What You Need To Know - Threats to Animal Ownership

Animal rights organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) seek to put an end to animal ownership. In their eyes, animals should share rights with humans. They equate animal ownership to slavery. Their goals of abolishing animal ownership and animal breeding is an ideology not known by many.

An important part of our mission at Protect The Harvest is to protect the right to own and interact with animals. Pets and livestock enrich the lives of Americans all across the country. Animals also offer assistance to people in several different capacities. They provide us with companionship, resources like food and fiber, a source of recreation, or assist us with our work.

Protect The Harvest and our founder, Forrest Lucas, have been steadfast supporters of both animal breeders and authentic animal shelters and rescue groups. We believe in Americans having options when it comes to adding a new animal to your household. In 2016, the American Kennel Club (AKC) honored Forrest and Charlotte Lucas with its inaugural AKC Award for Outstanding Leadership in Canine Policy. This was a great example of the partnership between one of the largest canine organizations and Protect The Harvest.

Link to article about the AKC Award

Since its founding, Protect The Harvest has worked hard to educate the public regarding the threats posed by animal rights organizations to animal ownership.

Below, we outline several topics we have engaged in over the past few years.

Pet Ownership in Jeopardy

Pet Breeders and Pet Stores

Pet breeding is facing some serious threats from animal rights groups. In an effort to disguise their true intentions of outlawing animal ownership, animal rights groups have been seeking to both regulate pet breeders out of business and to restrict choices for citizens when it comes to selecting a pet. In doing so, they are not only attacking the breeder’s ability to provide for themselves and their families, but they are targeting your right to raise and care for your family’s pets. These groups continue to spread false information that distorts consumer perception of how pet breeders operate in hopes of forcing the issue.

In 2017, California passed Assembly Bill 485 into law. This new law mandates that all dogs, cats, and rabbits sold in pet stores must come from rescues or shelters, rather than federally licensed and regulated breeders. Pet stores will also face a $500 fine if found to be selling animals from USDA commercial breeders. It does not, however, at this time, prohibit individuals from buying animals directly from commercial or hobby breeders. Numerous cities have also imposed similar regulations on pet stores and pet owners. Now since AB 485 passed into law in California, it has set a precedent and opened the door to allow animal rights groups to push similar legislation in other states.

Link to CA AB485 Articles:

California AB 485 Bad News for Pet Ownership

California AB 485 - Governor Brown Signs Bill That Restricts the Rights of Pet Owners

Pet Store Bans - Coming to a State Near You

Retail Rescue

Recently, a push to eliminate choices for U.S. residents when it comes to purchasing a new animal has made its way to our ballot. In states like California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, legislation is being proposed to outlaw selling animals from federally licensed breeders. Instead, the animals must come from a shelter or rescue.

We have several concerns with this type of law. It takes away a buyer’s freedom of choice, as well as any consumer protections previously offered by USDA licensed breeders. These consumer protections include “true to breed” temperaments, health clearances, and some states offer “Pet Protection” policies that refund the purchase price and veterinary care if the dog falls ill immediately after bringing it home. The same cannot be said for animals sourced from rescues or shelters, simply because they, more often than not, come with little knowledge of their history. Some are even being imported from outside the U.S.

For example, “rescuing” animals has become a big business. Groups that “rescue” animals are turning around and selling them to “adopters” at high prices. There’s a name for this recent business trend, “retail rescue”, and it generates a huge income for some so-called rescues that are in it solely for profit.

A recent study (2017) of Southern California rescues and shelters shows some alarming data:

  • 643 rescue and shelter groups in Southern California were reviewed.
  • Non-reporting, non-registered, delinquent or suspended groups reduced that number to 486.
  • 296 organizations showed annual income on their IRS 990 forms over $50,000, for a total of $251,807,644. That number is not a typo. Keep in mind these figures apply to Southern California alone and that number is just a total from the groups that actually filed tax returns.

These big numbers bring up concerns about animal welfare since there is no oversight and there does not seem to be a plan or budget to implement a program that protects the consumer or the animals that are in the “retail rescue” pipeline.

Links to articles:

ASPCA Vice President Reveals Discussions About Shelters Breeding Puppies

Los Angeles CBS Local News - Non Profit Rescues are Not Charities

Importation of Animals

The business of “retail rescue” brings up another topic, the importation of animals. Patti Strand, of the National Animal Interest Alliance, explains that the number of “replacement animals” - the animals wanted by the American public each year to replace deceased or retired animals – is much higher than the number of animals born each year. To fulfill that demand, shelters and rescues are importing animals, usually dogs, from other regions of the country or even outside of the U.S.

