November 2012 Blog Home January 2013

19 posts from December 2012

December 31, 2012

Your 10 Favorite Blog Posts of 2012

On this final day of 2012, I am posting the 10 blogs I wrote during the year that got the most attention and views from readers. Several covered major announcements we made with fast food giants – specifically McDonald’s and Burger King – declaring their opposition to gestation crates and their pledges to phase out procuring pork from operations that use these methods. You were moved by the dozens of rescues we conducted, including a dramatic one in South Carolina in September. You also paid close attention to our undercover investigations of “soring” abuses in the Tennessee walking horse industry, our exposing the sale of dog fur in the United States, and our investigation of a gestation crate facility in Wyoming, which just last week resulted in animal cruelty charges brought against nine individuals working at the plant. Readers also took note of incomplete action on a number of federal animal welfare measures by the Obama Administration; we hope the Administration will significantly step up its commitments to animal welfare policy in 2013.

I write the blog partly to keep readers informed about the incredible breadth of issues that The HSUS and our affiliates work on. We are pushing forward animal welfare reform on so many fronts. I do hope you’ll renew your commitment to The HSUS before the end of the year and consider making an end-of year gift – as a first-time gift or as an additional contribution. And I hope you’ll spread the word about the important work of the organization. We rely on our grassroots supporters to spread the message. Thank you again for your support.

 Blog Post: Top 10 Blog Posts for 2012 (in order)


December 28, 2012

Our Story Through Videos

There’s no animal welfare group like The HSUS, with program experts and campaigners working in such issue areas as animal research and testing, companion animal welfare, farm animal welfare, equine protection, and wildlife protection, aided by a team of lawyers, undercover investigators, lobbyists, scientists, veterinarians, field personnel, and communications specialists who make an impact for animals every day. Over the last few days, I’ve provided a running narrative about our accomplishments and progress in 2012 in our major program areas.

There’s another way to tell the story of our work, and that’s through our videos. Today, I’ve assembled ten HSUS videos that tell our story. They will lift you up and also inflame you. They will educate you and call you to act. Most of all, I hope they remind you of the vital work The HSUS does every day in the United States and across the globe, and the important role that you play as a supporter and active advocate yourself.

Watch our video of Billy,
rescued from a puppy mill.

Tennessee Walking Horse Investigation Exposes Cruelty
Published May 16, 2012
Warning: Contains Graphic Footage
. An HSUS undercover investigation into the walking horse industry finds rampant cruelty.

Meet Billy, Rescued from a Puppy Mill
Published Dec. 3, 2012
Meet Billy, rescued from a North Carolina puppy mill.

Dangerous Roadside Zoo Rescue – Collins Zoo
Published Jan. 30, 2012
The HSUS' Animal Rescue Team joined Mississippi wildlife officials and others to rescue tigers, leopards, cougars, a monkey, and more from deplorable conditions at a roadside zoo. The animals were transported to a temporary shelter where they received the care they needed.

Streets of Hope: Helping Dogs in the Philippines
Published Nov. 20, 2012
Before the launch of our humane program to reduce the street dog population and rabies risk to people in the Philippines in 2008, the government killed as many as 10,000 dogs per year. Things are changing — in 2010, fewer than 500 dogs were killed.

Hurricane Sandy:  New York Relief Efforts
Published Nov. 9, 2012
The Humane Society of the United States worked in so many ways to help pets affected by Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and New York.

Hungry Hungry Hippo Goes Swimming
Published Jan. 27, 2012
See how a hippo, at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, in southern California, spends her day.

Seals Need You Now More Than Ever
Published May 4, 2012
Warning: Contains Graphic Footage. Despite having almost no seal pelt market to sell to, the Canadian government continues to fund the cruel seal slaughter with taxpayer dollars. We're close to winning the fight to save seals for good.

Major Cockfighting Bust in California
Published June 15, 2012
The HSUS partnered with local authorities to seize hundreds of birds from an illegal cockfighting operation in Visalia, California. The largest cache of gaffs (knives tied to fighting birds' legs) ever found on one property was taken into evidence.

The Real Sea World
Published Oct. 11, 2012
HSUS's marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose, author David Kirby of "Death at SeaWorld" and three former SeaWorld trainers visit Puget Sound and observe resident orcas to compare their lives with those of captive orcas.

Shocking Animal Cruelty at Tyson Foods Supplier
Published May 8, 2012
Warning: Contains Graphic Footage. Undercover video footage at Wyoming Premium Farms, revealing egregious cruelty and filthy conditions at a Wyoming pig breeding facility, owned by a supplier for Tyson Foods.

December 27, 2012

Our Biggest Animal Stories of 2012

Good people won’t tolerate cruelty, and that’s one of the main drivers of our relentless efforts to expose the broader public to the abuse, suffering, and neglect that animals endure at human hands. This is perhaps our greatest charge. At The HSUS, we have big platforms to distribute our message in an unfiltered way —, All Animals magazine, Animal Sheltering magazine, our HumaneTV app, our YouTube channel and our Facebook and Twitter platforms — but we also rely on the media to increase public awareness and allow us to make our case to the public.

