Journalism Fail: HSUS and AKC are Both Money Grabbers

As always, I want to be clear and this is why I reiterate a point made often on this blog:  No one wants to see pets suffer and die in sub-standard conditions.  It makes no difference to me whether these dogs are being warehoused for breeding in a “puppy mill” or warehoused for killing in a “shelter”.  Causing suffering and needless death for pets is wrong.  Full stop.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has never done anything to make me believe they care one bit about dogs suffering and dying anywhere.  Neither has the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  And yet the two are frequently pitted against one another by reporters seeking “both sides of the story”.  Newsflash:  it’s the same story.

The Today Show website has an investigative report on AKC registered puppies and interviewed both an AKC representative and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, presumably for balance:

[Wayne Pacelle] says that while most AKC-registered breeders are probably fine, they’re seeing too many bad apples, from Montana to North Carolina. In some cases, those breeders are even convicted of animal cruelty.

*fake gasp*

“Most” are probably ok but some are bad – even to the point of animal cruelty.  Gee Wayne Pacelle, have you ever heard of this system of pet killing facilities we have in our country?  They deceptively call themselves “shelters” and you know, “humane societies” when in fact they are causing pets to suffer and die.  “Most” are not fine.  In fact most are killing healthy/treatable animals – the ultimate form of animal cruelty.  And the directors of these pet killing facilities are keeping puppy mills in business.

But it’s no surprise Wayne Pacelle wouldn’t talk about that.  It’s his job to ix-nay the uth-tray in order to keep compassionate donors on the hook.  Thankfully more people are catching on every day.  A reporter for WZTV in TN ran this story yesterday:

We checked the HSUS tax records Form 990. It shows the non-profit took in over $133 million in donations last year. Of that, $6 million went to local shelters.

[…]

So what does the Humane Society spend your donations on? Primarily fundraising, advertising, legislation to protect animals, and the lobbyists to push it through.

[…]

What else does the Humane Society of the U.S. spend your donations on? $17.3 million on lobbyists between the years of 2005-2009, more than it gave to local animal shelters in that time. In a letter, half a dozen congressmen called for an IRS investigation into HSUS’ tax exempt status. Tax exempt organizations are prohibited by law from attempting to influence legislation on a large scale. In a response, the IRS confirms to a congressman that it’s investigating, but wouldn’t comment on what, if any action it may take.

The reporter states that for 3 weeks, Wayne Pacelle declined the station’s requests for an interview.

We are not all on the same team. I am for no kill which means pets suffering and dying anywhere is unacceptable to me. HSUS and AKC are both on Team Screw The Pets, Show Me The Money.

AKC Judges Guilty of Animal Cruelty in PA

AKC judges Mimi Winkler and Jim Deppen had been charged with a combined total of 60 counts of cruelty and related charges after local authorities found sick and dead dogs at their PA show kennel.  Although cleared of most charges, they were found guilty on some of the counts in court yesterday:

District Judge Rod Beck found Winkler, 71, and Deppen, 46, guilty of three cruelty counts against bichons frises, one cruelty count against a border collie and one count of operating an unlicensed kennel. Winkler was also found guilty of making a false statement to a dog warden.

Each guilty count carries with it – brace yourself – a $200 fine.

While the judges’ defense attorney described the entire case as a waste of time over “dogs having a bad hair day”, prosecution witnesses testified otherwise:

Prosecution witnesses included veterinarians, bichon frise experts and the three dog wardens who said the dogs needed veterinary attention, not grooming.

The original police report indicated dogs at the kennel were “living in unsanitary conditions and had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors on some of the dogs that were untreated”.  The Border Collie was described by police as “emaciated and sickly”.

Do the words “open tumors”, “emaciated” and “sickly” sound like dogs that needed a spit shine and a-little-off-the-top?  Maybe the judges should have placed satin bows over the open tumors and hid the Border Collie’s rib cage with a cute sweater.

The defense attorney says he will appeal the convictions.

Update on Cruelty Case at PA Kennel

Miriam “Mimi” Winkler and James Deppen appeared in court yesterday to face animal cruelty charges.  There was testimony from both sides:

[State Dog Warden Orlando] Aguirre said he and two other dog wardens went to the kennel on April 27 for an unannounced inspection and discovered the bichons frises with heavily matted hair and living in unsanitary conditions, which he detailed through a series of photos he presented as evidence. He said Winkler gave up the dogs, which she had recently received from other shelters. Aguirre testified she later admitted they were not rescued dogs.

Dr. Alysia Deaven of Jonestown, Lebanon County, testified the heavily matted hair — a combination of tangled hair, dirt, feces and urine — would have taken “at least a year” to get that way. “Of the thousand dogs I have seen, these were the worst matted dogs I have seen,” she said.

Aguirre said he came back to the kennel on April 28, gave a cease-and-desist order to Winkler and Deppen, and Winkler gave up a sick border collie.