Unfortunately, this is a cause for concern; dogs from other countries are, potentially, poorly socialized, aggressive and fearful. Some of these imported dogs are bringing diseases that previously were eradicated from this region. In addition to this, foreign dogs have been imported that have exposed American dogs to new strains of disease. For example, in 2017 there was an outbreak of Asian strains of Canine Influenza in the Los Angeles area and since then, additional dogs have been diagnosed with the disease. There was also a deadly outbreak in the Midwest that was traced back to the importation of Korean dogs.

Importing dogs from outside the country is not the solution to helping abandoned or unwanted dogs find new homes within the U.S. For this reason, Protect The Harvest supports local shelters in their quest to rehome animals in need but also supports the breeding and selling of purpose-bred animals. In short, we support Americans having the right to choose where their next animal comes from.

Links to additional information:

National Animal Interest Alliance Shelter Project - Shelter Data

Los Angeles County Public Health - Canine Influenza Outbreak

Veterinary Information Network - VIN - Article

NPR - With Rescue Dogs in Demand More Shelters Look Far Afield for Fido

Mandatory Spay-Neuter Regulations

In New Jersey, animal rights groups pushed for legislation that further severely limits the rights of animal owners. The language of S2847 mandated that all dogs and cats 8 weeks of age or older could only be sold or transferred to new owners if they were spayed or neutered. The result is that there would only be animals available in New Jersey that cannot reproduce. Eventually, with this model, there will no longer be pets available to us. Additionally, there are numerous recent studies within the veterinary industry that have examined the impact of early spay – neuter. The results of these studies raised great concerns. There are now many in the veterinary community that believe early spay-neuter, especially at 8 weeks of age, is detrimental to the health and long-term welfare of pets. Large breed dogs are at particular risk of life-long health problems with an early spay-neuter.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) published an opinion in regards to mandatory spay and neuter legislation: “The AVMA does not support regulations or legislation mandating spay/neuter of privately owned, non-shelter dogs and cats. Although spaying and neutering helps control dog and cat populations, mandatory approaches may contribute to pet owners avoiding licensing, rabies vaccination and veterinary care for their pets, and may have other unintended consequences."

Link to guest blog about How Radical Animal Rights Groups Push Their Agenda

Anti-Exotic Pet Ownership

Since the animal rights ideology believes that all animal ownership is akin to slavery, their agenda is broad-sweeping. It does not just stop with eliminating animal agriculture or controlling the sale of dogs and cats. Animal rights activists would prefer that no animal, including exotics, be owned by a human. Although there are already laws and regulations in place, these groups believe they do not reach far enough. No matter how they disguise it, the underlying agenda is that animals should be removed from the hands of their owners.

This ideology greatly impacts family businesses like “Bearadise Ranch” owned by the Welde family. The Welde family has been working with bears for over 90 years. At Bearadise Ranch they have created a caring and enriched environment for their bears. The ranch is used as an educational experience for the public to learn about bears and the threats against them in the wild. Even though the Bearadise Ranch bears are healthy, well cared for and live in a model environment, they have become the target of one of PETA’s many harassment nightmares. Their story is just one of many.

Unless animal rights groups are stopped, their beliefs will have significant implications for facilities like zoos and exotic animal parks where our children learn about the animal world around them. At zoos, zoologists, veterinarians, and caring staff members work to improve animal care techniques, exotic animal medicine and are key in furthering wildlife preservation efforts. If animal rights groups get their way, the end result will be detrimental to many species of wildlife.

Animal Entertainment and Competition

For almost half a century, animal rights extremists have put considerable funding behind efforts to end animal entertainment, performances, and competitions. They have pursued legislation, changed municipal codes, deployed propaganda, lobbied Congress, and distorted the truth. Additionally, they continually harass entertainers and animal competition organizations. Rodeo events, circus performances, animals in movies, as well as horse and dog shows, have all experienced the impact of animal rights harassment.

Link to Guest Article by Roni Bell Sylvester

Link to more information about performing animals

Racing Greyhounds

Florida voters went to the polls November 6th, 2018 and voted to amend the state constitution with a law prohibiting Greyhound racing. Amendments in Florida can only be reviewed every 20 years by the Constitution Revision Commission and will have to receive 60% approval to be changed at that time. Since Florida was home to the majority of race tracks in the country, this will effectively end the industry. Dogs in this industry are greatly cared for, and live long, happy lives both in racing and their adoptive homes after retirement. Racing is what these dogs are bred to do and enjoy doing. The animal rights groups were able to reach voters with myths about the industry, effectively appealing to the public’s emotions rather than logic based on facts.

