EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article by the author originally appeared in BurbankNBeyond.  This and the interview with Councilman David Gordon, are the final articles in a series researching the introduction of a proposed pet Sales and Breeding Regulations Ordinance that may potentially eliminate the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in the City of Burbank.

BurbankNBeyond requested interviews with city council members to learn and publish their positions and opinions on the topic, issues, and proposed ordinance.  Vice Mayor Gable-Luddy and Councilman Dr. David Gordon agreed to discuss the issue with BurbankNBeyond, other council members and the Mayor did not respond to requests for interview.

The interview segment with Councilman Gordon is the final in this series.  You can read Councilman Gordon’s interview to gain a different perspective and viewpoint on the issue.

Previous articles in the series include:

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Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  The issue is about mill puppies.  Puppies that are purchased from known puppy mills or factory breeding facilities.  There is a critical distinction to make.  Nobody is against adopting or selling puppies from reputable breeders, but I think the community, the residents, through their testimony (at city council meetings), their letters, and their petitions, have made it pretty clear that they are in opposition to perpetuating puppy mills by purchasing puppies from those kinds of breeding facilities.

But they’re not opposed to having puppies.

The community made a very clear point of that during our last council meeting (16 Oct).

BurbankNBeyond:  How did you get involved?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  I brought it to council at the first step for consideration by council as a whole.  It was brought to my attention by Burbank residents.  Any council member can introduce an item for additional discussion and possible action.

City staff then brought a report to council for discussion on whether to proceed or not.

BurbankNBeyond:  Within the city, how big a problem is this (puppy mill discussion)?  Is this a big enough problem that it really justifies this much attention and emotion for discussion by the Burbank City Council, as well as the residents of Burbank?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  Well the residents of Burbank have really spoken up and they themselves have said they want this kind of business stopped.  And frankly it’s about the humane treatment of, in this case, dogs.

As long as there is demand for puppies from puppy mills there will be factory breeding facilities.  While it is clear they are not (commercial breeders) in Burbank, I think it is pretty clear the community has said we don’t want to be participants in this inhumane practice.

There are no breeding facilities in our community.

BurbankNBeyond:  What impact will this, a single community have in the long term objective in stopping puppy mills?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  The Animal Welfare Act is nearly 50 years old.

One of the most impressive things that I think can happen is people at the grass roots level, and that may be an individual neighborhood, or an individual community starts to take action.

It’s by that kind of community by community action that we finally see an effect at the state or national level.  Rather than look at this as a city by city thing, I think, my experience has been that it is extremely grass roots.

People are recognizing that breeding a female over and over and over again with multiple litters on an annual basis, in the conditions that have been documented.

If you look at the materials presented you will see this is factual information.  I think grassroots is good.

BurbankNBeyond:  Should the federal government take a more proactive approach to the issue?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  It is always good to approach your legislators, whether local, state, or federal and ask for a strengthening of laws or reinforcement of laws.

I don’t think any of us would argue with that.

The only focus on the City of Burbank is focusing on the community.  I am certain that the direction we (City of Burbank) take on this that it will gain the attention of state legislators.

BurbankNBeyond:  Should I have the right to adopt or acquire any puppy I want, a husky puppy, or a malamute puppy?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  There are a variety of sources for acquiring puppies.  And there has never been any problem with buying them from a reputable breeder, or adopting from a rescue, or adopting from a specialty breed rescue.

There is no problem acquiring a puppy from a breeder if you are seeking a particular breed.  There are plenty of reputable breeders who breed those kinds of pure-bred dogs.

What I’ve been impressed with when you go to someone who is a reputable breeder is that first of all they do not “sell” their dogs.  Secondly they interview the people who are considering buying puppies.  And thirdly they make the potential buyer very much aware of the temperament of the dog to see whether or not the owner understands what’s required, and if it’s the right kind of dog.

It’s a much more one on one understanding.  Many of the reputable breeders will require the buyer to spay or neuter the dogs.

BurbankNBeyond:  Do you have a position on puppies bought or sold over the Internet?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  There are so many legitimate breeders in Southern California that I’m surprised someone wouldn’t just take the time to see the litter and meet the parents, see what kind of facility they are being raised in, and conclude their purchase in that manner.  That seems like the most humane thing to do.

BurbankNBeyond:  What happens if this ordinance passes?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  I think it may result in some business changes for stores which sell mill puppies.  But I don’t think it puts them out of business.  And it doesn’t preclude them from buying puppies from reputable breeders, or acquiring puppies from an adoption or a shelter.

I think it will resolve concerns raised by the community.

I wouldn’t say this is a Best Friends (Animal Society) driven discussion.  If it was a Best Friends driven discussion you wouldn’t have the hundreds of letters, petitions, and letters to the editor.

BurbankNBeyond:  What do Burbank residents need to know about this issue prior to the next council meeting?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  It is very important that residents come to Council, or communicate with Council and let them know their position on this (discussion).  It is important that residents continue to educate themselves on what the alternatives are, and it is important that residents speak out.

If residents continue to show up as they have in the past that that they are demonstrating to all of us that they want to put an end to this inhumane kind of treatment to animals.

I think our community should know that our staff reports are coming out usually a few days before the Council meeting, and should be available by next Thursday.

Just like people have weighed in on the Internet, I think it is important to continue the dialog.

During the last community meeting on October 16th there was a preponderance of evidence that Peggy Woods (Pet Emporium) has purchased puppies from puppy mills, that the (puppies) came from Missouri, and that the violations (if you look at the page), that there was a USDA record of violations if you look at the facility that occurred at the time one of the dogs was there (dogs offered for sale at Peggy Woods).

So it seems to me there is a preponderance of evidence that they would have bought (Peggy Woods) from puppy mills.

From my point of view that’s not an ethical business practice.

BurbankNBeyond:  Why do you think Councilman Gordon would be so reluctant to support the issue or community’s position?

Vice Mayor Gabel-Luddy:  After all the presentations were done (at the end of the October meeting) I asked everybody on council, all of my colleagues,  members if the presentation by Ms. Rizzotti’s (Shelly Rizzotti, BurbankCROPS) changed anybody’s mind about how they felt about things.  Because her research was so specific, and from my point of view so impeccable.  And I know Mr. Golonski (Mayor, City of Burbank) answered me, but Councilmember Gordon did not.

So I don’t know.  It seemed to be clearly the community desire to change the business model of that (sales of commercially-bred puppies) that practice here in Burbank.  Which I applaud.

We raised the possibility his son worked at Peggy Woods, and I think he admitted as much.  So I don’t know.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  This interview was originally published by the author at BurbankNBeyond. This and the interview with Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, are the final articles in a series researching the introduction of a proposed pet Sales and Breeding Regulations Ordinance that may potentially eliminate the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in the City of Burbank.

BurbankNBeyond requested interviews with city council members to learn and publish their positions and opinions on the topic, issues, and proposed ordinance.  Vice Mayor Gable-Luddy and Councilman Dr. David Gordon agreed to discuss the issue with BurbankNBeyond, other council members and the Mayor did not respond to requests for interview.

This interview segment with Councilman Gordon is the final in this series.  You can also read Vice Mayor Gable-Luddy’s interview to gain a different perspective and viewpoint on the issue.

