Animal Welfare is important to both you as well as your wife Ann. I applaud you for taking steps to ensure the safety and welfare of animals who have no voice.
As a small hobby breeder of Australian Shepherds I do everything in my power to do things "right." My dogs have all of the genetic and health screenings that are part of our parent club Code of Ethics. I go over this by adding 5 or more other genetic screenings that are not required. I do this because it is another tool in ensuring my dogs are healthy.
My dogs have adequate vet care. My vet and his staff know me by name. When new studies come out on health issues I am one of the first to go and discuss it. Every treatment done on my dogs includes discussions on option and we make decisions together.
All of my dogs show in various venues, we show conformation, do sheep herding and basic obedience. They live in my home and are part of the family. It is important to show they are good examples of my breed. The litters I produce are my ambassadors. I choose to sell most into pet homes where they are sold with limited registration which does not allow breeding. Any puppy kept intact is for my personal use to show. No dogs leave intact unless on a co-own contract so I can ensure that they are true great representatives of the breed.
I know this is long winded but I wanted to make sure that you understand where I am coming from. I do not cut corners anywhere in my program. Period. This is why I had concern with the recent Animal Welfare Act which put my breeding program in the crosshairs of the Department of Agriculture. It would have treated me like a criminal.
Let's fast forward now. I was asked by a local all breed rescue to foster some kittens. I said sure I had an open crate why not. What I got was an emaciated mother and four listless kittens, one with a badly infected eye. There had been five kittens but the County Animal Shelter inoculated them before leaving and as they were in poor health one died.
I have spent the last 48 hours nursing these cats into health. The mother is skin and bones, the kittens were wobly on their feet. The one with the bad eye gets his eye treated four times a day with medicine - medicine that he only got AFTER leaving the county animal shelter.
Why do I tell you this? It is not to say 'Wow look at me what a great person I am.' No it is because after reading the paperwork I found out these kittens who I thought were 3-4 weeks old are in fact SIX weeks old and born in the "care" (I use this word loosely) of a state run Animal Shelter.
The mother has been in almost 2 months. Had these been animals in my care I would be charged with animal neglect at best. Yet the Department of Agriculture (who would have been telling ME how to run my breeding program) seems to have no issue with allowing animals to be neglected using my tax dollars.
I have been at other shelters and have not seen this lack of apathy. If it were up to me this *shelter* should be shut down or at minimum there should be a wholesale change of the guard. There is absolutely NO reason for stunted, sickly emaciated kittens to be living in a shelter...BORN in a shelter.
I would love to have you or your wife come and see these pitiful cats. Cats that MY money will be taking care of (made smaller because of a large chunk being taken through various taxes from federal state and local governments). I will be doing the job that the state and local governments should do.
I truly think before the Department of Agriculture is asked to judge how I breed and care for dogs they should get some experience by actually caring for the animals IN THEIR OWN SHELTERS first. Once you and the state are running YOUR shelters per the rules and regulations for basic animal husbandry, then by all means come tell me how to care for my animals. Because I refuse to lower MY standards to those used on these poor defenseless creatures in my home.
Thank you for your time and consideration.