December 2012 Blog Home February 2013


19 posts from January 2013


January 31, 2013

Horse Meat Scandal in Europe

The HSUS has been battling against the slaughter of American horses for human consumption for many years. With kill plants shuttered in the United States, the field of battle is increasingly on foreign soil; our neighbors in Canada and Mexico are taking in American horses and slaughtering them, while European and Asian nations (Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, and others) are importing that processed horse meat for human consumption. 

In all these nations – thanks to the work of our investigators and program staff with The HSUS and Humane Society International – we are finding a trail of cruelty and deception, which is fomenting public concern among European citizens about the integrity, honesty and wholesomeness of the global horse slaughter enterprise.

AMERICAN_HORSES_TO_MEXICO_2_73331
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
American horses being loaded onto a double-decker
truck in Texas, bound for slaughter in Mexico.

A recent HSI investigation found horse meat to be a “hidden ingredient” in several types of cheap convenience foods sold in local markets, and that most Europeans have no interest in consuming horse meat. In the last few weeks, major supermarket chains in Ireland, Spain, and the United Kingdom were found selling beef burgers and other products that contained as much as 29 percent horse meat (according to DNA tests). Millions of burgers have been recalled, and in the U.K., Burger King has dropped a supplier that was linked to the burgers contaminated with horse meat.

We’ve said all along that this is a disreputable, predatory industry, with no authentic standards or professionalism. The fact that horse meat is being comingled with other meats is no surprise to us, though it has been a major surprise to European consumers.

The European Union, which restricts imports of American pork because pigs are treated with ractopamine, and American poultry because chickens are treated with chlorine, should not be permitting adulterated horse meat to enter their economic markets. It is indisputable that American horses – whether they come off the racetrack, out of the show ring or from a ranch – are treated throughout their lives with drugs prohibited for use in food producing animals, both here and in the EU. The fact is, Canada and Mexico do not have sufficient protocols for safety testing, yet somehow the EU is allowing these products in.

There are many very good reasons to oppose horse slaughter, including the malevolent presence of killer buyers misrepresenting their intentions at auctions, inhumane long-distance transport, and cruel and clumsy slaughter methods. But if altruistic and humane concerns are not sufficient to convince policy makers to act, then consumer protection standards related to food safety and authentic labeling should be enough to put the horse slaughter industry out of business.

January 30, 2013

Cats and Wildlife: An HSUS Perspective

In a paper published and released yesterday and widely reported in the mainstream press, professional wildlife biologists associated with the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claim that domesticated cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and more than 15 billion small mammals each year in the United States through acts of predation (Loss, Will and Marra). In coming up with these numbers, the authors tried to assess the behavior of owned and un-owned cats – which we could categorize as feral (un-owned), free-roaming (owned or semi-owned), and indoor-outdoor owned cats (owned or semi-owned). If the real number for cat predation is even one tenth or one one-hundredth of the numbers invoked by the authors of this study, it warrants serious attention from the animal protection movement and from everyone else concerned about cats and about wildlife. 

150x150 shelter pet sandbox screengrabThis subject is hardly a new one for The HSUS, and its conclusions are no revelation. The HSUS has been examining this question for decades, and in fact, our Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy hosted a major conference that featured scientists, environmentalists, government wildlife managers, humane and conservation organizations and government animal care entities on this very subject just last month. No group is better suited to fairly examine the multiple facets of this problem than The HSUS, given that we house one of the most expert and experienced companion animal programs in the world and we also employ more than 125 wildlife professionals, including wildlife-care personnel at our three wildlife rehabilitation centers.

In our examination of this issue, both as a matter of measuring impact and also prescribing solutions or mitigation strategies, here are some of our core conclusions, opinions, and recommendations.

  • There are, indeed, tens of millions of domesticated cats who spend time outdoors, and many of these cats exhibit predatory behavior toward wildlife. But it’s virtually impossible to determine how many cats live outside, or how many spend some portion of the day outside. Loss, Will, and Marra have thrown out a provocative number for cat predation totals, and their piece has been published in a highly credible publication, but they admit the study has many deficiencies. Their work is derivative of what others have done on the topic, and they have essentially rolled up what they could find in the literature and done their best to attach some numbers. We don’t quarrel with the conclusion that the impact is big, but the numbers are informed guesswork.
  • A responsible, loving cat caretaker – who typically provides sound nutrition, monitors the cat's health and provides regular and emergency veterinary care, and social enrichment and stimulation in the form of play and toys – provides the safest environment for a cat and offers him or her the opportunity to live a long, complete life. While the outdoors is going to be highly stimulating for cats, indoor cats can be psychologically healthy, assuming that the caretaker works hard to stimulate them and provide them with a rich life. Outdoor options can be safely added to a cat’s routine through the use of enclosures or leash/harness walking.
  • Humane organizations and volunteers are the leaders in dealing with the problem of cat predation on wildlife. All across the country, they are working to mitigate the effects of cat predation by encouraging people to keep cats indoors, by encouraging the adoption of un-owned cats, and by promoting spaying and neutering – which is the best way to lower total numbers. There is a vast network of cat advocates, and many of them are conducting Trap, Neuter, and Return programs. These programs can slow or eliminate growth of feral cat communities. The figure below demonstrates the long term impact of the animal protection movement’s efforts to get people to keep their cats indoors.

  • Indoor Cat Trend
  • It is morally wrong, publically unsupportable, and practically impossible to catch and euthanize the feral cats in our communities. There is no labor force large enough, or willing, to conduct such activities.