Previous articles in the series include:

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BurbankNBeyond:  can you give us an overview on your position regarding the sale of commercially-bred puppies in Burbank?

Councilman David Gordon:  Well I have done quite a bit of research since this whole issue came up.  As far as I can understand, there is no disagreement with me as far as, in any legal way, to put an end to the so called puppy mills.  And I think we need a good definition of that.

If any breeder, if in the process of breeding these animals involves having (them) subjected to harm, or unsafe conditions, unhealthy conditions, we don’t think any reasonable person would oppose (shutting them down), I wouldn’t oppose that.

The concern I have is the approach being taken, and I can just give a few things that I’ve learned.

First of all if they should ban the pet stores, what it’s going to do is drive the sales of dogs underground.  It does nothing to improve the welfare of pets whatsoever.  It doesn’t impact the puppy mills, whatever the definition is.  Because the non-pet stores that are not regulated will obtain the dogs directly from puppy mills.  There is no obligation to reveal, and no obligation that has any impact on the puppy mills..

So that’s one thing.

The other thing is where the dogs come from.  There are thousands and thousands of dogs being imported into the United States.  I do have some information from various reliable sources that there are literally hundreds of thousands of dogs being imported from Mexico, and other countries for sale in the current retail market.

But when they come in, even if it is from outside of California, they still have to comply with the Polanco Act which calls for various vaccinations and health checks before they are marketed with warranties and guarantees to the purchasers of the dogs.

So the other problem with this, and the reason that is so important the Polanco Act is so protective to the public, is that these imported dogs often – and this is by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta with articles published on this, is that they (imported dogs) carry with them diseases, such as new strains of rabies that are not common in the United States which have basically been eradicated.  And other exotic diseases that aren’t really obvious at the puppy stage.

Although there are laws about importing dogs that haven’t had certain vaccinations in that country – apparently there is a loophole with very young puppies which are often what is most in demand.

So there are some very severe and significant potential health consequences which I wasn’t aware of when the issue first came up which I think need to be considered by the council in passing any ordinance.  Because whatever the situation is now I don’t think anyone would want to make the situation worse in terms of public health, above and beyond pet health and safety.

So that’s something I’ve learned.

Another thing is, you know, I think if there is going to be any regulation as far as where these dogs come from, I don’t understand why, and I don’t see why, any group that provides dogs should be exempted, whether it is a non-profit organization, or a rescue group, any party that is providing dogs, you can’t just put it on puppy mills, you should have to reveal the source of where the dog comes from, and the fact that it has been properly processed through health procedures with vet’s inspections and such prior to putting it out to the public.

I think this is very important, and I am very concerned that this is provided in an environment with no regulation.

There are ways I think, and I have to wait and see what our city attorney has to say, because she has some comments that she was going to provide to us, I have to wait and see what her take is on the legality of various recommendations, but I don’t see why that we couldn’t as a city, couldn’t have a regulation to prevent dogs knowingly being sold from sources that are not properly attending to the animal’s welfare, or have any other ulterior motives for providing unhealthy dogs.

I don’t think there should be a blanket proscription in saying anyone who breeds dogs and sells them is a puppy mill.  I don’t believe that’s the case.

I also don’t believe it’s the case, as has been stated, you can simply adopt the pure bred dogs of your choice.  I don’t buy there are readily adoptable pure bred dogs of the particular type those (people) may want.

I certainly don’t think any decision should be made in a hurried or rushed way, in an emotional way.  I think it is a valid concern that folks have about the welfare of all animals.

The question I think is more what is the best way to do it (protect the welfare of animals).  In my case, as a government official in Burbank.  I’m not worried about what they do in other states, because I can’t control that.

But I do have a say in what happens in Burbank.  So I am interested in the best solution that achieves as much as possible the goal making sure dogs and cats that are sold in Burbank are healthy, from reputable breeders.  We should do that.

I’m on board with that.

BurbankNBeyond:  Given all that’s happening in Burbank, do you believe this topic justifies the amount of time being spent on the issue given all the other activities the Council may be spending time on?

Councilman David Gordon:  No, not at all.  I think that it is of importance, and for some people it may be more important, but there are some very significant matters that are facing the council and the city.  There are public issues, there are safety issues in terms of the police and fire department we are dealing with.  There are budgetary issues, there are infrastructure issues that affect people’s health and safety, we must maintain our streets and our sewers and whatnot, we have to ensure issues with our schools are addressed; there are a number of issues I believe supersede this on the priorities list.

That doesn’t mean this is something that shouldn’t be heard.  The overarching effort that I’ve seen put forward, I would welcome the input from any of these folks on any of the other issues that are affecting the city.  And I haven’t seen that.

Many of these folks that have come and spoke or written, I’ve never interacted with them before.  But judging by how energetic they are with this one particular issue, I’d hope they’d see other city and social issues where we’d welcome their input.

BurbankNBeyond:  What do you think the final decision will look like?

Councilman David Gordon:  I have no idea what the final ordinance is that is going to be proposed.  I would hope that any ordinance will be one that every council member could support.   Not only rational, but that it makes sense in terms of protecting the public across the board.

Not just for a particular group that has a particular idea of the way it should be, but we have to look at the bigger picture.  I would think my mission on the council, my charge of the council I should say, is basically to see what’s in the best in the overall health and safety of the community.

And that takes into consideration what would happen to the imported dogs that are now going through traditional sellers, going through health checks as opposed to totally unregulated black market provision of animals.

So when you talk about what the ordinance will do, I don’t think any ordinance in the city of Burbank is going to stop any problems associated with illicit or inappropriate dog breeding across the country.  It may send a message of some sort, but what the message is, and how effective it is, I really don’t know.

I’ll wait to see what ordinance is presented to the council to consider and act on.

BurbankNBeyond:  What do the residents of Burbank need to know about this, and what do they need to prepare to engage in the discussion?

Councilman David Gordon:  I think the residents of Burbank could somehow be informed that there are proposals being considered by the council that would take away the ability of pet stores to sell cats and dogs other than those which are somehow obtained by adoption.

Their ability to purchase a particular breed by going into a store and selecting it from a display or ordering it will be eliminated.

If they (Burbank residents) are OK with it – fine.  If they are not OK with it, I would hope they would come on down and participate in the dialog I am sure is going to take place at the council this week.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Burbank City Council Meeting Agenda for 28 January is posted, and has the following materials available for public review and download:

COUNCIL AGENDA – CITY OF BURBANK

TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013

5:00 P.M. – Council Chamber, 275 E. Olive Avenue

Introduction of Pet Sales and   Breeding Regulations Ordinance – Community Development Department:
Recommendation:
introduce AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BURBANK AMENDING TITLE 5   OF THE BURBANK MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROHIBIT THE SALE OF ALL DOGS AND CATS BY A   RETAIL PET STORE.

Item 4 – Staff Report

Item 4 – Exhibit A – Ordinance

Item 4 – Exhibit B – Federal and State Regulations

Item 4 – Exhibit C – Comparison of Local Ordinances

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Note: This is part three of a series on the issue of pet stores selling puppies in Burbank (California), whether the city should prevent sales of puppies in Burbank, and a greater issue of animal abuse through the distribution of puppies produced in “puppy mills.”  The series was originally posted at BurbankNBeyond by the author.

