term that can include American pit bull terriers, American bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire terriers, and mixes of these breeds — are actually very loving and good-natured dogs. In fact, in temperament tests administered by the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls score better than golden retrievers, beagles, dachschunds and chihuahuas!
For most of American history, pit bulls were the prototypical family dog. Unfortunately, some people are attracted to these dogs’ muscular build, tenacity, and loyalty for the wrong reasons. They use pit bulls as fighting dogs or guard dogs, or deliberately train them to be vicious. Some tragedies have resulted; highlighted by the media, these incidents have made pit bulls a pariah breed. Although Ohio no longer automatically categorizes pit bulls as vicious, many towns and cities continue to ban or place heavy restrictions on ownership of pit bull-type dogs.
Don’t fall prey to the hype! At various times over the decades, the same stigma has been placed on Doberman pinschers, German shepherd dogs, and rottweilers. The truth is, any breed of dog can and will bite.
Click here to learn more about why pit bulls get a bad rap — and why it’s all wrong. And if you get the chance to adopt a pit bull, don’t hesitate! You’ll be continuing a grand American tradition with a great breed of dog.
Ohio’s dog auctions are a major distribution channel for buyers and sellers from 15 states, many of whom have been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and/or have been convicted of animal cruelty. The breeders who participate raise large numbers of puppies entirely for profit. Many of these dogs are unhealthy, are not screened for genetic disorders, are not in line with breed standards and lack good temperament.
Learn more about Ohio dog auctions and how to stop them by visiting the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions Web site.
Exotic Animal Auctions
Scientific American called the escape and subsequent killing of more than 50 exotic animals — including 18 Bengal tigers — near Zanesville, Ohio “a tragic reminder that the laws protecting wildlife in the U.S. are full of loopholes that endanger not only the animals themselves but also people.” Although Ohio has tightened restrictions on ownership of exotic animals, it remains a leading distributor of exotic animals through auctions. One of the largest is the Mt. Hope Alternative Animal Sale held three times a year. Although this auction no longer traffics in big cats, bears or primates, it still allows the sale of exotic birds, many types of reptiles and animals from pet mills.
Many organizations are working to end the sale and private ownership of exotic animals in Ohio and worldwide. Click on any of the links below to learn how you can help avoid future Zanesville-type tragedies.
Puppy mills have been around for decades. They continue to thrive because they prey on unwitting consumers who are smitten by too-cute-for-words puppies in pet store windows and on legitimate-seeming Web sites. Puppy mills house dogs in shockingly poor conditions. After their fertility wanes, breeding animals are often killed, abandoned or sold cheaply to another mill to try and get “one more litter” out of the dog. The annual result of all this breeding is millions of puppies, many with behavior and/or health problems. Watch the video below to see some puppy mills in Ohio.
You can help stop puppy mills easily: Adopt instead of buying pets from stores or Web sites, and refuse to buy supplies from any pet store or Internet site that sells puppies.
Click here for more information on puppy mills and how to end them.
Dogs Deserve Better
Chaining dogs can have tragic consequences. This practice is not only inhumane, but also creates a very real threat to humans as well as dogs and other animals. Chained or penned outdoor dogs are at significant risk for developing aggression. Dogs are social creatures that closely resemble humans in their need for companionship. But when forced to live in isolation, they can develop strong and potentially dangerous territorial instincts. A solitary existence is stressful and fosters anxiety in dogs, which in turn can make them hypervigilant about defending themselves and their living area. Unfortunately, this can (and does) develop into aggression. A small child wandering into the territory of an unsocialized outdoor dog may be perceived as a threat.
In addition to their social needs, dogs have basic shelter needs. Ohio’s hot, humid summers and cold, wet winters can be dangerous to dogs or other pets left outside for any length of time.
There are many reasons why people chain their dogs — and just as many reasons not to. A growing number of anti-cruelty laws and ordinances include “adequate care standards” that make it illegal to keep a dog outside without proper shelter in inclement weather or dangerous temperatures. Several communities have enacted ordinances prohibiting the tethering of dogs altogether.
Dogs Deserve Better is dedicated to ending the practice of chaining dogs outside. Click here to learn more about this issue and how you can help.
What Is A “Buncher?”
A buncher either steals or “adopts” companion animals for the purpose of selling the animal. Bunchers can sell animals for multiple reasons:
- To be used in research labs
- To be used as bait to train dogs in fighting rings or hunting dogs
- To be used as breeding stock in puppy or kitten mills
The stolen or “adopted” pets are then sold to Class B animal dealers for $25 per animal. Those dealers then sell the pets for up to $500 each to universities, medical and veterinary schools, and companies providing animal-testing services. We’re not making this up: A pair of Arkansas State University researchers documented bunching in a 2006 study. The largest Class B dealer in dogs in the U.S. was investigated for bunching by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2005. That dealer lost his licence after being convicted of 100 counts of animal abuse and neglect, and of stealing pets for laboratories and forging documentation.
The easiest way you can help put bunchers out of business is to NEVER give animals away for free unless you know the recipient. A stranger who responds to that “free to good home” ad may very well be a buncher.
To learn more about bunching and how it can be stopped, visit Last Chance for Animals’ Web page on bunching.