  • The HSUS has composed an extensive white paper on this broad topic, which was posted on its website today, along with a review of the many facets of this issue. Our in-house authors take a serious, science-based look at the problem, but from the orientation that respects the interests of both cats and wildlife. While the problem of cat predation is real and very significant, there is nothing to be gained by demonizing cats or suggesting Draconian and far-out solutions. The best approach involves sterilizing cats, conducting robust TNR programs, support for innovative cat programs through shelters and rescues, and educating owners on how keeping cats indoors is valuable for both cats and wildlife.

    January 29, 2013

    Tap into a Better World

    The HSUS has long been a leader in using technology to improve the lives of animals, building a network of more than 1.6 million advocates through our main Facebook page and making our award-winning videos widely accessible through the pioneering HumaneTV app.

    Now we are bringing our remarkable magazine, All Animals, to readers in digital form – and it’s got some amazing bells and whistles. Combining the best of our storytelling assets and engagement tools – investigative reporting, compelling writing, stunning photos and video, beautiful graphic design, sharing features, and live blog and Twitter feeds – this digital version of our bimonthly publication leverages the most popular tablet platform to deliver top-notch advocacy journalism to a broader audience. 

    AA_010213_iPad2_V_KDeveloped in partnership with Daily Interactive Networks, All Animals for iPad is a window into the world and the work of The HSUS and its affiliates. In the current issue, now available on Apple’s Newsstand, readers can visit the colorful streets of a Philippine city and see an open-air spay/neuter clinic in action. They can watch rescued pets reunite with their families after Superstorm Sandy, learn how to plant berry bonanzas for wild visitors to their backyards, and share the story of a groundbreaking program to bring pet care to underserved communities. Best of all, they can take action within the app, signing up to support our campaigns or receive our Meatless Mondays recipe of the week.

    Our next issue, on the Newsstand at the end of February, will take readers into the underworld of captive parrot breeding and, through an interactive quiz, allow them to test their own knowledge of what really makes a pit bull a pit bull (hint: the much-maligned “pit bull” isn’t actually a recognized breed). It’s all right there within the app, this package of information about humans and their attitudes and behavior toward animals – a story that’s rich in complexity and contradictions, full of heartache and inspiration. 

    Already mailed in print form to more than 550,000 subscribers, the paperless version of All Animals has the potential to touch millions with stories about our great cause. Download it, read it, watch it, swipe it, scroll through it, and most of all, use its sharing tools to spread the word through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You never know whose eyes you’ll open or whose lives you’ll touch.

    January 28, 2013

    Talk Back: A Tribute To Billy

    Billy

    I received an outpouring of responses upon announcing the untimely passing of Billy, the little Chihuahua rescued from a North Carolina puppy mill and adopted by Animal Rescue Team leader Adam Parascandola. The video showing a playful Billy with Adam became an Internet sensation.

    I am posting just a few of your comments today in response to the news. I hope that the vast majority of you, in addition to expressing your rightful sorrow about Billy’s demise, will also use the memory of this troubled little dog to motivate your involvement in ongoing legislative and public awareness campaigns to crack down on puppy mills and establish humane breeding standards. We expect anti-puppy mill bills in more than a dozen states this year, including North Carolina, where The HSUS has conducted more than a dozen raids on mills in recent years. Lawmakers should realize that this sort of cruelty can be prevented with the adoption of humane breeding standards.

    By the time many dogs are rescued from a mill, they are suffering from ailments as severe as Billy's, or worse. Often, it's almost too late by the time we find them. Please check out our Stop Puppy Mills page for ways you can help.

    Thank God this dear little dog at least had some time in his life where he received humane treatment and lots of love and affection. I think your humane rescuers are great people and it makes me think that there are some good people left in this world. - Judy Pizarro
    Wayne, sorry to hear about Billy, but I am glad he was rescued and had a happy life until his unexpected death. You have my sympathy at his passing. May Billy rest in peace knowing he was free. - Cynthia Brown
    Please end the suffering of those that cannot help themselves! These animals deserve laws that will protect them. - Lynn Stowers
    Billy was happy in the end and we are so grateful to you! May God bless you for all you do and may He keep Billy safe and free from pain and suffering. Puppy mills suck! Please adopt from shelters! This just broke my heart. - Elba
    I'm so sad...for a little guy I didn't know personally. The video of him being rescued made me cry, and I can't stop crying now. I am glad he had the love of a family, and didn't succumb in that rusty cage. I hope Billy is now free to live his true life in eternity. - Felicia
    Rest in peace you beautiful little guy, Billy. I am so sorry you suffered so much but am thankful you did get some much deserved love from Adam. May you rest in peace little Billy. - Ruth Loutchan
    I am so, so saddened to read this blog about Billy's passing. - Luvcats5CT
    Sorry to hear of your loss. At least he went with a happy heart and a smile! - Mary Reid
    I hope whoever did this to Billy lives out the rest of their life in a cage... jail is the only place for them. - Diane
    So sorry for your loss! Billy was so adorable and I'm happy that you and your family rescued him and he was able to be so loved for his last few months. I also hope you can rescue another fur baby soon... God Bless. - Mary
    Wayne, sorry to hear about Billy, but I am glad he was rescued and had a happy life until his unexpected death. You have my sympathy at his passing. May Billy rest in peace knowing he was free. - Cynthia Brown
    Oh Lord, have mercy on us. Rest in peace, Billy. - Lilia Cruz
    I've posted this on Facebook. Too many innocent loving creatures suffer like this, without hope of rescue. Keep up the good work! - Rebecca
    OMG this made me cry! How sad that Billy passed, but at least he's not in pain anymore and had a great family that cared for him in the end. - Blake

    January 25, 2013

    My Exclusive Interview with Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey - Part 2

    Here’s the second part of my interview with Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey, whose book Conscious Capitalism calls on corporations to find a higher purpose than profit in their enterprises. Click here to see yesterday’s introduction and Q&A with John Mackey.

