January 2013 Blog Home March 2013

19 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

Our Predatory Human Ways


In today’s Sacramento Bee, my colleague Jennifer Fearing wrote a column questioning the outdated policies governing predator management that have dominated for too long. The public is fed up with unsporting and inhumane practices, as evidenced by the ban on hound hunting that passed in the California legislature last year. Within the last year, the Sacramento Bee itself has run a series of exposés on the ruthless predator-killing practices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which spends millions of tax dollars to create little more than a grisly body count.

But it’s not just California that needs to step up. It’s all of the states that are allowing and encouraging the slaughter of wolves, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, foxes, and other predators. Conservation biology reminds us of the important role they play in ecosystems by controlling populations of deer, elk, rabbits, rodents and others. Their effects are felt up and down the entire chain of life in their habitats.

Right now, we are working with Michigan citizens to qualify a ballot measure to block trophy hunting and trapping of wolves. In Maine, there is a growing movement to put a stop to reckless bear hunting and trapping practices. And with the federal government on the verge of budget cuts associated with the sequester, many people are saying the time is past due to trim the predator-killing ways of the USDA.

I hope you’ll join our efforts to stand up for apex predators, and combat the prejudice and persecution of so many magnificent species who deserve so much better than we give them.

Viewpoints: State must overhaul approach to predators

Sacramento Bee
February 28, 2013
Jennifer Fearing, Special to the Bee

A year ago, a photo surfaced of Dan Richards, then-president of California's Fish and Game Commission, bear-hugging a dead mountain lion.

Richards had shot the majestic animal – protected in California, but legal to be hunted in Idaho – out of a tree where the cougar sought refuge after hours of pursuit by a pack of hounds. The photo set off a social and mainstream media firestorm fueled by the outrage expressed by tens of thousands of Californians and many elected officials.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee…

February 27, 2013

Behind the Appealing Websites, Appalling Realities

Yesterday for the 13th time in the past two years, our Animal Rescue team deployed to North Carolina for a puppy mill rescue. Our team, with support from local animal welfare groups and law enforcement, rescued 58 small dogs. Most of them were in very bad condition, mainly due to untreated infections and injuries. Like most of the other puppy mills that have required our intervention, this facility was selling puppies directly to the public via the Internet. Because the federal government and North Carolina law are silent on the issue, the mill operated without oversight or inspections. It was only because the animal treatment was so bad that law enforcement made the judgment that violations of state anti-cruelty laws may be taking place. The owner surrendered the dogs to authorities.

Meredith Lee/The HSUS
One of 58 dogs rescued from
a N.C. puppy mill on Tuesday

Yesterday’s rescue follows an investigation that aired Sunday by an ABC affiliate in Seattle regarding a different Internet puppy seller. KOMO 4 News updated the story of Wendy Laymon, a Missouri breeder we exposed in our 2010 and 2011 Dirty Dozen reports on some of the worst puppy mills in Missouri. As the ABC story notes, Laymon was fined and jailed in Washington state more than a decade ago for animal-related charges, only to move to Missouri where the regulatory climate was, at the time, less strict. Using the Internet, she continues to sell puppies, including some whom she claims are “rescued.” Laymon and the North Carolina breeder are just two examples of hundreds of unethical breeders who are currently able to avoid federal regulatory oversight by selling over the Internet.

We’ve been working to plug this loophole, and just today, we are pleased to announce the introduction of federal legislation to crack down on Internet puppy mills. That legislation –  S. 395 and H.R. 847, also known as the PUPS Act, or "Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act" –  is sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif. We thank these lawmakers for taking a stand against puppy mill cruelty and working to correct that gaping hole in the law.

Last summer, we alerted you to a proposed federal rule from the Obama Administration to close the internet puppy mill loophole. We asked you to share your concerns with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about dogs in unlicensed Internet puppy mills – and hundreds of thousands of you took action. Thanks to your incredible response, The HSUS and a coalition of national groups submitted nearly 350,000 public signatures and comments to the USDA in support of a proposed rule to regulate Internet pet sellers under the Animal Welfare Act. That rule would have an effect similar to the PUPS Act.

We thank the Obama Administration for proposing this rule to deal with Internet sellers and to have them brought under the regulatory authority of the USDA, just like the large-scale sellers of dogs to pet stores. But final action is overdue, and we hope the abuses that we continue to bring to light provide enough incentive to complete the job they started and bring relief to so many suffering dogs.

