August 2011 Blog Home October 2011


21 posts from September 2011


September 30, 2011

Better Days Ahead for Farm Animals in Ohio

Some of the most important progress comes about when we align ourselves with surprising and improbable partners. In Ohio, in 2010, The HSUS—and many of our traditional allies such as Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, the Toledo Area Humane Society, the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and others—waged a campaign to place a measure on the statewide ballot to phase out a variety of the most inhumane factory farming practices.

As readers of this blog know, shortly before the signatures were to be turned in, we sat down with then-Gov. Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and other agricultural commodity groups in the hopes of finding a compromise. It was a difficult and wrenching process, but in the end, we came to an agreement—an eight-point animal welfare agenda for the state of Ohio. It was memorialized with a handshake and a signed agreement, and it averted a costly and bitter ballot initiative vote. It also set the state on a path toward implementing many of the reforms we sought.

Spotted pig

Yesterday, the new regulations on farm animal welfare took effect. In short, the new rules phase out the cruel practices of confining calves in veal crates and breeding sows in gestation crates; phase out tail-docking of dairy cows; place a moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens (which has already blocked the permit for a proposed 6-million battery hen complex in Ohio); ban strangulation of farm animals and mandate humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals; and ban the transport of downer cows for slaughter.

John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society and president of the board of directors of Ohioans for Humane Farms, summed up the good news: "Ohioans should be proud that our state will be implementing these meaningful animal welfare reforms, and I am extremely grateful to all the Ohio animal advocates who gathered signatures to make this day possible."

Implementing these reforms in Ohio via any pathway other than a ballot initiative would have been unthinkable just a couple years ago. But if our movement is going to succeed, we need to open up dialogue and to turn adversaries into allies. We need to engage in problem solving and be open to the possibility that we can sit down with people with a different orientation and set of experiences and find common ground. If we are forever locked in battle, it’s going to be a long fight for all of us, in this and other cases, with an uncertain set of outcomes for the animals.

I am grateful to our partners and supporters who helped achieve these advances in Ohio, including the farm groups whose leaders have been true to their word and whose participation in this rule-making has been essential. I feel that the nation is treating farm animal protection more seriously, and one need only look in Ohio to see the results.

September 29, 2011

Urge Congress to Save Money by Protecting Animals

Editor's Note: Due to technical problems, some subscribers did not receive this original post, so we are reposting it today to highlight these important issues.

Our nation has a swelling multi-trillion dollar deficit, and there’s no subject that has attracted more attention from Congress than the effort to pare it down. When the Congress raised the debt ceiling in August, it created a special 12-member committee tasked with developing a package to reduce the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If the Congress fails to approve the cuts presented by the “super committee,” then automatic spending cuts take effect. So either way, that amount is set to be cut from the federal budget.

Paring this enormous sum from the budget, even staggered over 10 years, is going to mean that even some politically popular programs are likely to take a huge hit. It’s going to be hard to reach the overall goal without looking at defense spending, tax reform, Social Security, and Medicare.

But we expect the Congress will also take a look at a wide range of more modest-sized programs, and by aggregating these savings, find billions more in reductions. The HSUS has some great ideas. We are recommending the Congress revamp four programs that can provide more than $1 billion in savings and also save the lives of countless animals in the process—you can take action here to support these proposals.

Chimpanzee closeup
iStockphoto

Ending the Warehousing and Use of Chimpanzees in Invasive Research

By taking chimps out of laboratory cages and moving them into less-costly, more natural sanctuaries, we can save $300 million over the next decade. The chimps are not only suffering in the labs, but there’s hardly a good reason to keep warehousing them. Their usefulness in research is marginal at best. This week an editorial in Scientific American called for an end to the research, and there are bipartisan bills in Congress to achieve this outcome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also reviewing an HSUS petition that would list all chimpanzees as endangered, and if it did that, would prevent most uses of chimps in invasive experiments and eliminate their abuse in entertainment or the exotic pet trade.

