Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Last Chance for Animals to Push for Congress to Pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act: Stop USDA Class B Dealers and Immense Cruelty

I posted a while back on this movement. This came about due to the investigation of USDA Class B Dealers and in particular, Arkansas pet dealer C.C. Baird. – see this posting for more information on the bill and on USDA Class B Dealers and C.C. Baird - http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/02/

You’ll be shocked by what you read. And to find that it is all sanctioned by the government. So, your tax dollars to fund immense cruelty.

As the article states, the Pet Safety and Protection Act “…would eliminate the research market for "random source" animals…”


Group pushes for law to end shady dog deals


Sunday, April 23, 2006
MARK BLISS ~ Southeast Missourian

A documentary shown at a Cape Girardeau theater drew tears from some in the audience.

A hidden camera caught images of dogs dying from disease and neglect in overcrowded kennels run by an Arkansas dog dealer who profited by selling the animals, often stolen, to medical research labs.

The HBO documentary "Dealing Dogs" drew tears from some of the people in the audience Saturday at the Wehrenberg Theatres cinema in Cape Girardeau.

The invited group of about 20 included animal welfare volunteers, animal control officers from Farmington, Mo., a Cape Girardeau police officer, a Humane Society of Missouri investigator and Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Jay Purcell.

Marilyn Neville, a dog trainer and animal welfare volunteer from Zalma, Mo., helped organize the event along with California-based Last Chance for Animals to push for Congress to pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act.

The legislation would prohibit animal dealers from selling "random source" animals to research facilities.

Medical labs could still buy animals for research use, but only from licensed class A breeders, who raise the animals themselves, LCA officials said.

Neville doesn't oppose using animals for medical research, but she said disreputable dealers shouldn't be allowed to buy and sell stolen dogs and cats to such facilities.

"I want animals to be used for medical research, but I don't want them to be my pet," she said.

Saturday's audience showed up for a special showing of the documentary, along with a shorter DVD from Last Chance for Animals, the organization that spent years investigating Arkansas pet dealer C.C. Baird.

The LCA plans to show the DVD to Congress as it lobbies for passage of the Pet Safety and Protection Act.

The group's six-month undercover work in 2002 was part of the HBO documentary, which exposed the underworld of dog-napping, unsanitary conditions at Baird's Martin Creek Kennels and widespread abuse.

An undercover investigator who got a job at the kennels to document the abuse called it "a little piece of hell on Earth."

Another investigator, who heads the special investigations unit for Last Chance for Animals, attended Saturday's presentation.

The woman, who asked not to be identified because she still does undercover work, was one of several members of the not-for-profit group who investigated Baird's operation.

She told those gathered Saturday that Baird bought many dogs from a weekly flea market in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Baird regularly bought dogs from "bunchers," men and women who would pick up strays or steal pets. Baird bought dogs for as little as $10 apiece, no questions asked.

"A lot of the animals came out of Southeast Missouri," the woman said.

Baird -- then the largest class B animal dealer in the nation -- took the dogs to his kennel, where he would ship them out to medical research labs, including one at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Class B dealers do not have to raise the animals.

LCA's investigation -- including more than 70 hours of surveillance video -- led law enforcement officers to raid the kennels Aug. 26, 2003.

Last August, Baird pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to launder money stemming from his role in mail fraud. He violated the federal Animal Welfare Act by sending animals to research facilities with false acquisition records.

He could be sentenced in June to as much as 10 years in prison and a fine of $5 million.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture pulled his dealer license in January 2005. Baird surrendered more than $1 million in land and was fined $262,700 in the civil action, the largest fines ever imposed by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

But LCA officials contend that the USDA was slow to act and that federal inspectors long ignored the abusive conditions at Martin Creek Kennels.

Baird said in a taped interview -- part of the DVD presentation -- that USDA inspectors looked the other way when it came to such dog dealing.

Even while facing charges, Baird continued to operate as a licensed dealer.

The female investigator who led Saturday's presentation said the University of Missouri bought animals from Baird after he was charged with severe mistreatment and neglect of animals and other federal animal-welfare violations.

"Even after the raid, they didn't take it seriously," she said.

The university bought animals from Baird as late as December 2004, she said.

While Baird no longer is dealing dogs, 17 other "random source" dealers, including one in northern Missouri, still ply their trade across the country, LCA officials said.

The LCA investigator said that would end if Congress passes the legislation. It would eliminate the research market for "random source" animals, she said.

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