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    Wayne Pacelle: It’s difficult to build a discussion around a single factor, since there are so many interrelated forces that shape our world, but I am quite sure that capitalism has not made the world better for animals. So many people and businesses view animals as property and treat them like things, whether it’s in factory farming, the fur trade, the wildlife trade, or so many other sectors of the animal economy. 

    John Mackey: The economic system reflects the consciousness of the people who are in it. Unfortunately, the free enterprise capitalist system has allowed us to exploit animals more thoroughly than ever before. Animals didn't have any rights, any value in the era of industrialism. But as people’s consciousness evolves, conscious capitalism has the potential to radically improve conditions for animals. Communications tools for The HSUS are dramatically superior to those 25 years ago. Now we can link together with people throughout the world, and this has enabled people to learn about our issues and pass on information faster. There is more transparency; bad things cannot be hidden away. Great progress can be made, perhaps not as fast as we would like, but I see great evolution occurring. It’s the fault of the consciousness of human beings and as that consciousness evolves higher so will our treatment of animals. 

    John_Mackey_10.15.12-4
    John Mackey, Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market

    WP: Isn’t factory farming an example of a form of agriculture divorced from so many of our core values in society?

    JM: Factory farming is an example of less conscious livestock raising. It recognizes only one value: make money by increasing production for lower cost. However, we can create other alternatives that make money. It’s not that the motive is wrong, but it is too narrow – not conscious enough. The practitioners of capitalism are evolving and so will their treatment of animals, especially with the help of organizations such as The HSUS.

    Slavery was legal in nearly half of the states 150 years ago – 14 of 29 states – in 1863. Women did not have the right to vote anywhere in the world 100 years ago. Colonialism was a primary force in creating the world map that we knew, even as recently as 75 years ago. We had racial segregation not long ago. Twenty five years ago, half the world still thought communism was the right way to organize ourselves politically. These are all examples of consciousness evolving. In 1910, only 9 percent of adults in America had a high school degree – today it’s 85 percent, and 40 percent have college degrees. Even though our educational system has major defects, it’s an example of rising consciousness. Every ten years, the Flynn effect, measuring our IQ, has gone up 4 percent.

    WP: You are a vegan, and Whole Foods Market provides so many products valued by vegans. You also sell meat, but you were the first supermarket to adopt the Global Animal Partnership standards for livestock welfare, creating a multi-tiered rating system for animal products so consumers can get more information about welfare standards and make more conscious choices.

    JM: That’s what the market wants. However, we are also leading our customers and teaching them to eat fewer animal foods. When I got started 35 years ago, organic hardly existed, and now it’s growing every year and it’s seen throughout the marketplace. We have a much greater percentage of vegans today; 35 years ago it was an unfamiliar term, and you were considered enlightened if you were a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Today, for me, if you are lacto-ovo, you are not enlightened about what’s happening with dairy cows or laying hens.

    WP: That has to cost a company a lot of money.

    JM: We may be sacrificing some short-term profits, but we are also differentiating ourselves in the market. It will eventually be good for WFM, because millions of people will see that we have authenticity and that we won’t sit still on this important issue. We will continue to raise our standards higher over time. We want a race to the top, whereas factory farming is a race to the bottom.

    WP: Do you see any conflict between your personal beliefs about veganism and your company’s commerce in animal products?

    JM: I really don’t. I get criticized on this quite a bit – people call me a hypocrite. But I believe that diet represents an individual choice at this point, with each individual purchasing and consuming products according to his or her conscience. I do that in my life, and I encourage my friends to go vegan. I have personally converted many, many people, and it’s my goal to have everyone exhibit higher consciousness through their eating choices, whether or not they are vegan. WFM has come up with principles of healthy eating and we recommend predominately plant-based diets.

    What the abolitionists leave out of the equation is that most people go through a gradual evolution in their consciousness. As people become more conscious, they will grow and evolve their diets. Sometimes people feel so guilty – they don’t want to know – and they walk away from a harsh video or a stern lecture. The five-step GAP program allows people to start looking at it. It allows people to change at a pace that is normal and natural. This is a better strategy for changing consciousness, from my perspective.

    WP: Is it working as an economic model?

    JM: It’s progressing a bit slower than I would like. It is raising prices in the meat department. People who are conscious are eating fewer animal foods, and the people who are less conscious tend to also prefer less expensive choices. On the other hand, it is the right thing to do and I'm confident that over the long-term it will be quite successful. Given our collective consciousness at WFM, we cannot sell factory farmed products because there is too much cruelty.

    WP: Your book is a manifesto and a learning manual for business leaders. I think that it also provides guidance to nonprofit leaders and boards. What are some of the key principles for these leaders to pay attention to in their work?

    JM: I am on five nonprofit boards. I’ve thought a lot about this. The nonprofit sector can teach the profit sector about higher purpose, that’s the great intellectual capital it offers. The problem for nonprofits is they are not as efficient, effective, professional, and skilled as they should be. They have a tendency to limp along based on the level of funds that they receive, whether they are effective or not. Nonprofits need greater accountability and greater effectiveness, and business can help. I do believe that businesses and nonprofits need to partner. Our Whole Planet Foundation works with hundreds of microfinance groups all over the world. We will drop those that are not that effective.

    WP: Why are you a board member of The HSUS? What attracts you to invest your time and money in the organization?

