December 2010 Blog Home February 2011

20 posts from January 2011

January 14, 2011

Talk Back: Our Work in the Field

Rescued dog gets a hug 
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Another dog rescued from Ohio gets a hug from an HSUS staffer.


In the past weeks, I’ve touched on a few examples of the hands-on work The HSUS does to help animals – from helping pit bulls in Ohio to street dogs in Haiti and even rats by the thousand in a California hoarding case.

Several of you had a personal connection to the story from Hello Bully on the remarkable transformation of Ferdinand, one of the 200 pit bulls The HSUS helped rescue from a suspected dogfighting operation in Ohio:



I am honored to have had the opportunity to volunteer and help care for these dogs for the few days I was available. The HSUS staff was professional, efficient, caring, intelligent and mindful of the best interest of these dogs. —Mary

Awesome work. I have a friend who was there to help and she has one of the boys Chester. Amazing dog that plays at doggie day care. Loves people and dogs. —Linda Candler

This is a wonderful story about bullies, and particularly about Ferdinand. We are a rural city-owned shelter in the San Joaquin Valley of California, and over time we have learned a lot about pit bulls, as we see many of them. One thing springs to mind as I read your stories about pit bull fighting, and that is our local pit bull rescue in Fresno, Bully Pit.  They are doing a massive and wonderful job of rescue, rehab, foster, and adoption services here in the central valley where the situation with dog fighting is pretty horrendous. As a volunteer for the shelter, I have spent much time learning about our pit bulls, the dogs that are used for "bait" and the dogs that are used for fighting, and it is the cruelest sport I can think of. Thanks for all you are doing in that area. —Patricia Silva

I am SO proud to be a Hello Bully member! Working alongside the great people in the HSUS was an honor. Every time I see an update about one of these amazing dogs I cry a few tears of joy. —Sarah Berger 

You also responded to a dispatch from our staff member stationed in Haiti describing our long-term projects to fight pet overpopulation and build animal welfare infrastructure there:

I am one grateful animal lover who is thankful for the HSUS. It takes a lot of dedication, time and patience to accomplish what they have…You are a voice for many, human and non-human. —Kathleen 

It's an amazing achievement, and reaffirms my sense of commitment to the HSUS and to HSI….Blessings on you all for your dedication to helping those in Haiti — and everywhere else. —Victoria

Continue reading "Talk Back: Our Work in the Field" »

January 13, 2011

The HSUS Applauds Companies for Improving Animal Welfare in 2010

The cause of animal protection advances because of determined and strategic action, on many fronts. Corporations have an especially important role to play in helping animals by adopting new, more humane ways of doing business.


Whether it’s pet stores pledging not to sell dogs from cruel puppy mills, designers and retailers going fur-free, or companies making innovations that improve the treatment of farm animals and wildlife, we applaud the businesses that are blazing a path for a more humane marketplace. In my upcoming book, “The Bond,” I argue that the corporate sector can help usher in a new “humane economy.”

This week, The HSUS gave special recognition to six companies with our 2010 Corporate Progress Awards, praising their efforts to advance animal welfare in 2010. The winners include: Burger King; Compass Group; Innolytics; Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; Subway; and Unilever.  

In 2010, these companies each took action to help reduce the suffering of animals and move animal welfare forward in significant and meaningful ways. As with individuals, our test is not perfection, but forward progress. That’s the direction these companies are moving in.

Burger King doubled its usage of cage-free eggs nationwide, resulting in many thousand fewer hens being crammed inside tiny battery cages.

Compass Group – which operates 8,500 dining centers in the United States – created a national “Be A Flexitarian” campaign in 2010. This resulted in many more meat-free meals at its clients’ dining centers—which include corporate and university dining operations. Compass is also providing information promoting plant-based eating at these locations.

Innolytics is the company that makes OvoControl, a compound that safely prevents egg development in wild birds. Instead of shooting or poisoning birds, which are cruel and ineffective in the long term, OvoControl provides a humane and effective way to limit bird population growth. In 2010, OvoControl-P was approved for wide use in pigeons, paving the way for a better future for these often-abused birds. 

Royal Caribbean became the first cruise line company to start using cage-free eggs – leading its top two competitors, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line, to follow suit.

Subway became the first U.S. fast food chain to commit to ending its usage of battery cage eggs entirely.

Finally, Unilever announced plans to switch all the eggs used in its Hellman’s mayonnaise products to cage-free, the first food manufacturer to make such a commitment.

