Buyer beware: Make sure you’re not supporting puppy mills by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and puppy mills
Don’t shop puppy mills or pet stores; opt to adopt at an animal shelter!

In an unforgettable edition of “Oprah” in 2010, national attention was focused on the “puppy mill.”  Puppy mills provide an unending supply of often purebred puppies to a public with an insatiable appetite for them, an appetite that has created a situation ripe for abuse. Puppy mills force dogs to produce litter after litter just for profit. These dogs are often plagued with disease, malnutrition, and loneliness.

Oprah’s intrepid investigative reporter found bitches who could barely walk after living a life of immobilized confinement. When people buy a puppy from a pet shop, newspaper ad or from the Internet, they are often supporting a cruel industry.

Puppy mills frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions, particularly the “breeding stock” who are caged and continually bred for years, without human companionship, and then killed, abandoned or sold to another “miller” after their fertility wanes.

These dogs are bred repeatedly without the prospect of ever becoming part of a family themselves. The result is hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out each year for sale at pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspaper ads. This practice will end only when people stop buying puppy mill puppies.

How do you separate fact from fiction? 

1. Pet stores cater to impulsive buyers seeking convenient transactions. Unlike responsible rescuers and breeders, these stores don’t interview prospective buyers to ensure responsible, lifelong homes for the pets they sell, and the stores may be staffed by employees with limited knowledge about pets and pet care.

2. Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems. These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. Pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won’t be returned. And guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. In addition, poor breeding and socialization practices can lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies’ lives.

3. A “USDA-inspected” breeder does not mean a “good” breeder. Be wary of claims that pet stores sell animals only from “USDA-inspected” breeders. The USDA enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn’t require all commercial breeders to be licensed, and the USDA enforces only minimum-care standards and its inspection team is chronically understaffed. Breeders are required to provide food, water, and shelter, but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the AWA. Federal law prevents state and local authorities from blocking the shipping and sale of these animals across state lines, placing the burden on the customer to educate themselves.

4. Many disreputable breeders sell dogs directly to the public over the Internet and through newspaper ads. They often sell several breeds, but may advertise each breed separately and not in one large advertisement or website. These breeders are not inspected by any federal agency and, in many states, are not inspected by anyone at all.

5. Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview prospective adopters. They don’t sell through pet stores or to families they haven’t thoroughly checked out.

6. Purebred “papers” do not guarantee the quality of the breeder or the dog. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) admits that it “cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry.”

When looking for a pet, do not buy from a pet store, and be wary of websites and newspaper ads. Don’t buy a dog if you can’t physically visit every area of the home or breeding facility where the seller keeps the dog.

Puppy mills will continue until people stop buying their dogs. Putting them out of business should be a goal of every dog lover. Instead, visit your local shelter or respectable rescue individual or organization where you will find a wide selection of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs – including purebreds – just waiting for that special home – yours.

How do you define compassion? by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Safety NetOver the years I have come to understand compassion as a deep awareness of the suffering experienced by another – coupled with the desire to relieve it.  Compassion is more vigorous than sympathy or empathy, compassion gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering – making compassion the essential component in what manifests in our social context as altruism.

In ethical terms, the “Golden Rule” may best embody the principle of compassion: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Compassion does not simply mean caring deeply about someone else’s suffering. Compassion actually causes you to get personally involved. Compassion manifests in the face of cruelty, moving you to say out loud, “This is wrong” – and it moves you to actually do something to end the suffering.

It is not uncommon for those of us working in animal welfare to encounter cries for help from victims of domestic violence.  Domestic issues involving humans are not usually within the purview of an animal organization.  However, its not uncommon to receive a call that causes us to say out loud, “This is wrong.” These calls involve women looking to escape their desperate situations – feeling like hostages in their own homes, unable to leave because their abusers threaten to harm the family pet(s) should they attempt to do so.

Finding a safe place for these pets is prerequisite to these women getting the help they need. What can animal shelters do to help when they are already overflowing with lost and homeless animals?  By way of some rather circuitous routes, I have been able to help in some small ways – but I’ve learned it is important that animal shelters to not be caught so flat-footed when these needs come knocking at the door.  We must be able to respond better and more quickly.

Domestic violence and partner abuse is not an animal shelter problem. Domestic violence is a community problem. Abuse comes in many forms, both verbal and physical. Verbal abuse and manipulative behavior can be as destructive to the soul as violence is to the body. Women, children and pets should never be victimized or cruelly treated regardless of the situation. To do so is wrong.

Compassion is what moves us to do something about a wrong, but we are ill-equipped to do it alone. These types of complex problems need a community response that ensures victims of violence never go unheard.