February 26, 2013

Horse Meat on the American Dinner Plate?

Can horse meat find its way into the U.S. food supply? I would not be the least bit surprised if it does turn up, now that people are starting to look. The U.S. Department of Agriculture largely relies upon a self-reporting system that leaves us at the mercy of other nations, even as the number of countries audited by U.S. officials every year has declined by more than 60 percent since 2008.

Many European food manufacturers sell meat products in the U.S. If horse meat wound up unexpectedly in the European meat supply, why couldn’t it be in the U.S. supply too?

We have all of the expected assurances from federal food safety officials and other leading authorities that the systems in place are sufficient to protect against any replay of what has been happening in Europe. But we had similar assurances about the safety of pet food, before melamine found its way into tens of millions of cans and pouches of that product in 2007, killing dogs and cats across the country. We were told of the sheer impossibility of mad cow disease in the U.S. supply chain before we saw an incident a decade ago that had a $12 billion impact on the beef industry.

It’s no easy thing to secure the food supply. More than ever, it’s a global enterprise with supply chains stretching thousands of miles – a point of vulnerability for food safety and infiltration at the production, transport and processing stages. As The HSUS and so many other watchdog groups have pointed out, there are serious gaps in the system, along with disreputable people in the production and supply chain who can take advantage or corrupt it.

270x240 horse slaughter kmilani
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

For Western nations, with the most developed regulatory frameworks in place for slaughter and meat processing, that oversight system is focused principally on food-borne pathogens, with worker attention and testing occurring in the post-mortem period. The system is not built to detect when meat from one species has fraudulently been substituted for another, as happened in Europe. Until the horse meat scandal, that sort of testing was rarely performed.

Here’s what we do know. The meat industry in the U.S. is lobbying for laws to make it a crime just to take a photo in a meat processing facility. We know that it’s trying to cover up animal abuse and food safety problems. Whether this is an industry-wide goal or not, such lack of transparency means that there are fewer eyes on the facilities involved in production and transport, and that provides an opening for unscrupulous operators.

The American meat industry – which includes the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and others – is the biggest proponent of slaughtering horses for human consumption. It’s not exactly a leap to suggest that they want to push horse meat onto the plates of American consumers. In yesterday’s New York Times, one proponent of slaughter boasted that there is growing demand for the product in the U.S. 

It puzzles me that agribusiness trade groups would potentially put the beef and pork sectors at risk in order to give a toehold to the highly marginal horse slaughter industry. Haven’t they watched as beef sales in Europe have taken a nose-dive and vegetarianism has surged since the horse meat scandal hit the front pages? Do they not realize that a similar consumer response would happen here in the United States if the same discovery happened on this side of the Atlantic?

February 25, 2013

DOD and Combat Training -- Limiting the Casualties

For years, the U.S. Department of Defense has intentionally hurt animals, including dogs, in order to simulate “battlefield wounds,” for the purpose of medical combat training for treatment of injured soldiers. Upon learning of these in-field “experiments” with animals, the public demanded change and better ways to help our troops in crisis. In response, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Congress put an end to the military inflicting wounds on dogs, cats and primates for the purpose of conducting surgical or medical training. Unfortunately, they just swapped species and the DOD is still inflicting awful harm upon animals, despite the availability of superior training alternatives.

Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS

Today, the Washington Post reported that public concern over these experiments has not abated. Congress has again weighed in on this issue, through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, and has requested that the Pentagon present a report on how the military plans to phase out the use of all animals for combat training. According to The Post, this “marks the first time Congress has ordered the Pentagon to provide a detailed plan to start relying less on animals and more on simulators.”

For combat training purposes, the military burns, shoots, stabs and breaks the bones of animals. One whistleblower captured footage of the legs of goats being taken off with tree trimmers as part of Coast Guard training. In another case, the military attempted to conduct their trainings off site, seemingly in order to avoid public attention, although a media outlet successfully captured footage of the training.

Everyone wants our military personnel to have the best medical treatment possible if their missions go wrong or they are otherwise injured. But the archaic practice of injuring animals won’t provide the best training possible. There are significant anatomical, biological and physiological differences between pigs, goats and humans.