By John Savageau
BurbankNBeyond

A young mixed-breed puppy looking for a homeAs of January 2013 there is only one remaining pet store selling puppies in Burbank.  That is Peggy Woods Pet Emporium.  Another pet store, Millennium Pets, stopped selling puppies in 2012, although they still sell birds, reptiles, and pet supplies.

Interviews with pet store owners, including Ira Lippman from Peggy Woods Pet Emporium and Vahe from Millennium Pets indicates animals rights groups, including BurbankCROPS and Best Friends Animal Society have put tremendous pressure on their operations, with frequent visits by members who informally inspect their facilities, subjectively documenting conditions within the facility for use in either discrediting or exposing violations within the shop.

Other pet store owners, including Anne Gaffney at Pet Haven, insist pet stores can do just fine without selling puppies, and the number of rescues available, or dogs from local breeders eliminate the need for pet stores to ship in puppies from puppy mills in the Mid-West.

As Peggy Woods Pet Emporium is the last pet store in Burbank selling puppies, Ira Lippman has the most to lose from any city council decision that may prevent sales of puppies at pet stores in Burbank.  BurbankNBeyond did an extended interview with Lippman to get a better perspective on his position regarding the issue of puppy sales, puppy mills, and the motivation of animal rights groups which oppse his business model.

BurbankNBeyond:  Why do you think this whole issue came up?

Ira Lippman:  There are a number of reasons.  One, there is a national issue with some of the humane groups that just don’t want puppies to be sold.  They just don’t feel that animals should be sold.

So they use many tactics.  The one that’s carrying this is the Best Friends Group. And they (animal rights groups) are doing it state by state, local by local, to stop the sale of puppies.  They go to communities without pet stores and go to communities with little resistance and get the city councils to pass ordinances just to stop the sale of puppies.

They have their own agenda in that they do (pet) adoptions.  And they bring animals from other places to find homes in these communities.

Our Burbank shelter does not have excess animals.  We don’t have a problem in Burbank.  They (Burbank Animal Shelter) “lottery” animals, so people (who want to adopt) are often disappointed.

We feel people deserve to have a choice in where they get their pet.

BurbankNBeyond:  So an organization like Best Friends,  are they saying that if I want a husky puppy, that I don’t have the right to purchase a husky puppy?

Ira Lippman:  They are saying they don’t want you to purchase it in a pet store.  They are saying they want you to adopt animals.  They don’t think you should be getting pure breeds, unless they have them for adoption.

They do a service that is a nice service, but not everyone wants to get an adopted animal.  There are differences of opinions.

When you raise a puppy in your home it develops the fabric of your family, its personality, the characteristics that it has.

BurbankNBeyond:  But what about the high numbers of animals being euthanized, over population, those issues raised by the animal rights groups?

Ira Lippman:  They (animals rights groups) blame this over-population on the pet stores.   Our puppies never end up in the shelters.  They (regulators) know where our puppies go.  We are not the problem.

BurbankNBeyond:  Is there anything nefarious about  the animal rights groups?

Ira Lippman:  I don’t  like the idea they don’t want me to be in business.    They are part of this greater idea that people shouldn’t be able to buy pets.  They challenge pet ownership.  They feel people should just adopt them.

I’m OK with adoption.  We support a lot of adoptions.  I think it is a really nice thing.  But why shouldn’t we have choice?  In America we deserve choice.

If people don’t want to buy a puppy it’s OK.

We are part of the community.  We provide programs for middle school kids to come and get service hours to walk puppies and learn to take care of them and socialize them.

BurbankNBeyond: What about puppy mills?

Ira Lippman:  It’s an emotional issue.  This whole puppy mill issue.  I don’t support puppy mills.  They are substandard breeders.  Many of our dogs and cats (that we sell) come from our community.  We don’t just get our puppies from professional breeders, we also get them from local community members.  We provide a service to find a home for puppies they have.

We don’t have a problem in our community.  This group (Best Friends) came into our community to push their agenda.  They go to lots of communities and push their agenda.  They rally people, and they want you to adopt their animals.

BurbankNBeyond:  What do they get out of it?

Ira Lippman:  Well they make money.  It is a multi-million dollar organization.  They get donations, they get fees for doing whatever their business is, they get fees for whatever.  They get to work under the umbrella of a non-profit.

I don’t have a problem with people going to (local hobby and small) breeders and get a puppy.  I don’t have a problem with that.  It is not easy to find a breeder to get a puppy.  You don’t know if that is necessarily a good puppy to buy.  Depending on the breeder you go to most breeders have no regulation.

So what happens when you take away a legal vehicle for people to buy something?  You go underground.  There are huge Internet and street corner sales of puppies.  The people want to have a pet, and if you don’t have a vehicle for them to buy it they find it somewhere else.  There will always be a source.

Those groups are not regulated at all.  The adoption organizations also have no regulations at all.  None.

All the state and local laws are exempted to the adoption groups.

If they sell a puppy and it gets sick you don’t really know what that puppy is going to be like.  You don’t really know the history.  You are stuck with it, and you have no recourse whatsoever.

We (pet store owners and professional breeders) are a highly regulated industry.  For example in California we have the Polanco Act.  We abide by it fully.

Excerpt from “Polanco Act”

The Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act requires pet dealers (i.e., retail sellers of more than 50 dogs or cats in the previous year; not including animal shelters and humane societies) to have a permit, maintain certain health and safety standards for their animals, sell only healthy animals, and provide written spay-neuter, health, animal history and other information and disclosures to pet buyers.

If after 15 days from purchase a dog or cat becomes ill due to an illness that existed at the time of sale, or if within one year after purchase a dog or cat has a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the dog or cat, an owner is offered a refund, another puppy or kitten, or reimbursement of veterinary bills up to 150 percent of the purchase price of the puppy or kitten.

The Pet Store Animal Care Act, effective in 2009, requires every pet store that sells live companion animals and fish to formulate a documented program consisting of routine care, preventative care, emergency care, disease control and prevention, veterinary treatment, and euthanasia. (HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 122125-122220)

Burbank Animal Control does a monthly inspection visit to the store, and we abide by all laws and regulations.  We don’t have a problem.

BurbankNBeyond:  Where do you think this is going to go in Burbank?

Ira Lippman:  I don’t know.  They are very, very vigilant group that are backing this policy.  They go from town to town, they are a profession, they have huge budgets to make this happen.  They rally up the people, put pressure on the council people, and people get emotional about it.

A puppy wants to adopt a familyBut we don’t have a problem in Burbank.  And I try to explain, “why chase business away from Burbank?”

We (pet shop owners) are not causing the over-abundance of animals in the pet shelters.  Again we are highly regulated.  Even as much as how we keep the animals in our store.  How we sell them, where they come from – everybody know the parents, what their birth dates were – those things have to be (on a )5 page document with a written guarantee.  At least three veterinarians have seen that dog before it ever goes home.

The puppies come (to us) in a beautifully outfitted transportation facility (provided by Hunte Corporation).  They are all independently housed and they have a controlled environment.  They have 24 hour care.  They drive straight through from wherever they are coming from (Hunte’s distribution facility is in Goodman, MO).

