News, opinions about issues affecting the animals of Michigan.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tattoo Saves Rusty From Laboratory
In 2003, a sweet little Shepherd mix puppy was tattooed with an identification number that would get her back home if she was lost. In 2005, Rusty was lost by her family in Florida. Three years later, the tattoo saved Rusty's life and exposed fatal flaws in Michigan's sheltering system.
At 8 am on Monday, October 6th, 2008, Julie Moscove, owner of Tattoo-a-Pet, received a phone call from James Woudenberg of Howard City Michigan. He stated that he was a Class B Dealer who had a dog with a tattoo and he wanted the family contact information so he could get them to sign off on the dog. He picked the dog up from a shelter, would not tell Julie where, nor would he provide any further information. Julie told him the dog was reported missing in Florida in 2005 and she would need time to find the family, but the dog was not to be sold. Woudenberg told her that he would hold the dog only until the USDA told him what he had to do.
Julie contacted the USDA immediately to alert them that this dog has an owner and should not be shipped to a lab or killed. The USDA doesn't answer phones, or email and to date still has not responded to Julies calls. Julie performed a web search about the dealer because she was concerned about getting the dog returned. Through the web, Julie located michanimalnews.com and the stories we have done about R & R Research.
Julie contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Dr. Michelle Finateri, who is the head of the animal shelter program. Finateri told her that it wasn't an MDA issue, she should contact the USDA. I wrote to Finateri and informed the MDA that this is a sheltering issue, that a dog was shipped to a research dealer with a tattoo and that the registry never was contacted. I was sent an email by the MDA press office stating that the MDA would not act because it had no jurisdiction, clearly an abdication of regulatory responsibility by the MDA.
Both governmental agencies that are supposed to deal with shelters and Class B Dealers didn't do their jobs, what a shock.
What did happen - Woudenberg returned the dog to Gratiot County Animal Control Shelter in Ithaca Michigan. The dog's family contacted the shelter and we hooked the family up with a rescue transport group that is able to help get Rusty home.
Thanks to the persistence of Julie from Tattoo-a-Pet Rusty is going to live another day. She avoided a miserable existence as a research subject only because she had a tattoo. If ever there was an advertisement for Tattoo-a-Pet, Rusty is it.
Although this is a happy ending, we must ask a couple of questions. 1. Why does the Michigan Department of Agriculture refused to enforce Michigan laws when B Dealers are involved? Why is paying their salaries? 2. Why isn't the USDA answering phones or emails about Class B Dealers? 3. Why didn't the shelter contact the tattoo registry to locate Rusty's family? It's scary to think that only a B Dealer did his job in this case. In fact that should terrify every one who lives with animals. 4.When are we going to demand that shoddy shelters like Gratiot, Montcalm and Mecosta counties have accountability for how they treat people's companion animals? 5. When are we going to demand that B Dealers and research institutions stop taking our pets?