We are here to build awareness and to instigate reform.  And here’s my summary of the biggest news stories for 2012 — cases where The HSUS either generated the coverage or contributed to public discussion in a serious way.

270x240 pig face istock

  • The biggest story of the year focused on dozens of major food retailers announcing to the public that they’d no longer tolerate gestation crates for pigs. Our ambitious campaign quickly turned into a rout, with more than 50 of the nation’s biggest food retailers, and more than 100,000 retail stores, making public pledges to phase out gestation crates. The trigger for so much of this action was the February announcement we made with the fast-food giant McDonald’s, and that news story was picked up throughout the country. We kept the heat on the factory farming industry with a series of undercover investigations at gestation crate facilities, including one of Wyoming Premium Farms. Just this week, law enforcement officials announced nine arrests for animal cruelty stemming from that investigation. We also joined with family farmers and filed a federal lawsuit against the USDA and the National Pork Board for misuse of check-off funds for lobbying.

  • One of our undercover investigators got into the stables of a Hall of Fame trainer of Tennessee Walking Horses and documented the methods of torture he used to induce the high-stepping gait that wins ribbons at competitive shows. Our investigation led to his prosecution, but also to the exposure and condemnation of widespread corruption within the industry. ABC’s Nightline broke the story, CNN covered it, and the Tennessean, the state’s largest paper, stayed on the case with an intense focus and called on the industry to reform. columnist Roy Exum wrote a long series of pieces that shamed the industry, with its deception and double-speak, and reminded readers throughout the country of our responsibilities to horses. Reps. Ed Whitfield (KY) and Steve Cohen (TN) were so incensed by the abuse that they’ve drafted a federal bill to toughen the Horse Protection Act (H.R. 6388).

  • The HSUS is good at wrestling down its adversaries, but we also know that compromise and working together are essential if we are going to make broad progress for animals. National Public Radio provided extensive coverage of our agreement with the United Egg Producers, to push for legislation to double the space allotments for hundreds of millions of laying hens and to give the birds enrichments. Our collective call for a national policy to ban barren battery cages won support from dozens of major newspapers throughout the country. Our investigation into one egg farm (which kept chickens in cages that didn’t even meet the very spare standards of the UEP) itself blew the lid on the cruelty that can occur on the factory farm. Nicholas Kristof broke the story in his New York Times column.

  • The National Institutes of Health, The HSUS and Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary system, announced that approximately 110 chimps at New Iberia Research Center — a lab we investigated in 2009 — would go to Chimp Haven and live out the remainder of their lives in peace and security. It was a marker that the NIH has recognized that there’s no future in invasive experiments on these great apes, even as we push forward in our promotion of legislation to achieve that objective.

  • When a California hunting magazine published a picture of California Fish and Game Commission president Dan Richards grinning and holding up a beautiful mountain lion he had just shot out of a tree in an out-of-state hound hunt in Idaho, we decided to expose his callousness. California voters made this type of trophy hunting for mountain lions illegal long ago, and argued he wasn’t fit to lead wildlife policymaking in our country’s biggest, most pro-animal state. The pressure resulted in his demotion on the Commission, but the enduring legacy of his action is that we convinced the state legislature and the governor to outlaw the practice of chasing and hunting down California bears and bobcats with packs of dogs. That story was widely reported in California, and in recent days, throughout the country.

  • 270x240 female tiger black beauty kmilani
    Kathy Milani/The HSUS

  • We demanded and worked for a ban on private ownership of dangerous wild animals in Ohio long before the national news media reported on the Zanesville tragedy in the fall of 2011. Early this year, we worked with lawmakers to get the job done, and fought off a lobbying campaign and a federal lawsuit from exotic animal owners. In fact, since 2010, we’ve helped drive the enactment of seven major new animal welfare policies in Ohio.  On the national level, regarding exotics, we also exposed the trade in large constricting snakes as pets, and the Obama Administration restricted sales of four dangerous species, including Burmese pythons. All of the major newspapers in Florida called on the Administration to act boldly on the issue.

  • In July of this year, a California law that we supported along with a number of animal protection groups eight years ago took effect — to ban the sale of paté de foie gras, if it comes from the force-feeding of ducks or geese. Some forward-thinking chefs, such as Wolfgang Puck, sided with us, while others complained about their freedom to cook whatever product they want. Ultimately, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed that it’s more important to prevent cruelty to helpless animals than for chefs to serve foie gras. They have a lot of other options in the pantry, but the birds are forced to endure misery — all for a table treat. This year we stopped an attempt to weaken or gut the new law that some of the chefs tried to cook up in Sacramento.  

  • It was a horrible year for wolves, with the Obama Administration removing federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies and in the Great Lakes. The range states went wild with sport hunting programs, killing hundreds of wolves with traps and guns. The HSUS had blocked downlisting efforts for years, but we weren’t able to stop the programs this year. But we’ll soon be back in court to stop the slaughter of wolves for trophies and fur pelts. It’s important to shed the old notions of wolves as marauding, dangerous animals, and to recognize that the wild cousins of our domesticated dogs are no threat to humans, only a very modest threat to livestock, and a boon to any ecosystems in which they live.

