Wisconsin Professional Pet Breeder's Association
Wisconsin's First Breeders Educational Trade Show and Seminar
Recently we received notice of the following event:
"Wisconsin's First Breeder Educational Trade Show & Seminar is right around the corner! Wisconsin breeders should head on down to Horst Stables Auctions, Thorp, WI on August 18, 2007. This seminar is focused on increasing your profits and decreasing your puppy losses! You will also have the opportunity to visit with industry experts and become a member of Wisconsin Professional Pet Breeders Association. For more information, contact APRI National Field Representative Michael Glass at (484) 880-7962."
We first wished to learn more about WPPBA, the "Wisconsin Professional Pet Breeders Association". By the title, one would think this would be a group representing reputable breeders in Wisconsin, working to establish a network to share expertise regarding the breeding of pets. Upon further investigation, we learned that the group held it's first meeting on 6/9/07. We found the following notice online:
Wisconsin Professional Pet Breeders Association Meeting
Inaugural Meeting of the Wisconsin Professional Pet Breeders Association, at 2:30 pm on Saturday June 9 at Markesan. contact Wallace Havens at 608-837-2858 or e-mail for directions.
The agenda of the meeting is:
1. To organize all Wisconsin pet breeders of all species to form opposition to the Pet Facilities Licensing Bill by Senators Darling and Lothian (see Legislative Alert parts I to V, in right margin of this page), and any other anti-pet state and local legislation, as well as to overturn existing legislation.
2. To protect pet owners and breeders from unreasonable harassment and invasions of privacy, and to identify sympathetic legislators to draft bills that would protect us and legally indemnify and reimburse us from damages from baseless charges and impoundments from overzealous animal rights extremists and "humane" organizations.
Of course, we are naturally curious people. Now we are really starting to wonder about this group. So a CCHS staff member attended the August 18th meeting to learn more about this organization. The information we learned is interesting, to say the least. It is also very unsettling.
Indeed WPPBA is not what it first appears. The President of this group is Wallace Havens, of Puppy Haven puppy mill fame. Wallace Havens owns one of the biggest "high volume" puppy mills in the Midwest, has numerous violations of USDA regulations and has been suspended from AKC privileges for ten years. Vice-President and Treasurer of WPPBA is Clyde Horst, owner of Horst Stables and proprietor of Wisconsin's dog auctions. (This is where the infamous Thorp Dog Auctions are held.) In attendance at this 'Breeders Educational Trade Show' are approximately 40 Mennonite puppy millers from Clark County. It seems that WPPBA is an organization of Wisconsin puppy millers.
To be fair, there was some good information presented at this seminar. Dr. Gene Warren from Pfizer provided an Animal Health Presentation, covering vaccinations for dogs and puppies. Dr. Ali Brower, Diagnostic Pathologist with the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, presented information on Canine Brucellosis. Cindy Neis, USDA Animal Care Inspector, showed information on what she looks for as part of her inspections.
The most interesting parts of the day were the vendors who sponsored the event. There were a number of registry groups present, including America's Pet Registry, Inc., United All Breed Registry, American Canine Association, and American Canine Hybrid Club. Each vendor did a short presentation on their perspective regarding pet breeding.
APRI (America's Pet Registry) was the host and sponsor of the seminar. They presented information in the front cover of the program for the seminar. This is a direct quote of their information:
"America's Pet Registry, Inc is here because we believe in your right to choice. We are here because, unfortunately in our society and in your state government, there are those who will deny you this essential element of your personal freedoms. We are here to arm you with information so you may protect your rights to property and due process under the law from those who seek to deny you these basic freedoms. We are here because we understand that tyranny seldom comes from the barrel of a gun. APRI is here because we know if we do not adhere to the lessons of the past, accept the challenges of the present, then there will be no opportunity for choice in the future."
Okay, there's a feeling at this seminar that the sponsors and vendors are here to do more than promote their products. There's a lot of political activity taking place. The source of this activity is extremely frightening.
One of the speakers is Cathie Baker, representing United All Breed Registry. Cathie spoke to the group about how important it is to socialize puppies, and that you should actually touch them every day. She recommended putting the puppies in a playpen with the young children so the children could do the socializing. It's important to note that Cathie is from Missouri.