That is why I developed a program called Safety Net designed to help pets stay with their families through difficult financial times, dislocations, hospitalizations, evictions, and yes, domestic turbulence.  Often families face crises that prompt abandonment of a beloved pet, even though the crisis is likely to be temporary.

When properly funded, the Safety Net program can help pet owners weather such storms by providing emergency foster placement, veterinary help, counseling and other remedies to help prevent a pet from losing its home and family because of a temporary crisis.

Sadly, we seldom have enough funds to assist people within this narrow mission. Clearly, a Safety Net program is not sufficient to meet the needs arising from domestic abuse. What is needed is a community-wide safety net – a program with financial sponsors and service and product partners. Partners able to provide human and/or pet boarding, pet grooming and supplies, veterinary services, social services and doctors are vital. We need partners who recognize that abuse and cruelty are wrong and are moved to do something to ease that suffering – rather than look the other way. Together we can create this community-wide safety net so no one has to stay in a terrible situation in order to protect a loved one.

If you are interested in creating a safety net program, or other life saving programs, in your community to help alleviate human and animal suffering, contact me at here.

What we learned from Marty Crane and Eddie by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and John Mahoney
John Mahoney and “Eddie” modeled the joy and health benefits pets provide our senior citizens

Many will rightly sing the praises due the remarkable actor, John Mahoney, who died today.  However, I want to take a moment to point out the important public health service Mahoney provided through his character on the popular TV series Frazier.  “Marty Crane” and his loyal dog “Eddie”  beautifully presented the many wonderful benefits pets afford our senior citizens.

According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society there are many health benefits for seniors who have a pet or two. In fact, the Journal states there are many benefits for the seniors, the pets and society as a whole. Geriatric researchers found seniors with pets more active than seniors without pets and they score higher in their ability to carry out normal activities of daily living. Many positive effects on physical well-being are identified, including a healthy ability to fend off isolation and loneliness.

The Journal report says that pet ownership has a statistically significant effect on the physical health of older people. Further, the care-taking role involved in pet ownership may provide older people a sense of purpose and responsibility and encourages them to be less apathetic and more active in day-to-day activities. In fact, researchers found that elderly people who lacked strong social support (family and friends) remained relatively emotionally healthy during life-crises compared with non-pet-owners placed in similar situations. The evidence demonstrates that pets provide real health benefits to the elderly.

10 health reasons why pets are great for seniors

1. Pets lower blood pressure: A study of health patients showed that people over 40 who own pets had lower blood pressure than people who did not have pets. Another study showed that talking to pets decreases blood pressure.

2. Fewer trips to the doctor: Seniors who own pets go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 1,000 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed pet owner in the study had 21 percent fewer physician’s contacts than non-pet owners.

3. Less depression: Studies show that seniors with pets do not become depressed as often as those without pets.

4. Easier to make friends: Seniors with pets meet more people and like to talk about their pets.

5. Seniors become more active: Seniors with pets are generally more active than those without pets.

6. Pets are friends: Most everyone, but especially seniors, will say that pets are their friends.

7. Pets ease loss: Older people who suffer the loss of a spouse and own a pet are less likely to experience deterioration in health following that stressful event.

8. Pets fight loneliness: You are less likely to be lonely with a feline friend around.

9. Taking better care of themselves: Seniors take good care of their pets and better care of themselves when they own a pet.

10. Sense of security: Pets help seniors to feel that someone they trust is always around.

Marty and Eddie provided hundreds of examples of these benefits over nine years on the Frazier show.   If you are a senior citizen wanting to take advantage of all these health benefits please consider adopting one or two senior pets today.

Pets improve owners’ health and well-being By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and pet therapyDid you know that the presence of a cat or dog in a counseling office can speed the therapeutic process for some patients? Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) was introduced by psychologist Boris Levinson in the 1950s when he discovered that his dog Jingles was able to connect with autistic children in a way humans had not.

Since then, AAT has continued to develop as a therapeutic science. Although dogs are the most frequently used therapy animals, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, donkeys, llamas and even pigs and snakes participate in different programs.

According to research, when people hold and stroke an animal, many positive physical and psychological transitions occur, including lowered blood pressure, a feeling of calm, the ability to be more extroverted and verbal, decreased loneliness and increased self-esteem.

Susan Lee Bady, a clinical social worker who uses cats in her practice, says the cats serve a number of different functions, including facilitating emotional expression and touching; encouraging spontaneity and fun; and providing the kind of unconditional love seldom found in human relationships.

