New Williston Animal shelter is on the way!!!!

New Williston Animal Shelter is coming.  For Our Friends the Animals (Fofta) is privileged to be a player and donor in this effort.  A ground breaking ceremony was held yesterday, and as stories and photos of the event become available I will publish links to them.  As I said in my remarks at the event, the city of Williston is truly demonstrating a reverence for life by building this new shelter, and Fofta is honored to participate.  Link below details recent city council meeting on this subject and provides a few details about the shelter..

Mandatory Microchipping needed now!

The time for compulsory microchipping of dogs in Florida has arrived. In fact, it has been high time for a while. The AVMA website defines a microchip as follows:

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen. The microchip itself is also called a transponder.

Per the AVMA, micro chipping is no more painful than an injection. The advantages include:

returning lost dogs to their owner as well as the following:

  • Financial savings for animal welfare agencies who can then use their money and resources to tackle other problems.
  • Reduction in euthanasia of animals entering shelters, especially in overcrowded shelters and for animals that come in injured and need immediate medical care.
  • A more thorough method to track dangerous dogs and breeders who over breed purely for profit.

Most importantly, as the International Society for Animals Rights points out:

The arguments in support of mandatory microchipping are usually that lost pets can be recovered (as many are), that the implant is virtually permanent, the cost is negligible, and central registries are maintained on computers allowing instant identification when the chip is read.

But apart from the humane considerations, the strongest argument for microchipping — and thus return of the animal to its custodian, or penalizing the abandoner strongly enough so that he is disinclined to do it again — is that the dog or cat is off the street and not reproducing.


In plain English, those who abandon dogs, or over breed them or breed them for aggression or fighting can be identified and dealt with legally. We must start doing this now before the unwanted dog populations get too far out of hand. Yes, this is government interfering in our day to day activities, but as usual, we humans have brought this on ourselves by viewing dogs as a profit making entity for humans, rather than as miraculous lives deserving of reverence.

Quite simply–

every dog owner in Florida (including shelters, pounds, humane societies, rescues or similar organizations) must:

  • Have their dog microchipped and registered in an authorized database or registry.
  • Register the details of any new owner before they sell or give the dog away.
  • Keep their contact details up-to-date on the microchip databases.

This is part of being a responsible owner, and microchipping will help ensure that future owners of dogs (and cats, some day) either act responsibly or face the consequences. Right now it is often too difficult to apportion responsibility for lost dogs, abandoned dogs, dogs bred solely for aggression or fighting, hoarded dogs, etc. Here is one way to start doing that.

My God–does no one care???????????

Wrote to my state representatives regarding the need to regulate dog breeders in Florida–did not hear from one saying don’t bother, and the other had no interest. Here is my response: Let me get back to you with a quote from Ronald Reagan: “If not us, who? And if not now, when?” Here is the problem-Go to any county shelter, and you will find that the number of unwanted dogs is increasing beyond the ability of that shelter to handle it.  Accordingly, most shelters either euthanize animals, or farm them out to “rescues” where they often end up euthanized or as part of a hoarding situation.  This must stop. My foundation has paid for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of spay/neuters in Marion and Levy County, and we are barely making a dent in the problem.  The only way we will reduce the number of dogs in shelters, dogs being euthanized, dogs being abandoned, is to confront the breeders of these dogs and regulate their behavior. Our failure to do this just kicks the can down the road for someone else finally to solve, and each time we add exponentially to the problem and to the cost of a solution. I pray you will be more interested in this issue then you have evidenced heretofore. It is time to solve this problem.  Please help me do this.  For their sake.

A reverence for life is sorely needed.

Check out this story on dairy animal abuse in today’s Ocala Star Banner (11-11-17).

Three points from this article: 1.  This will never change until humans start treating all animals, all life, as worthy of reverence in their own right, not merely as a means to an income for a few humans. 2.  What a great chance for Publix to follow and evidence a corporate reverence for life by demanding proof that all its dairy vendors treat animals with compassion. 3.  The media must start treating these outrages as front page items, rather than burying them deep in the print and on-line editions .

Forest Animal Rescue

Truly enjoyed my visit with Forest Animal Rescue of Silver Springs, FL yesterday.  Very impressed with their wildlife pledge:



As a wildlife hero I pledge to keep wildlife wild and not interfere unless necessary. I will not keep wild animals as pets. I will not release exotic pets into the wild and will find them responsible homes. I will not support any exploitation of wild animals (photo shoots, hold a cub, circuses, etc.). I pledge always to keep animals and the environment in mind and to treat them with the respect they deserve.