  • Our Animal Rescue Team didn’t rest in 2012 — with raids on puppy mills in the Carolinas, in other states, and even in Canada. The constant exposure generated by our actions reminds Americans of the importance of responsible care of animals and of the greed and indifference still too widely exhibited by some. Our response to Hurricane Sandy — setting up and running emergency animal shelters and reuniting hundreds of pets with their owners in New York and New Jersey — was featured on the NBC Nightly News, and there was no debate about the importance of helping animals in the run-up to a disaster and in the harrowing days right after it’s struck.

  • The Sacramento Bee did a long series of investigative pieces on the wildlife abuses committed by the USDA’s Wildlife Services program. This little-known federal program spends tens of millions of tax dollars a year, using cruel methods to primarily kill wildlife for the benefit of ranchers and other private businesses, killing non-target animals such as endangered species and family pets in the process. The Bee series blew the lid on the program, and The HSUS has vowed to continue to expose it and to demand that Congress and the Obama Administration put a stop to these abuses.

We’ll continue to drive campaigns forward to protect all animals, and enlist the press to shed light on topics that are vital to the work of any civil society.

December 26, 2012

Creating a Safer World for Wildlife — The HSUS’ Top 10 Accomplishments in 2012

Whether by looking at our logo, or our programs, there’s no mistaking that The HSUS and its affiliated entities are about protecting all animals, and that includes wildlife.  We have more than 100 staff who focus on wildlife issues, including helping nearly 20,000 wild animals at our three U.S.-based  wildlife care centers – on Cape Cod, in south Florida, and in San Diego County – and also the five rescue centers we partner with in Central America, where animals  rescued from illegal trafficking and poaching are taken to be cared for, rehabilitated, and, when possible, released into the wild.

But we’d be failing in our mission if we just helped to heal and rehabilitate injured wildlife. One of our primary goals is to prevent cruelty, and that only happens by focusing on public and corporate policy-making and by finding practical and innovative ways to live peacefully with wildlife and to conduct our business.

Here’s a run-down of our top 10 list of accomplishments in the wildlife arena for 2012.

240x270 black bear in tree - stock
This past September, California became the 15th
state to ban the cruel practice of hound hunting.

  • We led the effort to enact a ban on the use of dogs in hunting bobcats and bears in California, which had been one of the biggest bear hunting states in the country.


  • We assisted federal wildlife police with Operation Cyberwild, an investigation that led to twelve people being charged with federal and state crimes in California and Nevada for illegal online trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts.  As part of our broader anti-poaching efforts, we donated a robotic elk decoy to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to assist officers in catching poachers and donated funds to the California Department of Fish and Game for poaching K-9 shelter dog units.


  • It was an important year in our efforts to restrict private ownership of dangerous wild animals as pets.  The U.S. Department of the Interior announced a ban on the trade of four invasive snake species (including the Burmese python) to protect animal welfare, public safety, and the environment.  Ohio passed a law cracking down on the private possession of dangerous wild animals, including big cats, wolves, bears, most primate species and other exotics, in wake of the Zanesville exotic animal tragedy, and a federal court upheld the law.  Our undercover investigation into GW Exotics, the biggest exotic animal park in the United States, notorious for breeding big cats and peddling photo opportunities with its cubs, resulted in nationwide media exposure and the filing of state and federal legal complaints. 


  • Illinois banned the shark fin trade, and several city shark fin bans came about in Canada. At our urging, the European Union tightened its law against finning, and we made gains in Central America, too.  Amazon Japan included whale and dolphin products on its list of prohibited items, while on its U.S. site, added products containing shark, whale or dolphin to its list of prohibited items.


  • On the fur-free front, denim retailer True Religion Brand Jeans recommitted to be fur-free after The HSUS supporters urged the company to reverse its decision to sell animal fur.  At our urging, Saks Fifth Avenue pledged to stop accepting garments with raccoon dog fur from China.  An HSUS investigation revealed illegal sale of domestic dog fur, prompting U.S. Customs officials to pull the items.  Global online retailer went fur-free in the US after The HSUS filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission about its selling real animal fur as fake fur.


  • This was a major year in gaining acceptance of immunocontraception as a humane wildlife management tool. The Environmental Protection Agency, responding to requests from The HSUS, provided official registration of the first contraceptive vaccine for horses – which should be more widely used in managing wild horses and burros in the West, as an alternative to inhumane and costly and unsustainable round-ups and removals.  We are working with partners to contracept elephants at 14 reserves in South Africa, including Tembe Elephant Park.  HSI will receive a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct immunocontraception of all elephant populations in Kwa Zulu Natal province, South Africa, for three years.  We have implemented a successful white-tailed deer management program on Fripp Island, South Carolina.


  • We are working to block, in Congress, the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies into the United States, and we gained U.S. and Russian support for a proposal to list polar bears on CITES Appendix I and to severely restrict trade in trophies and other parts from Canada.


