It’s a new day for Tulare County dogs in commercial kennels

After three years of community meetings and research, Tulare County Animal Services (TCAS) presented its updated Animal Ordinances to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors on April 9.

Patrick Hamblin, TCAS Manager, said the two main goals of the new ordinances were to address pet overpopulation and to improve the health and well being of the county’s dogs. After a lively public hearing, with the supervisors having to retreat to closed session, the board voted 5-0 in favor of the changes.

Cassie Heffington from Kings County Animal Services listened in and was so impressed that she planned on presenting TCAS’ new ordinances to her board of supervisors for possible adoption.

To update the ordinances, TCAS formed the Animal Services Advisory Committee, a 12 -member board that met for two years reaching out to the Humane Society, researching other municipalities’ rules, and refining the new document. TCAS also had an active presence online and encouraged community input for each new draft.

Hamblin started his presentation by saying that Tulare County used to have some of the worst kill rates in the country with only 17% of the animals being adopted. Now the rate is 65% said Hamblin, and they are working every day to improve that number.

One tactic to reduce kill rates was to break down barriers to owners getting their pets back from TCAS by lowing administration costs after the animal had been impounded.

Another was to institute mandatory spay and neuter of all pets. Hamblin said that last year 7022 dogs arrived at TCAS and of those more than 2000 were puppies.

Exceptions to the mandatory spay and neuter rule will be made for Police Dogs, dogs that wouldn’t survive the surgery, or an owner that paid for an unaltered permit. Only five unaltered permits will be allowed per owner.

The biggest changes to the ordinances were to the commercial kennel standards.

The new rules reduced the maximum number of dogs from 40 to 25. Of those only five will be allowed to breed.

The new rules also increased the size of the cage where kennel dogs spend most of their lives.

A $100 license fee is imposed on every unaltered dog and before a female dog is allowed to breed she must be examined by a vet. All dogs are required to be implanted with a microchip containing their personal information and breeding history. Such records as veterinary visits, pregnancies, sales and transfers must all be on file at the kennel and on the microchip.

Hamblin said, though fines will be imposed on non compliant kennels, the goal is not financial, but to solve the problem of overpopulation.

In addition to the stricter ordinances, TCAS has already banned selling, bartering, gifting, or transferring of live animals at swap meets.

With only a few exceptions, public comment was very supportive of TCAS and their new ordinances.

BJ Motko, from Central Valley Rescue Railroad, echoed several commenters’ opinion that anyone interested in the humane treatment of animals would not have a problem with the new ordinances.

“There is nothing in this language that will discourage humane breeders,” she said.

Susan Gundy of Visalia congratulated TCAS but wished they would follow their own rules regarding exercise.

The new rules impose a minimum of four hours a week of exercise in commercial kennels. But no such requirement exists at the county shelter, she said, where some dogs never leave their cages.

“Even dogs on lengthy hold for ‘vicious’ behavior should be evaluated for this activity–and should be allowed to interact with their owners if it is deemed not feasible for shelter staff to do so. Anything less is inhumane and causes unnecessary suffering to the dog.”

Gundy also wished the county would revamp its system for contracting for judges and Administrative Review Appeals Officers who rule on impounded dogs.

“It is essential that …..attorneys and judges, contracted to make life or death decisions of dogs, should have verifiable experience and education/training in canine behavior and owner training and be able to deal fairly with the diverse population of dog owners in the county.”

Currently animal control “judges” are hired and paid by the county and have been accused of deciding in favor of their boss rather than in favor of the dog.

Tricia Stever Blattler, Director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, wanted to address the board as a private citizen. She was very supportive of the changes but wanted to see stricter rules for commercial kennels.

She said that the county is a hotbed for unscrupulous breeders and that she has seen the results of over-bred, starving, and sick females picked up by rescue organizations. Huge numbers of animals end up in the county’s shelters, said Stever Blattler, because TCAS has not been able to regulate these breeders.

Ron Abbott, owner of a kennel that has been accused of being a puppy mill, sat in the audience as several speakers took their anger out on him. One woman who ran a Lab rescue in Clovis said she has “five or seven rescues from a breeder in this room.”

While glaring back at Abbott the woman said, “Imagine you are a dog living in a cage your entire life pumping out puppies every six months. I have rescued dogs that walking on grass petrifies them or won’t get into a car.”

Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel had to request the woman address the dais instead of Abbott.

She fully supported the new ordinances but requested TCAS reconsider making the minimum requirements for the cages bigger, especially for the “birthing boxes.”

