Government and Legal Affairs - Spring 2008

Animal Dealing: A Family Tradition

Brothers Danny and Johnny Schachtele began dealing in dogs and cats in 1987. Later, Johnny left the business and was replaced by Danny's wife, Mildred. Twenty years later, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) caught up with the Schachteles, and last December, the operation was finally forced to close its doors. The Schachteles had incurred repeated instances of apparent non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), dating back to the early days of their business.

The complaint lodged against the Schachteles by the USDA lays out 58 separate dates between November 2001 and October 2004 when Mildred and Danny allegedly committed AWA violations. These include failing to provide adequate and safe housing for dogs and cats and failing to hold animals for the minimum period of time before selling them.

The Schachteles were also charged with failing to maintain records that fully and correctly disclosed the identities and other required information of the persons from whom dogs were acquired on 51 separate occasions, including one incident that pertained to 43 dogs. Further, they were charged with failing to provide certifications that contained the complete addresses of the persons from whom dogs were acquired on seven separate occasions, including one that pertained to 195 dogs.

Danny Schachtele died prior to the resolution of the case. Shortly before the hearing, Mildred Schachtele agreed to the revocation of her dealer's license and a $107,250.00 fine to avoid having to go to trial. However, $100,000.00 of the fine was suspended.

Now we have learned that there are new random source dog and cat dealers in Missouri-Mildred and Danny's son and daughter-in-law, Tony and Becky. In fact, Tony even helped his mother close down her business before stepping up to fill the void.

The USDA does not have the tools to stop this trade, but the US Congress does. When the Pet Safety and Protection Act is adopted, procurement of animals via this cottage industry will finally end. The measure has been attached to both House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. If conferees stand firm for the protection of pets and integrity in the supply of research animals, the language will remain in the final version of the bill, and the door will at long last close on a shameful legacy.


 

Tracking Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty is a serious crime against society, and the Tracking Animal Cruelty Crimes Act (S. 2439) aims to give it the recognition it deserves. Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the bill would require the US Attorney General to modify Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime reporting programs to designate "cruelty to animals" as its own separate reporting classification.

The FBI uses crime reporting programs to track the incidence and patterns of offenses nationwide, allowing law enforcement agencies to better target their resources and to implement more successful prevention and prosecution. Because there is currently no specific category for animal cruelty, police and prosecutors lack the valuable information that they have for many other types of crime.

Improved information about animal cruelty crimes would lead to a better understanding of-and more effective responses to-both animal abuse and other offenses, as there is a recognized link between animal abuse and other forms of violence. The FBI was actually one of the first to establish this connection. Passage of S. 2439 would make it possible to track trends at the state and national level and determine the demographic characteristics and other factors associated with animal abuse.

Though cruelty to animals is a crime in all 50 states, with certain acts categorized as felonies in 43 states and the District of Columbia, this bill would foster better investigative and prosecutorial resources for the problem at both state and federal levels. S. 2439 would yield significant benefits for efforts to prevent and intervene in the cycle of violence that victimizes so many animals and people.