The Truth About “Buying” Animals, Shelters and MSN
Pet Defense has experience both in animal rescue, shelter populations, research, legal cases involving animals, and has researched these issues over a long span of time. Pet Defense has worked with canine experts including one that was used for the U.S. v Stevens case, a recent precedential United States Supreme Court case involving striking down the statute that HSUS drafted or had drafted, involving crush films. A finding that the statue was unconstitutional in total resulted in the Stevens case, shedding new light on the terms “animal abuse depictions.” The statute as written, when applied in actuality, would make the movie Bambi illegal, as well as numerous other media which would contain even fake depictions of “animal abuse.”
This is a very key case against the laws drafted and pushed re “animal depictions” by HSUS and proves that HSUS likes to draft laws that cannot pass constitutional muster. A second HSUS law out of California, which involved regulation of so-called “violent” video games in 2005, was recently struck down on June 27, 2011, by the United States Supreme Court as well, as unconstitutional. Both of these cases are available on PDF on Petdefense. Both cases are also very easy to find online and are a marked victory in legal case law against HSUS.
Understanding the Misconceptions
The truth about lowering shelter population, increasing responsible ownership of pets, and still allowing the pet trade commerce to flourish is not that difficult to understand.
BUT– due to hyperbole, misrepresentation, and outright lies, the public has been led by Animal Rights for the most part, to believe that stopping the “killing” in shelters requires the cessation of breeding and buying of pets, and the forced adoption of shelter animals.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact the two subjects are essentially not related to each other but is used by Animal Rights to project an emotional ploy derived from their known cache of propaganda techniques.
First we believe we need to clear up misrepresentations as to what animals allegedly “can or should not be bought and sold”, why people are blamed for buying and selling, and why shelters cannot realistically compete in the open market as pet stores, nor should they try or be expected to do so.
We will also broach the subject of breeders and how Animal Rights wants us to believe we “need” to stop breeding animals. The misrepresentations by Animal Rights fails to give actual facts, but instead simply throws out emotional statements, eyecandy photos, and blame. These Animal Rights facets are set up emotionally and based on personal lifestyle beliefs. There is a huge difference between the facts and “personal lifestyle beliefs.”
Background of Animal Rights Lifestyle Beliefs
Essentially, Animal Rights’ goal is to enact their lifestyle belief that animals are not legally our property, yet animals are considered under the law in almost all states, to be our property.
Ownership of property gives entitlement rights such as the right to transfer title and have dominion over the property. We can buy and sell the property. We have due process over unlawful seizure of our property. We are owners of the property and can pass title. We can redress damages for loss of property. There is much case law that confirms this in the United States.
This explains the basic legal status in the law, which categorizes animals. We have rights to the animals as our property. Although animals are technically labeled as qualified property in the law, issues evolve when Animal Rights tell people that animals are not our property, and they try and make laws that inflict harm on our rights as owners, or our ability to own animals is made more difficult, more expensive, less enjoyable, or no fun at all.
The reason for this is basically because the Animal Rights lifestyle belief holds that animals are not property, thus, if true, would result in animals being something else other than property. Animal Rights lifestyle belief takes the position that if animals are not property then we cannot own them, we cannot sell them, we cannot buy them, we cannot use them in any commercial fashion, we cannot trade them. We usually hear this from Animal Rights groups such as Peta.
Animal Rights in general believe that the “pet trade” should be dismantled, that no animals should be owned, bought, sold, bred, used for any products (food or otherwise), that no animals should live in zoos, aquariums, cages, etc; that no animal products should be consumed, that no animal products should be manufactured or used, bought or sold; that no animals be used in any lab for any reason, and that if people violate the Animal Rights lifestyle beliefs, that they (Animal Rights believers) can take whatever action they need to, to overcome opposition, short of killing people.
That pretty much summarizes their general, hardline lifestyle beliefs. These lifestyle beliefs are both extreme and limiting and Animal Rights often come across as extreme (think Peta) but many other Animal Rights may appear somewhat less extreme publicly, yet they hold the same lifestyle beliefs.
Against this background, we can see that Animal Rights is dealing with a lifestyle belief which conflicts with the current legal status of animals as our property.
That is the KEY reason that Animal Rights is misunderstood, since many people do not even know that Animal Rights (commonly known as “AR” for short) consider animals as non-property.
Understanding this shows us that the AR groups attempt to change laws all the time, and most of the laws are drafted specifically to have some impact on the legal status of animals as property. This is done purposely and incrementally to raise the status of animals from property to something else, often by patterning the laws after child welfare statutes. “Guardian” is the term Animal Rights uses rather than ‘owner’ to denote NON ownership, and while perhaps benign on the surface, legally this has a huge impact.