Last week, I wrote about our efforts to increase the government’s investment in alternatives to using animals in harmful research and testing. The great news is that, in this case, there are effective alternatives available, so there is no need to use animals for military trauma training. Some examples are high fidelity simulators that simulate a living human, cadavers, and experience in human trauma centers. These alternatives again represent amazing innovation and can be used in combination.

We look forward to the Pentagon’s report and hope that military trauma training on all animals will be a closed chapter for the finest, most sophisticated, innovative, and, one day perhaps, the most humane military in the world. 

February 22, 2013

Wolves on the Brink

Earlier this month, filmmakers and photographers Jim and Jamie Dutcher released a deeply compelling book, The Hidden Life of Wolves, about these remarkable but beleaguered American predators. The Dutchers are drawing standing room only and slack-jawed crowds wherever they’ve appeared, sharing their stunning images and educating people about the lives of these creatures.

And the release of the book is not a moment too soon. States in the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes didn’t waste any time after federal delisting, authorizing trophy hunters and trappers to start killing hundreds of wolves – extinguishing the lives of the wolves and causing upheaval in the pack’s social organization.


The HSUS has been punching back to protect the wolves. These wolves are not just populations; they are individuals. They feel pain and suffer, just like the dogs in our homes.

We’ve filed legal actions in Wyoming and the Great Lakes and, along with our coalition partners, launched a ballot measure campaign in Michigan in concert with American Indian tribes, hunters, environmentalists, and local humane organizations. I am also pleased to report that we are supporting a bill in Minnesota to impose a five-year moratorium on the sport hunting of wolves.

It would be a tough fight in Minnesota, but the senate president and minority leaders are cosponsors of the bill. It already has support from lawmakers from both parties, and from urban and rural areas of the state.

Great Lakes states have long traditions of hunting, but that’s hunting for meat. This is nothing of the sort; people don’t eat wolves. What’s more, if the general rationale for hunting is “wildlife management,” that’s not in play here. Wolves are the best wildlife managers there are, helping to control the size and behavior of prey populations and limiting the impacts of roadkill and crop depredation. And if there is an individual wolf causing a threat to farm animals or public safety, the law allows for selective taking.

But it’s not enough to introduce a bill or launch a ballot measure. We’ve got to push these policies forward, and with wolf haters out there, we need to demonstrate an outpouring of public support. We need Minnesotans to write and meet with their legislators, and Michiganders to take to the street and start gathering signatures. We’ve got deadlines coming up, and, for wolves, these are life-and-death matters. We can help the wolves, but only if you join the effort.

February 21, 2013

Widening Horse Meat Scandal Prompts Action in the EU

The revelations about horse meat masquerading as beef products represent one of the biggest food scandals in recent years. It’s of keen interest to The HSUS and Humane Society International because we’ve been warning European authorities of the dirty deeds of the horse meat industry. While there are no operating slaughter plants in the U.S., growing numbers of American horses are being live-shipped to Canada and Mexico, where they are slaughtered and then sent to Europe. We know that these horses are routinely given veterinary drugs not suited for human consumption. We have not been able to understand why Europe has neglected to adhere to its rigid food safety standards when it comes to horse meat.

The abuses of the horse meat industry are unraveling before the eyes of the world. I’ve asked Jo Swabe, HSI’s EU Director in Brussels, to provide a dispatch. She’s been working around the clock on the issue, along with several members of our European and American staff, who have traveled to Europe during the past week to apprise European officials of the realities of the horse meat trade in America.

Last week, when we learned along with the rest of the world about a widening horse meat scandal in Europe, we wondered if this might be a crack in the armor of the American horse slaughter trade. We had recently learned that the number of horses exported for meat from Canada and Mexico, where most U.S. horses go for slaughter, had jumped to over 160,000 in 2012. Clearly, demand is driving the supply ever higher as, at least in Europe, the cheap cost of horse meat, relative to beef, has caused unscrupulous dealers to switch out beef for horse meat in processed foods such as lasagna and Bolognese sauce. When this fraud was discovered on Irish and English supermarket shelves, citizens in these horse-loving nations were enraged.

Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS/FFA

European politicians, concerned about a further loss of consumer confidence in the fragile European economy, are launching investigations in search of the magnitude of the fraud, and developing a plan to stabilize constituent confidence in the highly regulated food safety system.