    JM: I am glad to be on the board. When I first joined The HSUS team I had no idea of the tremendous scope of its activities. It has remarkably far-reaching and diverse programs, with global impacts. It is, most of all, an effective nonprofit organization, with a high degree of professionalism and a real sense of strategy. Every organization, including The HSUS, has limited funds and can’t do everything. At The HSUS, you leverage your resources and conduct effective legal, information and education, and corporate campaigns. It is by far the most effective animal protection organization in the world, and may be more effective than the combined efforts of most of the other groups.

    January 24, 2013

    My Exclusive Interview with Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey - Part 1

    I live across the street from a Whole Foods Market store. When Whole Foods opened for business there a dozen or so years ago, the neighborhood wasn’t all that great – not many businesses were around and it wasn’t very safe. After the store opened, there was a remarkable economic and social transformation. It’s now one of the most livable, fun, and commercially active neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. People were shopping; there was a huge uptick in pedestrian activity; other businesses soon opened; condominiums rose. Whole Foods Market was the key to the area’s revitalization.

    It reminds me that the impact of Whole Foods is felt far beyond the check-out counters on its properties. There are many ways in which its supply chains snake throughout the country, and indeed the world. With its wide range of vegetarian and vegan options, it has helped grow such companies as Tofurky, Field Roast, Gardein, Silk, and Daiya. Consumers looking for meatless or dairy-free alternatives are provided with fantastic options never before available. In 2005, Whole Foods decided it would sell only cage-free eggs. Subsequent to that, it adopted a five-tier rating system for the animal products sold in its stores, under a certification program called the Global Animal Partnership. As with the vegetarian and vegan products, providing shelf space to more humanely produced animal products gives consumers options they’ve never had, and it provides markets for farmers who do not confine animals in cages or crates, changing the way agriculture is conducted throughout the U.S. and putting pressure on other major food retailers to adapt when it comes to animal welfare. Conscious_Capitalism332E17

    John Mackey is the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, and he co-founded the company more than a quarter century ago. By any measure it’s a remarkable company, with $12 billion in sales, more than 73,000 employees and 350 stores. Its presence in the marketplace has been transformational – in terms of the look and in-store atmosphere, the products it sells, and its commitment to organic products, sustainability, and animal welfare.

    I’ve known John for many years, and he serves on the board of The Humane Society of the United States. We also serve together on the board of the Global Animal Partnership. He has written a tremendously compelling and insightful book that was released a week and a half ago called “Conscious Capitalism,” and you’ll soon see it on best-seller lists, based on the attention it’s received and the sales numbers I’ve seen on Amazon.

    I sat down with John, and asked him about the book and the ideas in it. I’m publishing our interview in two parts for blog readers, and part one is below.

    Wayne Pacelle: The thesis of your book is that capitalism is heroic and made the world a better place. Share with us some of the highlights of your argument that supports that claim.

    John Mackey: Two hundred years ago, the average income for 85 percent of the people on the planet was less than a dollar a day. Today it’s only 16 percent, and that’s changed because of economic progress and growth. One day, in the 21st century, we’ll probably end abject poverty across the planet. Two hundred years ago, 90 percent of the people were illiterate, and now it’s only about 13 percent. For most of history, until late in the 19th century, the average life span was only 30, now it is 68 across the world, and it’s 78 and gradually climbing in the U.S. There are still wars, still diseases that kill us, but we are making remarkable progress because of capitalism and vibrant economic activity lifting everyone up. It used to be that poor people used to be very skinny, but now they are obese. A smaller percentage of people than ever lack for adequate calories.

    WP: The name of your new book differentiates your brand of capitalism from the standard version.  What’s distinctive or different about your view of capitalism? In other words, what’s wrong with unconscious capitalism?

    JM: Today we are no longer truly practicing free enterprise capitalism. It is government-controlled and regulated – a type of crony capitalism. There are too many regulations and special tax breaks. To avoid the fiscal cliff, they passed taxes on just one or two percent of the public, but they retained the tax breaks given to a lot of politically connected people and created some new ones that didn't exist before. Even in its distorted version, it is still freer in the U.S. than most other places, but we've fallen from a No. 3 ranking in the Economic Freedom Index in the year 2000 down to only a No. 18 ranking today, and our collective prosperity is now contracting. When people can freely produce and trade, widespread prosperity is the result, when that freedom decreases so does our prosperity.

    Conscious capitalism says that every business has a higher potential beyond just making money. Doctors make a lot of money but their true purpose is to heal. Teachers don’t teach to just make money. The HSUS has a higher purpose – celebrating animals, confronting cruelty. The first principle of conscious capitalism is to discover what your higher purpose is. Every enterprise can have a higher purpose. Business cannot run without making a profit; without making money, it cannot renew itself. My body cannot exist if it doesn’t produce red blood cells, but my purpose is not to make red blood cells.

    The second principle is that business has a broader responsibility than to just shareholders. Customers, workers, suppliers, and others matter. When you have happy employees, you have happy customers, who in turn make happy investors. A conscious business recognizes interdependency and creates value for everybody involved.

    Business has always done this, but it’s been more unconscious. Business is the greatest value creator in the world for all stakeholders. No one is coerced to trade and it is ultimately based on voluntary exchange for mutual benefit. It isn't a zero sum game with winners and losers like sports. Rather it is a win-win-win system of mutual value creation.

    WP: For companies only concerned about profit and the bottom line, how can conscious capitalism compete against them? I assume it’s because consumers will value these products more because they reflect their core beliefs about animal welfare, the environment, worker protection, and other social subjects.

    JM: More energy is unleashed by a conscious business. It will have greater loyalty among workers and customers, it will treat its suppliers differently, and it will have more creative employees and suppliers. Conscious businesses have outperformed the S&P by a staggering 1000 percent over the last 15 years! The 100 Best Companies to Work For also easily outperform the S&P.

