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Farfel and the USDA!
The federal government is requiring a family dog in Boulder to be commercially licensed because he lies in the window of a pet boutique that bears his name and image
The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal Welfare Division says Farfel -- a bearded collie -- is an exhibit like zoo or circus animals.
"Farfel? He's so shy, he's hardly on exhibit" said Jeff Richey, owner of Farfel's Farm on Pearl Street. "It's ironic that we named (the store) after the one of our seven dogs who is shy."
Richey says while they put Farfel in the name of the store five years ago they had no intention of putting him in the window. He says that was Farfel's decision.
"For the first few months we struggled with him. We didn't want him to mess up our display," Richey said.
Richey said they finally gave in and gave Farfel a bed by the window. The USDA found out and sent a doctor with its Animal Welfare Division to investigate.
"She said she had the right to enforce a law that requires us to license Farfel as a commercial dog on exhibit."
Richey says it might be funny, if it weren't so serious. The USDA's Animal Welfare Division also oversees licenses of breeding facilities. Richey and his wife rescue animals from breeders.
"They say a breeding facility can only be visited once a year because of limited resources. They've got enough resources to come take care of our family dog. Maybe they should devote those to taking care of puppy mills."
Richey says a commercial license for Farfel will cost about $40. He says the fee isn't the issue.
"If they deny it, we'd have to take him out of all our advertising and change the brand we've built for 4 1/2 years. I'm upset that our government resources are being wasted in this way."
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USDA barks at Farfel's Farm!
Daily Camera article 10/10/09:
USDA barks at Farfel's Farm
Agency says Boulder store must apply for commercial license since figurehead dog hangs out in front window
By Peter Budoff Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 10/09/2009 06:08:31 PM MDT
The owners of Farfel's Farm have tried to keep their bearded collie from sleeping in the display of their pet boutique. But Farfel had other plans.
"Farfel just likes being next to the waterfall in the display," said owner Jeff Richey. "Originally we tried to get him away from there but we finally gave in and put a bed there for him."
Now, the federal government is saying that Richey must apply for a $40 commercial license for his pet because the dog is on display, like an animal at the zoo.
A representative from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture delivered the news to the store's owners last month.
"I couldn't believe it," Richey said. "Our whole business is about rescuing animals and promoting animal welfare."
At issue is the owner's use of the dog's name and image in its logo and advertising, as well as the dog's habit of spending time in the store's window. According to APHIS spokesman Dave Sacks, the store qualifies as an exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act, which is designed to regulate animals that are commercialized to attract customers.
"By all accounts, the animal is being used as a draw for the business," Sacks said. "The dog stays at the front window, it's a draw for customers."
Richey said the dog only spends a fraction of his day at the front of the store, and does so by choice. Farfel spends the rest of the day behind the counter with the owner's seven other dogs.
Sacks said this is a unique case in that it involves a pet boutique as opposed to a zoo or circus, but said that the use of the animal is not fundamentally different.
"Zoos and circuses use animals for a profit and that's what he's doing here," he said.
The licensing application costs $40 and, if approved, Farfel's Farm will received a yearly unannounced visit by an APHIS inspector to ensure proper treatment of the animal. If the application is turned down or if the owners fail to apply, they will have to change their name, logo and advertising or face possible fines, according to Sacks.
"I've made such a fuss about this, I wouldn't be surprised if they turned me down," Richey said.
Richey said he is upset that APHIS, which also regulates commercial breeders, was willing to use its resources to deal with his store.
"I told them it's interesting that the same agency that claims it doesn't have the resources to monitor puppy mills more than once a year can afford to come down here and deal with our family dog," he said.
According to Sacks, APHIS is legally required to visit breeders once a year, but that it is not uncommon for inspectors to make multiple visits to a location if there are numerous violations or concerns. The news of the incident has spread throughout the Boulder pet-owner community.
Mary Lee Withers, who co-owns P.C.'s Pantry on 30th Street, said her customers have been talking about the case.
"The general reaction is 'why?'" she said. "Why are they going after this family dog? I've never heard of this happening to any other pet shop."
Withers said she knows of several other pet boutiques that use their animals' names and images and whose pets wander the stores.
"What do they expect?" she said. "That's what we are. We are a store for animals."
According to Sacks, the effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act requires that the agency pursue all cases the same.
"The bottom line is that from the outside, it may look different than a zoo or a circus, but they are using animals in the same way, to drum up business," he said. "Whenever there is an animal that is being used to promote business, we will step in."
Johnson: How much is that doggy in the window? USDA says $40 a year
By Bill Johnson
Denver Post Columnist
Denver Post October 21st 2009
Jeff Richey, somewhere in his bones, knows his cause is lost. He just hasn't the stomach to admit it. It is why he has filled out the application on his dog but still refuses to send it to the government.
"I'll probably take a couple more weeks," he moans, "or until they send a letter threatening to fine us."
His emotions run the gamut. He understands the reasoning behind the law, he says, because there cannot be a greater animal lover than he. But he has never once put his dog on display as an exhibit.
And wait a minute, Richey finally spits, why does the government care at all about his dog? Does it not have bigger and better things to worry about?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled this week that Farfel — Richey and Sandra Calvin's 6-year-old bearded collie — is, indeed, a display animal under the Animal Welfare Act. As such, his owners must apply for a $40 commercial license.
The government habitually does head- scratchingly out-of-the-blue things, but by any measure, its Farfel ruling is an outrageous overreach.
Richey and Calvin for five years now have run Farfel's Farm, a nice little pet-accessories store — they call it a "boutique" — at Ninth and Pearl streets in Boulder.