It was a historic year for The HSUS and for progress on animal welfare issues, and a significant part of the credit for that is owed to these companies for paving the way toward humane-minded reforms in their operations. Kudos to the winners for helping raise the bar on the humane treatment of animals.

January 12, 2011

New Beginnings for Dogs and People Behind Bars

We at The HSUS have always celebrated the bond between people and animals, especially with the dogs, cats and other companion animals who add so much to our lives.

These animals offer us companionship and love, no matter who or where we are. And both people and the animals can benefit from this kind of connection.

That’s why stories like those from the Montana Women’s Prison and the Dixon Correctional Institute, as featured in the most recent issue of All Animals, are particularly uplifting. These two prisons host programs where inmates help care for dogs who need homes.

Inmate playing with dog 
Tim Mueller
Inmate Paul Hills with a dog at Dixon Correctional Institute.

At the Montana Women’s Prison, a local group called Prison Paws for Humanity places dogs with inmates who provide training and socialization so the animals can be adopted to good homes. After The HSUS worked with the Wibaux County Sheriff’s office to rescue more than 100 dogs from an overrun Montana property last fall, Prison Paws for Humanity took in several of the dogs.

These dogs had been living in filthy conditions, and some were very fearful. But with patience and kindness from inmates at the Montana prison, Leo, Lexi and Lobo have begun to trust people. The women taught the dogs basic commands and helped them get accustomed to new people and situations. I’m happy to report that as of last week, these three dogs have been adopted to new homes.

The Montana program is just one of the examples of inmates working with dogs and how it can be good for everyone involved. At the Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, The HSUS provided a $600,000 grant that helped build a new animal shelter to take in stray pets from the parish, which had no shelter of its own. 

At the shelter, which was officially dedicated last month, the inmates help care for the animals until they’re placed for adoption. Now the community has a shelter to take in stray pets, the dogs have a chance at a forever home, and the inmates gain valuable skills and experience from the program.

These programs are obviously good for the dogs, but they also foster responsibility and empathy in inmates, and may help them in handling their new lives after their incarceration.

I wanted to share a few photos of the dogs and their handlers, who’ve shared not just treats and tail wags but a real bond.


Adopted dog Leo 
Prison Paws for Humanity








“It’s such a great feeling to know that I’m there for him. He looks at me in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever been looked at by anybody.”

Inmate Emily James, on the dog Leo she worked with at the Montana Women’s Prison. Leo was recently adopted.


Inmate with brindle dog
Tim Mueller








Inmate James Ziegler pets Penny on the grounds of the Louisiana correctional facility. “They just love animals,” said warden Steve Rader of inmates who’ve worked with the dogs there. The funding from The HSUS to help build the shelter is part of our ongoing commitment to the Gulf Coast region.


Continue reading "New Beginnings for Dogs and People Behind Bars" »

January 11, 2011

B Average for Obama Administration for 2010

“I was down in the Everglades, and it took four people to hold a 19-foot Burmese python,” said Tom Strickland, a top official at the Department of the Interior, in Sunday’s New York Times. “These things wreak havoc.”

The Times reports that owners and sellers of large, dangerous exotic snakes are livid with the Obama Administration proposal to ban the interstate transport and import of nine species of snakes, including Burmese pythons and green anacondas. Snake owners have mounted a campaign to turn around the agency’s decision, but the federal government has it exactly right on this subject. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is animal welfare, it makes no good sense for people to keep these giant constricting snakes as pets.

While the Obama Administration has made some adverse moves on animal protection – pushing for the de-listing of endangered wolves in the Northern Rockies and Upper Great Lakes, continuing with large-scale round-ups of wild horses in the West, and buying up surplus meat from factory farms – it has established a strong overall record on animal protection. For 2010, I rate the Obama Administration a solid B for its performance on our concerns – an improvement over 2009’s B minus. The Administration is moving in the right direction on many issues, and has opportunities in 2011 to really step up and turn around long-standing federal programs that have wasted tax dollars and caused enormous animal suffering in the process.

Progress for Animal Protection



Within the last month, President Obama has signed three animal protection bills into law: the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act and the Shark Conservation Act (to strengthen laws against finning). In terms of executive agency actions, the Administration has taken some positive action on 42 items related to our 100-point “Change Agenda for Animals.”

At the end of December, the USDA announced several new actions to improve oversight of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, including the establishment of an Ombudsman in the Office of Food Safety and stronger rules on handling downer animals.  

