Fighting for Animal Welfare

single-meta-cal December 6, 2018

Huntsville Animal Services provides a safety net for lost and homeless pets and is committed to sustaining the City’s goal of finding live outcomes for at least 90 percent of the companion animals that enter the shelter each year.

As Huntsville Animal Services is trying to save homeless pets, commercially produced dogs often referred to as ‘puppy mills’ are part of the problem. Because the pets are not spayed or neutered, overbreeding is rampant and many dogs become homeless. In some states, commercial breeders are even inspected by the USDA, but these dogs and their offspring are typically treated more like livestock instead of a family pet. The concern is that once the puppy is on display inside a pet store the consumer only sees its precious face and is unaware of the potential and the probable neglectful care it experienced in the commercial operation.

In general, a commercial breeder of dogs may not be taking care of the parent dogs and puppies like an individual breeder; individual breeders often provide care that is more humane and treat the pet almost like a member of the family. In commercial operations, many of the dogs live weeks, months, years, even their entire lives in a small living kennel without being allowed outside playtime and never brought into the home or associated with a human family.

The big hitters in the animal welfare movement such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and Best Friends have been working for several decades to stop commercial dog breeders and working with the USDA ensures that the quality of life standards for these dogs are improved. The HSUS and the ASPCA see and share the face of the ‘puppy mill’ dog weekly as on-going cruelty cases associated with commercial operations as criminal charges are brought against the owners of the dogs.

Petco and PetSmart made an ethical and bold move 20 years ago to only allow the adoption of local homeless cats and dogs in their stores. This was well-received by the animal community and has proven advantageous for both the pet store chains, the rescue agencies, and of course, the pets find homes.

After much deliberation, the City of Huntsville’s Mayor and City Council decided that many of the progressive movements sweeping our nation for animal welfare should be welcomed here in Huntsville. These endeavors include fixed-point tethering (chaining) ban, community cats programs, mandatory sterilization for all shelter pets, and a ban on commercial dogs and cats being sold locally.

City Council approved an ordinance at the Dec. 6 regular meeting to support animal protection initiatives. The ordinance change requires any commercial business, such as a pet store, to only offer dogs and cats for adoption that are part of an official pet rescue organization. This ordinance prevents these same businesses from purchasing dogs or cats and offering them for sale from a commercial or hobbyist producers of dogs or cats.