Bad Dog: A reader sends the RFT to obedience school over our story on puppy mills

NEWS REAL, FEBRUARY 5, 2009

ANIMAL WELFARE ADVOCATE SCOLDS RFT

Goal is to educate people about "puppy mills": Beginning with the title, "Pet Peeves: A Chesterfield pet store is dogged by accusations of selling mistreated puppies," Aimee Levitt's story is filled with inaccuracies. No member of our group ever said the pet-store puppies were mistreated. In fact, Levitt quotes me saying the problem isn't the pet store, but the parents of the puppies, who, even in the "best" mills, spend their lives in a cage, bred every heat cycle, receiving little if any human contact or love. Levitt misquotes me saying the dogs get no food; they obviously get food, but the quality and quantity are often lacking. No dog should have to live this way. But most egregious is Levitt's statement that commercial breeding kennels must be heated and provide dogs with exercise. In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture minimum standards require cages be only six inches taller, wider and longer than the dog inside. There is no requirement that the dog ever be let out of the cage or that the floor of the cage be solid — instead they are wire. Some facilities are heated, but many are not.

Levitt also fails to mention Missouri's abysmal record of failing to conduct annual inspections of at least 40 percent of licensed commercial breeding facilities. The purpose of our group is also misrepresented. We are involved in an information campaign to educate people about puppy mills and encourage them to adopt instead of shop. If the pet store closes, great, but that is not our sole or even our main goal. Levitt correctly points out that I have never visited Lange's property or any puppy mill. Commercial breeders typically do not allow outsiders on their property, but I do not need to visit a commercial breeding facility to know it's a puppy mill. Commercial breeders equal puppy millers: Their goal is to mass produce puppies for profit, but unlike pig, chicken or cattle farmers, they are hypocrites, treating dogs like livestock and selling their offspring as "cherished family pets." Meanwhile, millions of healthy, beautiful animals are killed in shelters every year for lack of space; 25 percent of shelter animals are purebred for those who desire such.

More inaccuracies include Levitt calling the Shrewsbury puppy sale an auction (auctions are where breeders acquire breeding stock and Missouri leads the nation in these as well as puppy mills). And the quote attributed to Janet Banks that breeders should give dogs to the "animal division" (we don't know what that is) rather than sell them to families makes absolutely no sense. If Levitt's "animal division" is something like animal control, we definitely would not prefer puppies be sent there, where the likelihood of being killed is high, rather than home with a family. For more information or to join our group, contact banmopuppymills@yahoo.com.
Leanne Fritsch, St. Louis

STLOG, FEBRUARY 2, 2009

LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT

Stop complaining: I read comments here and on the Stltoday boards all the time from people doing nothing but bitch-bitch-bitch about St. Louis ["Survey Sayz...St. Louisians Think 'Grass Is Greener Elsewhere,'" Nick Lucchesi]. I have a simple suggestion: Leave. Close your whiny mouth, pack your bags (I may help you), and move as far away from St. Louis as possible. St. Louis has as many problems as any other major metropolitan city, and the negative people who love to bad-mouth the city do nothing but get in the way of solving those problems.
Dean, via the Internet

FEATURE, JANUARY 29, 2009

GOOD GOVERNMENT— IMAGINE THAT

Justice served well: Thank God someone has written about things like this that go on in our justice system ["Sweet Treatment," Nicholas Phillips]. Really great story! I just pray it will become the norm, rather than the exception.
Janice, St. Louis, via the Internet

Thanks for some good news: Having worked for the Department of Corrections and seen the high rate of return drug offenders, I can tell this is an important program. Thank you for bringing it to the attention of the community with such a well-written piece.
Emily, St. Louis, via the Internet

 
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