Saturday, May 16, 2009

Will Colorado law become "The Law"?

We must NOT allow this to continue to happen. If this is truly the case, however Cynthia Eliason of New Hampshire just shared with me a follow-up post on the topic. Please read through to the very end before making any decisions on the who, what, where and why when it comes to support.

Subject: This is why there can be no compromise, posted to the IRWS list

4a. Licensing facts---long
Posted by: "AvalonKennels@" AvalonKennels@
Date: Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:39 pm ((PDT))

I normally never post on this list but since I have actual experience,
I am going to in this case. Colorado was the first and only state to
pass mandatory licensing for breeders. This came about when we were
informed about a bill that was going to the legislature the following
day. No advance notice, but in those days we weren't as alert as we
are now. We all gathered at the state capitol, dog breeders, cat
breeders, small animal breeders, 4-H Leaders and their troops, any
person who had an animal and was interested in protecting their rights
to own that animal.

The bill requiring mandatory 10 year moratorium on ALL breeding was
defeated. A meeting was held and we decided, to our everlasting
regret, that we needed to write a bill we could live with. We spent a
year writing the Pet Animal Care and Facility Act. A task force
representing 13 different animal groups, was formed. Dog breeders,
both large scale and small, cat breeders, small animal breeders, bird
breeders, animal welfare officers, veterinarians, Retail stores,
wholesale suppliers, general public, etc. We met for an entire year,
and presented a bill into legislature calling for licensing and
inspections of all these groups.

It passed into law easily as the entire industry was supporting it. A
Pet Animal Advisory Committee was then formed, with the same
representative groups, charged with writing the rules and regulations
to go with the law. I represented the dog breeders of the state of
Colorado for 4 years.

Originally, the licensing fee for dog breeders was $175, now it is
$350. The original number required to be licensed was 25, then 15, and
now it is supposed to go to 12. This is any dog over the age of 4
months. I have been told the age may also go down to 3 months. No
legislative voting, no nothing was required to change portions of the

Originally, if you worked a normal 9-5 job, you could put on the
application that the inspector could come by appointment. This year,
if you refuse to take off work, to allow them access at any time, you
are in violation, will have hefty fines and could even have your
license revoked.

The inspector recently demanded in person and later in writing from a
SHOW breeder, all her AKC records. When she refused, they have
threatened to take her license away. This is still being argued, so
will see how it plays out. The law only says you have to make all
records available to the inspector to see. Now, they are demanding to
take your records with them.

Also, at any inspection, they will not give you the inspection report
unless you demand it. It is mailed to you later with any petty
violations they find. You have no recourse or ability to argue the
unfairness of any violation.

The last inspection I had the inspector said everything was great.
But, I got a report in the mail later that I was in violation because
I had an opened sack of dog food on the property. And, because I had
an orphan litter of puppies. When I complained loud and clear, I was
told the litter should have been taken to the vet's, as they had the
knowledge and experience necessary to deal with the puppies OR I
SHOULD HAVE EUTHANIZED THE PUPPIES. I filed a formal complaint with
the Dept. of Agriculture and had a hearing. The open sack of dog food
was dismissed but the other was not. My vet wrote a letter and came to
the hearing and testified as to my ability to raise an orphan litter,
no avail. The inspectors still ruled the vet was better able to care
for them.

The inspectors have the right to enter ANY part of your house, garage,
kennel, yard, etc. where you might maintain, raise, etc. any dog. This
means your bedroom or bathroom if that is where you have any dogs.
Quesiton: how many of you have a dog sleeping by your bed???? How many
have puppies born in the bedroom?

All of the bills being introduced in various states are patterned
after the Colorado bill. During the bill writing process we had great
guys in the Dept.of Agriculture. has died, one retired,
and the other got promoted out of the dog program. The state vet, the
head of PACFA, the inspectors promote and encourage the Animal Rights
propaganda. One inspector has even gone so far as to say she would
like to see all breeders stopped.

