How can you tell if a breeder is responsible?
Ask a lot of questions. Require an inspection of where the dogs are bred. Every responsible breeder typically allows you to meet a puppy’s mother and father and see them in their home environment.
What is the Humane Society’s position on breeders and pet shops?
The Hawaiian Humane Society is not against puppy sales nor breeding as we believe the public should not be denied choices. Our ambition is to create a well-educated public that acquires puppies responsibly and considers Oahu’s pet overpopulation issue in which more than 10,000 dogs and puppies arrived at our shelter every year. Responsible breeders would never sell through a pet shop because they want to create a relationship with buyers and invite inspections of housing and care of the dogs they breed.
Is it important to buy a dog with "papers" to certify parentage?
AKC and UKC are not involved in the sale of dogs and do not guarantee breed purity or the health and quality of dogs in their registries. Owners voluntarily register their purebreds with either clubs for "papers," which do not guarantee that the animals live in humane conditions. In 2012, AKC lobbied against legislation to regulate Hawaii breeders.
What are some of the health issues with puppies from irresponsible breeders?
What the public often does not witness through media reports is the unseen abuse that manifests as serious health and behavior issues: Parvo virus, heartworms, flea, tick, and parasitic infestations, along with severe dental disease that devastates their overall health and well-being. These conditions are often synonymous with puppy mills. Hawaii’s cases involving commercial breeding operations mirror what’s found nationwide.
In a 2011 Waimanalo case, rescued dogs suffered from a range of ailments: brittle bones and muscle atrophy resulting from a lack of nutrition and exercise, infestation of intestinal parasites so serious that they embedded in muscle, and debilitating dental issues in which nearly 200 teeth had to be removed. In an investigation of a Windward pet shop in 2011, several puppies for sale were found suffering in the final stages of Parvo. In a 2005 case involving a Kahaluu breeder, dogs were forced to live in wire cages no larger than the size of a mini-refrigerator.
Dogs bred in puppy mills are proven unable to cope fully with normal existence and demonstrate impaired health, according to a recent University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine study. Abnormal psychological and behavioral characteristics included elevated levels of fears and phobias, pronounced compulsive behaviors such as spinning in tight circles and pacing, house soiling and a heightened sensitivity to being touched and picked up. This was based on 2011 research of 1,200 breeding dogs observed two years after rescue – long after they had been removed from puppy mills.
What kind of laws are already in place to regulate commercial operations?
Hawaii has no laws targeted at breeding operations except for a county zoning ordinance that requires an indoor enclosure kept a certain distance from the property line. Hawaii’s animal cruelty law requires what’s called "necessary sustenance," which means adequate shelter and protection from the elements and access to food and water. Also, there is a County of Honolulu ordinance that limits each household to a maximum of 10 days who are 4 months or older.
Is the problem inadequate existing laws or lack of enforcement?
Existing law is inadequate. The only applicable existing laws are basic care statutes that have proven unenforceable due to lack of inspection authority. The fallback is the general animal cruelty law, which can only enforce complaints that merit search warrants. Existing law may only be utilized after animals are demonstrably suffering.
Is there any federal protection against puppy mills?
When Congress enacted the Animal Welfare Act in 1966, an exemption was created for pet stores who run their own breeding operations or those who sell puppies directly to buyers. The rationale was that consumers would be able to inspect the conditions at breeding facilities if they buy a dog directly from a breeder. The law passed long before the dawn of the Internet, which changed the marketplace in how puppies could be sold.
Regardless of the loophole, breeders are not in compliance with an existing federal law that mandates licensing for breeders who sell dogs to brokers or pet stores. In Hawaii, federal enforcement is nonexistent. A Honolulu pet shop disclosed to Hawaiian Humane that they work with more than 90 local breeders. We have found that not one of them – nor any in Hawaii – has a federal license.
Attempts to protect dogs bred for profit
In 2012, 2013 and 2014, legislative bills aimed at profit-making commercial entities in which a large number of dogs are kept for breeding. Bills aimed to create minimum standards of care and licensing the industry, which would enable authorities inspection access similar to regulated home-based businesses.
In a 2012 research project conducted by the Hawaiian Humane Society, 360 puppies were for sale online and in Oahu pet shops during a two-week period. Based on this, it’s projected that profiteers could yield an annual revenue of more than $9.4 million in puppy sales. This major industry in Hawaii is completely unregulated.
What is Hawaii’s forfeiture law?
In 2006, Hawaiian Humane Society developed and advocated for a new state law that would enable the courts to award legal ownership of animals involved in cruelty cases prior to the outcome of the criminal trial. This was due to a large scale rescue case involving a Kahaluu breeder in 2004. Because it can take years to go to criminal trial, this law was passed so animals can either be awarded to the Society or the defendant must post bond for their care until that criminal trial is complete.