Their facility, you can see it online, is beautiful.

I believe Hunte wrote a letter to every city council person and invited them to come see their facilities.  And for them to base their decisions on facts.  These groups (animal rights groups) don’t let facts get in their way.

They are really savvy.  They have training in warfare. They’re good at what they do.  I understand that.

BurbankNBeyond:  What do you expect from the upcoming debate at the city council meeting?

Ira Lippman:  We are hoping the council makes their decision based on factual information

Lippman claims they do not buy puppies from mills.  He noted staff from his store had visited breeders, visited the Hunte Corporation, and were satisfied both were providing a safe and healthy environment for puppies.  In addition, he has the ability to view and select puppies online through the Hunte website, ordering only those animals which meet the following criteria:

  1. Meet their specific requirements
  2. Come from “approved” breeders
  3. Have a complete audit trail and documentation

If they find an animal that is provided by a breeder which is not on their “approved” list, they will go through the USDA website and check for compliance or violations prior to placing an order.

BurbankNBeyond:  Do you ever procure puppies from local sources?

Ira Lippman:  Yes.  In the past 60 days we have offered puppies from at least five different litters, including a St. Bernard litter and a Maltese litter.

Lippman continues that it is not always possible to get the breeds needed for their customers via local breeders, and thus they need to go to a company such as Hunte to procure the animals ordered by local customers.

BurbankNBeyond:  If we acknowledge the reality of dogs being euthanized in shelters, and the reality of abuses in puppy mills, what should we, as an American society do to solve this problem?

Ira Lippman:  Of course we need to start spaying and neutering our pets.  The trend nationwide is a reduction of animal euthanasia due to better public awareness of the need to spay and neuter animals, and eliminate unwanted litters.

We need to force the federal and state governments to enforce laws regulating breeders.  Puppy mills need to be put out of business.

BurbankNBeyond:  What will happen if the city council determines we should stop the sale of puppies in pet stores?

Ira Lippman:  We will adapt.  However, this is the United States.  Don’t we have the right to have a choice?  This is not only a matter of protecting the interest of animals, they (city council) are also making a decision protecting the rights of the citizens of Burbank.

The Burbank City Council is planning to discuss the pet store issue at an upcoming city council meeting.  The issue is to consider enacting a law or ordinance such as recently enacted in Glendale (Ordinance #5748) which states “no pet store shall display, sell, deliver, offer for sale, barter, auction, give away, or otherwise transfer or dispose of dogs or cats in the City of Glendale on or after the effective date of this Chapter.”

BurbankNBeyond encourages a healthy, open debate on the issue, and for citizens and residents to contact their city council members to inform them of your position, concerns, or recommendations prior to making an decision on the issue of preventing puppy sales in Burbank.

You can contact all Burbank City Council members by email at CityCouncil@ci.burbank.ca.us

Previous articles in this series:

John Savageau welcomes comments from readers.  Please send your comments to jsavageau@burbanknbeyond.com.

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a series looking at the controversial topic of “Puppy Mills” and the attempt to ban the sale of the animals in Burbank, which will be taken up by the City Council possibly in late January.  Originally published by author in BurbankNBeyond.

In January the City of Burbank will again engage in discussion on whether or not to follow 12 other California cities, including Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Irvine, Los Angeles, and others in both LA and Orange Counties, in banning the sale of pets in retail businesses, including pet shops.

The question many ask is simply, “why?”

There is no simple answer.  However contributing justification includes:

  • Alleged sadistic treatment of breeding animals and litters at commercial breeders – primarily in mid-western states, through the logistics process delivering animals to retail pet stores
  • High number of available rescue dogs, either abandoned or surrendered to an animal shelter or rescue, and subsequent need to euthanize animals which can no longer be housed at shelters due to excessive numbers
  • Danger of “in-breeding” by incompetent or unethical breeders
  • Obsolete laws and ordinances protecting the safety and welfare of animals

Part 2 of the series “Burbank Takes on Puppy Mills” will focus on the position of animal rights groups, shelters, and adoption agencies and their views on the above topics.  Future articles in the series will try to dig further into the perspectives of pet shop owners, and city council members preparing to weigh in on the issue.

“A pet store that closes its doors is a lost opportunity for shelter animals.” (Elizabeth Oreck)

Best Friends Animal Society East Valley ShelterAccording to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) a puppy mill is a ”large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—who are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) states there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in America, producing more than 2,000,000 puppies for distribution throughout the United States.  USUS also notes there are up to 3,000,000 animals euthanized at shelters annually.

No-Kill Los Angeles, an initiative of the Best Friends Animal Society, states 56,121 animals entered LA city shelters in 2011. More than 17,000 of those animals were euthanized.

Horrible numbers.  Nobody wants to see or think about such a waste of life, and the thought a family pet could come to such an end.  This is the reason animal rights groups such as Burbank CROPS (Citizens for Rescue-Only Pet Stores) and the Best Friends Animal Society are engaged not only in trying to save the lives of animals, but also in preventing the cruelty inflicted on both breeding stock and puppies (this article will focus on puppies, however the same issue applies to cats, birds, and other animals as well).

The Real Problem

Animal right groups, such as Burbank CROPS, do not want to shut down pet stores, as Shelly Rizzotti, Burbank CROPS member explains, they simply want to prevent pet stores from selling or distributing commercially bred “puppy mill” dogs.

No group has an objection to people buying pure bred puppies – from responsible hobby breeders or individuals.  According to Elizabeth Oreck, National Manager of Puppy Mill Initiatives for the Best Friends Animal Society, those sources will normally screen and vet prospective buyers or adopters prior to allowing an animal to join the adopting family.

Responsible breeders will follow a code of ethics, which includes a very detailed set of guidelines for breeding animals.  There are representative specific breeds ranging from the Mountain Dog Association, German Shepard Dog Club, Great Dane Club of America, Golden Retriever Club of America, to the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America and all breeds in between.  A standard clause in all the codes of ethics includes a statement similar to:

Breeders shall not knowingly sell to dog wholesalers, retailers or pet stores, known or suspected puppy mills, or commercial breeders. Breeders shall not donate dogs or puppies as prizes nor knowingly allow any dogs of their breeding to fall into public trust. All advertisement of puppies and dogs, written or oral shall be factual and as forthright and honest as possible in both substance and implication. (Mountain Dog Association).

Anne Gaffney, owner of Burbank’s Pet Haven, goes even further.  She notes that “with all the rescue animals available, people should give those animals the first chance.“  Gaffney continued ”adopting a pet is all about the connection.   You cannot buy a connection, and it is possible the connection between you and a pet may have nothing to do with the breed.”

Laws Regulating Commercial Breeders

There are many laws and codes regulating commercial breeders, including federal, state, and local.  At the top of the regulatory structure is the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which dates back to 1966.  The US Department of Agriculture website states the AWA regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers.  The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.

California has additional regulations including the Pet Store Animal Care Act, Pet Protection Act, Breeder Warranty Act, and according to a City of Burbank Study dated 16 October 2012, more than 50 other laws dealing with mistreatment of animals.