Two of the speakers were hobby breeders and also directed their anger towards Abbott. Both speakers felt that it was his fault that the kennel ordinances were stricter, making their operations almost impossible. Neither sold their dogs for profit because they considered the dogs part of their family, but both had many more dogs and puppies than will be allowed under the new rules.

When Abbott addressed the board he acknowledged that he has been the focus of a lot of hate. The “animal activists” protest against his kennel just like they protest dairies, he said. “But, I have a licensed kennel and have raised dogs for 20 years. I am living my childhood dream.”

Abbott said that he had no problem following the rules for proper care of his animals or reducing the number to 25 dogs, but didn’t understand the logic behind limiting the number of dogs that can breed to five.

“It doesn’t compute to me,” he said.

Hamblin repeated that the main goal of updating the ordinances was to reduce the number of puppies in Tulare County. But Abbott says he is providing a service for those who want a “specific dog of a specific age.”

Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian asked Abbott how many dogs he currently had. Abbott either avoided answering the question or did not know.

“Somewhere around 30,” he said.

Shuklian then asked how many different types of breeds he had and Abbott again did not answer her question rattling off the names of a few breeds.

The last person to speak during the public hearing outlined the red flags of a puppy mill. An animal advocate from Clovis said that a kennel is a puppy mill if there are more than two breeds, if many females are bred at one time, and if the owner is motivated by profit.

Responsible breeders, she said, improve one particular breed and invest time and effort into each dog.

Tulare County Supervisor Eddie Valero said he lives in the Cutler-Orosi area and there is an abundance of dogs. “Something had to be done to address the issue.”

Shuklian added that it was a long time coming and she wished the rules were more stringent. She was impressed, though, that Kings County wanted to follow our lead.

“It’s not often that Tulare County is seen as progressive,” she said.

Hamblin responded by saying that TCAS is already compiling a list of improvements to the new ordinances that he referred to as a “living document.”

“We will be coming back to the board in a few years to change and improve the ordinances and continue moving forward.”

23 thoughts on “It’s a new day for Tulare County dogs in commercial kennels

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  1. Anything that reduces unwanted pets is good. An awful lot of abandonment and dumping goes on in the country.

    • None of which this law actually addresses. It seems more about executing vengeance upon ONE breeder!

      • That breeder wouldn’t have a problem if he didn’t create problems for himself and others. In his case it is self inflicted.

        All he has to do of stop abusing and neglecting animals.

  2. Such a microchip doesn’t exist so far as I know. It was the dream of the US military to create a chip carrying the medical record. Couldn’t do it as the chip doesn’t exist in affordable technology. Ask the Farm Bureau. They use numbered ear tags for animals as the best they can do.

    This requirement goes to show just how outlandish the folks who nothing of animal husbandry will go.

    • yes sir you are correct. I find it very sad that those who have NEVER raised a litter of puppies are deciding what is “humane’ care. I would like to see their credentials in animal husbandry. Oh that is right they have none, but they think a microchip somehow “holds’ info. Ignorance nothing more is dictating how you live.

      • This has NOTHING to do with solid, sound, scientific animal husbandry. This has EVERYTHING to do with pushing an agenda and that is to do away with dog breeding altogether.

        Let’s talk facts. Fact #1 according to an extensive shelter research project, NAIA (National Animal Interest Alliance), only 5% of dogs in the shelters are even purebred.
        Fact #2 NAIA also concluded that the National Pet Over Population problem ENDED in 2006 when the demand for pets became greater than the supply.
        Fact #3 Because the Adopt Don’t Shop mantra created a HUGE demand for shelter pets, namely dogs, there is a HUGE supply of dogs being imported into the US for Rescues from Third World Countries. USDA estimates import numbers of dogs to be about 1.06 MILLION!
        Fact #4 These imports are bringing in with them all sorts of lovely disease. 2016 saw the H3N2 (Asian Canine Flu) arrive in the US to the detriment of many domestic dogs. Dogs are arriving with other disease such as Parvo and Distemper. Bring in threats to humans, wildlife and domestic animals in the form of Rabies and Brucellosis. We now have the Asian Longhorn Tick as well.

        When will this madness stop? It’s not about animal welfare anymore as it is about animal rights and special interest control!

        • Why should tulare county pay for spay neuter rehoming and rescuing dumped pets bc breeders flood the market?

          After the rules take effect puppy prices will rise and responsible breeders will be rewarded.

          What we have now is unworkable.
          The changes are a great step.

  3. Wow! Bravo! I am so impressed with the efforts to curtail the over population of animals and making living conditions better for dogs. Finally a county with true compassion!

