A blue and gold Macaw.Puppies like these will continue to suffer if Proposal 386 becomes law.

Pet Facility Law Supporters:

A Rescuer Speaks


Why You Should Care About a Pet Facilities Bill

Steve Fitzsimmons, President,
Madison Area Cagebird Association of Wisconsin

        The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) receives hundreds of calls each year from people complaining about the heartbreaking conditions animals are kept in at Wisconsin puppy mills, breeder factories and pet stores. Unfortunately, when enforcing Ch. 951 Crimes Against Animals, an animal is almost dead before it is considered a crime. A bill is currently making its way through our state legislature that would give DATCP the authority to address this problem. This bill is AB536, also known as the Pet Facility Bill. If passed, the self funding AB 536 would allow DATCP to create new humane laws, hire more inspectors and help bring an end to animal abuse in the state.

       The people who oppose AB 536 are trying to kill this bill as I speak. They point out that a dog license might cost $2 more a year and that you may be taxed for your pet foods. They will talk about the success of Ch 951 and question why we need another law. Their spin and scare tactics pale in comparison to the real and hidden dangers of allowing this abuse to go on, but let's just say, Ch 951 hasn't worked and $2 more a year for a license is about the cost of 1 gallon of gas. This is a small price to pay to fix some bad problems.

       75 percent of all viruses animals carry can pass to us humans. West Nile, SARS, Monkey Pox, Psittacosis, and the Exotic New Castles disease are five well known viruses that have affected humans just this past year alone. Animals kept in inhumane conditions, crowded cages, dirty cages, with poor ventilation and packed so tightly as to maximize profits are breeding factories for many viruses including some newer ones. Some animals, like birds, can hide their illness from you and your family for weeks thereby infecting everyone before you even suspect the bird is ill. According to an article appearing on CNN, cats and ferrets are known to have carried the SARS virus which infected over 8,000 people and killed close to 800 this year. This is not a scare tactic, this is reality.

        People who have pet dogs, cats, birds and reptiles love their animals and treat them as if members of the family. Disease outbreaks can bring health department personnel to your home to take your animals away, sometimes to be euthanized as was the case in California during the Exotic New Castle Disease outbreak this past year. Even though your pet may have been healthy, your pet can be viewed as a carrier and a risk. It is important that breeders and pet stores be monitored so the spread of disease is stopped as early as possible to prevent problems from getting out of control like Monkey Pox and Exotic New Castles Disease this past year. (For more information on diseases that can be transmitted to humans, see: Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site guide to Zoonotic Diseases, http://www.sonic.net/~petdoc/zoonotic_diseases.htm.)

       The sad reality is many of our legislators do not see this problem. They choose not to see animals as living beings with feelings, but rather as commodities that are bought and sold like furniture. They follow the dollars not their hearts and they listen to the breeders because they have the funds to contribute to their campaigns. They also choose to ignore the health risks as long as you don't notice and there are no current health problems making the news. People who care about this problem are labeled animal rights activists to group and belittle these people and their concerns.

       On October 16th, 2003, I attended a hearing on the Pet Facility Bill. It was the first time I ever been to a hearing. I watched our representatives in action ignore testimony given by people who took the time to come in that day to state why it was important that they pass this bill. The legislators were more interested in walking around and making jokes than listening. The people who came in had first hand knowledge of what is wrong with the current system. They were pet owners themselves, hardly animal rights activists. As president of the Madison bird club, I receive calls from people all the time who see the inhumane conditions birds are sold in at some area pet stores. For example, I would call the humane society and tell them such and such store is keeping 30 parakeets in a small cage and the birds are in distress, or their cages are really dirty, no food, dirty scummy water and I am told yes, this is terrible, but these pet stores are doing nothing illegal. It's frustrating. I wanted to give this testimony to the representatives at the hearing, but was denied for lack of time.

       In the end it comes down to the dollar. It is cheaper to take an animal that is ill to a freezer than call a vet. It is cheaper to sell an unweaned baby bird than wait 9 months for when it can eat seeds on its own. It is cheaper to keep 30 parakeets in one cage than getting four cages and spreading the birds out. It is cheaper to clean cages and change food and water less.

       Our current laws not only allow this inhumane treatment they reward it. Our animal welfare laws have been outdated and weak for too long. The Pet Facility Bill addresses these weaknesses, will be self funded and will also help protect you, your family and your pets from future disease outbreaks by closer monitoring of these facilities and stronger animal care laws.

       Do you care about the Pet Facility Bill? Don't take my word for it, or the spin the opposition claims. Talk to your veterinarian or look at how the pet stores near you treat their live animals. Talk with someone at a local animal rescue or shelter or humane society. These people know what is going on. Then write to your state representatives and ask them to listen to what you have to say.

       Please support AB 536 and its amendment to include birds and reptiles for you, your family, and the animals. Also note the representatives that don't listen, then vote for someone else at the next election. I don't know about you, but I want my representatives at least to listen to me, even if they don't agree.


 dog/cat bullet   Our Supporters   dog/cat bullet

 dog/cat bullet   Why Support the PFL: Talking Points   dog/cat bullet    Why Support The PFL: A Rescuer Speaks   dog/cat bullet
 dog/cat bullet   Animal Welfare Organizations, Humane Societies and Shelters    dog/cat bullet   
 dog/cat bullet   WI Certified Humane Officers   dog/cat bullet    The Wisconsin Veterinary Association   dog/cat bullet
 dog/cat bullet   Cats International   dog/cat bullet    Fine Feathered Friends Sanctuary, Inc.    dog/cat bullet
 dog/cat bullet   M.A.C.A.W.   dog/cat bullet     Avian Welfare Coalition   dog/cat bullet


Home   *   

 The Reintroduced PFL (pdf)   *   Recommended Administrative Rules (pdf )   *   Acrobat Reader

AB 536 Authors and Cosponsors   *   Our Supporters   *   Funding Analysis

Tips for Contacting Elected Officials   *   E-mail Addresses

Pet March on the Capitol   *   Puppy Mill Links

Photos Copyright © by Steve Fitzsimmons. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Page design Copyright © 2003, Michelle E. Crean, Hook And Web Designs. All Rights Reserved..
Technical problems? Please contact the Webmaster.