  • The National Marine Fisheries Service listed the insular stock of Hawaii false killer whales as endangered under the ESA and adopted our take reduction plan to reduce fishery-related mortality of this species, and we extended our work on behalf of North Atlantic right whales. We pressured South Korea to drop its plans for commercial whaling, pressed the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests to conclude that a dolphinarium in the state of Maharashta, would not comply with the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, and celebrated the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s adoption of a proposal by Australia to prohibit intentional setting of nets on cetaceans and a proposal by the US to prohibit the targeting, retention, transshipment and landing (but not sale – China omitted sale) of oceanic whitetip sharks.


  • While hunters killed 70,000 seals in Atlantic Canada, that was 330,000 below the quota set by the government.  We’ve closed down markets throughout the world for seal skins, and sealers got money for some pelts only because the Newfoundland provincial government boat them.  The coats are being stored in warehouses, since no one wants to buy them anywhere in the world.


  • After The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation at a roadside zoo in Collins, Miss., law enforcement seized 11 exotic animals.  In Ohio, we helped relocate more than 100 birds from a bird facility where there was widespread suffering and neglect. In other parts of the country, we worked to relocate tortoises and prairie dogs from dangerous areas to safe ones. Through our Humane Wildlife Services, Prairie Dog Coalition & Wildlife Response teams, we helped or rescued about 3000 animals.

There are a substantial number of organizations that focus on species protection, habitat destruction, pollution, or climate change. At The HSUS, we help with those fights, but we never forget that cruelty to individual wild animals is a moral wrong. You can count on us to tackle the problems on many fields of battle.

December 24, 2012

2012 Achievements Bring Us Closer to Ending Abuse of Pets


While the Senate passed a bill earlier this month to upgrade the federal law against dogfighting and other forms of animal fighting (to create a new federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fighting spectacle), the U.S. House is dithering on the legislation, even though the House bill has 228 cosponsors and more than 300 law enforcement agency endorsements. Defending companion animals and combatting abuses to pets should not be as difficult as it is, given the deep reservoir of love and affection that exists for dogs and cats. But there remain large, persistent, and seemingly intractable problems, and there are people who continue to stand in the way of progress. We are confronting those problems head-on, and here’s a roster of some of our major accomplishments for companion animals in 2012.


  • Reached milestone of more than 2,000 pet stores across the U.S. signing our HSUS Puppy Friendly Pet Stores pledge making it their official policy never to sell puppies or contribute to puppy mill abuses. 

  • An HSUS report exposed the American Kennel Club’s links to cruel puppy mills, including the fact that the purebred dog registry has opposed more than 80 dog-protection measures over the past five years.

  • Led by Ohio, the largest unregulated puppy mill state in the East, laws to protect puppy mill dogs passed in six more states -- New York, Nebraska, Maryland, Kansas, Oregon and Louisiana, while an undercover HSUS investigation linked puppy mills to dozens of pet stores selling puppies in the Chicago area.

  • Our groundbreaking outreach program Pets for Life provided vital pet care and wellness and Halo Spot’s Stew donated by to more than 10,000 pets in under-served communities in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. With support from PetSmart Charities, Pets for Life released a free online toolkit and a training and mentorship program in 10 new cities.

  • Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association provided spay/neuter and veterinary care to nearly 7,000 pets in under-served rural communities and Native American reservations in the U.S. and Latin America; hosted animal welfare seminars at more than a dozen U.S. veterinary schools.

  • Secured a felony conviction in the first-ever private criminal prosecution of dogfighting. Filing of legal complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection resulted in shutting down the commercial sale of dog fur in New York City.

  • Humane Society International trained more than 100 people, including Costa Rican government representatives in different regions of the country and police officers, on appropriate handling of confiscated dogs and evidence collection. Drawing on their training, officials carried out the first raid of a suspected dog fighter’s home. HSI also assisted the government in the largest dogfighting raid in the history of Costa Rica that resulted in proving an international link to dogfighting rings in the United States, where some of the seized dogs had been imported from. HSI worked with the government to pass new dogfighting legislation with increased penalties.

  • Our Animal Rescue Team saves animals and fights for justice. The HSUS responded to Super Storm Sandy, rescuing and sheltering hundreds of animals in New York and New Jersey, and then reuniting more than 400 pets with their original owners, and we rescued more than 5,000 animals from puppy mills, animal fighting and neglect. We assisted in the legal proceedings to ensure Montana dog breeder Mike Chilinski’s conviction for animal abuse. Chilinski received a suspended sentence of 30 years for his abuse of 140 malamutes.

  • Through World Spay Day efforts in 377 cities worldwide, nearly 60,000 dogs and cats were spayed and neutered. Additionally, we sterilized and vaccinated more than 45,000 street dogs in Bhutan, and thousands in the Philippines. We opened our Veterinary Training Center in central India, and we are expanding street dog programs throughout Southeast Asia.