As a result of this decision, thousands of dogs will need to be rehomed and many people will be out of work when the law goes into effect in 2021. This doesn’t just impact dog racing; it also opens the door to end other working animal industries. With this amendment, the verbiage is so vague, that it could lead to other industries being negatively impacted. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of animal rights groups is to make all animal industries comply with their ideology.

To read more about Prop 13:

Article - Animal Rights Agenda Wins in Florida and Greyhounds Lose

Article - Prop 13 in Florida

Horses and Horse Shows

Animal rights groups attack all animal enterprise and they do so without having any practical experience with the animal sector they are targeting. The performance horse industry is no exception.

Groups like Reining Enigma, attend horse shows to take video content and then heavily edit the footage in order to present horse shows in a negative light. Animal rights groups are doing these things to work towards implementing over-reaching and overbearing regulations. Some animal rights activists and their affiliated groups have even worked to insert themselves within horse industry organizations.


Another method by animal rights groups to impact the performance horse industry was the PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics Act). There are already laws as well as industry rules and regulations in place to protect show horses. Almost every major horse show organization has a published and updated handbook which outline competition rules and how horses are to be treated while at their events. The PAST Act will not improve the welfare of show horses since all soring tactics are already illegal. Instead, it calls for more regulation on common items used for show horses that cause no harm at all – for example, spray to enhance a horse’s coat and sprays to keep flies away. More regulations are not needed when good regulations are already in place. Coming back for more regulations is an angle that animal rights groups are using to get a deeper foothold into the horse industry, via legislation pushed by animal rights groups. Over-reaching laws not only impact the horse industry but also open the door to set precedents which can impact other performing animals.

Horse Processing

The horse population has suffered greatly since the funds for USDA inspectors in horse processing plants were cut from the Federal Government’s budget. Contrary to what animal rights groups have led people to believe, the elimination of USDA inspectors has not stopped horse processing. Instead, horses are now shipped to Canada and Mexico to be processed at facilities not regulated by USDA standards or USDA animal welfare oversight. Traveling to these facilities can be difficult on the horses and cause more harm. Re-funding USDA inspectors for horse processing will improve animal welfare because horses processed in the United States would be monitored by USDA inspectors. This will ensure animal welfare standards are followed and that the horses are being cared for and handled in a humane way. Opening processing in the United States will help curb the problem of unwanted horses being abandoned, starved or shipped long distances outside of animal welfare oversight.

Link to AVMA video response to the HSUS in regards to their position on horse processing.


The Safeguarding American Food Exports Act is legislation proposed and supported by animal rights groups. The SAFE Act calls for the prohibition of horse processing for consumption in the United States as well as prohibits the exportation of horses for the same reason.

Dog Shows

Dog shows have long been an issue with animal rights ideologues. These groups have been known to disregard the well-being of show animals at extreme levels; demonstrating that they don’t care about the animal’s welfare, but rather their agenda to end all use of show dogs. Over the years, there have been reports of animal rights protestors releasing animals from their crates and unplugging air-conditioning units that keep dogs from overheating in their trailers and motorhomes. In an incident in March 2018 at the Crufts Dog Show held in England, protestors stormed the stage as the champions were about to be awarded. Acts like this can be harmful to pets, who may get scared from the violent commotion.

Carriage Horses

Carriage horse businesses are another target of animal rights groups. These groups have been working across the country to eliminate the tradition and heritage of horse-drawn carriages. The Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as well as the ASPCA and other affiliates are involved in these efforts. They have published false information about the welfare of carriage horses to rile up emotions. They have been especially active in New York City but have also pushed banning carriage businesses in other cities as well.
In New York City, a group known as NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean and Livable and Safe Streets) has pushed for a ban on carriage horse businesses for several years. These groups have claimed that the horses are mistreated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The horses have access to clean food and water throughout the day, wear specialized shoes for walking through the streets and rest each night in clean and well-bedded stables within the city. It is important to note that the main supporter of NYCLASS is a real estate developer and the stables where the horses are housed are located on highly desirable properties in NYC.
We support the carriage horse business and will continue to do so. If you would like to know more about this issue and more about the motivations behind NYCLASS’s efforts to eliminate this industry, we recommend watching the movie “The Last Horseman of New York City”.

You can watch a trailer for the movie here:

County Fairs

Across the country, 4-H and FFA children are now subjected to constant and ongoing harassment by animal rights extremists. So much so that children and their parents are being coached prior to their local state and county fairs on how to deal with animal rights groups. In a number of cases across the country, these extremists have entered fairgrounds late at night and set animals free. They have also engaged in other criminal activities that put the welfare of the animals at risk. This situation has become so problematic that many 4-H and FFA groups are having to post night watch in order to protect the welfare of their animals.