USDA has also agreed to take steps to close loopholes in the regulation of transport of horses to slaughter, banning the shipment of horses in double-decker trucks and prohibiting transport by individuals with outstanding fines from previous violations. In addition, USDA requested increased funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, which forbids the “soring” of horses in Walking Horse shows, and outlined its plans to toughen rules in order to curb this cruel practice.

USDA also announced tougher enforcement rules on commercial puppy mills, and expressed support for covering large-scale direct sellers of dogs under the Animal Welfare Act.

Last week, the National Institutes of Health announced it would suspend its plans to transfer nearly 200 chimps from safekeeping at Alamogordo Primate Facility in central New Mexico, instead of sending them into possible invasive research again at Southwest National Primate Research Center in Texas. The EPA has begun phase two of its ToxCast program and continued its involvement in the Tox21 partnership, together with two National Institutes of Health subsidiaries and the Food and Drug Administration, to develop ways to more effectively predict how chemicals affect human health and the environment, reducing the current reliance on animal testing.

The EPA has also continued to press forward on regulatory efforts to address global warming from major sources, including factory farms, given Congress’s failure to enact comprehensive legislation on climate change.

Gains for Wildlife

Polar bear with cubs 

In 2010, the Interior Department designated more than 187,000 square miles of on-shore barrier islands, denning areas and offshore sea-ice as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. It also issued emergency rulemaking to expand federal protection areas for manatees in Citrus County, Fla., creating a refuge that includes all of Kings Bay in Crystal River. The Obama Administration also took positive actions on a raft of other species, including penguins, prairie dogs, turtles, tigers, bats and other species at risk.

The Department of Justice issued a final rule prohibiting wild animals from being used as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While the Bureau of Land Management has continued to round up wild horses and amass enormous numbers of animals in holding facilities, the agency has also pledged to employ fertility control for horses in 11 herds. Last week, BLM director Robert Abbey reiterated the agency’s firm opposition to slaughter or mass euthanasia of wild horses.

The EPA also removed the “restricted use” classification for OvoControl P, birth control for use in pigeons, and its actions prompted the manufacturer of the avicide Avitrol to stop production of this poison – both good steps in advancing humane population management.

Room for Improvement

The Administration’s efforts to de-list wolves, and pave the way for sport hunting programs in some states that might reduce wolf populations by 80 percent, have been deeply distressing to animal advocates across the nation. HSUS has blocked these de-listing efforts in the courts in a series of legal actions, and has partnered with other animal protection and conservation groups to stop recent efforts in Congress to strip wolves of protection.

The Administration has a mixed record where the stakes are highest on global conservation debates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The Administration proposed to protect sharks and polar bears, but also submitted a proposal to remove protections for bobcats from the international fur trade in the former body, and fronted a proposal at the IWC that would have relaxed the 1982 ban on commercial whaling.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration continues to spend precious tax dollars on too much lethal predator control, through USDA’s outmoded Wildlife Services program, especially the use of two highly toxic poisons – Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide – that not only kill coyotes and other predators as a subsidy for private ranchers, but also kill other non-target animals such as family pets and endangered species. For example, it has expanded a government-funded killing scheme for Canada geese. Especially during this time of belt-tightening, this entire program needs to change to one that offers non-lethal assistance to those experiencing wildlife conflicts, and conducts lethal control only as a last resort.

Another area ripe for cost savings is the buy-up of surplus commodities. The USDA purchases hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus commodities as a de facto subsidy to factory farming interests that encourages over-production and dumps some of the worst meat on our National School Lunch Program, such as chicken from “spent” hens in too sorry shape for even the fast food industry to buy. That’s precisely the wrong response – USDA should be rewarding farmers who do the right thing and raise animals in high welfare systems that don’t involve intensive confinement, overuse of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes, and contamination of air and water.

In the year ahead, the subsidies for animal abuse have to stop, and the Administration needs to continue to step up its enforcement efforts. It made good progress on which to build in 2011. There are millions of animal lovers in America, and they will be paying close attention to our government’s record on animal issues in the domestic and international arenas.

January 10, 2011

On the Ground in Haiti, One Year Later

This week marks one year since the earthquake in Haiti, and Humane Society International has been on the ground there for nearly as long, with all the promise and pitfalls that an extended deployment like this offers in an impoverished nation. We had so many challenges there: we entered a country with no animal welfare infrastructure, largely a result of Haiti’s extreme poverty. I’ve asked our top person in Haiti, Chris Broughton-Bossong, to give us a report on the anniversary of this ongoing crisis. The situation in Haiti remains dire, but the prospects for advancing humane work are improving. My deepest thanks to Chris for his extraordinary commitment, as well as to our veterinary teams from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and our organizational partners Christian Veterinary Mission and Best Friends Animal Society.