Bady’s patients report feelings of peacefulness and serenity when they watch cats cuddle and groom each other. This feeling is enhanced when a cat jumps into a patient’s lap. Some patients speak more freely while holding or petting a cat. Patients out of touch with their emotions are sometimes able to identify and understand their emotions by watching the behavior of the cats.

Patients with trust issues learn to trust Bady by watching her with her cats. Bady’s cats, like all pets, are independent souls. This independence and lack of predictability helps needy or insecure patients cope better with what they perceive as personal slights in everyday life. For example, when patients feel a cat doesn’t like them because he or she won’t sit in their lap, Bady uses that reaction to open a discussion about their neediness and the problems it might be creating in their lives.

There’s a plethora of literature amassed on the many different ways animals help children and adults with psychiatric illness, mood disorders, developmental and learning disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental and emotional challenges.

One study of hospitalized psychiatric patients concluded that animal-assisted therapy significantly reduced anxiety for patients with psychotic, mood and other disorders.

Another study published in the Journals of Gerontology showed that animal-assisted therapy reduced loneliness in residents of long-term care facilities – especially for those folks who previously owned pets.

A study conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University concluded children with pervasive development disorders (PDD) who lack social communication abilities “exhibited a more playful mood, were more focused, and were more aware of their social environments when in the presence of a therapy dog.”

In a report titled “Animal-Assisted Therapy in Psychiatric Rehabilitation,” researchers studied the effect of AAT on a group of male and female psychiatric inpatients. By the fourth week of the study, “patients in the AAT group were significantly more interactive with other patients, scored higher on measures of smiles and pleasure, were more sociable and helpful with others and were more active and responsive to surroundings.”

Aaron Katcher, M.D., a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, claims there is tremendous evidence for the success of animal-assisted therapy in controlled studies, such as depressed patients had increased socialization and decreased depression; children with severe ADHD and conduct disorder had decreased aggressive behavior and improved attention; patients with autism or developmental disabilities had increased socialization and improved attention; and patients with Alzheimer’s had improved attention and decreased aggression and anger.

According to Katcher, there is also clinical and anecdotal evidence that patients with dissociative disorders and agoraphobia are able to decrease anxiety and increase social skills when they have companion animals.

With all the benefits pets provide, shouldn’t you consider bringing one of these little miracle workers home today?

A Tribute to Dogs

Ed Boks and George Graham Vest
George Graham Vest

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as a United States Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903, and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court in 1855 while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog.

During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.
* * * * *
Gentlemen of the Jury:

The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy.  His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful.  Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith.  The money that a man has, he may lose.  It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most.  A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action.  The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.  A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness.  He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side.  He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer.  He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world.  He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.  When all other friends desert, he remains.  When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

Ed Boks and dog on graveIf fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies.  And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

Achieving No-Kill by the numbers By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and No KillEarly in my animal welfare career I developed a “no-kill” ethic.  I trained shelter staff to apply this “ethic” by using the same criteria for deciding a homeless animal’s fate that a compassionate owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet.  That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them.

The “no-kill” ethic embodies a commitment that for every animal who comes through a shelter’s doors there is a kind and loving person or family – and it is our mission to bring them together.

There are three statistics animal shelters can use to measure their success, or failure, in reducing pet euthanasia (or killing). To rely on any one or two of these numbers tells only a partial, and possibly obfuscated, story.  When you compare all three of these numbers you are better able to tell your organization and your community’s whole story:

The Live Release Rate (LRR) refers to the number of animals who get out of a shelter alive.  I call this “heartbeats in/heartbeats out”.  It includes adoptions, transfers to rescue organizations, and lost pets returned to owners. Some shelter experts claim a 90 percent LRR is the threshold to “no-kill.”  During my tenure at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) in Arizona, I maintained a 97 percent LRR for several years.  This is a good internal measurement.

The Euthanasia Rate reports the actual number of animals euthanized.  In the first year implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS achieved a 63 percent reduction in killing, followed by a 64 percent reduction in year two, and a 40 percent reduction in year three; for an overall reduction of 92 percent.  This too is an important internal measure of success or progress.

The Per Capita Kill Rate refers to the number of animals killed per 1,000 residents.  Prior to implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS was killing 17.25 animals per 1,000 residents.  This was one of the worst kill rates in Arizona. However, at the end of my tenure we had reduced the YHS kill rate to 0.2; the lowest in the nation for several consecutive years!  This number is the best for comparing your community with other communities in your state or across the nation.

The Truth About Pit Bulls by Ed Boks

No dog breed in history has encountered more misunderstanding and vilification than the American pit bull. In fact, the pit bull is an all-American breed blessed with tenacious athletic ability, loyalty, intelligence, and high-energy.