    There is a myth that once you go against a ruthless competitor, you’ll get slaughtered. This isn't true. A conscious company doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it has so many strengths and many fewer vulnerabilities than a less conscious business. They are very successful at competing with less conscious businesses. You can find faults at WFM, but we are working hard to constantly get better. You can find fault with anyone. You can find fault with The HSUS.

    WP: It’s difficult to build a discussion around a single factor, since there are so many interrelated forces that shape our world, but I am quite sure that capitalism has not made the world better for animals. So many people and businesses view animals as property and treat them like things, whether it’s in factory farming, the fur trade, the wildlife trade, or so many other sectors of the animal economy.

    JM: The economic system reflects the consciousness of the people who are in it. Unfortunately the free enterprise capitalist system has allowed us to exploit animals more thoroughly than ever before. Animals didn't have any rights, any value in the era of industrialism. But as people’s consciousness evolves, conscious capitalism has the potential to radically improve conditions for animals. Communications tools for The HSUS are dramatically superior to those 25 years ago. Now we can link together with people throughout the world, and this has enabled people to learn about our issues and pass on information faster. There is more transparency. Bad things cannot be hidden away. Great progress can be made, perhaps not as fast as we would like, but I see great evolution occurring. It’s the fault of the consciousness of human beings and as that consciousness evolves higher, so will our treatment of animals.



    ****

    January 23, 2013

    NIH Panel Says Lab Chimps Should Go to Sanctuaries

    While a handful of members of Congress delayed action on a recent bill to phase out the use of chimps in invasive experiments during the lame-duck session, yesterday a National Institutes of Health Working Group tasked with examining the NIH’s future role in chimpanzee research made sweeping recommendations to further the goal of phasing out chimp use. The panel’s recommendations include phasing out all current biomedical research grants involving chimpanzees in laboratories, ending chimpanzee breeding, and retiring the vast majority of government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries. These recommendations are bound to please more than 30,000 members of the public who urged this very set of actions in letters that we delivered to the agency in June of last year.

    CHIMP5_106269
    A chimpanzee stares out from her cage at the New Iberia
    Research Center. Over a dozen chimps were recently
    transferred to Chimp Haven from the NIRC, the first of
    113 that will go to sanctuary.

    This working group, formed in response to a groundbreaking Institute of Medicine report in 2011, also tackled the important question about what kind of environment is “ethologically appropriate” for chimpanzees — in other words, what kind of environment is necessary to meet the complex needs of chimpanzees. The group concluded that only certain sanctuary settings, such as Chimp Haven and Save the Chimps, can meet the needs of the animals. It’s important to note that, based on the criteria set forth in the report, not one laboratory could be considered ethologically appropriate. As a result, the working group urged retirement of more than 300 government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries that meet certain standards.

    While we are extremely pleased with the working group’s report, we have concerns about the recommendation to keep approximately 50 chimpanzees available for potential future use. Importantly, however, such research would have to meet very strict criteria as assessed by a group of various stakeholders, including members of the public. In addition, the recommendations made it clear that any chimpanzees remaining in laboratories need to be kept in more ethologically appropriate conditions set forth in the report. The NIH will be making a final determination on these recommendations in late March after a 60-day public comment period.

    In other exciting news from yesterday, I’m happy to announce that the first of the 113 government owned chimpanzees from New Iberia Research Center have arrived at Chimp Haven where they will spend the rest of their lives in the peace and comfort they deserve. The HSUS has pledged $500,000 toward construction costs for these chimps, thanks to help from one of our most generous supporters.

    With the NIH announcement yesterday, it is clear that our challenge ahead is to augment capacity at the limited number of chimp sanctuaries that now operate. The government certainly must play a major role in providing these resources (since they are already paying to warehouse these chimpanzees in laboratories at significant cost, and sanctuary care is much less expensive) but we also call on pharmaceutical companies that have used chimpanzees to step up and help support sanctuaries. With their enormous profits and balance sheets, and their history of using animals in research and testing, it’s the least they can do to help meet the needs of these chimps.

    January 22, 2013

    We're There

    We’re there raiding dogfights with law enforcement; digging out tortoises to save them from being buried alive in construction projects, and then relocating them to protected lands; medicating and sterilizing dogs and cats on remote Indian reservations; capturing, sterilizing, and vaccinating street dogs in the Philippines; nursing injured birds and rehabilitating them to return to the wild in Central America; coming to the aid of dogs in puppy mills and working with emergency placement partners to adopt them into loving homes; rushing into disaster zones while residents are rushing out; training dogs for good behavior and operating free wellness clinics in inner city Atlanta; feeding starving horses and taking them out of crisis; caring for thousands of animals at the largest network of animal-care facilities in the nation. These are just some of the ways we conduct the world’s most robust, diverse, and far-reaching direct care programs for animals. No matter where animals are in crisis, we’re there.

    _DSC8322_122285
    Kathy Milani/The HSUS
    The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center is an oasis
    in Ramona, Calif., where we treat injured and
    orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing
    them back into the wild.


    Animal care is, of course, just part of what we do. We are working to prevent cruelty and drive transformational change through our policy, awareness building, and corporate campaigns. But we are also the biggest provider of animal care in the animal welfare field. In 2012, The HSUS and its affiliates provided direct care or help to more than 100,000 animals – our biggest total ever. In all the ways we help – through our veterinary programs, international street dog efforts, animal care centers, Animal Rescue Team, Wildlife Innovations and Response, Humane Wildlife Services, and others – it’s an extraordinary amount of life-saving activity for animals. 