I deployed to Haiti in the desperate weeks after the earthquake, making three trips and spending over a month in the country meeting with government officials, Haitian veterinarians, and representatives from other NGOs working in the country. In March, I decided that progress there would require an even greater commitment. I moved to Haiti to live and work full-time, and to coordinate and implement the launch of five separate initiatives in Haiti during 2010 and 2011. 

Haitian veterinarian with dog 
Frank Loftus/The HSUS
HSI spay/neuter training for Haitian vets

HSI’s Haiti programs include the establishment of the first animal welfare center in Haiti, continuing education and training for Haitian veterinarians, nationwide spay/ neuter and vaccination projects to address the street dog overpopulation, providing medical care and owner training for horses and pack animals, and developing the first Haitian veterinary disaster response team. Each of these programs is well underway.

Each of our initiatives begins by training Haitian veterinarians, since helping to advance their professional skills and securing their dedication to these projects is integral to long-term success. We recently completed the construction of a veterinary hospital at our Haiti Animal Welfare Center that will provide low-cost services to the local community. This is the first facility of its kind in Haiti.  Veterinarians and technicians now have a central location where they can receive continuing education and technical training with a humane focus, something that did not exist prior to our investment of time, effort, and resources. 

Of course, there are significant direct care components to our program as well.  Our street dog vaccination and sterilization clinics address the public health concerns associated with unchecked canine populations, including rabies and intestinal parasites. Our Equine Welfare clinics provide opportunities for Haitian veterinarians to work within their communities to treat working equines that may otherwise receive no veterinary care. The clinics also serve to educate the owners about proper care and nourishment of animals to improve their general health and well-being. 

Finally, HSI is providing a variety of technical and logistical disaster mitigation and response trainings to selected Haitian veterinarians throughout the country so that they can assume larger roles in helping to address the wide variety of natural disasters to which the country is predisposed. In the wake of the devastation caused by the earthquake, HSI gained a tremendous opportunity to provide long term support in the form of infrastructure development in a country where it is so desperately needed. 

I am honored to be able to play a part in the execution of these programs, and confident that we are laying the groundwork for success in the future for the people and animals of Haiti.  

January 07, 2011

A&E Show 'Hoarders' to Feature The HSUS, Rescue of 2,000 Pet Rats

One of 2,000 rats rescued from hoarding situation in California
Alex Gallardo
One of the 2,000 rats rescued.

TV alert: This Monday evening, A&E will feature The HSUS in action on the season three finale episode of their show “Hoarders.” And I guarantee you’ve never seen a hoarding case like this! A&E called us in to help rescue 2,000 pet rats who had overrun a Southern California home.

In the show (see listings here), you’ll go behind the scenes as we work with the California group NorthStar Rescue to remove the animals. When we arrived at the home in November, hundreds of rats were roaming freely, with some suffering from skin conditions, parasites, and other medical ailments. The owner had become overwhelmed and allowed the rats to breed, until they eventually swamped the house. I am telling you—it’s not to be missed.

Now available for adoption through North Star with an army of volunteers caring for them in foster homes, these rats will get a second chance.

We’re grateful to A&E for requesting our assistance in this operation, and also for bringing increased attention to this unlikeliest of hoarding cases. It’s yet another example that The HSUS does indeed work to protect ALL animals.

Wild Animals as Pets Now Prohibited in Ohio As Part of HSUS Agreement

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued a sweeping executive order today, banning private citizens from acquiring certain dangerous wild animals as pets and requiring current owners to register the animals and microchip them. The new rule prohibits exotic animal owners who have previously had their local, state, or federal licenses revoked from holding on to such animals, so we expect this to mean that notorious animal owner Sam Mazzola will not be able to keep his menagerie of big cats and bears. One of Mazzola’s bears killed 24-year-old Brent Kandra in Lorain County in August 2010.


Prior to today’s order, Ohio was one of about 10 states with virtually no rules on private ownership of dangerous exotics, and it now leapfrogs just about all of the states with these comprehensive new standards to protect animal welfare and public health and safety.

It’s a fulfillment of one of the eight points in the landmark animal welfare agreement The HSUS negotiated last summer with Gov. Strickland and the leaders of eight agriculture commodity organizations in Ohio, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

I passed the word on to Deirdre Herbert about the issuance of the rule this morning and she was elated. She is the mother of Brent Kandra, whose death came less than two months after we negotiated the agreement.