Revamping the Wild Horse and Burro Program

The Bureau of Land Management has been compounding its fiscal mess each year by rounding up and removing thousands of wild horses and burros from our public lands. It does not have the capacity to adopt out nearly as many animals as it removes from the range, and that has resulted in a swelling captive population that must be pastured and fed, with all of the attendant administrative costs. By demanding that BLM manage wild horses through the use of a contraceptive vaccine, we can achieve limits on wild horse populations but also stop the expensive and stressful round-ups and removals, along with the need for ongoing care of captive horses. If the Congress accedes to this plan, we can drop the deficit by an additional $172 million over 10 years.

Coyote in the grass
Lindsey Sterling-Krank/The HSUS

Stopping Lethal Predator Control

The federal government has no business conducting a private predator-killing program for the benefit of ranchers and other resource-users. Each year, with an arsenal of traps, poisons, and aerial gunning, federal agents intentionally kill millions of wild animals, along with non-target animals such as endangered species and family pets, at the expense of taxpayers. By halting lethal predator control, but maintaining a program that can resolve human-wildlife conflicts in non-lethal ways, we can drop the deficit by at least an additional $110 million over 10 years. This cut has already been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and a host of environmental organizations.

Moving Toward 21st Century Testing

The HSUS has long supported corporations developing alternative methods to traditional animal tests for chemical risk assessment. Many of these new methods—such as computational, cellular, and molecular tools—are significantly faster, cheaper, and more reliable than the animal tests. The National Academies examined this issue and called on the federal government to move toward 21st century scientific methods and away from unreliable conventional animal testing. We are proposing a multi-agency commitment to these new testing methods and the biggest savings of them all: $500 million over 10 years.

The Congress is going to have to make some tough choices in the weeks ahead. While there are some political defenders of the above-mentioned programs, taking on these cuts should be less politically challenging than a raft of other actions Congress must take. This package of spending cuts will improve government efficiency and tangibly improve animal welfare in our nation. It’s time to find a new way forward, and rein in this profligate misuse of taxpayer dollars. Please take action today to support these cuts.

September 28, 2011

Six Faces of Animal Care

Most people don’t realize that The HSUS provides more direct care to animals than any organization in the nation. One major component of our hands-on programs consists of our animal care centers, operated in partnership with The Fund for Animals. But rather than my telling the story, here are some images from some of the ambassadors of our centers—a chimpanzee, two horses, a heron, a fisher, and a lion.

Kitty the chimpanzee
Kitty the chimpanzee: Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, Texas

Kitty was one of the many animals on the Black Beauty Ranch grounds who were prepared to face the wildfires recently raging in Texas.

You can visit Kitty and the other animals at the ranch by attending our fall open house on Saturday, October 15.

Maxine at Duchess
Maxine the mare: Duchess Sanctuary, Oregon

Maxine lives at our 1,120-acre sanctuary south of Eugene, Ore., that was established in 2008 as an oasis for about 200 formerly abused, abandoned, neglected, and homeless horses—most of them refugees from Premarin farms.

Take a video tour of Duchess and "like" us on Facebook to see photographic portraits of the Duchess herd throughout the seasons.

Glory the horse
Glory the mare: Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, Texas

Glory is one of the lucky rescued horses currently at our Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, located in Murchison, Texas, on the grounds of Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. The facility rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected horses, and ultimately helps place them with adopters who can provide them with safe, permanent, loving homes.

See the horses up for adoption (and you can also meet them at our Oct. 15 open house).

  Heron bad hair
The heron: South Florida Wildlife Center, Florida

Our staff cared for this orphaned yellow-crowned night heron earlier this year at our Florida center, which treats more than 12,000 animals annually. The bird was successfully raised and released back to the wild.

Watch a video here of a few of the center’s other patients.