Now against this background of Animal Rights, we can look at the shelter population issues, the buying/selling, breeding, and etc. And what we find is that instead of addressing the actual facts, most Animal Rights groups do several things:
(1) Animal Rights tend to use NON facts to advance their causes forward, especially data dealing with statistics and numbers. Usually they do not actually possess this data. Instead they show eyecandy photos, or hyped-up videos of some alleged kennels they raided. Notice the extremes they employ.
(2) Animal Rights usually does not know the actual facts but will simply generalize a situation and then make conclusions without underlying data, and then hyperbole the entire menage. This essentially is propaganda.
(3) Animal Rights likes to focus only on lifestyle beliefs or laws that will advance their lifestyle beliefs, ignoring the legal status of animals as property, and often create issues for everyone who does not take part in their lifestyle beliefs.
We are only using this background as it applies to the previously mentioned topics of shelters, buying/selling, petstores, breeders, etc. We are not talking about wild animals and captive exotics or those requiring special permits in general, as they may fall under different laws not necessarily devised by the state.
While knowing the lifestyle beliefs of Animal Rights, we can see that there will be immediate conflict between what ARs say, and what everyone else may want.
Here we find the examples: You want to buy a dog but ARs say you need to adopt a dog. You want to train your dog to pull a cart but ARs say you are abusing the dog by having it pull the cart. You may want a designer dog but ARs say you are guilty of contributing to the death of a shelter dog. You may own a dog and ARs say you must alter it or be guilty of their MSN (mandatory spay neuter) law. You may want to give up a biting dog to the shelter and ARs may blame you for having a biting dog in the first place.
It is important to know that the reason the Animal Rights want MSN is allegedly because they claim they want to reduce shelter populations. The REAL reason is actually because they don’t believe people have the right to buy, sell, own or breed any animals, much less put them into a shelter.
Once that is understood, we can see why Animal Rights would sometimes prefer to KILL animals rather than have animals live in an environment that ARs believe is “wrong.” This could include your home, zoos, farms, fish tanks, tethering, guarding, historical preserves, ranches, etc.
In other words, ARs often believe that NO animal should have a purpose for any human because the animals are not for us to use in any way, shape or form.
Understanding the lifestyle beliefs of Animal Rights gives us a better background to assemble the facts needed to formulate solutions and answers on issues involving forced adoptions, banning of animal sales, forced altering, and suppression of our legal rights to own, show, display, buy or sell our own property.
Shelter Populations and Sales
In order to properly understand the facts involving the ploy that animals and pets should not be sold due to “shelter populations”, kennels and petstores and breeders, etc, one must know facts about the following: (1) Which animals get turned into shelters/don’t get homes (2) Which animals in shelters easily find homes (3) Which animals are considered to be fairly high in demand (in dog/cat category) (4) Which animals seldom get turned into shelters (5) Reasons animals get turned into shelters
By process of elimination, we are able to tell that certain animals in shelters tend to NOT find homes readily, while others do. This is not surprising considering the ongoing, consistent and forseeable public’s desire for younger and smaller dogs and kittens. This is commonly known as supply and demand.
Understanding Key Factors Involved in Shelter Populations
There is one substantial fact for almost all shelter populations; most shelters that have the highest number of animals are located in the lower economic areas, meaning many citizens may not have the ability to alter, or may not believe in altering animals. This is a social welfare issue, since if you only went to wealthy areas, you would not likely find tons of mixed breed medium sized dogs, nor would you find tons of dogs or cats at all. Thus if we know we have higher population of animals going to shelters in lower income areas, that indicates the area as a targeted area for improvement. We would not focus on the communities or area shelters which had only small numbers of animals. Yet Animal Rights will ignore this.
A second huge factor is supply and demand. Shelters cannot effectively function as petstores although some of them try to do so by importing animals, buying animals to sell, seizing animals in raids, or bringing in animals from other jurisdictions. In general, MANY people want a particular breed, size or type of dog– and that is not a problem. However, finding such an animal IN a shelter may not be possible, or required. Yet ARs may tell people that “buying” a dog causes a shelter animal to die.
This is pure nonsense. While some people may not mind going to a shelter, other people would not set foot inside a shelter. Some people may demand a purebred dog, others may not care. Regardless, no one should be forced to believe that buying a dog caused another shelter animal to die. By adhering to that line of thought we are then ignoring how/why the shelter animal arrived at the shelter, and placing the onus on the person who had nothing to do with the shelter animal. Essentially this is also propaganda by redirecting the blame.