Deirdre gave us the following statement: “I want to sincerely thank Governor Ted Strickland for signing the executive order banning exotic animal ownership by private citizens in the state of Ohio. I believe that this valuable executive order will not only prevent other families from suffering the tragedy and loss as my family has experienced, but is also a humane act towards these majestic animals.”

There is just no reason for people to keep large predators as pets. There’s almost always a bad outcome, especially for the animals, who either languish in cages or on chains, often with their teeth or claws removed in an effort to make them less dangerous, or are relinquished to someone else or released illegally into the wild. Animal sanctuaries, including those run by The HSUS, spend millions a year cleaning up the messes of the people who make the impulsive and irrational decisions to acquire a dangerous wild animal as a pet.

And as Brett Kandra's terrible fate makes plain, the potential costs to humans are also of the very worst order. In recent years, several children and adults have been injured or killed by exotic animals being kept as pets in Ohio, including a 10-year-old girl bitten by a mountain lion in 2009, a man killed by his pet python in 2006, and a boy losing part of his finger to a caged bear in 2006.

I should add that the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board has also been considering the five agriculture reforms called for in the June 30 agreement. One of the farm animal welfare provisions had been enacted (humane euthanasia standards), and we hope to see the board enact the remaining four provisions (banning the transport or sale of downer cows, phasing out veal crates and gestation crates, and barring new battery cage facilities from being established in the state) before the end of the month.

The Legislature started its work this week, and we expect to see anti-cockfighting and anti-puppy mill legislation introduced. Those are the final two elements of the agreement, and we’ll keep you updated.

But today, there’s cause for celebration with this tremendously important new rule to protect wild animals and the public.

January 05, 2011

Sinful Plans for Horse Slaughter; Speaking up for Feral Cats

Rescued horses at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch

You know the ad slogan—“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Let’s hope that’s true for the heartless bunch that’s assembled there these past few days to plot their strategy to expand horse slaughter in America.  George Knapp of KLAS-TV 8 News NOW in Vegas sniffed out the plans of horse slaughter enthusiasts who not only want to continue to allow cruel exports of live American horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, but also want to open up plants to kill horses in the United States.  It’s a predatory industry, causing untold suffering for so many healthy and young horses funneled into this international meat trade, to satisfy the palate of gourmands in Belgium, France, and Japan. These horse-slaughter mercenaries claim they’re helping horses by killing them, but we know they’re just out for more profits for themselves.

Last month I wrote about another terrible idea—mass killing of feral cats.  I was prompted to write after seeing a troubling report out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which suggested that feral cats be shot or be captured in body-crushing traps as a means to “control” them. Readers had some strong reactions to the cat-killing plans, and I wanted to share some of your thinking.

It makes me very upset as an animal lover to hear of wanting to destroy feral cats in such an inhumane manner. This is animal cruelty and should be forbidden. The solution would to be to spay and neuter to reduce more litters of kittens. —Fran
I 100 percent agree! I am an avid bird watcher and I have cats. I also work with a local feral cat nonprofit and feed feral stations on my way to work. Many of these cats ended up not being feral, just unwanted and dumped in a field. Please spay and neuter ALL of your animals. In the United States approximately four million animals are euthanized each year… —Kim O., San Luis Obispo, Calif.

When I saw the news release on this report, I couldn't even believe it actually came from an educational institution. I saw the info about shooting the cats but am glad I missed the part about body crushing traps—what a horrific way to kill something! Have these students watched too many horror movies? And where does it end? How do you know if you're killing a feral cat, an abandoned cat left behind after a move, or somebody's pet? TNR does work! … Killing feral cats is a solution to nothing. Better pet parenting and pet education/parenting classes and pet population control are better solutions. —Stacey in California, mom to two cats

Control the humans who do not spay or neuter their cats—the humans who let their cats wander, and the humans who abandon their cats because they do not know how (or want to) to care for them or deal with problems. Man"kind" is, in too many cases, an oxymoron. —YTKarashinski

The "cat" that kills the most birds is the Caterpillar bulldozer that indiscriminately knocks down and destroys whole forests. The birds are displaced and have to compete for nesting space with other birds in smaller habitats. … Cat "predation" is nothing compared to what humanity is doing! —A. Attura