Fisher
The fisher: Cape Wildlife Center, Massachusetts

This fisher was in the process of being rehabilitated at our Cape Wildlife Center on Cape Cod, Mass., when Hurricane Irene recently came calling. The staff prepared this little guy and all the animals at the center for the storm and went on to weather the hurricane safely.

Read more about this facility in a recent story from our magazine All Animals.

Samson the lion
Samson the African lion: Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, California

Samson is one of the 68 full-time residents rescued from the exotic pet trade and other acts of cruelty at the Ramona, Calif., facility. We also treat injured and orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.

View photos here of Samson as a cub and as a full-grown lion.

September 27, 2011

Ask Congress to Save Money by Sparing Animals

Our nation has a swelling multi-trillion dollar deficit, and there’s no subject that has attracted more attention from Congress than the effort to pare it down. When the Congress raised the debt ceiling in August, it created a special 12-member committee tasked with developing a package to reduce the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If the Congress fails to approve the cuts presented by the “super committee,” then automatic spending cuts take effect. So either way, that amount is set to be cut from the federal budget.

Paring this enormous sum from the budget, even staggered over 10 years, is going to mean that even some politically popular programs are likely to take a huge hit. It’s going to be hard to reach the overall goal without looking at defense spending, tax reform, Social Security, and Medicare.

But we expect the Congress will also take a look at a wide range of more modest-sized programs, and by aggregating these savings, find billions more in reductions. The HSUS has some great ideas. We are recommending the Congress revamp four programs that can provide more than $1 billion in savings and also save the lives of countless animals in the process—you can take action here to support these proposals.

Ending the Warehousing and Use of Chimpanzees in Invasive Research

By taking chimps out of laboratory cages and moving them into less-costly, more natural sanctuaries, we can save $300 million over the next decade. The chimps are not only suffering in the labs, but there’s hardly a good reason to keep warehousing them. Their usefulness in research is marginal at best. This week an editorial in Scientific American called for an end to the research, and there are bipartisan bills in Congress to achieve this outcome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also reviewing an HSUS petition that would list all chimpanzees as endangered, and if it did that, would prevent most uses of chimps in invasive experiments and eliminate their abuse in entertainment or the exotic pet trade.

Wild horse
Jean-Paul Bonnelly

Revamping the Wild Horse and Burro Program

The Bureau of Land Management has been compounding its fiscal mess each year by rounding up and removing thousands of wild horses and burros from our public lands. It does not have the capacity to adopt out nearly as many animals as it removes from the range, and that has resulted in a swelling captive population that must be pastured and fed, with all of the attendant administrative costs. By demanding that BLM manage wild horses through the use of a contraceptive vaccine, we can achieve limits on wild horse populations but also stop the expensive and stressful round-ups and removals, along with the need for ongoing care of captive horses. If the Congress accedes to this plan, we can drop the deficit by an additional $172 million over 10 years.

Continue reading "Ask Congress to Save Money by Sparing Animals" »

September 26, 2011

Bullfighting Comes to an End in Catalonia

Raphael Minder of The New York Times reported this weekend on the final day of bullfighting in Catalonia in Spain. It was not a nominal or cosmetic change in policy, since bullfighting has been a tradition in this part of Spain.

Minder also reported that bullfighting is flagging nationwide because of the economic downturn in Europe, as well as an end to some industry subsidies long provided by the government of Spain. These are welcome developments, since bullfighting involves demonstrable cruelty for nothing but human entertainment. It’s no different morally from dogfighting or cockfighting, except that the human hand is more directly involved in the torment and the punishment of vulnerable creatures.

Bullfight in Spain - Help end bullfighting
Learn about 11 ways you can help end bullfighting.

It’s also a reminder that our movement is not, and has never been, restricted to the United States. There are groups fighting for animals and rescuing them in all parts of the world. The HSUS, too, has an entire international division, Humane Society International, which works across the globe to extend the campaigns and activities of The HSUS and to build the capacity of animal welfare groups throughout the world. Especially in the era of global communications and transport, nearly all of the industries we spar with have far-flung operations–from factory farming to sealing to animal fighting to puppy mills.

