Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puppy Mills, Veterinary Bills and the AVMA

This aisle of dog feces did not result in a direct violation from the USDA.

If I told you the current head of the American Veterinary Medical Association had been in charge of puppy mill inspections at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at a time when inspectors rarely issued a citation for even the most horrific situation, would you believe me?

Would you believe me if I told you this same gentleman -- Ron DeHaven -- is now a cheerleader for veterinary bill padding?

The good news is that you do not have to believe me.

I have video tape and records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture itself to prove it.

Let's start with the USDA's "Animal Care" division.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's own Inspector General released a report last month admitting the Agency has done a very poor job of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, the law designed to make sure that "commercial breeding facilities" for dogs and cats are something less than centers for horror, pain and misery.

You can read the entire report yourself right here [PDF], complete with graphic pictures.

The report starts off noting that:

In our last audit [2005] on animals in research facilities, we found that the agency was not aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against violators of AWA [Animal Welfare Act] and that it assessed minimal monetary penalties against them....

And guess what? Things did not improve!

As The Los Angeles Times summarized in its story on the USDA's Inspector General report:

An internal government report says dogs are dying and living in horrific conditions due to lax government enforcement of large kennels known as puppy mills.

Investigators say the Department of Agriculture agency in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs. In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.

The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found that more than half of those who had already been cited for violations flouted the law again. It details grisly conditions at several facilities and includes photos of dogs with gaping wounds, covered in ticks and living among pools of feces.

So who was running Animal Control during those years?

None other than Ron DeHaven, the current head of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

DeHaven was deputy administrator for Animal Care (AC) from 1996-2001, deputy administrator of APHIS for Veterinary Services from 2002-2004 and head administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from April 2004-July 2007.

In short, if commerial dog breeding facilities in the U.S. are a mess, that mess is parked right at his door.

Ticks on this dog were deemed to not be a direct violation, and so no follow up.

So what's DeHaven's message now?
Watch the video below to find out.

Isn't that wonderful? Ron DeHaven is the new face of veterinary bill padding; a pusher for contrived crisis and the "dependency model" of veterinary care.

The current head of the AVMA is the same fellow who gave a "big wink" to the kind of puppy mill abuse the USDA's Inspector General found so shocking only last month.

This is who represents your veterinarian on Capitol Hill.


You know what you won't find the AVMA talking about?

You won't hear them talking about contrived standards in Kennel Club dogs.

You won't hear them talking inbreeding and disease in Kennel Club dogs.

And why would they? For veterinarians, silence has been golden.


YesBiscuit! said...

I honestly can't understand why there isn't more outrage among dog people over this whole scandalous mess. I didn't realize the connection between the USDA and AVMA. Maybe helps explain why the AVMA still endorses gassing shelter pets.

The Dog House said...

Drinking game! Do a shot every time you hear the word "wellness"!

Seriously though, am I the only one who finds this guy totally creepy? The real close up shot is going to give me nightmares.

Oh, and I lovelovelove how the vet noticed liver disease and cushings on a physical exam and yet the owners were totally oblivious... cause both are EASILY diagnosed on physical exam... it's not like they got the dog in the door and then guilted the owner into additional screening processes... oh WAIT! Yes, it is!

Bleh. Things like this make me worship my vet even more.

Viatecio said...

Wow, I had no idea of the connection either. Read the report a while ago when Heather blogged about it, but this is a whole new thang.

Sickening. There's no other word for it. Hell, I feel like gagging every time I read/hear "every six months." Add that phrase to your drinking game, DH!

Love how it's obvious that the guy is reading from a script just off-camera.

Anton said...

the doctor reminded me of the bad guy in half life 2.

lol the catch word for this comment is spaying.