Animal Seizures

As the animal rights agenda presses on, pushing legislation and ordinances on the federal, state and local levels, animal owners across the country have been subjected to unlawful search and seizures and harassment. What happened to Gary Dassinger, a rancher in North Dakota, is an example.

In April of 2017, Dassinger faced charges of “animal abuse and cruelty”. The accusation came from someone out of state that had never even been to his property. This situation was made possible by a new law in North Dakota that changed the Century Code. It was introduced by the Humane Society of the United States and pushed by their Humane Legislative Fund. This newer law is something that has come as a surprise to many North Dakotans because historically, the numbers of animal abuse and neglect cases in North Dakota have been few and far between. The HSUS has trained law enforcement agencies, in North Dakota, on their interpretation of animal law and how to conduct animal seizures.
Over the course of several months, Dassinger dealt with repeated unannounced inspections of his animals and property, and general harassment and defamation from the media and animal rights activists on social outlets. At one point some of his horses were seized by the Sheriff’s Department even though it was known to them that a judge was reviewing a restraining order to prevent their seizing Dassinger’s animals.

In July of 2017, Free Range Report reported that “Judge Rhonda Ehlis, of the Southwest District Court, ruled that there was not clear or ‘convincing evidence’ that on May 18, 2017, the animals of Gary Dassinger met the definition of ‘neglect.’ She further noted that, ‘Therefore, the Petition to Seize Neglected Animals and the Petition for Disposition of Seized Animals are denied.’” It is also important to note that the County Sherriff who was a key player in this case was not re-elected in the following election cycle.
With the help of his daughter, Protect The Harvest, and many others, Dassinger successfully fought to keep his livestock and his 40-year breeding program. However, it was not without great personal sacrifice both emotionally and financially. In order to defend himself and to stop the seizure and sale of his livestock, Dassinger and his daughter made a considerable investment in time and legal fees. Although he was not guilty of the charges, he decided to cut his losses and take a plea deal.
For more information about the Dassinger case and the Open Field Doctrine:

Article - North Dakota Rancher Fighting for His Ranch and Your Rights

Article - Open Field Doctrine Can Be Used Against Animal Owners

Link to Support Dassinger Ranch Facebook Group

Animal Rights Groups Busy in Oregon

On November 14, 2018, an amendment to Oregon’s animal cruelty statute was filed. If passed this amendment will permit anyone to file a civil action complaint against an animal owner. This means that a person can file a complaint outside of the criminal legal system. The amendment states, “plaintiff shall include any person even if the person does not have any legal interest or possessory rights in an animal.” Of additional and grave concern is the fact that the amendment allows the plaintiff unrestricted access to the owner’s home and property. It also allows for the plaintiff to seize the animals and require the owner to post bond and pay board. If the animal owner cannot pay board or post the bond, then the ownership of the animal is transferred to the plaintiff. Of most concern is that the amendment allows for all of this to happen to an animal owner solely based on a complaint from a plaintiff and without any hearing to establish guilt. In short, this would be state-sanctioned extortion and thievery of animals.

Link to article by Nancy Halpern, DVM about the proposed Amendment to Oregon's Animal Cruelty Statute

Habeas Corpus is For Humans, Not Animals

In December 2018, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo in New York has recently made the headlines after the animal rights group Nonhuman Rights Project filed court documents to encourage a judge to award habeas corpus to an animal. This is an unprecedented and alarming event. No non-human animal has ever received habeas corpus.

The ability for an animal to have habeas corpus would imply that they are persons and can participate in a social contract. However, animals are unable to be held legally liable for their actions. Even if an animal, such as a chimpanzee, has some human-like traits, that does not make the animal a person. Habeas corpus for animals brings rise to a number of questions:

If an animal were to be awarded habeas corpus, where would the line be drawn for future cases?
What is to stop animal rights extremists from litigating further?
Make no mistake, further litigation is the plan and the result would be devastating to animals. It would cause the closing of every educational zoo, and every laboratory conducting lifesaving research that benefits both animals and humans. It would certainly impact our precious food system and even owning a pet will become a thing of the past.

Habeas corpus is a common law civil right, it was written for and by people. Taking the law out of context to make it fit into the animal world reduces the significance of our human civil rights. Habeas corpus was written into our Constitution by our forefathers to protect human beings.

Article - Habeas Corpus is for Humans, Not for Animals


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