Pit bulls are not lap dogs or a dog for the sedentary person. They are not fashion accessories or macho symbols. They are a breed apart from every other canine.

Ed Boks and pit bulls
Sergeant Stubby, the U.S. Army’s original and still most highly decorated canine soldier.

The pit bull was so respected in the early 1900s that the military chose the breed to represent the United States on World War I and World War II recruitment posters. Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull WWI war hero, served in 17 battles, was injured twice in battle, saved his entire platoon by warning them of a poison gas attack, and single-handedly captured a German spy. Stubby earned many medals for heroism, including one presented by General John Pershing, Commanding General of the U.S. Armies. Stubby’s obituary from the New York Times may be viewed at the Connecticut State Military Department’s website.

Ed Boks and pit bulls
Time magazine: Racism is Wrong No Matter Who It Targets

The American pit bull terrier is the only breed ever featured on the cover of Time magazine – and not just once but three times.

Famous people who owned pit bulls include Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, George Patton, Jack Dempsy, Helen Keller, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Anne Bancroft and Thomas Edison.

A few celebrities who own pit bulls today include Jon Stewart, Alicia Silverstone, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Michael J. Fox, Bernadette Peters, Brad Pitt, Madonna, and Rachael Ray.

Pit bulls are commonly used as therapy dogs. Whether they are visiting a senior care facility or helping someone recover from an emotional accident, pit bulls are exceptional therapy dogs.

Pit bulls are also used in Search and Rescue work and serve as narcotic- and bomb-sniffing dogs. One pit bull, Popsicle (so named because he was found in an abandoned freezer), lays claim to the largest recorded single drug bust in Texas history.

Pit bulls are great with kids too, as demonstrated by Petey, the beloved dog featured in “The Little Rascals.” Pit bulls were actually referred to as the “nanny dog” in the early 20th century because of their gentle and loving disposition with kids.

Pits are known for their personality. Even as they age, most remain playful. They are affectionate dogs who appreciate their owner’s attention and approval more than anything else.

While certain purebreds are prone to a long list of health problems, pit bulls are fairly healthy and hearty. They are strong and long-lived. They are low-maintenance because their short coats are easy to care for and you’ll have no grooming bills.

Sadly, a lot of pit bulls never have a chance. Many shelters have a policy to euthanize all pit bulls, and do not adopt them out. Irresponsible individuals, bad breeders and biased media attention have given these wonderful dogs a bad rap. Breed-specific legislation has turned this beloved family pet into an outlaw in some communities. Fortunately, there are many people who are educating the public on the breed and dispelling the myths.

According to The American Temperament Test Society, a national nonprofit organization for the promotion of uniform temperament evaluation of purebred and spayed/neutered mixed-breed dogs, the pit bull scores an 83.4 percent passing rate. That’s better than the popular Australian shepherd (81.5 percent), beagle (80.3 percent), border collie (79.6 percent), boxer (84 percent), Chihuahua (71.1 percent), cocker spaniel (81.9 percent), German shorthair (76 percent), Lhasa Apso (70.4 percent), and miniature poodle (77.9 percent) to name but a few.

The American Temperament Test Society found that pit bulls were generally less aggressive when faced with confrontational situations that produced negative reactions in many other stereotypically “friendly” dog breeds, such as beagles and poodles.

The National Canine Temperament Testing Association tested 122 breeds, and pit bulls placed the 4th highest with a 95 percent passing rate.

The fact is that in most communities pit bulls are so popular that they account for the largest percentage of dogs rescued, adopted – and, sadly, euthanized. If you are interested in adopting a super dog, consider a rescued pit bull.  Most shelters have adoption counselors standing by to help you select the perfect one for you and your family.

Understanding the enriched shelter experience By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and enrichmentImagine an animal shelter that is quiet and smells clean; where pets are stress and disease free; where dogs are led outside to eliminate, enjoy fresh air and exercise a minimum of 4 times each day; where adoptions into loving homes are permanent; where well-trained staff and volunteers are able to meet the needs of shelter pets and clients; and where the community generously supports shelter activities and programs.

In the enduring words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

The dream is the Yavapai Humane Society “Enrichment Program” which implements shelter structures and husbandry practices designed to increase behavioral choices in a way that species-appropriate behaviors and abilities are encouraged, thus enhancing each animal’s overall welfare.

In other words, the YHS Enrichment Program is designed to bring out the best in our community’s homeless pets in an effort to make them more adoptable. This wonderful program directly reflects our community’s love and compassion for animals – and with one of the highest Live Release/Adoption Rates in the nation (97 percent) it is clear the program is working!