The Burbank Municipal Code, Title 5, Article 14 (Pet Shops), provides very specific guidelines on how pet shops must care for animals.  Officers from the Burbank Animal Shelter do perform periodic inspections, and according to Brenda Castaneda, Burbank Animal Shelter Superintendent, will cite violators for offenses.

An existing loophole in the regulatory environment surrounds the sale of puppies over the Internet.  This issue is being addressed by both congress and the senate at the federal level (HR835/S707), however the issue has not yet been solved, and as of today there is little or no regulation on the sale of commercially bred puppies over the Internet.

It should be noted that animal shelters and rescues are not required to comply with all laws and codes which regulate pet shops and commercial breeders, although all shelters are subject to inspection to ensure the health and safety of resident animals.

The Road Puppies Travel to Burbank Pet Stores

Puppies finding their way to pet stores will normally be bred in a commercial environment in the mid-west, primarily in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, or surprisingly Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Puppies are delivered at around 6~7 weeks old by the breeder to a distribution or logistics company, such as the Hunte Company, based in Goodman, Missouri.

Puppy Journey from Mill to Pet ShopHunte collects animals in their Missouri facility during the course of a week, during which time there will be health screening and matching pet shop demand with available stock.  A truck loaded with puppies will then head out across the country, delivering puppies to pet stores, including those in California.

The trip can take several days, during which time the puppies remain in cages, being fed and checked by delivery staff along the route.

A company such as Hunte will deliver an order to a pet shop, and the pet owner will inspect the animals, and either accept or reject the animal at the point of delivery.  If the pet passes arrival inspection, the pet store will settle with the delivery company, and then process the animal locally, sometimes passing through a veterinarian on the way to display in the store.

By the time a puppy hits the display cage, it is normally around 8 weeks old, having been away from its mother for about 2 weeks.

According to Christy Shilling, a CROPS member, the issue is “black and white.”  Shilling continued “This is about factory farming of mill animals.  Those terms are synonymous, of puppy mills, of puppy farms mass-producing animals.  It is cruel, and they do have violations.  That’s what we’d like to stop.  It’s not about attacking one store, but it is about attacking the mills.”

The goal of CROPS is to educate the public, and ultimately of course to stop the practice of puppy mills and retail sales of mill animals altogether.

A Model for the Future

None of the rights groups or individuals interviewed wants to prevent families from adding a pet to their family.  Pets have been part of social and family units since the beginning of recorded history, and it is a healthy relationship.

Rizzotti paints a model where pet stores may still provide pets to their customers, as adoption outlets for rescue animals.  In most cases the business model for a pet store is not in pushing flesh, but rather in selling pet supplies such as feed, toys, and environments.

Rizzotti explains there are still ample pure bred animals available through rescues, including puppies.     As noted, there are breeding clubs and organizations for nearly all types of breeds, all with a strict code of how they raise, handle, and sell puppies.

An example search on the website breeders.net revealed three Yorkshire Terrier breeders within 10 miles of Burbank’s 91501 zip code.  One breeder listed, who asked to remain anonymous, has the following splash on the website:   Adorable tiny male puppies, AKC, 1st shots, Champion Bloodlines, great personalities available to good homes. No Agents, No Pet Shops, & No Brokers, NO SHIPPING.

In a phone conversation with the breeder she passionately explained that her dogs only were only available to buyers she personally screened, and the transfer required a list of steps, including full papers, shot record, visit to a veterinarian prior to accepting the puppy.  The breeder is a member of the American Kennel Club (AKC), and claims complete adherence to AKC

The American Kennel Club has an investigations and inspections program to both ensure the health and safety of animals within member kennels, as well as checking paperwork for compliance with club standards.  Field agents may also conduct DNA testing on dogs to verify the pedigree and parentage of puppies.

While the AKC inspection process has no penal or regulatory authority, if a kennel or breeder has major deficiencies during an inspection, they may lose their membership in the AKC, be fined, or in a worst case the AKC may contact law enforcement to ensure the animals are protected.

What Do Animal Rights Groups Want from Burbank?

Rizzotti is very clear about the objectives Burbank CROPS wishes to accomplish in the upcoming Burbank City Council discussion on pet stores and puppy mills.  That is to support elimination of puppy mills, and prevent pet stores from selling commercially bred animals originating in puppy mills.

Part 3 of this series will explore the perspective of pet store owners selling puppies, and others who do not support the position of animal rights groups on the topics of commercial breeding and pet store sales.

BurbankNBeyond and Pacific-Tier Communications would like to hear from all readers on the topic, regardless of your position.  Please send your comments to savageau@pacific-tier.com

Throughout 2012 large organizations and governments around the world continued to struggle with the idea of consolidating inefficient data centers, server closets, and individual “rogue” servers scattered around their enterprise or government agencies.  Issues dealt with the cost of operating data centers, disaster management of information technology resources, and of course human factors centered on control, power, or retention of jobs in a rapidly evolving IT industry.

Cloud computing and virtualization continue to have an impact on all consolidation discussions, not only from the standpoint of providing a much better model for managing physical assets, but also in the potential cloud offers to solve disaster recovery shortfalls, improve standardization, and encourage or enable development of service-oriented architectures.

Our involvement in projects ranging from local, state, and national government levels in both the United States and other countries indicates a consistent need for answering the following concerns:

  • Existing IT infrastructure, including both IT and facility, is reaching the end of its operational life
  • Collaboration requirements between internal and external users are expanding quickly, driving an architectural need for interoperability
  • Decision support systems require access to both raw data, and “big data/archival data”

We would like to see an effort within the IT community to move in the following directions:

  1. Real effort at decommissioning and eliminating inefficient data centers
  2. All data and applications should be fit into an enterprise architecture framework – regardless of the size of organization or data
  3. Aggressive development of standards supporting interoperability, portability, and reuse of objects and data

Regardless of the very public failures experienced by cloud service providers over the past year, the reality is cloud computing as an IT architecture and model is gaining traction, and is not likely to go away any time soon.  As with any emerging service or technology, cloud services will continue to develop and mature, reducing the impact and frequency of failures.

Future Data CentersWhy would an organization continue to buy individual high powered workstations, individual software licenses, and device-bound storage when the same application can be delivered to a simple display, or wide variety of displays, with standardized web-enabled cloud (SaaS) applications that store mission critical data images on a secure storage system at a secure site?  Why not facilitate the transition from CAPEX to OPEX, license to subscription, infrastructure to product and service development?

In reality, unless an organization is in the hardware or software development business, there is very little technical justification for building and managing a data center.  This includes secure facilities supporting military or other sensitive sites.

The cost of building and maintaining a data center, compared with either outsourcing into a commercial colocation site – or virtualizing data, applications, and network access requirements has gained the attention of CFOs and CEOs, requiring IT managers to more explicitly justify the cost of building internal infrastructure vs. outsourcing.  This is quickly becoming a very difficult task.

Money spent on a data center infrastructure is lost to the organization.  The cost of labor is high, the cost of energy, space, and maintenance is high.  Mooney that could be better applied to product and service development, customer service capacity, or other revenue and customer-facing activities.