Dr. Korin Mediate of Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, testified the collie was so emaciated, “it is a surprise the body was functioning.”

Regarding the Neapolitan Mastiffs that the dog warden posted a veterinary care order for and returned 4 days later to find one dead in a wheel barrow, Mr. Aguirre “testified Winkler tried to pin the dog’s death on him.”

The defense:

[Dr. Charles]Westfield testified none of the dogs appeared to have been abused or neglected and only one animal appeared to need immediate veterinary care.
Attorney Patrick Reilly, who represents the kennel owners, accused Aguirre of making sexual advances toward Winkler, but [the judge] cut him off, saying that wasn’t what the hearing was about.

The case is set to resume at “an unannounced date”.

There has been an ongoing discussion on the topic posted in a public forum on Neapolitan Mastiffs since the story broke.

Cruelty Case at PA Show/Breeding Kennel

Ironwood Kennels in Lehigh Co, operated by Miriam “Mimi” Winkler and James Deppen, was inspected by 3 PA dog wardens on April 27:

The visit turned up 18 bichon frise dogs that were “living in unsanitary conditions and had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors on some of the dogs that were untreated,” police said.

The kennel owners turned all 18 dogs over to the dog wardens.  The following day, one of the dog wardens returned to the kennel and Ms. Winkler surrendered “an emaciated and sickly border collie”.  Authorities tried repeatedly to contact Ms. Winkler and Mr. Deppen in the following weeks without success.

The three dog wardens then returned June 4 to the kennel and discovered three Neapolitan Mastiff dogs “in health conditions that indicate that necessary vet care had not been provided.”

An order to obtain veterinary care was left and, in accordance with state law, the wardens waited 72 hours to allow for compliance.

The wardens returned June 7 to find “two of the Neapolitan mastiffs were deceased, one of which was disposed of outside of the kennel in a wheelbarrow,” police said.

The owners have each been “charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty and one count criminal conspiracy“.  There is a video here, shot from outside the property, which shows a well kept lawn that doesn’t look like dozens of dogs are exercised on it daily.  The video does not show the kennels or dogs. (Note:  15 second ad prior to vid.)

According to Infodog, Mr. Deppen is an AKC conformation judge, approved to judge several breeds with provisional approval on many more.  On one of the weekends during the period authorities were trying to reach him regarding the allegedly sick and neglected dogs at his kennel, he was apparently judging show dogs in Virginia.  A Neapolitan Mastiff bred by Mr. Deppen and Ms. Winkler was shown at the Westminster Kennel Club show in February.

Winkler and Deppen are in the process of filing papers in Harrisburg to close the kennel, according to state police.

It’s unclear to me what this means exactly.  Does it indicate they are planning to move?  Or simply that they are planning to come into compliance with local laws changing their status from kennel operators to regular pet owners?  Something else?

AKC Throws a Crumb to Mutts

From the AKC:

Today, we are delighted to tell you that AKC can now act even more broadly and effectively as the dog’s champion. Our Board of Directors has voted unanimously to proceed with a program for mixed breed dogs.

Soooooooounds good, but I always like to know the details. AKC provides a pdf of the mixed breed program so you can read the specifics for yourself. I’ll give you my breakdown:

  • Mixed breed dog owners get to pay $35 to register their dog and then they get a number AND they get to be BFFs with the AKC – wowza!
  • Registered mixes are eligible to compete in AKC Agility, Obedience and Rally events. No mention of hunt tests for retriever mixes or lure coursing for hound mixes or any other performance events. But at least they get the Obedience classes. Maybe.
  • Mixes can not compete at any AKC show which has conformation classes. That means all-breed shows and breed/group specialties are out – even if they are holding obedience classes anyway. No room at the inn.
  • Further, a club doesn’t have to offer classes for mixes. It’s up to each club to decide if they want to participate in the program. (Presumably some clubs might not want mutts poo’ing on their show grounds in the same spot the purebreds are poo’ing – ewwwww.)
  • If a club does offer mixed breed classes, the mixes have to sit at the back of the bus and wait for the purebreds to run. Then the mutts get their turn in their “Special Ed” classes. And just in case that doesn’t make the owner feel special enough, their dog’s titles will contain a distinct designation indicating the dog is a mutt and didn’t compete against purebreds to earn the title. AKC uses the phrase “similar (but separate)” to describe the Special titles. (“Separate but equal” was already taken.)

So, um – yay mutt owners? Keep your $35 checks on standby though cos the fun doesn’t start until October 1st. That’ll give the snooty patooties 6 months to get the counseling they’ll need to deal with the possibility that some mixed breed dog might be sucking up the same oxygen at an obedience trial.

ADDED: See a good post at Underdogged from the perspective of someone who competes in AKC and non-AKC obedience events. Terrierman shares his take on the whole scheme here.