It is sad to see the negative consequences in shelters lacking an enrichment program. Animals become less adoptable over time because they become hyperactive, bored, anxious, and frustrated. They can lose housetraining skills, and may develop an uncontrolled exuberance at seeing people or withdraw and isolate themselves in fear. These outcomes diminish an animal’s quality of life and their chance at adoption. Thanks to the YHS Enrichment Program, pets learn and retain valuable skills and are happier and more adoptable.

One of the enrichment strategies employed was replacing the chain link fence dividing the kennels with solid dividers which created greater privacy for the dogs resulting in less anxiety, barrier aggression, and barking. The outcome of this one simple change was transformational, creating a feeling of security for perhaps the first time for some dogs and a quieter shelter for the public to visit.

Other YHS Enrichment initiatives include:

  • Well-trained staff (including three behaviorists) and volunteers capable of consistently and positively training dogs and counseling adopters before and after an animal is adopted;
  • Outdoor facilities for training, house breaking, exercise and fresh air;
  • A “behavior” house to sensitize and train dogs to be well behaved indoors;
  • An HVAC system to ensure 8 air exchanges per hour in the kennels to reduce the risk of disease;
  • Kennel beds and toys to allow animals to choose between resting and playing;
  • Piped in music designed to calm animals;
  • Agility courses and play groups to teach self-confidence and good social skills;
  • Educational materials, videos, free handouts, training classes and behavioral services and strategies that provide guidance and information to adopters and the community.

The Enrichment Program benefits the thousands of animals rescued by YHS each year. It reduces behavior problems and decreases stress induced illnesses – making YHS animals healthier, happier and more adoptable. It also provides our community an environment where everyone can be proud of the compassion, care and training we provide our soon to be adopted animals.

If this program resonates with you and you would like to participate, please call your local shelter to find out how you can join their Volunteer Program. If you would like to support this lifesaving program with a gift, you can make a donation to your local shelter and designate it for “enrichment”.  Your support makes a lifesaving difference to many pets.

As John Lennon would say, “I hope someday you’ll join us…”

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. 

Legislators challenge Arizona’s moral progress By Ed Boks

Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” The same can be said of the states in a nation.

In fact, the greatness and moral progress of all 50 states can be traced through the years by the consistent strengthening of state laws against animal cruelty to include felony provisions. This moral and legal progress has been based on the growing understanding of the link between animal cruelty and violence against humans.

Today, academic journals and textbooks in child welfare, human-animal studies, sociology, child development, criminology, psychology, social work, veterinary medicine, and many other disciplines accept the incontrovertible link between animal abuse, domestic violence, child maltreatment and elder abuse.

Understanding this link, the FBI now requires local law enforcement to track and report animal cruelty the same way homicide, arson and assault are tracked – as a Group A felony.

So, why would any Arizona legislator want to turn back the clock on progress that has taken decades to achieve? Why would any legislator want to strip any animal of any protection provided by the law?

Why would Arizona legislators David Gowan and Brenda Barton work behind closed doors with corporate agriculture lobbyists to craft a bill (HB 2330) designed to repeal the few protections millions of animals have in Arizona?

HB 2330 is not an isolated attempt to repeal Arizona’s animal cruelty laws. Last year enough Arizona legislators supported a similar bill (HB 2150) that it would have been the law of the land today except for Governor Ducey’s veto.

Fortunately, this year’s coup against animal welfare may have died in the Agriculture, Water and Lands Committee when they wisely chose to not agendize HB 2330.

However, the bill could still be resurrected by the House Appropriations Committee this year or introduced in another permutation next year. Animal advocates must remain vigilant in a state where politicians seem strangely determined to weaken animal-cruelty laws.

Apart from some Arizona legislators, animal abuse is widely recognized and understood by law enforcement, public health officials and decent human beings everywhere to be part of a continuum of violence with serious implications for multiple victims and society as a whole.

While Gandhi drew our attention to the societal ramifications of how we treat animals, Immanuel Kant provided some insight into how we should judge politicians who deliberately put animals in harm’s way. “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” This maxim serves as a reliable gauge for assessing the character of politicians who have the power to impact how animals, and people, are treated on a massive scale.

Sponsors and supporters of last year’s HB 2150 and this year’s HB 2330 have telegraphed their agenda to reverse Arizona’s moral progress by revoking protections animals in Arizona have benefited from for decades. They have exposed their intent to put the welfare of millions of animals at risk without any corresponding benefit or legitimate justification. They need to know this is not going unnoticed.

Refer to my Feb. 17 column, “Lawmakers target animals again” to understand the risk of cruelty that HB 2330 posed for millions of animals.