    • Of which this new law does nothing to address! This is a HUGE migrant community/population who do not believe in spay/neuter and allow their dogs to run at large and procreate at will. This is where the 2000 puppies a year come from, NOT breeders. They want to blame their so called “over population” problem on breeders. They have a whopping 12 “commercial breeders in their county. How many migrant families come, work, live, take in dogs they don’t intend to spay/neuter, let it have puppies, litter after litter? Dozens? Hundreds? They aren’t going to follow the laws and spay/neuter, they will just dump and run as usual. But that’s ok, we’ll just keep blaming the breeders and of course, do our best to shut down one in particular. Consulting with the Radical Animal Rights Group, HSUS? Yeah, give us $25,000 and we’ll tell you how to stop the breeders.

  4. I wonder how many dogs are imported ito the county for retail rescue? How many of the 7000 dogs taken in actually come from the local breeders? If it is ZERO than this is nothing more than to restrict American choice by dictating how you will live. What is next how many cars are in your driveway or shoes in your closet?

    • My tax dollars don’t need to pay for picking up dumped animals that come out of a for profit business.

      TAXPAYERS pay for this. Breed less, charge more and stop asking for handouts pooor pooor ‘victim’ breeders.

  5. Of which this new law does nothing to address! This is a HUGE migrant community/population who do not believe in spay/neuter and allow their dogs to run at large and procreate at will. This is where the 2000 puppies a year come from, NOT breeders. They want to blame their so called “over population” problem on breeders. They have a whopping 12 “commercial breeders in their county. How many migrant families come, work, live, take in dogs they don’t intend to spay/neuter, let it have puppies, litter after litter? Dozens? Hundreds? They aren’t going to follow the laws and spay/neuter, they will just dump and run as usual. But that’s ok, we’ll just keep blaming the breeders and of course, do our best to shut down one in particular. Consulting with the Radical Animal Rights Group, HSUS? Yeah, give us $25,000 and we’ll tell you how to stop the breeders.

  6. Let me please clarify the microchip situation. The microchip contains an identification number which contains info about the company whom the implantor used which retains additional information about the dog. The wording might’ve been off, but the message is essentially the same. Let’s not argue semantics.

    I walk many shelters in this valley on a regular basis. I can say that I also do dog evaluations and I find that about 20-30% of these dogs are purebred. Many are chi, pit bulls, shepherds, huskies, labs, and dachshunds. Too many beautiful purebreds are killed simply because of overpopulation.

    I personally have seen the condition of the dogs at Abbott’s breeding facility. All of the adult dogs have scarred faces, there are mammory rumors (very large) visible on some of the breeding females. The adult dogs have also ground down their teeth almost to the gums trying to chew their way out of their cages. Fyi: He also breeds pheasants (about a hundred of them in cages) and horses. It’s a horror show. Lots of ribs showing and I’ve spoken with a few concerned citizens who watched as one of his horses starved and died in his pasture. I have also seen many of the dogs surrendered to rescue from Abbott’s residence, and they have needed medical attention (long overdue) because of his negligence.

    Mixed and purebreds alike are (on a weekly basis) bused out of our Central Valley because of our huge overpopulation problem. I believe that unless we see this issue for what it is, and insist that our community address it, and enforce stricter legislation for the protection of our animal companions, then we will continue to witness the barbaric nature of our species. Let’s lead our community towards a compassionate change. I absolutely endorse the new ordinances! It’s about time!

    • Pit type and small Chihuahua types don’t qualify as “breeds” and unless you have a qualified background in identifying “breeds”, your “guesstimation” is just a fallacy.

      But again, Pit and Chi mixes are part of a “culture” and therefore need to be addressed separately.

      And, thanks for once again, making this whole dog and pony show out to be vengeance upon ONE breeder in the entire county with whom you disagree with. The Animal Control has been to his property NUMEROUS times and find that his animals are being met with at least the minimal health and welfare standards. I have never been there, but someone in another article gave his address, with which I Googled and judging from not only what I saw from a zoomed in satellite to what I’ve seen on his FB page, everything looks ok.

      All these nasty “advocates” need to grow up and get a life! Where are the facts? Stop with the emotional rhetoric already, please give me facts, photos, etc of wrong doing! TIA.

      • While you may have never been there, many people who have visited his place of operation have spoken out against what they have seen there. There is a FB page with many photos showing the conditions of animals, so there is proof of what’s being spoken on if that’s what you’re looking for. A previous employee even wrote an article about some of the things he saw go on there that he felt were just plain wrong. Several local veterinarians have also commented on the poor health of the puppies and mothers that come from his facility. That’s not to say that every dog there is in poor health, but there is plenty credible evidence to suggest that overall, things could be greatly improved there for the health and well-being of the animals he keeps.