  • Through our Shelter Pet Project campaign with the Ad Council and Maddie’s Fund, we generated more than $100 million in public service ads promoting the adoption of pets from local animal shelters and rescue groups. Our Shelter Services experts visited more than 60 shelters and provided a dozen free regional trainings in 10 states. Animal Care Expo, the largest animal care training conference hosted by The HSUS, drew 1,826 participants from 40 countries — all of whom gathered to learn the latest and best methods for saving animals in their communities.

December 21, 2012

Improving Welfare for Wild, Companion and Working Equines in 2012

George, a recent arrival to our Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon.
Photo by Jennifer Kunz
The abuse of the horse provided the original impetus for creation of the American humane movement in the second half of the 19th century. But with the development of the internal combustion engine in the early 20th century, there was a dramatic change in the place of the horse in the culture and the economy. Today, the Humane Society of the United States is one of the few national organizations with an expert staff driving a major agenda to help horses. We launched our Equine Protection department in 2006, and we maintain several of the largest horse sanctuary or rescue facilities in the country – the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and its Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center in Murchison, Texas, and the Duchess Sanctuary in Oakland, Ore. 

More than ever, The HSUS is leading the fight for horses and other equines in the United States. Here are our top 9 accomplishments in 2012 for the noble animals who have had such a profound impact on the settlement and formation of our nation.

  • A groundbreaking HSUS undercover investigation documented shocking abuse of Tennessee walking horses that led to criminal indictments and public outrage. A federal judge fined trainer Jackie McConnell $75,000 and gave him three years’ probation (and the U.S. Department of Agriculture permanently disqualified him from ever showing a horse again), in the wake of our investigation, which included film footage of McConnell bashing horses in the face and applying caustic chemicals to their feet in order to achieve the unnatural “big lick” gait prized in the industry.

  • The USDA finalized a new rule requiring mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act, a federal law to prevent soring. The HSUS and other animal protection groups had previously filed a petition with USDA seeking this and other reforms to improve enforcement.

  • The HSUS worked with U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., to introduce legislation to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and allow for a stronger crackdown on the widespread abuse within the Tennessee walking horse show world. The HSUS launched a hotline to receive tips on horse soring and offer tipsters a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone caught soring a horse. Also, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., passed the House.

  • The HSUS joined local advocates to block horse slaughter plants from opening in Missouri and New Mexico, and worked with New Jersey advocates to pass a state law that bans horse slaughter for human consumption and the transport of horsemeat for human consumption.

  • We filed petitions with the Food and Drug Administration and USDA to declare horsemeat as adulterated, and unfit for human consumption, on account of the drugs and veterinary treatments commonly used in horses and the lack of a verifiable tracking system for these medications.

  • After discussions with The HSUS, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suspended a policy allowing burros in Big Bend Ranch State Park to be killed. We continue to encourage the department to take a nonlethal approach to the management of these animals.

  • The HSUS, partnering with Dr. Brady Bergin, continued our project to humanely gather and re-home an at-risk herd of wild donkeys (480 animals to date) in Hawaii. There are approximately 100 remaining donkeys in need of rescue and rehoming.

  • When the Atlantic City Steel Pier announced plans to bring back an inhumane “horse diving” act, HSUS staff contacted state officials, spoke out against the plan, and applauded the subsequent decision to cancel the event.

  • In the international arena, Humane Society International initiated collaboration with local equine animal rescue groups to establish a horse sanctuary in Nicaragua, where Nicaraguans can bring working horses (carriage, transportation and farm horses) for rest and rehabilitation. HSI also launched a public education campaign in the European Union to educate consumers on health risks associated with North American horsemeat, in order to reduce the demand for horsemeat worldwide. In Haiti, we continued to train Haitian veterinarians on equine health and treat working equines in our field clinics throughout the country, and we formed a partnership with the Haitian government and global nongovernmental organization Heifer International to provide ongoing treatment for working equines.

In 2013, our top priorities include securing passage of federal legislation to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and ending soring, and demanding that the federal Bureau of Land Management dramatically scale down its round-ups and removals of wild horses and scale up its use of fertility control.

December 20, 2012

Celebrating Our 2012 Victories For Animals

When you invest in HSUS, as a donor, volunteer, or advocate, you want returns. That’s why it’s so important to measure the progress we are making. Through the years, The HSUS has established itself as the most impactful organization protecting animals.

I’m pleased to share our list of this year’s top victories in the struggle to make this world a better one for all, and I hope you’ll take a moment to view our “2012 Victories for Animals” video, too and consider making a donation to support our life-saving work.


  • McDonald’s. Burger King. Wendy’s. Target. Kroger. Safeway. Sysco. The list goes on. Starting in February, a steady flow of announcements concerning The HSUS’s partnerships with food industry titans ensued, with 50 major companies announcing plans to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Meatingplace magazine put a fine point on it, noting, “The move [from gestation crates to group housing] is inevitable.”