The HSUS equine protection team immediately joined with Humane Society International representatives in the European Union to implement a strategy to advance humane concerns related to the cruelty and lack of human food safeguards in the shady North American abattoir industry. American horses do not belong on foreign dinner tables.

Horse slaughter isn't just bad for the horse, it is a serious violation of EU food safety standards because American horses are routinely given doses of veterinary drugs absolutely prohibited for any animal that enters the European food chain. We've tried to alert the European Commission before but have simply been ignored. However, now Europe can't afford to fix part of this problem, the fraud, without fixing the entire system. Without comprehensive action consumer confidence will drop even more and the economy will be even further damaged.

HSUS and HSI representatives have met with officials from seven governments so far this week. On Thursday we delivered a petition with signatures of over 9,000 EU citizens asking that the European Union place a moratorium on the sale of horse meat of American origin, because the regulatory authorities cannot ensure that the horses are in compliance with Europe's own food safety regulations. We have more meetings later this week. In addition, we have been talking with the European media and other humane organizations to solidify our position that horses from North America do not belong in the European food chain.

As we meet with European officials, the scandal is widening. This week the EU called for its member state governments to test both for DNA (to determine if products labeled beef are in fact beef and not horse) and also for drug residue. This signals an expansion of the EU's investigation from the fraud related to species, to a concern about the illegal trade in adulterated horse meat. Since 20 percent of the horse meat consumed in the EU comes from North America, and virtually all of this meat is out of compliance with EU food safety standards, we are gratified to see that the Commission is paying attention to this serious food safety concern. The scandal has widened as well with Belgium announcing fraud in its equine "passport" system. This mandatory program documents all drugs given to European horses destined for slaughter. In addition, this week several more countries have verified that they have discovered horse meat in their beef products.

The Council of the European Union is set to meet early next week to agree on its response to the scandal and announce significant reforms to address this crisis. We will be in Brussels and the capitols of other influential governments over the next several days talking with health, environment and agricultural officials to convince them that Europe cannot have a safe and compliant food system while allowing the sale of horse meat from North America with no lifetime drug treatment history.

February 20, 2013

A Scientific Indictment of Animal Research and Testing

“What are the alternatives to using animals in medical research?” This is a legitimate question I am often asked, and now, due to scientific innovation and increasing evidence of the shortcomings of animal research, it is becoming easier to answer. A newly published scientific paper shows that a reliance on mice in medical research has been potentially useless for three major, often-fatal conditions: sepsis, burns and trauma. The 10-year study, worked on by 39 scientists from across the country, reports that humans and mice respond to inflammation completely differently. According to The New York Times, the researchers could not, initially, get their paper published because the results from the human studies were so different from the mouse studies that no one thought the findings were accurate. This highlights how strongly and uncritically some scientists continue to believe that because mice are mammals, their biology and physiology are comparable to our own.

Anthony Bradshaw/iStock

So what does all of this actually mean? It means that for decades, scientists and pharmaceutical companies have worked on developing drugs for sepsis, burns and trauma, based on information from mouse studies, but found that the mouse response to treatment is inconsistent with the human response. As a result, time and money have been wasted and treatment opportunities to help patients were delayed or overlooked.

The HSUS and Humane Society International are at the forefront of pushing for change and have urged similar critiques of other areas of animal research. For example, through our chimpanzee campaign we have argued there are major problems with chimpanzee research and this was finally confirmed by the Institute of Medicine last year. And leading research journals have published studies by HSI scientists demonstrating the shortcomings of animal models for the study of asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.

However, it is important that we not simply focus on the failures of the current animal research paradigm, but that we also encourage new investment in innovation and the development of non-animal alternatives based on human cell systems and human studies. In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences produced a report which stated that toxicity testing without animals can be realized in the not-too-distant future. We have launched the Human Toxicology Project Consortium to make this vision a reality and have also been successful in getting Congress to invest more on approaches that are faster, cheaper and more precise without the use of animals.

The National Institutes of Health is also moving in this direction with the launch of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in December of 2011. NCATS seeks, among other things, to speed the development of effective medicines. According to NIH Director Francis Collins, the development and approval of a drug currently takes an average of 13 years, often using expensive and time-consuming animal studies that cost more than $1 billion, yet the failure rate for these tests exceeds 95 percent.

