Monday, July 19, 2010

Houston SPCA Rescues 1,000 Animals from Backyard Breeder

Acting on an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen, the Houston SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigation Team rescued and removed 1,079 animals from a private home on July 15.

The animals included dozens of dogs, rabbits, hamsters and a large variety of exotic birds.  All of the animals were living in dirty, cramped cages without proper food and water.  The birds appeared to be the victims of the most severe neglect. 

The Houston SPCA blog reported that when their team arrived at the home along with officials from the Harris County Constable’s office, they found hundreds of macaws, cockatiels and parakeets living in deplorable conditions.  Birds were kept in overcrowded cages that were scattered around the property. Many of the exotic birds were kept in small storage units and each of the hundreds of cages was equipped with breeding boxes.
The SPCA reported that some of the birds were dead and some were dying.  One dead bird was found hanging from a trap where it was being used as “bait.” 

All of the cages were covered with built-up waste, old food and cobwebs.

According to the SPCA, the man and woman that live in the house have a Breeder’s license and were running a breeding business from their home.

SPCA spokesperson Meera Nandial said, “From what we understand, (the owners) were selling them to pet stores.”  There is also speculation the couple was selling the animals to flea markets and individual buyers.

“The animals were being held in cages crammed inside storage sheds on the property.  Many did not have food or water.  Those (cages) that do have water – it’s not fresh.  There doesn’t appear to be a lot of new food in the cages," Nandial continued.

The team also found a shed full of cardboard boxes used for transporting birds.  The boxes were stamped with the words, “Live Birds Rush.” Apparently the breeders were shipping or mailing birds directly from their home.

The animals were rescued and relocated to the Houston SPCA facility where they will each undergo a veterinary examination.

A court date will be set within 10 days where a judge will determine who will take custody of the animals. 

The Future Of Backyard Breeders 
Unfortunately stories like this are in the news too often.   But recent legislation and proposed laws in several parts of the country are bringing hope to the plight of animals kept by backyard breeders and large commercial breeders. 

San Francisco and West Hollywood are trying to eliminate the problem by placing restrictions on pet shops.  Backyard breeders and puppy mills will cease to exist if there is no one to buy their animals.

The theory behind these types of laws is twofold:  First it will stop impulse buyers who fall in love with a cute pet, but soon tire of them once they get home and second it will lead people to adopt pets from animal shelters and rescue groups.  Care2 writer Jake Richardson addresses the problem of impulse buying and the proposed San Francisco law in his story titled,“Pet Sales Ban in San Francisco Tabled.”

West Hollywood blocked backyard breeders when they voted on an ordinance earlier this year that only permits pet shops to “re-home” rescued or shelter animals.  

Nationwide more than 500 independent pet shops have voluntarily signed the HSUS pledge to stop selling puppies at their stores.  And currently The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act is gathering support to close up a loophole that allows breeders like the couple in Houston from continuing to profit from the suffering of animals. 

The Act will add regulations to backyard breeders and breeders that sell directly to the public or pet shops.  A story called, “Protect Puppies From Unlicensed Puppy Mills,” discusses this loophole.

Here are two petitions for your signature that address backyard breeders:

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