For responsible ownership, people must own up to the care of their own animals. There are many reasons why animals end up in pounds or shelters, and often it may have to do with breed restrictions, landlords, size, and personal issues such as divorce, moving, job loss or health. But for shelter populations to be reduced, there are really only two ways: lower the numbers coming in, and having more animals go out. This is where Animal Rights wants to use MSN (intake alleged to decrease) BUT studies show that MSN does NOT have the desired effect in actual practice.
The reason for this has to do with the social welfare aspect. When one has less income to work with, one will probably have less to spend. Less to spend means the pet’s altering is not the first or highest priority. But since such pets are the most likely to end up in a shelter, and since mixed breeds are often not as in demand as purebred dogs, it would be fairly safe to say that targeting this section of owners would produce a more desired result in lowering the numbers coming in. Most animals that were never purposely bred are accidental ties between two animals, and often have owners that are economically challenged. [Targeted altering is not MSN as MSN is usually applied to all animals with limited exceptions.] It has been found that many citizens are open to altering but for the cost involved.
If there were less dogs born from mixed breeds or unknown breeds, there would be less of them to find homes for; second, that would mean less of unknown breed types. Many people do not want an animal if they don’t know what it is. We are not saying it’s right, we are just pointing out the demand side of the equation. Facts have shown that targeted altering does produce results in the long run. Even in Los Angeles. Unfortunately they stopped the mobile spay units and the results started to diminish. In jurisdictions which kept the units going, there have been documented results.
Do Shelter Populations Have Anything to Do With People Buying Pets?
Essentially, no. What the ARs like to do, is to confuse the matter of deciding whether supply and demand exists at all, and then assuming it does not exist, so that buying a shelter animal can allegedly compete with buying an animal elsewhere.
Supply and demand in a capitalist society focuses on selling that which there is some type of demand for, hence we see a lot of small breed puppies and designer dogs out there, because people want them and thus there is a demand for them. An example is the Bichon breed. A highly popular, white, fluffy small dog. Now in shelters you will almost never find such a dog. However, since there is a demand for such dogs, but they are not in shelters, look at this example:
Small Paws, out of Oaklahoma, wanted to “rescue” Bichons, but there was no need to rescue since there were none in shelters. SO Small Paws then decided to buy commercial kennel bred Bichons, at auction, mind you, and then resell them as “rescued.” Clearly by buying such dogs, this is a supply and demand scenario where a group is willing to actually buy a dog and then resell it as “rescued.” In other words, the dog is NOT a rescued dog, but they call it one. That group just happens to take in over half a million a year, and was also on “Oprah.”
Now, by looking at that ridiculous example, we can see that supply and demand is driven by what people WANT TO BUY. It is not driven by what is in the shelter, or what is in a rescue, or otherwise. It is solely driven by the consumer. That is where the ARs have to work a little harder, because they know shelter animals are not always what people want to buy. So another solution by ARs is to eliminate what they see as “competition” for animal sales.
The so called “competition” in selling an animal for ARs, is the fact that the ARs don’t want the animals sold at all. But since right now it’s legal to sell animals, the ARs decide they can try and STIFLE sales of animals by any of the following:
(1) Closing down pet stores
(2) Closing down sales of animals online
(3) Closing down sales in the newspaper
(4) Prohibiting transfer/display of animals in public, anywhere, or outside
(5) Prohibiting sales, transfer, display, exhibiting of animals by anyone who is not a “non profit” group, rescue, shelter
(6) Making laws that would severely limit how many dogs can be owned/and how many litters an animal may have in a certain span of time
(7) Forced altering of all animals so no more animals can be produced to sell
As we can see, these examples show that every single approach taken by ARs hinges on the fact that animals are not property– their lifestyle belief— so they believe they are justified in doing one or any or all of the things enumerated.
Understanding Health+Welfare Based Laws
When it comes to the bottom line, the AR intentional lifestyle belief re animals ALL stem from believing animals are not property, so the argument against AR laws must be based upon the foundation that they are property in the law.
From that point, we use constitutional law methods to determine whether a law is valid by using one of three tiers of scrutiny, and for most animal related laws involving health, safety or welfare, the rational basis test is used. But prior to that, it is prudent to determine what facts took place prior to this law coming forward, and whether or not the proposed law is purposely drafted to snag and punish legal acts; whether far less stringent methods could be used, if at all; whether or not there were actual documented facts statewide giving rise to the actual “need” for this proposed law, whether or not the drafters will financially benefit and whether the State will incur financial detriment in excessive costs or man hours; whether or not the actual provisions of the law favor certain sections while discriminating against others; whether the law overall tends to impede interstate or intrastate commerce, and if so, why no less restrictive terms were brought forth instead; the list could be almost endless.