Just two weeks ago, the USDA promulgated regulations restricting the import of dogs into the United States from foreign puppy mills. This was precipitated by the law we worked to pass on the Farm Bill in 2008 to achieve that purpose.

But so many issues remain. We are working hard against factory farming, particularly in Brazil, India, and Mexico. And we are mindful that cockfighting is a legal industry in many parts of the world–from Mexico to Thailand and the Philippines. In fact, there are more than 100 cockfighting arenas in Puerto Rico, even though U.S. law forbids the possession of fighting birds in any part of the United States, including the commonwealth. Essentially the staged fights between roosters there are entirely illegal under federal law, but they persist somehow because of the power of the cockfighting lobby and the support for the activity on the island.

The HSUS has been at the center of the domestic fight for animal protection since our founding in 1954, but more than ever we're also at the center of the global fight against cruelty and abuse. Opposition to cruelty is a universal value, and animals have the capacity to suffer in any part of the world. It’s our hope to continue to grow our operations, to gain more political influence, and to extend the mantle of protection to animals everywhere.

The provincial action in Spain is an encouraging sign, and we hope a harbinger of additional reforms to come on the international stage.

September 23, 2011

Talk Back: Flying Donkeys and Grateful Dogs

This week, the city council of West Hollywood banned the sale of fur within the community. It’s just the latest animal-welfare action by this forward-thinking council, which had previously taken aim at cat declawing and the sale of dogs and cats from pet stores.

It feels to me, as we begin to turn to fall, that we are gaining momentum on the fur issue. The advances are great and small, and they are all meaningful. It’s been so encouraging to see fashion designer John Bartlett speaking out against fur. And a few days ago, I wrote about O Magazine’s commitment to fur-free principles.

This week, I was so pleased to see that HSUS board member Jason Weiss, and his 8-year-old son Jonathan, went to a high-end boutique store in Pacific Palisades, Calif., to express their moral concerns about the store continuing to sell fur. The store’s owner was particularly struck by Jonathan’s concern for animals, and she heard them out. After they made the case, she told Jason yesterday that the store would discontinue selling fur. Kudos to the store owner for having the fortitude and flexibility to change, and kudos to you, Jonny, for having the courage to confront the issue.

Dog rescued from Quebec commercial breeding facility
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
One of hundreds of dogs we rescued in Canada.

That story reminds us that every one of us has a voice, even an 8-year-old boy.

While The HSUS brings power to the cause of animal protection, don’t leave it only up to us. Use your voice to speak up on important issues and live by your principles every day.

And many of you speak up by giving me plenty of great feedback on the blog.

Earlier this week, I told you about our latest deployments to help hundreds of animals in need. The HSUS joined with local groups and veterinarians to airlift 120 feral donkeys from Hawaii to sanctuary in California, and on the same day our international arm, Humane Society International, helped local officials save more than 500 neglected dogs from a commercial breeding facility in Quebec.

You can see how the donkeys’ trip went in our new video. Here are a few of your thoughts about this project:

To the Humane Society and all the helpers and caregivers: You are doing such wonderful things for God's creatures who certainly don't deserve what they had to suffer before you intervened. It made my heart sing when I read about the transfer of these donkeys to their new abode. Thank you so much. —KJ

This is a wonderful outcome—hats off to HSUS and all organizations involved in this wonderful process. —Nancy Hendrigan

I love the donkeys even if they don't fly. I fell in love with them at Black Beauty Ranch years ago. If I was younger and had more land, I would love to give 1-2 a good home. God bless the ones that work so hard to save these creatures. —Carolyn Miller

Many of you also wrote in about the Canada dog rescue:

Continue reading "Talk Back: Flying Donkeys and Grateful Dogs " »

September 22, 2011

Spread the Word about Animal Protection

So many people express support for animal protection, but they are not involved in our cause. If we are to succeed in improving the lives of animals, we must be sure to raise awareness and get others involved. We must put thought into action.