    270x240 tennessee walking horse
    The HSUS

  • HSUS investigations blew the lid on animal cruelty. Our investigation into horse soring was a thunderbolt within the industry – reshaping public perceptions, creating a huge push for meaningful reforms that included rulemaking from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the introduction of federal legislation that would strengthen the Horse Protection Act, the conviction of Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell, and worldwide exposure to this cruel and unacceptable practice. HSUS undercover investigators exposed extreme animal suffering at four major factory farms and drove reform in the pig and egg industries: Kreider egg farms in Pennsylvania, Wyoming Premium Farms in Wyoming (a Tyson Foods pig supplier), and two pork companies — Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms — in Oklahoma. Our investigators also exposed mistreatment and overbreeding of tigers and dangers for visitors at the biggest exotic animal park in the U.S., in Oklahoma.


  • At our urging, the National Institutes of Health made 110 chimps at New Iberia Research Center “permanently ineligible for research” and agreed to send them to a Louisiana-based sanctuary, an effort The HSUS is supporting financially. In the product testing arena, our hard-hitting cosmetics campaign gathered more than 400,000 petition signatures from caring consumers and big names like Paul McCartney and Leona Lewis, and Humane Society International was instrumental in preserving Europe’s 2013 ban on selling animal-tested cosmetics.


  • Ohio passed legislation, in the wake of the Zanesville tragedy, to ban new ownership of big cats, wolves, bears, most primate species and other dangerous exotic animals as pets. The Obama Administration banned imports and trade in four species of large constricting snakes as pets, including the Burmese python.


  • California lawmakers enacted legislation to ban hound hunting of bears and bobcats –
    building on our prior ballot initiative wins on hound hunting in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington.


  • The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team raided puppy mills throughout the U.S. and Canada, and rescued animals from horse starvation cases, a parrot sanctuary gone awry, and so many other crises. Our teams also responded to Super Storm Sandy with a huge on-the-ground operation for rescue and sheltering of pets, and reunited hundreds with their families in New York and New Jersey.


  • Federal courts upheld California’s Prop 2 banning extreme confinement of farm animals and its ban on foie gras, as well as the new Ohio law on exotics. In November, a settlement stemming from The HSUS’s 2008 undercover investigation documenting extreme animal abuse at a slaughterhouse producing meat for America’s school lunch program resulted in a final, symbolic judgment against the Hallmark Meat Packing Company of nearly $500 million – the largest ever of its kind.


  • On the international front, Bhutan agreed to ban barren battery cages for egg-laying hens, and India’s Animal Welfare Board stated that battery cage confinement is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, with several Indian states supporting this interpretation. We helped to stop the construction of a massive foie gras production facility in China, persuading a U.K. based-investment company to withdraw financing for the project. Humane Society International also assisted groups in China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico with action alerts and twitter storm campaigns pressuring McDonald’s to extend its phase-out of gestation crates to Asia and Latin America. 


  • We passed legislation banning the practice of shark finning in Illinois, several countries and in the European Union, after last year’s victories in several Pacific Coast states, and we helped to persuade Amazon to stop selling whale and dolphin meat globally and shark fins in the United States.


  • In our efforts to halt the abuse of animals in puppy mills, we held the line against cuts in funding for federal enforcement, saw several mills shut down in various states, secured new legislation in seven states including Ohio, released a report on the American Kennel Club’s links to puppy mills and our undercover investigation tying Chicago-area pet stores to puppy mills, and pushed for a new federal rule that will bring Internet puppy sellers under Animal Welfare Act regulations.

In the past few days, and in the days ahead, I am drawing out major accomplishments in different program areas. As you’ll see, the world is changing for the better, and it’s because of intentional, strategic efforts, and the growing force of our organization, our movement, and our cause.

December 19, 2012

HSUS Drives Historic Progress for Farm Animals — Top 10 Accomplishments in 2012

Last week, The Humane Society of the United States announced the wrapping of municipal buses in the District of Columbia and Des Moines, Iowa, in images of pigs held in gestation-crate facilities, leaving riders, drivers and pedestrians with a startling picture and a simple message: “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?”

Read the press release about the bus ads here.

 Why D.C. and Des Moines? In our nation’s capital, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been doling out hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the pork industry, and asking nothing from producers in terms of more space for the animals, a phase-out of non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics, or proper manure management. And Des Moines is the capital of the biggest pork-producing state in the nation, with nearly 20 million pigs. There, we’re working with small family farmers who are raising their animals a better way – one that does not involve lifetime immobilization. 

That new advertising campaign is just a small part of our attempt to bring comprehensive reform within industrialized animal agriculture. About our broader efforts, Meatingplace magazine wrote, “HSUS and its efforts are having an impact” and, regarding our work with food retailers, “Tapping into a source of influence is a move that HSUS has executed flawlessly.” Pork magazine editorialized that “HSUS plays a masterful game.”

Our groundbreaking programs and victories for animals — outlined below in a summary of “Top 10 Accomplishments for Farm Animals” in 2012 — were covered in the pages of every major national newspaper, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and more. “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” reported on our undercover investigation of an egg factory farm. 

 1.       Corporate Gestation Crate Bans

McDonald’s. Burger King. Wendy’s. Target. Kroger. Safeway. Sysco. The list goes on. Starting in February, announcements of The HSUS’s partnerships with food industry titans held steady through the year, with 50 major companies announcing plans to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Meatingplace put a fine point on it when it noted, “The move [from gestation crates to group housing] is inevitable.”