        Yes you are correct, in the past this breeder has been found to have met the minimal health and welfare standards. However, part of these changes are to raise the bar for minimum standards to improve the quality of life for animals. I think anyone who has a heart, or a soft spot for animals can agree that we should be so happy that the minimum standards for animals who spend their lives in a cage will now be improved upon.

        If you are looking for proof beyond what you can find from a brief google satellite search, and Rob Abbot’s self-run FB page- I can assure it’s out there and not difficult to find.

        Big picture, animals lives are going to be improved, and measures are being taken in our county to help with overpopulation. I’d say that’s a win for Tulare County!

        • I’ve read what others have said and feel they are just pushing an agenda. I saw a photo of “sick” puppies, but I also saw another photo of the same puppies in the same position that looked just fine. Eyes clear and bright, clean, brushed fur, short nails on other puppies. But the “sick” puppies photo was shown with two of the puppies in mid blink, so their eyes were half shut. Yeah, that might cause them to look sick, but it was just a moment of a blink. That’s why I NEVER trust photographs! They can and usually are staged, doctored, taken out of context or not even from the source. These are all tactics used by the radical animal rights advocates to get lawmakers and the public on their side.

          Big picture is this will do NOTHING to combat the stray dogs running at large and procreating at will in Tulare Co. MSN (Mandatory Spay Neuter) has been proven time and again NOT to work.

          Plain and simple this is not only an attempt to shut down a breeder that is low hanging fruit because of his high profile in the county, but also a way for the radical animal rights groups to push their agenda to end all breeding.

  7. All of the low quality, high number breeders here make me laugh. Your motives are obvious. Where were you during this meeting? Would it be fair the guess that you didn’t want to show your Face in fear that you have something to hide? Many breeders increase their sales by increasing the quality of the dog they produce. Lazy incompetent ones just increase their numbers and significantly decrease the quality of dog that they produce. It was also mentioned that this is a “living document” so if you think you should be considered an exception I suggest you make that case based of YOUR treatment of animals and facilities. If you hide in the darkness it ultimately means you have something to hide.

  8. The ones that need to grow up and have a life are the dogs. Domesticated animals being kept in poor conditions in small kennels/cages living out their lives is no life at all, especially for the household pet the DOG. Is this the kind of life for MANS BEST FRIEND? In my opinion all breeders seem to be about profit and due to over population for whatever the various reasons are I think there should be limits on the amount each breeder CAN breed.

  9. Dearest Aunty AR – are you for real? Do you actually even know what “pushing the agenda” means? It doesn’t really seem so. Nor the fact that you bring up ONE very recent photo that you comment on – when in fact there are a LOT of them, and way worse than this ONE photo which really has nothing whatsoever to do with the real matter here. I’m quite sure that all of those pictures are “staged” too right? This one recent photo… was then removed by the mill folk and the next photo of the same poor puppies miraculously looked better indeed. Maybe that was just doctored up, staged? They wiped the crap out of their eyes and clapped their hands to wake up those poor puppies to look like they were happy? Give me a fucking break! You sound like one of the “clan” to be sure. Shame on you. Abbotts may have to get off their asses and get a real job aside from preaching the Word and profiting off the backs off dogs!! Hallelujah!

    • Spoken like a true Radical Animal Rights THUG. Yes, I’ve seen this bullying go on for years in many cases throughout the Country. The AC and vets have been to his home on multiple occasions, unannounced and have found that his dogs have their needs met. This ordinance has NOTHING to with “overpopulation” or care standards but EVERYTHING to do with putting a breeder out of business. Shame on the elected officials to be emotionally manipulated by the the activists and their lies and bullying. If the actual “experts” have been to his home and visited the kennels and did not find cause to “seize” his animals, why do you guys keep trying to get laws passed to get him shut down? Oh, that’s right, you’re pushing the Radical Animal Rights Agenda of NO breeders/NO pets. Why don’t you all work on rounding up the hundreds of stray dogs running loose throughout the farmlands, spay and neuter them all since they are ones that are producing the 2000 puppies that come to the shelter FIRST before blaming breeders for all your problems!

  10. I’m thrilled to see Tulare County taking this important step toward ensuring the health and well-being of dogs being used for breeding. Responsible breeders would already be doing this anyway; only the bottom feeders have anything to worry about. With thousands of dogs dying in pounds every year, this is much needed. Kudos to Tulare County for being at the forefront of a kinder, better world!

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