The hen house is being protected by the fox. Do you want your state to
be in the same position?? Get involved now, don't give in to any of
their suggestions. DON'T ever think you can bargain with them. That is
like bargaining with the Devil. We don't know if it is too late for
Colorado, breeders have rallied and are fighting for their lives and
their rights to own, breed, and show dogs.

Jean Nelson
Avalon Kennels est 1964
Breeder/owner of over 216 champions


Sorry this has taken a while to write, but I'm still trying to figure out why the comments/statements were made in the first place. This post from Jean is not only full of inaccurate statements, it is a fabrication of events that still has me sitting here in absolute shock. I was involved in the writing of the Colorado Pet Animal Facilities Act ( PACFA ) as was Jean Nelson and several others in Colorado, but very little of what was stated in her e-mail is accurate. I would very much prefer to not have to dispute it, but her e-mail is making the rounds of the dog community and needs to be corrected. I can't speak to her personal conversations with inspectors, since I wasn't there, but the rest of what she relates has little or no basis in fact. I don't know why she wrote this, but I have the documentation from that period of time to back up what I say. Jean was involved in the PACFA development as a representative of the small commercial breeders group (she was a commercial breeder), not the hobby breeders since the hobby breeders are not licensed under PACFA .

* Colorado was NOT the first state to license breeders in the 90's.
We did have a more innovative approach to licensing than those that came before us. We licensed the 'facilities' rather than an individual. We also made the law workable for breeders who may breed small numbers of pets in their homes.

* There was NO bill that would have required a mandatory 10 year moratorium on breeding introduced with no notice. Never happened!

* The dog community was NOT responsible for the beginning of the process which became the PACFA law. It was initiated by the state health department deciding in 1991 they were no long going to oversee inspections of pet stores, kennels and bird banding. They turned it over to the state agriculture department who decided that maybe the law would be better if expanded to license 'facilities' who handled or bred pet animals. They invited ALL of the industries that might be affected to participate in the process to make the laws fair and effective. The dog community had several representatives present at those first meetings. The law was developed to insure proper care of pet animals and consistent standards. The development of the bill took from 1991 to 1993, with the bill being passed into law in 1994.

* Jean Nelson was on the advisory committee representing the small commercial breeders (transferring 25 to 99 dogs per year) AS a commercial breeder. The dog show community had no official representative on this committee since hobby breeders (transferring 24 or less dogs in a year) were exempt from the law. I sat in on all the meetings to keep the dog community informed of what was happening and to make sure what was written didn't negatively affect them, as did several other people over the almost 3 years of development of the law and regulations.

* The yearly licensing fee for a small commercial breeder is NOT $350, nor has it ever been. It is $250 currently, down from $280 in 2007 I
believe. The fee for a licensed rescue is $80. $350 is the law's
cap which no fee (for any licensed facility) can go beyond without changes to the statute, which no one needs or wants at this time. The program is 'self funding' and the agriculture department has done a good job of keeping costs down.

*The 25/15/12 dogs figure she talks about is NOT for breeder
licensing, since that license is not based on numbers of dogs owned.
There is a portion of the state law that if you have more than 15 dogs at one location, you need to be licensed under PACFA in any of the appropriate categories to address issues of hoarding and insure proper care of the dogs...rescue, breeder, boarding... Not sure I agree with this portion of the law, but it is what it is. There is NO movement to lower that limit to 12, nor is there any discussion of lowering age definitions from 4 months to 3 months.

* Her e-mail states that there is " legislative voting, no nothing was required to change portions of the requirements..." That is NOT true. Anything in the statute takes legislative action to change. LOTS of chance for input there, as we have proven with the HSUS bill this year to change PACFA ! We won- they lost. Changes to regulations require public hearings as well as publication of the proposed changes and public input under state laws. Since I track changes to the PACFA regulations I can tell you they do follow this process and don't just change them under the table as inferred by that post.