The Bandwidth Factor

The one major limitation the IT community will need to overcome as data center consolidation continues and cloud services become the ‘norm, is bandwidth.  Applications, such as streaming video, unified communications, and data intensive applications will need more bandwidth.  The telecom companies are making progress, having deployed 100gbps backbone capacity in many markets.  However this capacity will need to continue growing quickly to meet the needs of organizations needing to access data and applications stored or hosted within a virtual or cloud computing environment.

Consider a national government’s IT requirements.  If the government, like most, are based within a metro area.  The agencies and departments consolidate their individual data centers and server closets into a central or reduced number of facilities.   Government interoperability frameworks begin to make small steps allowing cross-agency data sharing, and individual users need access to a variety of applications and data sources needed to fulfill their decision support requirements.

For example, a GIS (Geospatial/Geographic Information System) with multiple demographic or other overlays.  Individual users will need to display data that may be drawn from several data sources, through GIS applications, and display a large amount of complex data on individual display screens.  Without broadband access between both the user and application, as well as application and data sources, the result will be a very poor user experience.

Another example is using the capabilities of video conferencing, desktop sharing, and interactive persistent-state application sharing.  Without adequate bandwidth this is simply not possible.

Revisiting the “4th Utility” for 2013

The final vision on the 2013 “wishlist” is that we, as an IT industry, continue to acknowledge the need for developing the 4th Utility.  This is the idea that broadband communications, processing capacity (including SaaS applications), and storage is the right of all citizens.  Much like the first three utilities, roads, water, and electricity, the 4th Utility must be a basic part of all discussions related to national, state, or local infrastructure discussions.  As we move into the next millennium, Internet-enabled, or something like Internet-enabled communications will be an essential part of all our lives.

The 4th Utility requires high capacity fiber optic infrastructure and broadband wireless be delivered to any location within the country which supports a community or individual connected to a community.   We’ll have to [pay a fee to access the utility (same as other utilities), but it is our right and obligation to deliver the utility.

2013 will be a lot of fun for us in the IT industry.  Cloud computing is going to impact everybody – one way or the other.  Individual data centers will continue to close.  Service-oriented architectures, enterprise architecture, process modeling, and design efficiency will drive a lot of innovation.   – We’ll lose some players, gain players, and and we’ll be in a better position at the end of 2013 than today.

On October 16, members of the community, animal rescue organizations, and local pet store owners gathered at the Burbank City Council meeting to weigh in on the highly emotional issue of the sale of dogs and cats in Burbank, with a focus on commercially bred animals sourced from “puppy mills.”

While there are numerous local, state, and federal laws regulating pet shops and animal sales, animal rights groups contend those regulations are either not adequately enforced, or  are not sufficient to protect the rights of animals shipped to Burbank from commercial breeders (mostly from out of state, sourced in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas).

Pet shop owners believe their animals are well-cared for, checked upon receipted by veterinarians,  come from reputable breeders, and comply with all applicable regulations and laws.

Over the next three weeks BurbankNBeyond will look at the issue in detail, from the positions of animal rights groups such as Best Friends Animal Society and Burbank CROP, as well as from the position of pet store owners.

As with any highly charged and emotional issue, there is certainly room for arguments on both sides of the debate.

BurbankNBeyond will look at the following issues leading up to a planned Mid-January council meeting and decision on the issue:

  • The regulatory environment
  • Position of pet store owners
  • Positions of council members
  • Issue of online (Internet) pet sales
  • Position of animal rescue and animal rights groups
  • Public opinion or polls

BurbankNBeyond believes this, like all issues, should be decided on the basis of facts.  We welcome comments and opinions, as well as factual experiences that will help highlight the issue.  Please send any comments, leads, experiences, or recommendations on the issue to savageau@pacific-tier.com.

Links to references related to the debate on Burbank Pet Sales are at:

City Council Meeting Agenda – 16 Oct 2012

City Council Meeting Agenda – 27 Mar 2012

 

LV-2Day two of the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas continued reinforcing old topics, appearing at times to be either enlist attendees in contributing to Gartner research, or simply providing conference content directed to promoting conference sponsors.

For example, sessions “To the Point:  When Open Meets Cloud” and “Backup/Recovery: Backing Up the Future” included a series of audience surveys.  Those surveys were apparently the same as presented, in the same sessions, for several years.  Thus the speaker immediately referenced this year’s results vs. results from the same survey questions from the past two years.  This would lead a casual attendee to believe nothing radically new is being presented in the above topics, and the attendees are generally contributing to further trend analysis research that will eventually show up in a commercial Gartner Research Note.

Gartner analyst and speaker on the topic of “When Open Meets Clouds,” Aneel Lakhani, did make a couple useful, if not obvious points in his presentation.

  • We cannot secure complete freedom from vendors, regardless of how much you adopt open source
  • Open source can actually be more expensive than commercial products
  • Interoperability is easy to say, but a heck of a lot more complicated to implement
  • Enterprise users have a very low threshold for “test” environments (sorry DevOps guys)
  • If your organization has the time and staff, test, test, and test a bit more to ensure your open source product will perform as expected or designed

However analyst Dave Russell, speaker on the topic of “Backup/Recovery” was a bit more cut and paste in his approach.  Lots of questions to match against last year’s conference, and a strong emphasis on using tape as a continuing, if not growing media for disaster recovery.

Problem with this presentation was the discussion centered on backing up data – very little on business continuity.  In fact, in one slide he referenced a recovery point objective (RPO) of one day for backups.   What organization operating in a global market, in Internet time, can possibly design for a one day RPO?

In addition, there was no discussion on the need for compatible hardware in a disaster recovery site that would allow immediate or rapid restart of applications.  Having data on tape is fine.  Having mainframe archival data is fine.  But without a business continuity capability, it is likely any organization will suffer significant damage in their ability to function in their marketplace.  Very few organizations today can absorb an extended global presence outage or marketplace outage.

The conference continues until Thursday and we will look for more, positive approaches, to data center and cloud computing.

Gartner’s 2012 Data Center Conference in Las Vegas is noted for  not yielding any major surprise.  While having an uncanny number of attendees (*the stats are not available, however it is clear they are having a very good conference), most of the sessions appear to be simply reaffirming what everybody really knows already, serving to reinforce the reality data center consolidation, cloud computing, big data, and the move to an interoperable framework will be part of everybody’s life within a few years.

Childs at Gartner ConferenceGartner analyst Ray Paquet started the morning by drawing a line at the real value of server hardware in cloud computing.  Paquet stressed that cloud adopters should avoid integrated hardware solutions based on blade servers, which carry a high margin, and focus their CAPEX on cheaper “skinless” servers.  Paquet emphasized that integrated solutions are a “waste of money.”

Cameron Haight, another Gartner analyst, fired a volley at the process and framework world, with a comparison of the value DevOps brings versus ITIL.  Describing ITIL as a cumbersome burden to organizational agility, DevOps is a culture-changer that allows small groups to quickly respond to challenges.  Haight emphasized the frequently stressful relationship between development organizations and operations organizations, where operations demands stability and quality, and development needs freedom to move projects forward, sometimes without the comfort of baking code to the standards preferred by operations – and required by frameworks such as ITIL.

Haight’s most direct slide described De Ops as being “ITIL minus CRAP.”  Of course most of his supporting slides for moving to DevOps looked eerily like an ITIL process….

