Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yet another update - ACT NOW

Dear Virginia Friends,

VHDOA lost its website last week, hampering our communications. We hope to be back online soon. Threats from the animal rightist, anti-hunting Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) extend well beyond its "Virginia is for Puppy Mills" campaign scheduled for the next General Assembly.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has filed a Farm Bill amendment, effectively reintroducing the unsuccessful Santorum-Durbin-HSUS-AKC-AVMA PAWS bill of 2005. This amounts to a procedural end run, bypassing Senate committee hearings and their votes. HSUS used the same maneuver in 2001, attaching the so-called Puppy Protection Act to the last farm bill without a recorded vote. The GOP-led House conferees removed it. The nature of floor amendments and changed Congressional control considerably enhance HSUS's prospects for gaining what it couldn't in 2005-2006.

There's a new provision banning the import of *any* dog or cat younger than six months old, but other changes from PAWS2005 are largely cosmetic. HSUS's primary goal hasn't changed. The measure requires the federal regulation of any person selling more than 25 dogs and/or cats per year at retail or wholesale, reversing the current distinction which exempts private retail sellers. It also leaves intact the separate requirement that *all* hunting dog owners be regulated, regardless of size. Stripping the wholesale-only regulation shield creates the same "gotcha" situation that was the primary motivation for SAOVA's extensive efforts to defeat S2609 (PAWS2005). If this rider becomes law, it sets the stage for a savage, unpredictable fight at the USDA implementation stage and/or expensive federal court litigation to keep the federal government, HSUS, PETA or AKC out of hunters' homes and kennels.

AKC and AVMA aren't likely to fight this rider. It's the same bill they fought so hard to pass in 2005. It also now contains pet import restrictions, something that they both support, as well as an alternative party kennel inspection provision much desired by the AKC. Sen. Durbin's SA3723 amendment is on the Senate floor, as is the large, complex and controversial Farm Bill. A vote on the bill and its amendments has been stalled, pending negotiations between Democratic and Republican leaders. That deadlock could be broken at any time. There is a very substantial risk that all, or most of all of SA3723 (PAWS2007) will be deemed to be non-controversial. If HSUS and Senator Durbin sell that falsehood to Agriculture Committee leadership, SA3723 will be added in the floor manager's omnibus "technical" amendment package and passed without debate. We should strive to prevent this from happening. Relying on 2007-2008 House Agriculture Committee leadership and their conferees to block this measure would be unwise.

ASAP, please contact Senators John Warner and James Webb. Urge that they not permit SA3723 to be included in the Farm Bill in *any* fashion. Vote NO on SA3723! The Agriculture Committee hasn't vetted the measure and it very materially injures the interests of all Virginia pet owners. Don't permit this HSUS sneak attack on you and your animals. See contact details at

In addition, send the exact same message to Farm Bill floor manager and Senate Agriculture Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Minority Member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Hunting Hounds Study

I attended a dog owners invited DGIF "focus group" meeting in Caroline County last week. Unlike the previous such meetings around the state, a large group of uninvited houndsmen came to this unpublicized session. Many questions regarding the study's goals and procedures were raised. About twenty of the invitees were gathered together in a separate room for a taped discussion led by a new VT employee. My August expressed concerns about the nature of this study's management plan and the threat it posed to sportsmen and their relationship with DGIF were confirmed in the meeting and in discussions with staff, both before and after they acknowledged that HSUS and PETA had been invited to participate in a December 18th study meeting in Richmond. Both of these groups are rapidly anti-hunting and totally committed to ending the sport. Such influences have been evidenced in other DGIF rulemakings. Since the department's Director was fired on November 30th, you are encouraged to voice your concerns about this very dangerous set of circumstances to the DGIF Board and your Richmond legislators.

Freely forward and cross post.

Bob Kane, President
Virginia Hunting Dog Owners' Association


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