Thursday, April 23, 2009

fighting for the right to mistreat animals

as cynical as i've become over the years, i'm still occasionally surprised by political developments. so while i'm not surprised at resistance to a proposed indiana bill restricting puppy mills, i am surprised at who it's coming from, and why:

Indiana Department of Agriculture officials have been working behind the scenes to defeat legislation that would crack down on abusive dog breeders by trying to discredit one of the bill's leading supporters.

Their target: the Humane Society of the United States.

Although the department has taken no official position on the legislation, it acknowledges it has highlighted the Humane Society's history of opposition to confined farming practices, common in Indiana, especially in huge hog operations where animals are raised in close quarters.

A document the agency distributed to lawmakers alleges the Humane Society's goal was the "abolition of all animal agriculture," a notion the group rejected Wednesday. Critics of the bill worry that it could lead to new restrictions on livestock.

so there's a bill to protect dogs from mistreatment, and these people are talking about livestock?

ignoring the question of whether these types of restrictions should be applied to livestock—some of them probably should, as operations such as CAFOs are bad both for the animals as well as for the environment—how does this make sense? dogs are raised as pets, not livestock, so how and why would laws pertaining to dogs be applied to cattle or hogs? the logic is strained.

but most disappointing is that a state government agency is secretly lobbying to defeat this bill. perhaps i shouldn't be surprised, considering that the man in charge is mitch daniels, who's always happy to sell out the environment in favor of business interests, but still i am. how appropriate, then, that the story comes out the day after earth day, fresh on the heels of yesterday's revelation that indiana fallss at the bottom of nearly every conceivable environmental ranking.

not only does mitch daniels not care about the environment; now we know he doesn't even care about protecting puppies from abuse.

update: becky skillman chimes in:

On Thursday, Lt. Gov Becky Skillman's office, which oversees the Department of Agriculture, said Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration backed the bill.

"We are definitely in favor of regulation and the ability to prosecute some of these bad actors and puppy mills that are out there," said Jay Kenworthy, Skillman's press secretary. "There's no effort to kill the bill. We just wanted to see a few changes."

here are some of the changes that have been made:

No limit to the number of dogs an owner can breed. No state inspections of commercial breeding facilities. No restrictions on how often a dog can be bred.

in other words, skillman was in favor of the bill, as long as most of its teeth were removed first.

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