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January 28, 2015

Vote NO on Bill 5014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:21 am

Montgomery County is deciding on a Bill that would eliminate ones choices in how they acquire a companion dog or cat. Here is my testimony:

Chairman Leventhal and distinguished members of the Montgomery County Council:

My name is Ruth Hanessian. I reside at 303 Highland Ave in Rockville and operate a retail pet store at 605 Hungerford Drive where for the last 35 years we have provided locally raised companion animals.

I am opposed to Bill 5014.

Montgomery County deserves choices. We are a county filled with intelligent animal lovers. We have always encouraged adoption of dogs from shelters and if you cannot find an animal there, many of our customers went to Potomac Kennels or other retail sources where various breeds of puppies were offered and comparisons could be made. If legitimate retail options, which are licensed, inspected, and collect sales tax, are eliminated, citizens wanting a puppy will increasingly move to unregulated sources (backyard breeders, unidentified lineage (shelters), and older animals with uncertain history (rescues). While these all have many potentially successful dogs, they are not right for everyone.

A “NO PETS ALLOWED” 6th floor apartment in the Bronx meant a very late start for this pet lover when dogs were concerned, but let me share my dogs with you:

My first dog, when I was 23, came from a “rescue”—a home with dogs and cats in every corner & on every surface. “Hoarder” would have been a better description of the lady. I was thrilled to have “saved” Cinder when in reality I simply condemned more animals to a life of misery. Cinder came with tapeworms, among other things.

Skipper, my Yorkie, belonged to a neighbor and when she gave him to me at one year it became clear he was not house broken! He came from the same model house as mine. With the same corners to pee on, one year of house breaking followed!

Jodi, a beautiful Irish Setter came from the Montgomery County Humane Society. When she joined the family we had a large fenced yard in Gaithersburg. With a divorce impending, a fenced yard in Rockville with a very tiny house with unusually low ceilings was my only option for a new home for the two of us.

Foxie was the best! A Poodle, Chihuahua, Terrier, he was the first puppy I ever had. He and his litter mates were offered to me for sale by a Potomac lady who had been surprised by their arrival. Jodi had recently died of bloat so while I did not sell puppies, they came by the store on the way to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and Foxie stayed with me for 15 wonderful years. He was my first puppy albeit probably not yet eight weeks old.

Because of all the dogs that visited my store while they were shopping, many breeds proved unappealing to me but a Schipperke was fascinating. My vet gave me the name of a local breeder but visiting her house did not impress me. So I talked to an excellent puppy store that many of my customers did business with—Potomac Kennels. Sueanne called me when she had a Schipperke puppy come in and Spot, the most beautiful black bundle of energy, came to live with me. A minor medical issue was handled by Potomac Kennels and Spot’s AKC paperwork arrived as promised.

So one of my four dogs benefitted the County with sales tax, three did not! One supported a family owned small business of excellence because by the time Spot came to live with me, my small business was providing enough income for me to pay up front for the dog that in the long run cost me the least.

Too many animals today are being purchased on the internet from distant sources that have great web pages. My experience has been that a visit to these locations confirms it is not what it appeared to be. My College classmate was entranced by one Cockapoo breeder until she visited. Her puppy ultimately came from Virginia, two hours south of here.

Shelters are actually importing (300,000 one year) puppies from Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and recently a group destined for the meat market in Korea. It’s hard to believe these are appropriate sources for families with expectations on size and behavior for their new family member.

Montgomery County euthanizes very few adoptable animals. About 25 years ago I reviewed all 12,000 animals passing through the shelter in one year. There were less than 150 dogs that were euthanized that year that might possibly have been adoptable. The last time I checked figures, we were DOWN to 7,000 a year.

Today Potomac Kennels is gone, victim to the high cost of doing business in Montgomery County and the huge amount of effort necessary to operate a facility with live animals properly. Let me also point out that a retail store PAYS for their inventory and then has the same expenses for veterinary care as anyone with live animals. Our veterinary relationship and our business are crucial for the wellbeing of our pets. Sueanne’s vet checked each one of the puppies she purchased from Legal Commercial Breeding Facilities that were also licensed, inspected, and had their own veterinary relationships prior to providing puppies after eight weeks of age—the legal age for sale here. Many were the nights she was not home with her three daughters because puppies were arriving. Thank goodness for her outstanding and supportive husband!

Bill 5014 is an example of legislation that sounds kind and helpful while the result will be to decrease responsible choosing of what everyone wants to be a successful family experience for both pet and people.

Please vote NO on Bill 5014.