    In 2012, our Animal Rescue Team deployed more than 30 times, rescuing more than 3,500 animals from life-threatening cruelty. We rescued 1,499 animals in danger because of natural disasters, including Super Storm Sandy, Hurricane Isaac and wildfires. We also rescued 1,529 animals from severe neglect situations, 1,126 dogs and birds from animal fighting, and 1,096 dogs from puppy mills. Among the many cases we responded to, we rescued 11 exotic animals (three tigers, three cougars, two leopards, two wolf-hybrids and a monkey) from a roadside zoo in Collins, Miss., as well as 137 pet birds from horrible cruelty in Ohio.

    Below is a list of animals directly cared for by The HSUS, organized by category. In addition to the 100,000 animals we helped through those programs, our sponsorship of World Spay-Day efforts around the globe touched an additional 55,000 dogs and cats.

    Animal Cruelty, Rescue, and Response (Cruelty cases, Dog fighting & Cockfighting raids)
    -    Animals cared for: 5,719

    Animal Care Centers
    -    Animals cared for: 16,238

    Companion Animals (Spay/Neuter clinics, Pets for Life, Pet Help Partners NYC)
    -    Animals cared for: 17,776

    Humane Society International
    -    Animals cared for: 48,062

    Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association-Rural Areas Veterinary Services (both domestic and international)
    -    Animals cared for: 6,952

    Wildlife (Includes Humane Wildlife Services, Prairie Dog Coalition & Wildlife Response)
    -    Animals cared for: 5,261

    Total animals cared for: 100,008


    I am proud of all of our people and volunteers on the front lines of helping animals. And I am grateful every day that so many people in the U.S. and throughout the world support this work to help animals in crisis and in need.

    January 17, 2013

    The Obama Administration’s First Term – Animal Protection Record

    With President Obama’s inauguration and second term around the corner, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look back at his animal protection record over the last four years. How well has this administration responded to animal protection concerns?

    Viewed with a wide lens, and examining the big subjects within the jurisdiction of multiple agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior), the administration has performed in a mediocre way – not failing, but far from stellar. There have been some positive steps, but also some harmful actions. The biggest problem has been the administration’s inordinate delays and inattention to these issues. In fact, I don’t believe the president has said one word about animal protection, except for his early announcement about a federal rule prohibiting most downer cattle in the food supply. Animal protection has been off his radar screen. It’s safe to say that there’s been no vision staked out by the president on these issues, and a very limited vision from his cabinet secretaries whose daily work puts them in closer touch with these questions.

    2009-2013 Animal Protection Record: B minus

    Obama-admin-chart

    *Overall grade reflects weighted ratings.

    Animal protection issues are spread across a number of departments, but some agencies have accomplished more than others. Here is a brief breakdown of the key agencies with jurisdiction over animal issues and their accomplishments over the past four years.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture

    The USDA has oversight of a large number of animal protection issues, but the agency only completed five rulemakings to help animals in the past four years. During the president’s first 50 days in office, he announced that the administration would finalize a pending USDA rule to close a loophole allowing slaughter of adult downed cows. The rule was finalized about a month later.

    Horse transport to slaughter

    Kathy Milani/The HSUS

    The next set of final rules to benefit animals would not appear until 2011, and then again in 2012. USDA issued two final rules to benefit horses by: (1) closing a loophole on the ban of the use of double decker trailers for transporting horses to slaughter; and (2) requiring Horse Industry Organizations to impose uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act. At the end of 2012, the agency finalized a long awaited rule to keep track of traveling exhibitors by requiring them to submit itineraries for all trips, and issued a final rule to require disaster preparation for research facilities, dealers, and exhibitors regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.

    The agency also made reforms to humane slaughter oversight. This included the establishment of an Ombudsman in the Office of Food Safety to focus on humane handling issues and provide agency employees with an avenue to raise concerns. The agency addressed enforcement of humane slaughter by issuing training modules for inspectors, guidelines for video surveillance in slaughterhouses, and new procedures to ensure uniform enforcement for immediate humane euthanasia of all downed adult cattle.

    Unfortunately, administrative delay has kept the USDA from completing three top priority rulemakings: (1) responding to a petition that The HSUS submitted in 2009 to require that downer calves be humanely euthanized just as USDA requires for adult downer cows; (2) finalizing a rule to prohibit the importation of sick young puppies from foreign puppy mills; and (3) finalizing a rule to crack down on puppy mills that sell large numbers of dogs to consumers over the Internet without any federal oversight.

    In addition to the frustration created by its administrative delay, the USDA has failed to take any actions to address programs that provide taxpayer giveaways that directly harm animals without requiring any animal welfare changes. For example, the USDA continues to sanction the use of lethal methods by Wildlife Services, an agency program that kills predators and other wildlife as a subsidy for private ranchers and other special interests, and has failed to shift the focus of its resources to nonlethal alternatives. The agency has also continued to give millions of dollars to the pork industry without mandating any animal welfare reforms. The pork industry can continue immobilizing animals in small crates, polluting waterways, and dosing animals with antibiotics, threatening the public health of our nation, with no accountability.

    Although we hoped the administration would have completed more rulemakings to help animals during its first term and made changes to programs that have long been a concern to animal welfare advocates, the USDA made positive steps in enforcement to ensure that important animal welfare laws were being upheld. This includes cracking down on puppy mills and roadside zoos by increasing enforcement under the AWA and imposing higher fines. The agency also increased Horse Protection Act enforcement and worked with U.S. Attorneys to seek criminal prosecutions.