 2.       Rhode Island Outlaws Gestation Crates and Cattle Tail Docking

In June, with The HSUS calling for action, Rhode Island became the ninth U.S. state to outlaw the gestation crate confinement of pigs and the fourth state to outlaw the cruel practice of cutting off portions of dairy cows’ tails (known as tail docking).

3.       End in Sight for Barren Battery Cages 

This year, members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation to ban the barren battery cage, with the bills attracting support, partly because The HSUS and the United Egg Producers joined forces. More than 170 members support the legislation, as well as the nation’s major newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Minneapolis Star Tribune. At the same time, Burger King, hotel leader Hyatt and food giant Unilever announced conversions to 100 percent cage-free eggs, while food service titan Sodexo committed to sourcing 100 percent of its shell eggs from cage-free hens. Other companies — like Dunkin Brands and Safeway — increased the amount of cage-free eggs in their supply chains.

 4.       Broadening Our Base of Allies by Partnering with Farmers

We’re working with farmers to show animal agriculture need not be cruel, and that providing proper care to animals can be economically viable. As Nebraska farmer and HSUS member Kevin Fulton says, it’s his goal to assure that “animals raised for food should only have one bad day.” The HSUS has also worked with Fulton and rank-and-file farmers to create Agricultural Advisory Councils in Colorado and Nebraska, to amplify the voices of farmers who reject inhumane confinement practices and want to preserve family farms. We’ve also partnered with farmers on lawsuits to challenge the misuse of funds in the beef and pork check-off programs for lobbying activities that promote industrialization and the dissolution of family farms.

 5.       Sinking Our Teeth into Meatless Mondays

We worked to remind consumers to reduce their meat consumption by advocating for Meatless Mondays. We helped entire school districts — like Broward County in Florida, Pleasanton Unified School District in California and Detroit Public Schools — adopt “Meatless Monday” programs, as well as schools like Icahn Charter Schools in New York City and Harvard University. We also helped dozens of hospitals, corporate cafeterias and individual restaurants create Meatless Monday menus.

 6.       Animal Abuse Exposed in Undercover Investigations

The HSUS’s undercover investigators exposed extreme animal suffering at four major factory farms in 2012: Kreider egg farms in Pennsylvania, Wyoming Premium Farms in Wyoming (a Tyson Foods pig supplier), and two leading pork companies — Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms — in Oklahoma. In each case, the investigations generated national attention. In response to these investigations, agribusiness groups have pushed for “ag-gag” laws to make it harder for citizens to blow the whistle on farm animal cruelty.

7.       Federal Court Upholds California’s Proposition 2

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2, the California ballot measure banning the inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves in cages so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, stand up, lie down or turn around. Acting on motions filed by The HSUS and the California Attorney General, the court rejected each and every challenge to the ballot measure that had been filed by a disgruntled California egg producer earlier in the year.

 8.       Largest Ever Animal Cruelty Judgment Meted Out Against Slaughter Plant Exposed by HSUS

In November, a settlement stemming from The HSUS’s 2008 undercover investigation documenting extreme animal abuse at a slaughterhouse producing meat for America’s school lunch program resulted in a final, symbolic judgment against the Hallmark Meat Packing Company of nearly $500 million – the largest ever of its kind.

9.       Force-Feeding for Foie Gras Outlawed in California

Just days before Independence Day, ducks and geese force-fed for foie gras (fattened liver) gained their independence from cruelty when California’s law prohibiting the sale and production of this product took effect. The HSUS defended the law — which means no more birds in California being force-fed for this cruel product and no more California restaurants selling the product — against last-minute attacks from the factory farming industry and prevailed.

 10.   International Progress

On the international front, we also saw the Animal Welfare Board of India state that battery cage confinement is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, with several Indian states supporting this interpretation. We helped to stop the construction of a massive foie gras production facility in China, persuading a U.K. based-investment company to withdraw financing for the project. Humane Society International also assisted groups in China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico with action alerts and twitter storm campaigns pressuring McDonald’s to extend its phase-out of gestation crates to Asia and Latin America. 

December 18, 2012

NIH to Release 100+ Chimps from Research Lab to Sanctuary

It’s a big day for chimpanzees, as the National Institutes of Health announces a commitment to move more than 100 government-owned chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center (the lab that HSUS investigated and exposed in 2009) to Chimp Haven, the federal chimpanzee sanctuary. These animals are classified as “permanently ineligible” for research and will live out the remainder of their lives in safety there. We’ve had a good, productive discussion with NIH about this move, and we are grateful to NIH Director Francis Collins for agreeing to make this move and also to Chimp Haven for agreeing to take in these chimpanzees. The transfer will nearly double the population of animals living there.

A chimpanzee at New Iberia Research Center.

While there is space at Chimp Haven for approximately half of this group, an estimated $2.3 million in construction funding is needed to accommodate the rest of the animals, in addition to operating costs. The HSUS has contributed $500,000 to this effort, thanks to a generous donation from supporter and philanthropist Audrey Steele Burnand.

