According to an ABC News article posted August 16, 2008, dog breeding kennel owners Elmer and Ammon Zimmerman of Maxatawny, Pennsylvania, shot 80 of their breeding dogs and closed their kennels in response to having been ordered by dog wardens to enact kennel repairs (their kennel was cited for extreme heat, insufficient bedding and floors the animal's feet could fall through), and veterinary checks for 39 dogs suffering flea and fly bites. Unfortunately, there is currently no law in the state of Pennsylvania that prohibits the killing of animals by firearm.
The fact that these kennel owners who exploited these animals for profit while providing no health care (not even flea prevention!) or humane conditions for them to live in is an example of greed at its worst. The fact that they would sooner murder each dog rather than comply with minimal standards of health and living conditions is a very troubling commentary on our citizen's attitude toward animals. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that in the eyes of the current laws of Pennsylvania (and I would not doubt, many other states as well), these individuals have done nothing wrong, however ghastly their actions.
The only positive note to some out of this very sad event, is that the incident gained the attention of Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, prompting him to urge the Pensylvania House of Representatives to pass his proposed reforms to the state dog law. According to FoxBusiness.com, Governor Rendell made his appeal accompanied by Maggie, one of the two Golden Retrievers who were former breeding dogs that were rescued and adopted by the Rendell family. The new legislation would prohibit breeding dog euthanasia by anyone other than a state licensed veterinarian, along with other important animal welfare provisions. Quoted directly from FoxBusiness.com, below is a list of other regulations proposed in the reform bill:
House Bill 2525 also:
-- Doubles the minimum floor space for cages.
-- Requires outdoor exercise. Current law does not require even that dogs be let out of cages, much less given access to outside exercise.
-- Requires solid flooring. Dogs now can spend their entire lives on wire floors, which damage their feet over time.
-- Prohibits the stacking of cages. Under existing law, cages can be stacked so high that inspectors can't see whether they have food or water, or even if they are still alive.
-- Requires veterinary checks annually or during each pregnancy. Many dogs now never see a vet throughout their entire lives.
I applaud Governor Rendell and his efforts in reaction to this cruel act that occurred in his state. It is my hope that politicians within other states with outdated and inadequate animal welfare laws, follow his example in making humane treatment of animals a priority. I encourage all my readers to check on the provisions their respective municipal and state laws have for breeding animals, and organize pressure on their local and state government to enact reform if the laws are less than adequate.