    There are still areas, however, where the agency could improve animal welfare enforcement. For example, although the Office of Inspector General audited the horse transport program in 2010 and recommended numerous changes, including prohibiting transport of horses to slaughter by individuals with outstanding fines, the agency has failed to take significant steps to ensure that only individuals with no outstanding fines can transport horses to slaughter. As a result of this enforcement failure, transporters have no incentive to transport horses humanely which has severe consequences for horses going to slaughter facilities.

    Finally, we were glad to see that the administration made increased transparency a priority. Some of the actions the USDA took include posting AWA, HPA, and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act enforcement actions online along with posting on the Internet inspection reports for animal dealers, exhibitors and research facilities regulated under the AWA.

    U.S. Department of the Interior

    The DOI has jurisdiction over a large number of wildlife issues and The HSUS has made a number of requests to the administration for important regulatory changes. Over the course of the past four years, the DOI has responded to a number of The HSUS’ requests by taking some necessary steps to protect endangered and threatened species.

    Two polar bears on snow
    iStockphoto

    One of DOI’s first actions under this administration, done in conjunction with the Department of Commerce, was to revoke President Bush’s eleventh hour rule undermining Endangered Species Act protections by eliminating the important consultation requirement. By revoking this rule, federal agencies must again consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species.

    Next, the agency took several important actions to protect specific species during President Obama’s first term. For example the DOI acted to protect dwindling polar bear populations by submitting proposals (in 2009 and 2012) to move the species to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which would halt trade in polar bear skins. In 2010, the agency designated more than 187,000 square miles as critical habitat for this threatened species under the ESA and upheld a ban on polar bear trophy imports.

    The agency issued a final rule to protect manatees, including the establishment of a manatee refuge in Kings Bay, Florida. Although the agency has not yet finalized increased protections for chimpanzees and lions, the agency found that The HSUS’ requests to list all chimpanzees (currently only chimpanzees in the wild are designated as endangered) and African lions as endangered under the ESA may be warranted. The agency is currently conducting a formal review of the status of these animals.

    Another very important action the agency took was to issue a final rule listing four large constrictor snake species as “injurious” under the Lacey Act, which prohibits the importation and interstate transport of these dangerous snakes as pets. Large constrictor snakes can suffer in the pet trade, can pose a danger to the public, and can become an invasive species when unwanted pets are released outdoors. However, the agency unfortunately did not list the other five species of large constrictor snakes, including reticulated pythons and boa constrictors, which together have killed more U.S. citizens than any other constrictor snakes, and were respectively identified as medium and high risk invasive species by the U.S. Geological Survey. We hope the USFWS will consider listing the other five species of snakes in the near future.

    Unfortunately, it cannot be said that the DOI has only acted to protect animals during President Obama’s first term. In fact, in some areas, the DOI has taken harmful actions, or failed to protect iconic species. For instance, the agency supported a budget rider that congress attached to an Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill, directing the USFWS to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves (in Idaho, Mont., Utah, Wash., Ore.). The DOI also delisted the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves (in Minn., Wis. and Mich.), and the Wyoming population of wolves. All of these actions are a disservice to the iconic species which can now be hunted and trapped under hostile state management plans. The department also failed to improve its wild horse program by failing to increase the number of mares treated with immunocontraceptive fertility control and by removing far more horses from the range than the agency is able to adopt out.

    Further, the agency sought to decrease protections for African elephants and bobcats under the CITES. Fortunately, neither proposal succeeded.

    As for enforcement, the USFWS deserves accolades for working hard to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade, and took several high-profile actions to bust wildlife smugglers. The agency also made strides in increasing transparency under the ESA permitting program.

    U.S. Department of Commerce

    The DOC has not been very active in working to protect marine mammals despite its responsibilities under the law. However, the agency has taken a few significant actions to protect marine mammals. For example, in 2010, the DOC protected the commercial whaling moratorium at the International Commission meeting. The DOC also listed the Insular stock of false killer whales in Hawaii as endangered under the ESA and mandated restrictions on commercial fisheries that have annually entangled and killed members of this small population. The agency also issued an important rule to force groundfish fishing fleets farther away from Western sea lion rookeries in Alaska to prevent the fisheries from generating excessive competition for the fish that are key prey for the sea lions. The agency also proposed a rule which would promote the conservation and sustainable management of sharks, a much needed action to protect dwindling shark species worldwide.

    In some areas, however, the DOC has failed to sufficiently protect marine mammals and shark species. For instance, the DOC has agreed to allow the killing of up to 92 California sea lions each year for eating salmon near the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Sea lions are estimated to consume less than four percent of ESA-listed salmon and in each of the past two years have eaten only around 1 percent of the spring salmon at the dam (other factors, such as overfishing and habitat destruction, are responsible for much greater shares of salmon loss). Also, due to industry pressure, the agency failed to follow through with a gillnet fishery closure that had been mandated due to the fishery’s failure to comply with mandatory risk reduction measures meant to reduce drowning deaths of harbor porpoises. The closure would have likely saved hundreds of harbor porpoises. In another negative move, the agency failed to protect the porbeagle shark by denying petitions to list the species under the ESA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The agency also failed to protect North Atlantic right whales by issuing biological opinions allowing three North American fisheries to continue to operate in a manner resulting in deaths and serious injuries to this critically endangered species. Finally, the agency took a move which could negatively affect many marine mammal species by authorizing the construction of an undersea naval warfare training range off the coast of Florida. This range would use sonar testing and other training activities known to cause harm to marine mammals.

    On another unfortunate note, the agency has delayed the issuance of two top priority rulemakings that would help protect North Atlantic right whales: (1) issuing a necessary rule restricting the speed of large vessels in specific areas along the east coast where this critically endangered species is found in the largest numbers during certain times of year, and (2) issuing a rule to expand critical habitat for the whale, which the agency committed to publish in the latter part of 2011 but has not yet released.