And one of the best ways for people to help is for them to become part of a larger organization like The HSUS. When millions of people speak collectively, we can have an enormous effect.

Today, I hope you can take a very simple action: Please share this video with your friends and family. It’s a brief overview of what The HSUS does to fulfill our mission statement of “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.” When we stand together, we are stronger.

September 21, 2011

Hawaii Donkeys Say Aloha to New Lives at Sanctuary

There are so many dedicated groups focusing on the welfare of animals. And we often do the most good when we work together. When The HSUS is called in by local law enforcement to rescue animals in crisis, we're frequently joined by other animal groups that help care for these pets at our emergency shelters. We typically coordinate with our Emergency Services Placement Partners to take in animals from these rescues and find them loving homes.

Two donkeys airlifted from Hawaii to California sanctuary
Danny Moloshok

We've been working in just this fashion in Hawaii, where The HSUS’s State Affairs and Equine Protection departments have teamed up with island groups, veterinarians, and a local cattle rancher to help hundreds of donkeys at risk of starvation or being gunned down. These equines came from a group that was brought to the Big Island to work on coffee plantations, but when they were no longer needed, some were set loose, triggering the establishment of a herd that eventually swelled to 400-600 animals. Over time, especially with residential development, area residents became concerned about donkeys wandering into neighborhoods and roadways, causing accidents and other problems.

A local cattle rancher, Stan Boteilho (whose animals were beginning to compete for food and water with the hungry donkeys on his land) reached out to a local veterinarian, Dr. Brady Bergin, who contacted Inga Gibson, The HSUS’s Hawaii state director. That’s when the Waikoloa Donkey Rescue and Rehoming Project began. Since 2010, we've been humanely capturing and neutering many of the animals, and many have also been adopted locally. The coalition also includes the Malama Waikoloa Nightingales and CB Horse Rescue, and Eagle Eye Sanctuary Foundation in California is providing generous support.

After being sterilized by Dr. Bergin and a team of veterinarians organized by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and then loaded into special containers for humane transport, these donkeys went on the first plane ride of their lives—from Hawaii to California. They are now settling in at the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Tehachapi. Six of these island equines will have a permanent home at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas—which was originally conceived as a rescue site for burros airlifted from the Grand Canyon in 1979.

Every animal deserves our love and compassion, including these donkeys in Hawaii. We're glad to provide funding and hands-on support to put these animals on the road to better lives. If you'd like to help, learn more here about adopting, volunteering, or providing sanctuary for the other donkeys in Hawaii.

September 20, 2011

O-pining for Fur-Free Fashion

If you flip through major fashion magazines, it’s hard to avoid the influence of the fur industry. Animal fur is both heavily advertised and routinely praised by their editors and reporters, and the gushing editorial content is probably no coincidence.

But fur is not only cruel, it’s also so unnecessary in an era when we have so many other clothing options. There’s just no reason to wear it.

Price of fur graphic
Learn more about our Fur-Free Campaign.

In the October issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, editor-in-chief Susan Casey explains why the magazine associates itself with the fur-free cause. “There’s one [trend] that O has decided to skip, not just this season but in every issue since the magazine began: garments made of real fur.” Casey explained that Oprah had an “aha” moment about a fur in her closet: “The cape’s thick pelt gave her a visceral sense of how many four-leggeds had been used in its creation, bred specifically to be killed.”

“And that was it,” Oprah told Susan. “I gave away all my furs 20 years ago.”