Other sessions attended (by the author) included “Shaping Private Clouds,” a WIPRO product demonstration, and a data center introduction by Raging Wire.  All valuable introductions for those who are considering making a major change in their internal IT deployments, but nothing cutting edge or radical.

The Raging Wire data center discussion did raise some questions on the overall vulnerability of large box data centers.  While it is certainly possible to build a data center up to any standard needed to fulfill a specific need, the large data center clusters in locations such as Northern Virginia are beginning to appear very vulnerable to either natural, human, or equipment failure disruptions.  In addition to fulfilling data center tier classification models as presented by the Uptime Institute, it is clear we are producing critical national infrastructure which if disrupted could cause significant damage to the US economy or even social order.

Eventually, much like the communications infrastructure in the US, data centers will need to come under the observation or review of a national agency such as Homeland Security.  While nobody wants a government officer in the data center, protection of national infrastructure is a consideration we probably will not be able to avoid for long.

Raging Wire also noted that some colocation customers, particularly social media companies, are hitting up to 8kW per cabinet.  Also scary if true, and in extended deployments.  This could result in serious operational problems if cooling systems were disrupted, as the heat generated in those cabinets will quickly become extreme.  Would also be interesting if companies like Raging Wire and other colocation companies considered developing a real time CFD monitor for their data center floors allowing better monitoring and predictability than simple zone monitoring solutions.

The best presentation of the day came at the end, “Big Data is Coming to Your Data Center.”  Gartner’s Sheila Childs brought color and enthusiasm to a topic many consider, well, boring.  Childs was able to bring the value, power, and future of big data into a human consumable format that kept the audience in their seats until the end of session at 6 p.m. in the late afternoon.

Childs hit on concepts such as “dark data” within organizations, the value of big data in decision support systems (DSS), and the need for developing and recruiting skilled staff who can actually write or build the systems needed to fully exploit the value of big data.  We cannot argue that point, and can only hope our education system is able to focus on producing graduates with the basic skills needed to fulfill that requirement.

Pacific-Tier Communications and Burbank N Beyond’s Innovators and Entrepreneurs had an opportunity to visit with Amy Kramer, President and Marketing Whiz, and Lee Wochner, CEO and Creative Strategist, at Counterintuity LLC, a Burbank-based agency focusing on Internet marketing.  Counterintuity Offices in Burbank CaliforniaAmy and Lee discussed a variety of topics ranging from taking the risk with a start up company, to their visions and ideas on Internet marketing and social media, as well as why Burbank is a great place to run a business.

Counterintuity is a full-service marketing agency that has designed, launched and maintained hundreds of custom-built websites, digital marketing strategies, public relations, search engine optimization, social media campaigns, as well as identity and print pieces.

PT-BNB:  It is kind of scary doing a start up when you have worked in a corporate environment your entire life – how did you get started?

Amy:  Back in the late 90s I was working in direct response, in infomercials.  And I was helping a very large product break into the web.  So we were launching eCommerce sites doing email marketing when it was only text, and Lyrist was the only provider.  And so right there at the very cusp of Internet marketing I was there with a budget.

It was a tremendous opportunity.  So after launching that product, then we’re into 2000 and it was really starting to grow, and the opportunities were really awesome.

So I left the cushy direct response gig and decided to break out and do it myself.

The there was an opportunity for Lee and I together to bring this Internet marketing product and series of products to small businesses and organizations.  Because previously it was only available because the cost was so prohibitive.  So we were able to bring it to a wider range of businesses and organizations.

Lee:  Amy and I already had a working relationship and I already knew she was a really smart digital marketer, we work well together, and I think it is a great time to be in business, it is an important time for entrepreneurship, and I think a lot of the problem in the country and in the world will increasingly be solved by entrepreneurial solutions.

And so what we were looking to do was find a way to leverage those sorts of opportunities for smaller businesses rather than lock them out because they don’t have big budget.

PT-BNB:  Are smaller business a focus of the Counterintuity, does it make any difference what size a business is?

Lee:  It really depends on how you define small business.  I think small business as defined by the federal government is 500 employees or fewer.   So people, even in the Small Business Administration think they need to redefine that.

We have clients who do a million dollars a year in revenue, sometimes a little bit less.  And we have clients who do 200 million dollars a year in revenue or more.  About a third of our clients are non-profit or public sector.  So I don’t know if they really fit that profile.

But the commonality among all of our clients is that they are looking to succeed in entrepreneurial ways in response to all of the changes in consumer patterns driven by the Internet.

PT-BNB:  On your website you show three majors areas which include social media, website design, and digital marketing.  You wouldn’t have seen that 10 years ago, with social media being a focal point.  What is the impact of social media?  Why is that important for us to understand?

Lee and Amy at Counterintuity Burbank CaliforniaLee:  So next week we’re doing a presentation for the city as part of “Team Business.”  We’re going to be doing our “Get Connected Social Media Seminar.”

Let me give you the shortest, best answer I can.  Social media is word of mouth marketing done big.  Amy and I both have a background in the theater.  That’s how we met in 1999.  What you find out in the theater is that it doesn’t matter what your ads are, what your reviews are, the primary way to drive business is through “word of mouth.”

Social media presents a suite of tools that allows you to capture word of mouth from all of the people you are connected to and spread it.

Obviously there’s a potential upside and a potential downside to that.  The potential upside is “hey this is really great we really like this,” and the potential downside is “we were really disappointed, we don’t really like this, and forget them.”

There has always been a conversation about you, your product, and your service.  Now you have more opportunity than ever to manage that, and to spread the word, and to turn other people into advocates for you online.

PT-BNB:  What does social media mean for the generation that is just graduating from high school and college, and what role do you play in being able to fulfill their need for having access to social media?

Lee:  What need does the typewriter fill? Or the quill pen?

It’s not a marketing tool, it is a tool.  A basic tool.  It is a communications platform.  It’s a way to connect everybody up, with all of their content.  Some of the content might be “here is a picture of my kid.” And “here is the dinner we had.”  I took a picture of my dinner in San Francisco the other night because it was so interesting, and I built a blog post around it.

And then all these people on Facebook “liked” the picture of my dinner, and said they wished they’d had it.  If that had been my client in San Francisco I would have linked to it.

But see it was my life, and then I could turn it into marketing, but really it’s about the tool.

When people talk about social media marketing, then I say we’re talking about communications.  When you think about it, when you are born the very first thing you do is communicate.  You cry, and then you start to breath.  You are crying to communicate.

Communication is at the heart of who we are.  There is (traditional) scientific research that says we developed more than other primates because we have language, and because we have bigger brains.

The new thinking is we have bigger brains because we developed language, developed synaptic connections, and grew our brain muscles.

So language and communication are at the core of who we are.

I try to talk to people and say “don’t focus on the tool.”  If I give you the three basic ways to think about all the social media tools then you can do anything you want with them.  Don’t get hung up on how seemingly complex there are, and how to use them.

It’s like your car.  I have no idea how the cylinders work.  I just drive it.  That’s how social media should work for you.

Amy:  And when you talk about the next generation, they are just using it (social media) in different ways.  They don’t like talking on the phone as much.  They like texting more.  It’s a small, quick conversation.