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    One of the agencies to make significant changes for animals during the president’s first term was HHS, ushering in very positive and encouraging actions. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health announced it had ended its contract with the New Iberia Research Center and that all 110 government-owned chimpanzees were now “permanently ineligible” for future research. The HSUS supported the termination of the contract and collaborated with NIH, Chimp Haven, and other groups, to develop a plan to move all the chimpanzees to sanctuary at Chimp Haven, located in Louisiana. This announcement came after a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, stating that the current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary, with very few exceptions. The NIH put together a working group on the use of chimpanzees in NIH-supported research to provide suggestions on how to implement IOM’s findings, and this report is expected to be released next week.

    Kitty the chimpanzee 
    The HSUS

    The Department of Health and Human Services also made other strides with animals used in invasive research by: (1) phasing out the use of dogs and cats obtained from Class B random source dealers (including pets acquired through theft and fraud); (2) implementing new procedures that avoid using animals in testing Botox; and (3) announcing a $70 million commitment to collaborate with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a chip to screen for safe and effective drugs far more swiftly and efficiently than current methods that rely on the use of animals.

    One area on which the Agency needs to improve is curbing the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. In 2012, the FDA issued final guidance with the intent to inform the public of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s current thinking on the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. The guidance included evidence establishing that the administration of antibiotics to food-producing animals poses a hazard to human and animal health. In response to this, however, the FDA issued guidelines that only establish a voluntary program with a long phase-in period, which continues to put the public at risk if some operators do not comply with the voluntary restrictions.  These guidelines also do not satisfactorily address the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture for “disease prevention” (when they are fed to animals to keep them in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions where they will predictably get sick).

    There are a number of other federal agencies with responsibilities that impact animal welfare, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission. The EPA approved the first fertility control vaccine for wild horses, which we applaud. Expanding the use of this proven contraceptive should lead to a significant reduction in wild horse round-ups. The agency also removed the “restricted use” classification for a contraceptive for pigeons. This new classification will make this product more readily available for communities to control pigeon populations humanely and effectively. As for animal alternatives, the EPA’s collaboration with The L’Oreal Group to create alternatives to animal-based toxicity tests that test substances used in cosmetics should be applauded.

    Finally, the FTC issued a proposed regulation in 2012 that fails to correct an inaccurate and misleading use of the industry trade name “Asiatic raccoon” on fur labels to describe the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). The HSUS opposes this action because it does not give consumers an accurate description of the product they are buying, especially when fur from these animals is among the most highly mislabeled fur available in the market today. The FTC did begin enforcement of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which requires the labeling of all animal fur trim regardless of dollar value, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection took action to investigate and shut down a New York business selling domestic dog fur.

    President Obama’s Second Term – More Action Needed to Protect Animals

    There are numerous actions that the administration did not complete, and one of the significant problems with the first term was ongoing regulatory delay. We encourage the administration to begin its second term by addressing the following regulatory issues in the next 100 days:

    1. Finalize the puppy mill retail rule and puppy mill import rules
    2. Issue a rule to close the loophole on downer veal calves
    3. List all chimpanzees as an endangered species and phase out invasive experiments on chimpanzees
    4. List the African lion as an endangered species
    5. Issue a rule listing the remaining five large constrictor snakes as an injurious species prohibiting the importation and interstate transport of these snakes as pets
    6. Increase fertility control and decrease round-ups for wild horses
    7. Grant petition to declare horsemeat as condemned and unqualified for human consumption and implement the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations for strengthening horse slaughter transport, including refusing to provide shipping documents to individuals who violate humane handling regulations and who have outstanding fines
    8. Phase out the use of predator poisons Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide and audit Wildlife Services, especially its lethal predator control program
    9. Issue two important rules to protect North Atlantic right whales: (1) a rule to restrict the speed of large vessels in areas where this species is found, and (2) a rule to expand critical habitat for this species
    10. Require animal welfare reforms before granting pork subsidies

    January 16, 2013

    A Tribute To Billy

    Billy, the endearing puppy mill Chihuahua who touched hundreds of thousands of people when he appeared in a YouTube video with his rescuer and new caretaker Adam Parascandola, died peacefully but unexpectedly over the holidays. More than 600,000 people watched our YouTube video, released months after The HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team took him from a mill in North Carolina, where lawmakers have resisted imposing any state-based humane breeding standards. HLN’s Jane Valez Mitchell featured Billy and Adam on her show just weeks ago.

    Like so many breeding animals confined for years at puppy mills, Billy had many chronic health conditions. He was scarred both physically and psychologically as a consequence of living in a cage for years, denied veterinary care or any meaningful human attention or affection. When I met Billy a few weeks ago at an event at the Washington Animal Rescue League, I saw a bundle of joy, but with obvious problems – most noticeably, his repetitive circling (dozens of times) before he would urinate or defecate. A portion of his lower jaw was missing due to years of chronic untreated periodontal disease, and he had other ailments. Our rescue team, and Adam specifically, provided him with the best vet care and endless doses of affection, but he succumbed despite those acts of kindness.

    At this point, he becomes something of a timeless ambassador for what happens to dogs in puppy mills, memorialized in the video that features him. At the same time, his own happy spirit, despite his travails, reminds us of the capacity of animals to forgive and to love. We, as a species, can learn more than a thing or two from Billy about putting those principles into action.

    Please watch Billy’s tribute video and learn more about how The HSUS will continue the fight to stop puppy mills in Billy’s name. Thanks for all you do to help us rescue animals like Billy.