* Inspections are done on a random basis -unannounced, as is standard in many licensed regulations such as restaurants, shelters, ... If you aren't there when they come during your regular business hours (which you give them on the yearly renewal) then they will call to set an appointment. Most inspections are done on a 1 to 3 year cycle, unless you have failed a prior inspection or have a complaint. Then they will inspect you more frequently. They will work with you and your schedule within reason. If you tell them your business hours are on Friday from 4:00 to 4:15 then you might have a problem! They do not demand inspections outside of normal business hours. ( I know inspectors have volunteered to do an inspection on Saturday for people that work full time and have a home facility) They cannot require "...access at any time..." NOT in the law or regulations, and not allowed by the agriculture department. It was suggested in January of this year by another state department which oversee licensing agencies, but was immediately turned down by the PACFA program and agriculture department. Don't need it nor did they want it. I was at that hearing and would be glad to provide a transcript.

* She talks about no "...recourse or ability to argue the fairness of any violation", yet she then talks about having a hearing on the violations with the department of agriculture. Which is it? She also says they have a right to enter any part of a facility where you maintain dogs if licensed that way. If you have listed those areas as
part of your facility, then yes they do have a right to inspect them.
That makes sense doesn't it? If you don't list your house or bedroom as a part of the facility, and you don't have animals in those areas that fall under your license, then they can't go there without your permission. You DO have a right to refuse them entry even during business hours, but as with any licensing for any business you run the risk of losing your license if you don't have a good reason.

The Colorado PACFA law has been in effect for over 14 years. During that time it has been given high praise as a law written by those who are regulated under it, and as a fair law. Other states have used it as an example for their own laws. If Jean is trying to say that the HSUS and animal rights laws are being proposed this year based on PACFA , then she has no clue of what she is talking about. It is an unfair and inaccurate statement.

After closing her commercial breeding kennel, Jean ran a rescue facility for several years in Colorado before moving to Texas. I don't know why these e-mails have been written by her condemning the PACFA program and Colorado, but she seems to have a grip with them that is not being stated.

When HSUS came into Colorado this year to try to pass their standard version of a "puppy mill bill," the PACFA law actually helped us to fight against it. Because we had a good licensing and inspection law already in place, we could argue that no new laws were needed or wanted. We didn't need any changes to it or 'improvements' from HSUS . The problems that allowed HSUS to even get the bill introduced this year originated from the PACFA inspectors being too LAX in enforcement over the past year! The law was and is good, the enforcement needs improvement and strengthening. Not quite the picture that was painted in the e-mail.

* Jean stated that the everyone in the agriculture department
"...encourages animal rights propaganda...". Huh? Is that why they
helped us fight the HSUS bill this year, and the one last year, and the year before that? These are horse and cattle people in this department. They don't like animal rights or animal right nuts any
more than we do, and have proven it over the years. Why are we
trying to make enemies out of people who are on our side in this fight? I don't know if Jean had a bad experience with the PACFA program while she was licensed as a commercial breeder or rescue, but Colorado is in good shape for the dog community. We are not fighting for our lives or rights here with anyone right now. We won the battle on the 'puppy mill bill' and number limits in February, and are close to winning another one against HSUS on current legislation- with support from the very people you say are against us! There is no 'devil' to bargain with in Colorado and working WITH government officials for a common goal of fair laws and enforcement is much smarter than making enemies of them for no valid reason. Her comments
make no sense but seem to be meant to stir up problems and mistrust.
I'm posting this to correct the inaccurate information being spread by this e-mail only. Don't have any grudges against Jean, really don't care about her, but am concerned by this second post on this subject in the last few months and felt it needed a response. I hope Jean has a happier life in Texas since she seems to have been unhappy here.

Permission to cross post is given and encouraged. Anyone wanted to contact me privately on this is welcome to do so. Sorry about the length.

Linda Hart

From reading both emails, it is once again shown that we must all be careful to do the necessary background research before taking a statement at face value.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:23 AM

    The 'small canine operation facility' fee is currently $345, and will again go up in July '10, so as to hire a new inspector.