This just makes my skin crawl and my heart ache. I have been taking care of a colony of feral cats for over seven years now. When I started there were more than 300 cats. To my surprise (I was new to it, I'm not surprised by it anymore), most of the cats were friendly, but scared. They had been dumped and were not ferals. I have had all but three altered (they're smart little buggers) and more than 100 have been adopted into wonderful homes. This problem is created by people, due to negligence, lack of compassion and just plain cruelty. I recently went and trapped a small family of cats out of town because I heard that people were actually setting out bowls of antifreeze for them to drink. Turns out, three of the five are very friendly and I am currently trying to locate homes for them as well. The fact that anyone can somehow justify in their minds that killing these beautiful cats is acceptable is beyond comprehension to me. The traps that are discussed is nothing short of torture. —Myndi

Continue reading "Sinful Plans for Horse Slaughter; Speaking up for Feral Cats" »

January 04, 2011

2010 Blog Favorites

Today, I post the blogs that got the most visitor traffic for the year—the top ten blogs of the 259 postings for 2010.

Celebrating on election night as Prop B passes in Missouri
Darci Adams/The HSUS
Celebrating on election night as Prop B passes in Missouri.

At the top of the list were entries celebrating some of the biggest political wins for animals—with my discussion of the outcomes on Prop B in Missouri and Prop 109 in Arizona gaining the top slot and following it, the enactment of the law in California to ban the sale of whole battery cage eggs, at the same time that Prop 2 takes effect.

Reports on our response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti came in third.

Also drawing a great deal of reader interest were my thoughts about Michael Vick's rehabilitation, his work speaking out against dogfighting, and his expressed interest, after his probation period ends, of adopting a pet for his two daughters.

Blogs about some of the most egregious forms of cruelty also drew many eyes and much concern: my posts about undercover investigations revealing disturbing abuse at an Ohio dairy farm and the nation’s top egg producer were the fifth and eighth most popular, respectively. Coming in at six and seven were responses to the April U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the federal law banning animal crush videos (though the sale and distribution of these obscene, extreme videos has again been banned thanks to the swift action of Congress) and the puppy mill crisis in Missouri and across the country.

Those items rounding out the list at nine and ten provided guidance for taking action on behalf of animals, and moving images of the animals in crisis who elicit our sympathy and our activism

  1. Victory Declared for Missouri’s Dogs and Arizona Wildlife
  2. Breaking: Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Egg Bill
  3. Monitoring the Situation in Haiti
  4. Michael Vick and Having a Pet
  5. Disturbing Abuse Uncovered At Ohio Dairy Farm
  6. Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling on Animal Cruelty Law
  7. A Veterinarian's Prognosis for Stopping Puppy Mill Cruelty
  8. Shocking, Unacceptable Conditions Revealed at Nation’s Largest Egg Producer
  9. 55 Actions for Animals and The HSUS
  10. Little Orphan Animals

January 03, 2011

2010 in Review: A Remarkable Year for Animals and The HSUS

The approach of charity watchdog groups is typically to measure the work of nonprofit organizations by looking at spending ratios, comparing programmatic expenditures to fundraising and administrative costs. That provides some valuable information (and The HSUS performs well by these measures), but those kind of numbers alone do not give a full picture of the true effectiveness of a charity. In my opinion, the key measure is impact. What is a charity getting done in the real world?

The HSUS performs exceptionally on the big issues that affect the lives of animals, working in four big arenas: public policy, corporate reforms, education and awareness, and hands-on animal care. In several months, we’ll be releasing our annual report for 2010, and here are some of the accomplishments that we’ll highlight.

Public Policy


In the U.S. Congress in 2010, we worked to put three major priorities on President Obama’s desk: passing narrowly crafted legislation to stop the sale and distribution of obscene animal crush videos; requiring the labeling of all fur garments by species type and country of origin, regardless of the value of the fur; and strengthening the law banning shark finning. We also helped to block efforts to delist wolves from their endangered status in the Northern Rockies and Upper Great Lakes—protecting our wins in the federal courts to prevent sport hunting of imperiled wolves. The House passed nine other HSUS-backed animal protection measures, but they stalled in the Senate. We’ll get behind these measures again in the 112th Congress.

We also saw positive action on 24 elements of our 100-point “Change Agenda” with federal agencies, including stronger Horse Protection Act enforcement, implementation of wild horse contraception programs, a proposal to ban large exotic constrictor snakes as pets, and improved enforcement on puppy mills and humane slaughter. Following pressure from The HSUS, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Animal Protection of New Mexico, and others, the National Institutes of Health has suspended the transfer of 186 chimpanzees from a facility in New Mexico to an active research laboratory in Texas, where they would be made readily available for invasive research. The NIH has indicated that no chimpanzees will be transferred while the National Academy of Sciences reviews chimpanzee research policies.