Turns out a lot of the kids are not into Facebook.  Some prefer Twitter.  Others right now are really into Instagram.  It is a great way for them to share what they are doing, and what they are involved in.  Visual storytelling.

Again it is sharing information, it all comes down to what’s sharing what is going on in your life and telling that story.  Whether it is for you personally, or whether it is for a brand.

Kids today – email.  Not as big with kids.  They are doing Facebook messaging. They are doing DMs on Twitter.  Just a text.  It is a different way to communicate.  But as Lee was saying, it is just a communication tool, it is just how new social media and new Internet platforms are helping them (young people) communicate.

PT-BNB:  What is the role of blogging?

Lee:  Blogging at its core is journaling.

As marketers, we recommend it for our clients.  And the reason we recommend blogging for clients is it is a way to build credibility and to expand your authority in your industry.

When journalists are looking for folks to interview, where do you go?  You go to LinkedIn to look them up, and generally the next place is their website.  Then if you get to their website and want to look at what they have to say you go to their blog.

Because that gives you a bit of insight into their voice and into their POV (point of view).

The you go “oh, they might be good for this entrepreneurial article that I’m writing.”

So blogging is an entrée into PR.  It is an entrée into getting more coverage, as well as if a client is looking for someone like you it can actually help your search engine optimization, significantly.  Because it can give you opportunities to talk about what you do.

So blogging is good for authority, it is good for search rankings, because the more content, and the more regularly you update your content on your website and your blog, the more highly Google thinks of you.

PT-BNB:  How about video?

Lee:  Massive, huge.  We’ve been doing more and more video for clients and for ourselves, and have been winning awards for it. It (video) has got to be brief, it has got to be interesting, it has got to make a point, and you need to share it.

Put it on Youtube, Tweet out a link, put it on your Facebook, put it on your website, stick it in your blog, repurpose your content, because then people will see it more often.

Amy:  And it has got to be short.  Attention spans are now teeny.  It must play quickly.

Lee:  So if you go to our Youtube page you will see some of the videos we have done.  We’ve been doing client videos and internal videos, and the great thing is you no longer need a massive budget.

Now there are projects we’ve done for very large clients who have a budget, and we can go do what would be called a corporate-looking video.

Then there are ways to do more guerrilla type video.  We did a video recently for Center Theater Group, the Taper, Ahmanson, Kirk Douglass Theater.  I and our video editor went down there and we did 13 setups and shot the whole video in about 4 hours.  Because now the technology is such that you can go do that, be really mobile, really fast.  We wrote the script in advance, went down and shot it, and then it took about a half a day to do the first cut on a laptop.

We sent it to the client, the client asked for a few tweaks, and in just two days we had a complete corporate video for them.

PT-BNB:  Why did you decide to setup shop in Burbank?

Lee:  Burbank is a great place to do business.  Burbank is a tight knit community, it is easy to do business here, and it is easy to become part of the community.

The city has been terrific.  We have personal relationships with all the city council members, the mayor, the city staff…  Whenever we have had an issue or an opportunity they have resolved it very fast.  They have worked with us, and we have nothing but positive things to say about the city.

With regard to the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber has been a key driver in our business.  They have been so terrific at connecting us up, offering valuable services, and anything we can do with or for the Chamber we will do it.

It is a great place to be, Burbank.

You can learn more about Counterintuity at their website www.counterintuity.com

Burbank Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Burbank is the home of the global entertainment industry, prominent in aviation, and a burgeoning Internet development community.  Burbank Innovators and Entrepreneurs will look at companies and persons based in Burbank making an impact in their industry, with an emphasis on entrepreneurs, and those on the cutting edge of technology, services, and thought leadership.

Innovators and Entrepreneurs will bring personal interviews digging into the motivations, challenges, successes, personalities, with visions of companies and people driving our business community into the future.

If you have a Burbank-based company or recommendation of a company, that is at the cutting edge of your industry, are an innovator, or an entrepreneur, and would like either Pacific-Tier Communications or BurbankNBeyond to highlight the activity, send a note to jsavageau@burbanknbeyond.com.

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CloudGov 2012 Highlights Government Cloud Initiatives

On February 19, 2012, in Cloud Computing, by Administrator

Federal, state, and local government agencies gathered in Washington D.C. on 16 February to participate in Cloud/Gov 2012 held at the Westin Washington D.C.  With Keynotes by David L. McLure, US General Services Administration, and Dawn Leaf, NIST, vendors and government agencies were brought up to date on federal cloud policies and initiatives.

Of special note were updates on the FedRAMP program (a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services) and NIST’s progress on standards.  “The FedRAMP process chart looks complicated” noted McLure, “however we are trying to provide support needed to accelerate the (FedRAMP vendor) approval process.

McLure also provided a roadmap for FedRAMP implementation, with FY13/Q2 targeted for full operation and FY14 planned for sustaining operations.

In a panel focusing on government case studies, David Terry from the Department of Education commented that “mobile phones are rapidly becoming the access point (to applications and data) for young people.”  Applications (SaaS) should be written to accommodate mobile devices, and “auto-adjust to user access devices.”

Tim Matson from DISA highlighted the US Department of Defense’s Forge.Mil initiative providing an open collaboration community for both the military and development community to work together in rapidly developing new applications to better support DoD activities.  While Forge.Mil has tighter controls than standard GSA (US General Services Administration)  standards, Matson emphasized “DISA wants to force the concept of change into the behavior of vendors.” Matson continued explaining that Forge.Mil will reinforce “a pipeline to support continuous delivery” of new applications.

While technology and process change topics provided a majority of  discussion points, mostly enthusiastic, David Mihalchik from Google advised “we still do not know the long term impact of global collaboration.  The culture is changing, forced on by the idea of global collaboration.”

Other areas of discussion among panel members throughout the day included the need for establishing and defining service level agreements (SLAs) for cloud services.  Daniel Burton from SalesForce.Com explained their SLAs are broken into two categories, SLAs based on subscription services, and those based on specific negotiations with government customers.   Other vendors took a stab at explaining their SLAs, without giving specific examples of their SLAs, leaving the audience without a solid answer.

NIST Takes the Leadership Role

The highlight of the day was provided by Dawn Leaf, Senior Executive for Cloud Computing with NIST.  Leaf provided very logical guidance for all cloud computing stakeholders, including vendors and users.

“US industry requires an international standard to ensure (global) competitiveness” explained Leaf.  In the past US vendors and service providers have developed standards which were not compatible with European and other standards, notably in wireless telephony, and one of NIST’s objectives is to participate in developing a global standard for cloud computing to prevent this possibility in cloud computing.

Cloud infrastructure and SaaS portability is also a high interest item for NIST.  Leaf advises that “we can force vendors into demonstrating their portability.  There are a lot of new entries in the business, and we need to force the vendors into proving their portability and interoperability.”

Leaf also reinforced the idea that standards are developed in the private sector.  NIST provides guidance and an architectural framework for vendors and the private sector to use as reference when developing those specific technical standards.  However leaf also had one caution for private industry, “industry should try to map their products to NIST references, as the government is not in a position to wait” for extended debates on the development of specific items, when the need for cloud computing development and implementation is immediate.

Further information on the conference, with agendas and participants is available at www.sia.net

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