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Student activists for animal rights take to the Quad to protest mills

Arguably, most puppies are tiny bundles of fluff and fur that can warm our hearts and soil our carpets. But all puppies are not the same.

“So many people don’t realize what they’re supporting when they go to a pet store or even when they shop around online,” said Denise Studer, junior in ACES and head of the puppy mill education committee within Teachers for Creatures, a Registered Student Organization on campus. “Adopt, don’t shop.”

Booths filled with information on the RSO as well as humane education will line the north area of the Main Quad Thursday. Vera Kazaniwskyj, junior in ACES and organizer of the “Creature Feature,” said the different tables set up will showcase four main committees the club is dedicated to: puppy mill education, exotic animal care, breed-specific legislation and animal-assisted activities.

“We’ll have animals like rabbits, turtles and ferrets on the Quad in order to educate the community about pet care responsibilities,” Kazaniwskyj said.

Puppies are more common, but many are born into poor conditions. To mass-produce puppies, Studer said, the parent dogs are sometimes kept in horrible conditions and are not fed properly, which can lead to lack of nourishment and osteoporosis. Such was the case with Baby, a 9-year-old abused dog that was rescued from a puppy mill by Jana Kohl. Kohl, author of “A Rare Breed of Love,” psychologist and animal advocate, will give a presentation via teleconference in 103 Mumford Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday. The presentation is on the inhumane conditions of puppy mills.

Baby had to have her back leg amputated after multiple breaks and had her vocal chords cut so that she could not bark in her cage.

“They use a tool called a de-barker,” Studer said. “It ruptures their vocal chords so the parents can’t bark and so the (owners) can keep their facility a secret.”

Studer added that though puppy mills are legal and are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA does not have the capabilities to enforce all of its regulations.

Studer said there are only 200 USDA officials to regulate nearly 5,000 puppy mills in the U.S. alone.

“Ninety percent of puppies that you find in a pet store come directly from these puppy mills, so that if you were to buy a dog from a pet store, you’re really paying to support the animal cruelty that happens in a puppy mill,” Studer said.

Breed-specific legislation, another issue the group opposes, aims to ban certain animals based on breed — not temperament — said co-founder Elaine Schmid, senior in ACES. She said this committee focuses on addressing problems with the owner and not with the dog.

“We really focus on educating the owners on training techniques and conditioning,” Schmid said.

A breed that is under fire for being overly aggressive is pit bulls. Sarah Albert, junior in ACES, however, argues that the dogs are being banned “not because they’ve shown any aggression, but just because of what they are.”

The presentation and the Animal Science “Quad Day” are both made possible by Teachers for Creatures in an effort to educate students about animal care.

The RSO was founded by Schmid and Albert last fall because there was not a humane education club on campus.

“We are trying to communicate with people to show them the benefits of a human-animal bond, and to show them how to take care of dogs, cats, and even things like reptiles that people might not know as much about,” Studer said.

The RSO has almost 40 active members, but is always looking for fresh faces to help wage the war against animal cruelty on a local level.

“We can use anybody of any major as long as you love animals,” Albert, the group’s current president, said. “If you have a passion for animals, we can find a place for you.”

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