On Nov. 2, we scored two major state ballot measure victories, driving the passage of Proposition B in Missouri to crack down on puppy mill abuses in the top dog-breeding state in the nation and defeating an NRA-backed amendment in Arizona to create a constitutional right to hunt and to block future wildlife protection initiatives. We also helped pass 96 other state laws and regulations and blocked several dozen anti-animal bills from passing. California passed legislation to ban the sale of whole battery cage eggs when Prop 2 takes effect in January 2015. Florida banned fox penning, Illinois banned keeping primates as pets, and Hawaii banned the sale of shark fins. Iowa and Oklahoma also passed legislation to create new standards for puppy mills.

Pig in gestation crate

The HSUS worked with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and agriculture industry leaders in the state to negotiate an agreement that is expected to result in eight major animal welfare improvements, including phase outs of veal crates and gestation crates and new restrictions on the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets.

We also work to enforce animal protection laws, both by assisting law enforcement with criminal matters, and by filing civil actions in the courts. In New York, we won a major water pollution case against Hudson Valley Foie Gras. In addition, we won our lawsuit against several of the nation's largest department stores and brands over false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments. In August, we won our lawsuit to stop the slaughter of wolves and reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections. The ruling prevents wolf hunting from going forward in Montana and Idaho. And recently, the Ninth Circuit Court handed us a major win when it halted the killing of federally protected sea lions at the Bonneville Dam in response to our lawsuit against this senseless program.

This year, we also petitioned USDA to crack down on cruel horse soring practices, and filed an action to stop illegal political payments by the Ohio Gamefowl Breeders Association.

Our legal efforts also resulted in new habitat protections for right whales, a halt to a new migratory bird hunting program at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a decision by the Park Service to cancel a program to poison crows, a ruling by a federal appeals court rejecting a constitutional challenge to the newly enhanced federal animal fighting statute, and a ruling holding that there is no constitutional right to operate a puppy mill free of humane regulations.

On the farm animal welfare front, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court injunction blocking a California law banning the use of sick and disabled ("downed") animals in the human food supply, and two former slaughter plant operators in Vermont were convicted on felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in the wake of an HSUS investigation at a dairy calf slaughtering facility. The HSUS also launched several new farm animal cases, including an action to stop factory egg farm Rose Acre Farms from making false claims about its treatment of animals, and a petition asking the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation focusing on egg industry executives who fixed egg prices by operating a questionable animal welfare certification scheme. We also announced a major class action lawsuit against Perdue Farms over the false advertising of factory farmed chicken products as humane.

Our international affiliate, Humane Society International, continued to extend our influence and secure gains for animals’ welfare in the European Union, India, China and many other countries around the globe  through our work in international wildlife conventions and other relevant international organizations in the areas of wildlife protection, animal testing, trade, stray dog welfare and management, and more.

Corporate Reforms

Dogs rescued from puppy mill by The HSUS
Michelle Riley/The HSUS

We gained our 1,000th pledge from pet stores committing to make it their official policy not to sell puppies, thereby taking a stand against puppy mills.

Canada’s seal hunting did go forward in 2010, but with a dramatically reduced kill for the second year in a row. The allowable kill was 380,000, but the actual kill was about 66,000. The drop in the value of the pelts, driven by our efforts in Europe and other continents to close markets for seal products, has been the biggest factor in the low kill rate.

Compass Group began its Be a Flexitarian initiative; Hellmann’s Light switched 100 percent of its eggs to cage-free and Hellmann’s is converting the rest of its products to cage-free, too; Kraft and Sara Lee started using cage-free eggs; Wal-Mart adopted a cage-free policy for all its private line eggs; Chipotle became the first major American restaurant chain to introduce vegetarian chicken to its menu in numerous locations; Subway committed to go 100 percent cage-free, starting with four percent; AMTRAK, Virgin America, and Ruby Tuesday switched to 100 percent cage-free eggs; Quiznos doubled its cage-free egg volume; Sonic, Golden Corral and Cracker Barrel each started using cage-free eggs; Sonic also started using gestation crate-free pork; and Safeway committed to double its percentage of cage-free eggs by 2012 and to increase to 15 percent gestation crate-free pork by 2013.