This is a way to bring a “reverence for life” into our dealings with the wild.

We must place restrictions on dog breeding in Florida!!

It is time to enact more stringent statewide laws governing the breeding of dogs in Florida.

It must be obvious to all except those who won’t see that we have a dog problem in Florida.  Any visit to any shelter reveals cage after cage of unwanted dogs, and many of these dogs turn out to be pit bulls or pit mixes, bred for aggression and fighting and discarded when they don’t measure up or otherwise become a problem. Too many dog owners are breeding purely for remuneration, turning out litter after litter of puppies for sale with scant if any regard to trying to improve the dogs they breed thereby.  What matters is not the betterment of the dog but what type of canine output will bring the most money.  No concern for the fate of the dog, only a concern with using the mother and puppy to maximize profit.  If that means breeding a female dog as often as possible, or matching breeding partners because of their vicious attributes, that’s business, baby.  No heart, no compassion, only a cold blooded fiscal calculus. At this juncture let me state unequivocally that there are many highly reputable dog breeders in Florida. Unfortunately, there are not enough of you, and efforts to change the behavior of those who don’t follow your high ethical standards have not proven to be successful.

This must stop. 


In the first place it is morally wrong to subvert a living creature to the whims of our cupidity. Such unfettered, thoughtless breeding impermissibly treads upon the right of other creatures, dogs in this case, to live full lives, free from exploitation. It makes a mockery out of any notion of humane treatment of animals. It is the worst form of animal abuse.


Practically, if we don’t take action now the numbers of unwanted dogs, dogs in shelters, dogs who are euthanized, will rise.  Additionally, attacks by dogs bred for aggression on other animals and people will also continue to spiral out of control, often with fatal consequences. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that voluntary appeals to the breeders of these animals to amend their ways will have any effect on the situation.  With time and intensive educational efforts we can work on changing attitudes regarding dog breeding  from seeing dogs only as a financial asset to viewing dogs, indeed all animals, as precious life worthy of reverence.  Until then, if ever, dog breeding must be regulated by the state.   Here’s what we need to do.

For anyone who wishes to be a ” hobby” breeder of dogs in Florida, a breeding license can be purchased from the county animal control agency with the following provisions (my thanks to Animal Advocates BC for these ideas):

If a person or household wishes to casually breed the family dog (i.e. one dog one time) s/he must buy a “Casual Breeding License” which would allow a dog to be bred once only. (Suggested fee: $500.00—not a lot considering pups go in the $1-2K range these days)

  1. The mother dog must be spayed after one litter; proof in the form of a statement by the attending vet must be provided to the cognizant county animal control within 90 days of birth of the pups;
  2. No female dog can be bred until certified healthy by a licensed vet. This certification must be displayed where pups are sold and a copy provided to any purchaser;
  3. The license number of the breeding license must be included in any advertising of the pups, and displayed where the pups are being adopted;
  4. The breeder must agree to ensure that the pups and mother dog are be kept in a clean, warm, dry area, not isolated from humans;
  5. The breeder must ensure that the quantity and quality of food provided to mother and pups is such as to ensure maximum health to the pups and mother dog.
  6. As provided in Florida statutes, the pups may not be sold or given to new owners until they have been certified healthy by a licensed vet, no earlier than eight weeks of age, and have had all required vaccines, and their stools must be certified clean of worms and parasites by a vet; a copy of this certificate must be given to the new owner of the pups, also retained by the seller and provided to animal control;
  7. The pups must have microchips implanted at this first vet visit;
  8. The breeder of the pups be required to put the name and contact information of a pup’s purchaser as the registered owner on the microchip form, along with the breeder’s name and contact information, and mail the form to the microchip company. Pups sold to pet stores must also be microchipped by the breeder before sale, and the form supplied to the store, with the breeder’s name and contact info on the form. The pet store must fill in the purchaser’s name, and the store’s name, and mail the form to the microchip company.
  9. The breeding license shall stipulate permission for county animal control law enforcement officers to inspect the female and pups if there is cause to believe they are not in good health or otherwise being cared for humanely. Any sick dogs or pups that are not treated by a certified vet within a reasonable length of time (this would depend on the seriousness of the physical condition of the dogs or pups) or any dogs or pups that are in critical physical distress, may be seized and given the necessary veterinary treatment and returned on payment of the cost of the veterinarian care, or retained, if the attending officer has cause to believe that good care will not be given in the future.
  10. In the application for a licenses, the breeder must stipulate that the dog is being bred according to the best AKC guidance and standards of the breed, or if not a purebred, in accordance with similar guidance and standards, and not for any purposes of fighting or aggression. If animal control has reason to believe this standard is not being met, animal control may seize the dog or pups as set forth on #9 above.

