Deborah Howard, founder of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS)–self-described as “the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy/kitten mills”—recalls how, in 1989, her disgust upon visiting an Atlanta pet store, and her ensuing examination of the deplorable conditions, led to launching CAPS. Howard recounts the feverish wave of activity that followed, organizing numerous protests of the Docktor Pet Center—the store she found jarring in Atlanta, which had grown to 300 franchises—and generating major media coverage (“20/20,” People magazine, etc.) of the nefarious puppy mill operations stocking these shops with often-ill dogs. She notes the impact of similar protests in Canada, Florida (turns out Howard is a New College of Florida alum), and elsewhere, often resulting in the stores closing, though she says the shops often just relocated or sometimes even stayed put, reopening under a new name. To ensure everyone listening was on equal footing in their understanding of the dreadful conditions and cruelty inherent to puppy mills, I ask Howard to go remedial and describe exactly what a puppy mill is. She goes on to address the ways in which puppy mills have changed in the three decades since she founded CAPS, calling attention to the monumental impact the internet has had on the dog-selling business. Howard fields a number of listener calls and emails, some reporting their own experiences with puppy mills, including one guy not realizing until this interview that he had purchased his dog from one. A few of the emails specifically sing Howard’s praises, one enthusiastically labeling her a “heroine!” (https://www.caps-web.org/, https://www.facebook.com/CompanionAnimalProtectionSociety, https://www.instagram.com/caps_web/)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Chuck O’Neal, veteran environmentalist, and advocate—for eight years, for instance, he worked closely with Barry Law School’s Earth and Environmental Law Clinic to affect change both on the state and local level—to fill us in on what’s been taking place in Tallahassee regarding this bear bill, HB 87. (In what may telegraph plenty, it’s titled “Taking of Bears.”) O’Neal outlines the bill’s initial intent, notes some of the recent amendments, and characterizes a number of public comments about the bill made to the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee. Having watched a video feed of some of the Committee’s hearing the day before this interview, I suggest there’s more than a little baloney involved in some public comments—and some Committee members’ responses. And that the passage of this bill will likely lead to a lot of dead bears. The Committee voted 16-5 in favor of the bill. When asked what concerned citizens/animal lovers can do to register their objection, O’Neal recommends calling the Governor’s office, and asking him to veto the bill. (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2024/87/ByCategory, https://www.flgov.com/contact-governor-2/)
COMEDY CORNER: Nick Kroll’s “Cats Vs Dogs” (https://www.nickkroll.com/)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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