We also made remarkable progress in 2010 on our fur-free campaign. JCPenney confirmed it will remain fur-free for 2010 and 2011 (the company dropped animal fur and has been fur-free for several years after our investigators uncovered labeling problems); Talbots reconfirmed its fur-free policy after beginning to sell rabbit fur and receiving complaints from HSUS members; Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc both agreed to phase out raccoon dog fur and Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s Inc. agreed to improve their fur advertising and labeling—all as part of lawsuit settlements; Gilt Groupe agreed to not sell raccoon dog fur; Bluefly will phase out raccoon dog fur; and we continued to build and promote a list of brands and retailers who were or have committed to being fur-free.

Education and Awareness

From fall 2009 through October 2010, we secured about $32 million in donated media for our Shelter Pet Project public service awareness program, in the form of television, radio, newspaper, and billboard advertising. This first of its kind national campaign urges people around the country to make animal shelters their first choice for bringing dogs and cats into their homes. In the Gulf Coast, we continue to promote spaying and neutering through a regional advertising program, and there are 10 new high-volume spay/neuter clinics conducting 40,000 to 50,000 surgeries a year, with a good number of them funded in part by The HSUS. Since the program’s launch in April 2008, we’ve generated 67.8 million media impressions, helping to drive pet owners to use these low-cost services.

Hens in battery cage at Rose Acre Farms facility

In April, we released the results of our latest investigation into industrial agribusiness and exposed rampant abuse at two of the nation’s largest egg producers. Late in the year, we conducted an investigation exposing the abuse of laying hens at Cal-Maine Foods, the top egg producer in the nation. We also exposed the mistreatment of turkey hatchlings at the Willmar Poultry plant in Minnesota and the awful confinement of breeding sows at a Smithfield hog confinement facility in Virginia. All of these investigations garnered major national attention, and reminded the American public four more times that agribusiness is systematically mistreating animals in agriculture.

An undercover HSUS investigation exposed the cruel practice of “bear baiting” in South Carolina, where captive bears are defanged, declawed, tethered to stakes and attacked by dogs.

We’ve now expanded our End Dogfighting program to Philadelphia, adding to our programs in Atlanta and Chicago, where The HSUS works with reformed dogfighters to steer at-risk youth away from dogfighting.

Rescue and Direct Care

HSUS animal rescue teams deployed more than 60 times and worked with other agencies to save more than 12,000 animals in crisis across the country. We led the rescue of more than 100 dogs housed outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures in Alabama. We helped rescue nearly 90 dogs from a puppy mill in New Jersey, rescued 120 cats from a suspected hoarding situation in Tennessee, removed 163 dogs from an overwhelmed nonprofit organization in Mississippi, and saved 49 starving horses in West Virginia. We rescued nearly 50 neglected equines from Texas, conducted a major cockfighting raid in which 197 birds were seized and 85 people arrested in South Carolina, led the rescue of more than 200 animals from a puppy mill in Tennessee, managed hoarding cases with nearly 100 dogs and cats in Virginia and 134 cats in California, and responded to many other cruel situations. We also unveiled our new Mobile Animal Crimes Lab, a vehicle manufactured to contain the latest forensic equipment to help law enforcement at animal fighting or abuse crime scenes. 

In addition to rescuing thousands of animals, The HSUS and our affiliated organizations cared for more animals than any other animal protection organization in the country. More than 14,000 of those animals are either permanent residents or were treated and released from our network of five animal care centers. Another 8,369 animals were treated by veterinarians through our Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

Horse receives care in Haiti

Humane Society International has stationed a full-time staff member in Haiti, to establish our long-term presence in the country in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake, and help to build an animal welfare capacity in the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, including the first animal care and veterinary training center in the country, just outside Port-au-Prince.

We ended the year by winning the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, coming in first among more than 1,100 charities. We‘ll use the $250,000 prize to advance our animal rescue programs, focusing on puppy mills, hoarding operations, and many other crisis situations for animals.

We’ve also conducted wellness clinics in Louisiana and Mississippi, and transported homeless pets from areas affected by the Gulf oil spill. We worked with Louisiana corrections officials in opening an innovative new shelter in Jackson, La., and we helped build a new shelter in St. Bernard Parish.

An HSUS assessment team traveled to the Gulf Coast to examine the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coastal wildlife. We also helped to deliver more than 12 tons of pet food to animal shelters and pet owners who were impacted by the oil spill, and we transported more than 100 dogs from overburdened Louisiana shelters to help them get adopted on the east coast.

Sounds like plenty? Actually, these are just highlights. In our dedication to the welfare of animals we cover a broad swath of landscape. By the most important measure of all of a charity—its tangible accomplishments—we met the test in 2010. We’re pushing ahead on the challenges of 2011. And we’re counting on you to help us.