Failure to comply with the above would result in a fine of $1,000 and a prohibition on future breeding.

For a commercial breeder (i.e. more than one dog, and/or more than one time) a commercial license costing $750 may be purchased with the same provisions set forth above, save that a female dog may be bred once in a second year, then no more.

To conclude, because we humans have not shown an ability to self-regulate as regards dog breeding, the state must step in and regulate this behavior.  Until we can voluntarily evidence and follow a reverence for life and treat all animals, dogs in this case , with the respect they deserve, we will need to submit to government imposed control and sanctions.  May this happen soon, so we can all evolve towards a reverence for life as our ethos.

A way to save bears from human predation.

Why not Marion?  Here is a way to decrease bear/human interactions and thereby decrease the slaughter of innocent animals.  I trust Marion County will soon follow suit and join this list of counties seeking to show a reverence for life, even ursine life.  see below The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received applications from 10 communities for $515,283 in BearWise funding to help reduce human-bear conflicts. Eight counties applied for BearWise funds: Collier County Parks and Recreation, Franklin County, Highlands County, Lake County, Orange County, Seminole County, Volusia County and Walton County. Two  The FWC will evaluate the applications, prioritizing the communities with BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep garbage secure from bears. BearWise ordinances can be passed by a county, city or homeowner’s association. The funding helps offset the costs for residents and businesses to acquire bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit and click on Live BearWise, watch the BearWise Communities video and read the A guide to living in bear country brochure.

Urging Defeat of Florida HGB 249

sent to my Fl representatives–more on proposed legislation for breeders coming soon!




I write to urge you to vote against (should it ever come to the floor) what is currently FL HB 249 2018. In essence this bill aims to reduce the euthanizing of animals in public shelters by prohibiting such shelters from carrying out that act if some nonprofit is willing to accept the animal. A laudable goal, but totally unworkable under our present circumstances.

First my bona fides. I am a retired lawyer and corporate ethics officer living in Ocala, and I run a private foundation that awards grants to other 501(c)(3) entities to help them bear the costs of looking after unwanted animals in Marion and Levy Counties.

There are numerous problems with this proposed bill; let me just cite a few before I get to the real problem.

First, most private animal organizations are at capacity now, or very nearly there. To save animals from euthanizing will require a great outlay of capital on the part of somebody, and as most nonprofits do not have those kinds of funds available, the taxpayers will be asked to cough up more funds.

Second, once an animal is released to a private organization, there is a distinct lack of accountability as to the animal’s welfare, viz. when the animal was under government control. Let me be honest—not every 501(c)(3) has the animal’s best interest at heart—many animals will simply be transferred elsewhere, out of the aegis of the local animal control personnel.

Third, the vast majority of these private shelters are subject to little oversight and infrequent inspections, if any, at best. Again, the welfare of any animal so placed is in far more jeopardy than if that animal remained under government control.

Finally, as this will be the subject of a subsequent message to you with my own hopes for legislation, the real problem with unwanted companion animals in Florida is unlicensed, unsupervised, and unethical breeders. The shelters in Marion are full of pit bulls and pit bull mixes (who BTW make up over 50% of the dangerous dogs in our county) who are the result of indifferent, unsupervised, unlicensed breeding, breeding done only for aggression and violence, not for the betterment of the breed or dog. Until we get a handle on this unfettered breeding problem, the number of unwanted companion animals, in this case dogs, will continue to rise, and bills such as HB 249 will have no effect on the problem

Accordingly, please vote this bill down, should it come to the floor, and please await my own thoughts on legislation to govern the breeding of dogs and cats, the biggest animals problems we have in our counties today.


Robert M. Echols


For Our Friends the Animals Foundation






We must unite to stop the breeding of aggressive dogs–before another tragedy ensues!!

We must stop breeding aggressive dogs.  Rather than being bred to improve physical characteristics, too many dogs, especially pits, are bred for aggression and fighting, with the tragic results detailed in the Post story.  All groups involved with dogs must unite now to stop this practice, which is by the way the worst example of animal abuse, before more tragedies occur and more restrictions are placed on these breeds.  Let’s stop pretending that a problem does not exist; rather, let us solve it.