They named the store after their then-puppy and came up with the word "Farm" because they liked the alliteration with Farfel.
Farfel always came with Richey to the store and likes to spend his days in the sun on the front- window ledge next to the waterfall the couple installed.
"We never forced our dog to sleep there," Richey said. "Farfel chooses to sleep there, and only for a small fraction of the day. Yet they are using a law designed to protect zoo and circus animals on my dog!"
A USDA spokesman says the dog's sleeping in the front window is designed to attract customers, and Richey is therefore required to have commercial license.
If Richey doesn't apply for a commercial exhibitor's license for the dog or if he's turned down, he said he would have to remove the name Farfel from the business name — and his name and image from all logos and advertising — or face possible fines.
"It will ruin five years of marketing and building our store because somebody thinks it is their job to federally regulate my dog," he says.
If the license is approved, the store will be visited at least once a year by an inspector to ensure proper treatment of Farfel, who would also have to undergo a yearly battery of wellness tests by an approved veterinarian.
"There is no better-cared-for animal in this town. That is the absurdity," Richey says.
He pulls a printout from a government website that lists other businesses required to obtain an exhibitor's license. No pet store is on it.
"The $40 for the license is not the issue at all," Richey says. "We object to their allocation of resources. I sometimes think they believe we're an actual farm with, you know, animals."
Farfel, in all my time at the shop, never once goes near the front window, but lies on the floor behind the counter.
I ask Richey once more about that application.
"I guess I'm just hoping," he says, looking away, "that someone, somewhere, will say we have better things to do. Let's leave these people alone."
We have gotten quite a few passionate responses from the news stories about Farfel and the USDA requiring him to be licensed similar to a circus animal. Thanks to everyone for being so concerned about our dog Farfel and our small business. Anyone who cares to is welcome to try out his Bowser dog bed on top of the orthopedic mat next to the waterfall in the front window of our store. You'll find out why he loves it so.
The $40 license that the USDA is mandating is not the issue at all. We donate more than that to animal rescue charities every month. We are fine with the USDA monitoring Farfel's welfare, but we object to their allocation of resources. The USDA APHIS Division licenses nearly 6,000 breeders in the U.S. including puppy mills that have hundreds of dogs in wire cages. These dogs' feet never touch the earth, and most receive no medical attention of any kind. Some of them are unable to walk (or much worse)!
Pet stores that sell dogs are not regulated at all by the USDA. We oppose sales of dogs through retail pet stores, and we hold periodic fundraisers for rescue. We offer a free service to help you find a rescue dog that fits your needs. Farfel's website has lots of links to
The USDA's list of exhibitors includes only zoos, circuses and animal sanctuaries. Farfel's Farm is apparently the only retail pet store required to do this. Why are they wasting our taxpayer dollars and ignoring the creatures that truly need help?
Sandy and Jeff
Controversial breed the focus of pet store fundraiser:
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)
Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggresive, something that has been created over many years due to the breed's use in dog fighting and a series of tragic attacks.
While the dogs have been banned by a number of metro Denver communities, including Denver, Aurora and Castle Rock, Farfel's Farm is supporting a rescue group that is helping the animals that have been confiscated.
"We do this for many breeds because we feel passionately. It doesn't matter which breed they are, but this breed is the most persecuted against," Sandy Calvin, the co-owner of Farfel's Farm, said.
Colorado Pit Bull Rescue works to save pit bulls that would be put down and place them in homes in non-ban areas.
"We are their last resort. If it wasn't for us these dogs would be a breed statistic," Amy Hedger, a volunteer with the group said.
They believe the problem is not the dog in many cases, it is the former owners.
"These dogs have been set up in the wrong hands and have been set up for failure," Hedger said.
The group says it puts the dogs and potential owners through a lot of scrutiny to ensure the arrangements will be safe and the dogs will not be used in fighting.
"If they're human-aggressive, then there's something going on with who's holding the leash," she continued.
Doug Kelley, the director of Denver Animal Care and Control says a series of attacks in Denver in the 1980s led to the law.
"There was the 3-year-old boy who was killed and Reverend [Wilbur] Billingsley was attacked," Kelley said.
Three-year-old Fernando Salazar was killed by a pit bull on October 26, 1986 after wandering into a neighbor's yard. Rev. Billingsley suffered more than 70 bites and two broken legs after encountering a pit bull in an alley behind his home on May 8, 1989.
A steady stream of attacks over the years has kept it on the books.
"In Denver we are required to look at a pit bull as being dangerous by ordinance, but if we can get that dog to another jurisdiction where it is permitted, then that is a success," Kelley said.
He agreed any dog can be aggressive, but he says the pit bull isn't necessarily more dangerous that other breeds. Still, he did encourage some caution for those considering a pit bull adoption.
"Pit bulls are strong. People talk about locking jaw and things like that. Physiologically that's been proven not to be the case, but they are very strong," Kelley said. "A pit bull owner really needs to understand what they are getting into, not so much with the behavior of the animal, but just the perceptions; the public perceptions."
The owners of Farfel's Farm hope the event is an opportunity to start a dialog about the ban, but more importantly to help the dogs affected by it.
"These are living beings. This is not a throw away. This is a living, breathing being," Calvin said.
Five percent of sales at Farfel's Farm on Saturday will go towards the Colorado Pit Bull Rescue.
Benefit for Colorado Pit Bull Rescue
Where: Farfel's Farm, 906 Pearl Street in Boulder
When: Saturday, Nov. 7, Noon to 3 p.m.
For more information contact Farfel's Farm at 303-443-7711 or Colorado Pit Bull Rescue at coloradopitbullrescue.com
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)