April 20, 2009
Listen to the call (2 MB)
|HSLF executive director Sara Amundson (center) attended veteran |
hosts Bryan and Carla Wilson's party in Florida in Winter Park, Fl..
More than 40 states were represented and more than 100 parties were held nationwide as animal advocates from all across the United States gathered at the Humane Society Legislative Fund's Party Animals events April 19 to learn what they can do to help put an end to the cruel and inhumane puppy mill industry.
Puppy mills are facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet, and directly to the public. Dogs are stacked in filthy wire cages, often with no veterinary care or human interaction, and they are treated not like pets but like a cash crop. Mother dogs are constantly bred and kept in continuous confinement. They are destroyed or discarded when they can no longer churn out puppies.
HSLF president Michael Markarian led the call from HSLF headquarters in Washington, DC. Markarian was joined on the call by HSLF's executive director, Sara Amundson, and congressmen Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), two of the leading advocates in Congress for putting an end to puppy mills.
Amundson joined in on the nationwide conference call from a party hosted by Bryan and Carla Wilson in Winter Park, FL. The Wilson's are nine-time Party Animals hosts, showing their true dedication over the years to helping animals of all shapes and sizes.
But on this night, the focus was on puppies, an issue that Amundson has been working on tirelessly for two decades.
"We feel there is a new energy around this issue, and it's really our time to ensure that through our legislative advocacy and our other activity, we're showing the world this scourge called puppy mills and ensuring there is an end," said Amundson.
The momentum toward ending the cruel puppy mill industry has been building with increased speed of late, a point that Markarian emphasized as he talked about recent raids and the nearly three-dozen state legislatures that have taken up puppy mill legislation so far this year.
"There has really been a tidal wave of activity," said Markarian "In the last six months alone, there have been nine raids on puppy mills [nationwide]. Hundreds and hundreds of dogs have been rescued from these terrible factory farms and have been placed in new, loving homes.
"We really feel the time is right for public policy reforms. Not just to rescue dogs from these terrible situations, but to make sure that they don't end up in these circumstances. We've been going state by state and working hard in Congress to try to address these abuses."
Animal advocates then heard from two of the most ardent opponents of puppy mills, Congressmen Farr and Gerlach. Throughout their careers, Reps. Farr and Gerlach have been leaders of animal protection legislation in Congress, particularly the issue of stopping puppy mill cruelty. They are currently preparing to reintroduce the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act in the 111th Congress, which would provide basic animal care standards for large-scale production facilities that sell puppies over the Internet and directly to the public, who currently escape any federal oversight. It would also require that all dogs at puppy mills get out of their cages for exercise at least 60 minutes a day.
|The Party Animals team of Colleen Crinion, Jessica |
Feingold-Lieberson and Mary at the DC party.
Rep. Farr spoke about the need for a universal statute to curb puppy mill abuse, in part to help close the loophole in current federal law that allows internet sellers to operate freely.
"It's absolutely essential that we have a uniform protection. We've found with the internet a whole new technology for people being able to advertise and sell over the internet," said Farr. "We need to close that, and that's what [the PUPS Act] will do."
Rep. Gerlach, calling from his home state of Pennsylvania -- known to some as the puppy mill capital of the east -- reminded animal advocates that the ball is in their court.
"Now is the time for all of you that are out there around the country to give a call to your member of Congress [and ask them to cosponsor the PUPS Act]," said Gerlach. "There is nothing more important than citizen advocacy, and you all are very important in this process to get good legislation passed."
Following the congressmen's remarks, Markarian noted that both representatives are members of the newly formed Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, a bipartisan caucus in Congress comprised of members who are joining together to make a meaningful difference in animal protection.
Markarian summed up the purpose of this latest round of Party Animals house parties best when he told everyone on the call, "We know that we can do better for man's best friend."