When we investigated the treatment of chimps at New Iberia, we found callous treatment of some of the adult animals. We also found that the facility was breeding chimpanzees in violation of NIH’s own breeding moratorium.

Earlier this year, a laboratory in Maryland using chimps ended its research program. A big factor was our campaign and also the landmark report from the Institute of Medicine revealing that the use of chimpanzees in experiments is “largely unnecessary.” The report, released last December, also made clear that there are alternative methods for the areas where chimps have been useful.

We hope that this group is just the start of more chimpanzees getting retired to sanctuary. Where there are alternatives, we must stop the use of animals in tests and experiments. That’s what we are striving to do with our other signature achievements in 2012 in the realm of animal testing and research:

  • In the product testing arena, Humane Society International was instrumental in preserving Europe’s 2013 ban on selling animal-tested cosmetics. Our hard-hitting campaign gathered more than 400,000 petition signatures from caring consumers and big names like Paul McCartney and Leona Lewis.
  • HSI and The HSUS launched an unprecedented global campaign, Be Cruelty-Free, to end cosmetics testing on animals worldwide, with partners and program work in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, the United States and beyond.
  •  We helped to persuade cruelty-free cosmetics company Urban Decay to stop selling its products in China, a country that requires animal testing of cosmetics.
  • HSI achieved the largest-ever reduction in animal test requirements through its work to revise Europe’s pesticide regulations. This will spare thousands of dogs and other animals from inhumane chemical-poisoning tests, and earned HSI the inaugural Lush Prize for lobbying.
  • In the United States, The HSUS received assurance from the Environmental Protection Agency that it would reduce its animal testing requirements for pesticides.
  • We successfully persuaded both the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees to request that federal agencies increase their financial support and their commitment to the development of non-animal approaches to chemical assessment as well as alternatives to chimpanzees for hepatitis C vaccine development.
  • We helped secure an end to the use of “Class B cats” (cats collected from random sources by dealers and sold to research labs) in government-funded research and one of the few remaining Class B dealers, Chestnut Grove Kennel, went out of business.
  • HSI helped convince Air Canada to revise its cargo policy to allow refusal of shipments of non-human primates destined for laboratory experiments.
  • At our urging, Minnesota passed legislation ending the practice of “pound seizure,” the turning over of dogs and cats by animal shelters to laboratories for experimentation.
  • After outcry from a large number of animal protection groups, including The HSUS, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that Bioculture — a planned monkey-breeding facility — could not go forward, saving 4,000 wild monkeys from capture and shipment. 

December 17, 2012

Bitter, Sweet Victory

Each year, tens of thousands of animals — principally pets and wildlife — die after accidentally ingesting antifreeze. Even some kids suffer that fate. We’ve been working hard for more than two decades to prevent this misery — by urging manufacturers to make the product unpalatable — and 2012 will be the year we took a big step toward achieving that goal.

Last week, to prevent poisoning of animals, animal protection groups and manufacturers of antifreeze and engine coolant announced a landmark agreement, with the seven major corporations involved agreeing to add a bitter flavoring agent to their products for the consumer market in all 50 states. The Humane Society Legislative Fund and the industry’s trade group, Consumer Specialty Products Association, jointly made the announcement.

The agreement will protect pets, wildlife, and children
from accidental antifreeze ingestion.

The agreement is the culmination of a 20-year dance between antifreeze manufacturers, animal protection groups led by the Doris Day Animal League, scientists, state and federal regulators, and lawmakers. Both children and pets are naturally attracted to the bright color patterns and sweet taste of antifreeze and engine coolant. People who flush their own car radiators are often unaware of the lethal nature of ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in these products. Pets and wildlife can come into contact with antifreeze through containers not tightly sealed or discarded carelessly in garages. And, unfortunately, pets have also been known to chew through sealed containers to drink the antifreeze. It makes for a terrible death.

Less than a teaspoon of the product has proven fatal for cats. Ethylene glycol can cause nausea and vomiting, central nervous system failure, fluid build-up in the lungs, heart or kidney failure, seizures, coma and rapid death. One survey estimates that 2 out of 3 veterinarians in the United States see at least one case of antifreeze/engine coolant poisoning each year. Estimates of deaths range from 10,000 to 90,000 pets each year.

After years of battling over legislation in the states, the manufacturers agreed to work with us at the state and federal levels to pass mutually-agreed upon language that gets us to the goal of better regulation of these dangerous chemicals. Oregon was the first to pass legislation in 1991, and California passed the second law in the country to require the addition of denatonium benzoate, often referred to as the bitterest substance known to humankind, in 2002. Since 2005, 15 additional states have enacted laws — with high-profile poisonings in Georgia and New Mexico providing vivid reminders of the urgent need for action.

The states that enacted these laws provided critical mass for the national campaign and for last week’s announcement. This situation also gives us a great example of industry and animal advocates working through a problem and prescribing a solution that’s good for people, good for animals, and good for business.