But a good segment of the American population is still not aware of the grim details of the fur trade. Fox and raccoon dog fur are derived from animals kept in rows of tiny metal cages in pitiful conditions, never allowed to dig, never allowed to even touch the ground. Even the killing methods bring no respite: naturally shy foxes are terrified throughout the ordeal, crying out and even urinating on themselves. Many of us have seen the footage of raccoon dogs in China, and the image of an animal skinned alive is unforgettable in the worst sort of way. Now imagine 20 or more of these creatures going through this for one full-length coat.

And fur trappers in the U.S. still make widespread use of steel traps, even on our public lands. These traps are like land mines for animals, catching whatever creature is unlucky enough to spring the device, even endangered species and pet dogs and cats.

Faux fur is almost indistinguishable from animal fur. Susan Casey tells her readers that O’s creative director Adam Glassman and his team are “enthusiastic about the newest faux furs, which no long resemble the Muppety bath mats of yore, cost far less, and are, in many cases, every bit as silky as the real thing.” In fact, it's so hard to distinguish faux fur from animal fur that The HSUS pushed for and helped pass a new labeling law in Congress last year to give consumers more information about fur-trimmed apparel.

In The Bond, I call for a new humane economy, and having high-quality products in the marketplace is a new way forward to reduce animal suffering. When the moral concerns and high quality alternatives are considered, the only reason to continue to use and promote animal fur is moral and fashion laziness.

Thanks to O magazine for helping to show the way forward.

September 19, 2011

Saving More than 500 Suffering Dogs in Canada

Quebec dog rescue
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

In the past few years in particular, The HSUS has attacked the puppy mill problem from every angle, including working with law enforcement to shut down rogue commercial breeding operations in the United States, rescuing the dogs in distress, and drawing attention to the health and behavioral problems resulting from inbreeding and terrible conditions at such facilities. We have confronted the issue globally, including passing legislation in the U.S. Congress to ban imports of dogs younger than 6 months old for commercial resale from foreign breeding facilities in China, Eastern Europe, Mexico, and other parts of the world.

Within the last 18 months, our Animal Rescue Team, including our staff at Humane Society International in Canada, has put a stop to some horrible abuses of dogs at several large-scale puppy breeding facilities in Quebec. On Friday, working with local law enforcement and the provincial agriculture department, we came to the aid of more than 500 dogs of more than a dozen breed types at an operation in Quebec (watch our video here). For us, it's a worldwide campaign against unethical and reckless breeding, and here is a case example of our concentration on the global problem. I asked our Canadian director, Rebecca Aldworth, to provide a first-hand account of Friday's deployment. 

Entering the facility, it was hard to contain our emotion. Hundreds of dogs were confined in the facility with their most basic needs unmet. The noise and the smells were overwhelming, and it was hard to take in the magnitude of what we were witnessing. With tears in my eyes I found myself apologizing over and over to these dogs for what they had endured, promising that their suffering was over.

It takes a combined effort to successfully run an operation of this scale. So when Agriculture Quebec contacted HSI/Canada to assist them with this historic rescue, we immediately called in some powerful partners. Red Rover provided trained volunteers to run the shelter. The Oceanographic Environmental Research Society brought veterinary technicians who offered critical support. Trained animal handlers from the Ottawa Humane Society joined our team in removing the dogs from the facility. Together, we ensured that each and every dog was brought to safety and the chance for a better life.

It took the HSI Animal Rescue Team two days to coordinate the mass removal of these neglected animals. This was the largest commercial breeding facility we've seen in Canada and the largest rescue we've assisted with in this country. In the end, more than 500 deserving dogs were transported to the safety of our emergency shelter, where they are receiving veterinary care, food and water, love and attention.

Today I held one of the rescued dogs in my arms. As she clung to me, a veterinarian told me that this breeding female was at least 6 years old, meaning she had likely lived for years in this horrible place. I know too well what her life has likely been, and it breaks my heart. But soon, she'll be in a loving home, and it is your support that has made this possible.

HSI/Canada is determined to ensure that this kind of suffering never happens again. Together, we can put commercial breeding operations that put profits before welfare into the history books where they belong.