The American Canine Hybrid Club was represented. This group discussed the value of registering your hybird dog. "A hybrid dog is so much better because it's the product of two purebred dogs. If you get a dog from a pound, you don't know what it comes from." (Excuse me, but isn't a 'hybrid' dog a mixed breed? Just checking!) This group is from Arkansas.
Bob Yarnall is the President and CEO of the American Canine Association. Bob is from Pennsylvania. He discussed a lawsuit taking place back in Pennsylvania, and assured the Mennonite breeders in attendance that he is looking out for their families back home in Pennsylvania. He also strongly encouraged all breeders to join the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. According to his handout, "ACA has formed a strong strategic alliance with Farm Bureau. This relationship has proven itself time and time again as ACA has worked hard in stopping hundred of bills from unnecessarily burdening our nation's kennels." They provided recommended policies for each breeder to submit to their county's Farm Bureau:
1) Wisconsin Department of Agriculture regulations mirror USDA for the inspections and licensing of kennels.
2) Only trained and certified Department of Agriculture employees' inspection offcers inspect Department of Agriculture licensed kennels.
3) Local humane society personnel be required to obtain a serach warrant to come on to our farms and kennels
4) If a farm on agricultual zoned land adds a USDA or state licensed and inspected kennel-breeding operation, that this activity be fully viewed as part of the agro-business on the farm helping to keep the farm agriculturally and economically viable.
Also present at the seminar were the Missouri Pet Breeders Association (whose founder proudly talked about whipping the activists in Missouri) and the Pennsylvania Professional Dog Breeders Assocation.
APRI's CEO, Marcus Richmond, was the last speaker at the seminar. His comments follow:
"The first line of defense is compliance. We have to take ammunition against activism, against the 'animal takers' who take without due process. It comes down to the breeders versus the activists. The activists disagree with all animal usage. APRI is working to develop a state organization to get the truth out there. Activists disguise 'animals welfare' for animal rights. They are denying individuals their choices to own property, make a livelihood, own a pet, their due process. For the people in the middle, [not breeders or activists] the activists will be taking away their right to own a pet. Politicians need to know that if the puppy breeders are out of business, people still want pets. Then they can only import them from out of the country or get them on the black market. An artificial shortage will be created, and then it's only for the money. Activists just don't have enough sense to get out of the ring."
Attending this seminar was certainly an educational experience, just like their brochure promised. We learned that there is more going on behind the scenes than we ever realized. We are very troubled to learn that the puppy millers here in Clark County are closely aligned with Wallace Havens, who was in attendance at the seminar. He is largely viewed as their mentor and leader. The group has apparently been meeting for several years. Also very troubling is the connection with Missouri and Pennsylvania puppy mill organizations. There was a large thank you notice right in the program to Ken Brandt, Lobbyist and Executive Director of PPDBA, Pennsylvania Pofessional Dog Breeders Association, Advocates for Breeders' Rights.
There are some things fundamentally wrong with this group. First, they are telling people here in Wisconsin that those of us concerned with animal welfare are going to stop them from owning pets. Nothing could be farther from the truth! That doesn't even begin to make sense. All of the work and effort that goes into caring for the animals entrusted to our care only comes to a happy ending when a pet finds a new forever home. Second, and most important, letting groups from Missouri and Pennsylvania influence legislation in our own State of Wisconsin is wrong. We don't need to have money from puppy millers in other states helping to encourage those who are operating puppy mills in Wisconsin. Lobbyists that are paid by these out-of-state breeder groups have no place in the Wisconsin legislative process.
If they are determined to call someone concerned with animal welfare an "animal rights activist", then so be it. The bottom line for us is that no one should be making money off of the suffering of dogs and puppies. That has nothing to do with impeding one's right to make a living or their 'due process'. That has to do with what is morally and ethically correct. Someone who makes their living by breeding dogs in horrible conditions until their bodies are worn out and exhausted sure seems to be in it for the money. A breeder selling puppies with genetic defects, health issues, and socialization problems sure seems to be in it for the money. Although these puppy millers seem to see no ethical or moral problems with what they are doing, we certainly do. This needs to be stopped now. We need everyone's help to achieve this. Please get involved and contact your legislators today. We can't do it alone. We all need to work together to stop this misery and suffering!