For one of its first projects, NCATS partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to provide funding for the development of “on-a-chip” technologies that use donated human tissue to mimic human organ systems in order to screen for safe and effective drugs. This is a compelling example of the possibilities of innovation in medical research, but much more is needed.

A growing number of scientists are coming to believe, as we do, that in order to reverse the slow pace of progress in fighting cancer, asthma and other major diseases, we need far greater investment in 21st century tools and technologies that are directly relevant to humans. It is these modern techniques that are better equipped to unlock the answers to human illnesses that currently elude us, while at the same time reducing, and eventually superseding, whole animal research. This is the future we are working to create – a win-win for everyone.

February 19, 2013

A Tribute To A Comrade: Pat Derby

It is an axiom that people once involved in practices or industries that cause harm to animals, and who then see the light and join the humane movement, have emerged as some of the most influential of advocates. It’s by that route that Pat Derby, first a former trainer of big cats and other large animals for use in TV commercials and movies and then the founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, became one of the great leaders of the effort to help captive wildlife. Pat passed away this past Friday, after a long, painful battle with cancer.

Nicole Paquette/The HSUS

Pat and her partner Ed Stewart founded PAWS in 1984 and over the last quarter century, they helped to reshape the debate over performing animals and captive wildlife – reminding people of the many problems with training animals for entertainment, keeping wild animals as pets, placing exotic animals in fenced enclosures to be shot, and putting animals on display in circuses and roadside zoos. They’ve also cared for a wide array of creatures in need, including elephants relinquished by the Detroit Zoo and then Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (in a closely kept legal settlement between the corporations), as well as dozens of tigers rescued from a cruelty case by our affiliate The Fund For Animals, at PAWS’ California-based animal sanctuaries.

One of the great features of our movement is its pluralism and the fact that there is an advocate for just about every kind of animal. Pat Derby was a remarkable champion for captive wildlife, and she and Ed always impressed me not only with their ability to take in the cast-offs and care for them, but also to advocate for policy changes and shifts in attitudes to get at the root causes of problems. Pat knew that our movement simply cannot rescue its way out of these problems. That’s why she worked in support of a bill, authored by then Assemblyman Sam Farr, setting humane standards for the care and handling of captive wildlife in California. That effort eventually led to a ban on private ownership of all manner of wild animals as pets. She also helped lead the way to restrict captive shoots of exotic mammals on private ranches in the state.

Pat Derby was never afraid to expose the cruelty behind the abuses that occur in entertainment – taking on Bobby Berosini and his mistreatment of orangutans in his Las Vegas act; Ringling Bros. and other entities involved in systematic mistreatment of animals in the circus industry; and the deprivation and poor care received by so many animals at roadside zoos and even some accredited zoos. She has inspired so many to take on this cause and stand up for captive wild animals in all settings.

We will miss her fierce advocacy for all animals, but we are heartened that Ed Stewart and the rest of the team at PAWS will continue her legacy.  RIP. 

February 15, 2013

Vets: Reporting for Duty


At The Humane Society of the United States, we have assembled a highly qualified professional staff, with different types of expertise and experience, to conduct the vital work of animal protection. Among these experts, we are blessed to have a growing cohort of veterinarians who help to care for domesticated animals and wildlife.

dog examined at prior clinic                                                               Lori Rohlfing
A dog being examined at a previous HSVMA clinic.

Among the affiliates under The HSUS’ umbrella is the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Tomorrow, the HSVMA will help to provide direct care to animals with a World Spay Day spay/neuter clinic in Madison, Wis. HSVMA veterinarian Susan Krebsbach will conduct the event along with the local rescue group she founded, Dane County Friends of Ferals, and veterinary technicians, veterinary students and local vets, who will collaborate in a one day-initiative to sterilize feral, free-roaming and pet cats in Dane County.

Each day, though, veterinarians working for HSUS affiliates such as HSVMA and Humane Society International provide critical care and education to communities at home and abroad:

  • Through its Rural Area Veterinary Services program, which combines community service and veterinary education, HSVMA helps rural communities where poverty and geographic isolation make regular veterinary care inaccessible. Last year alone, 35 small animal and equine field clinics held in the U.S. and abroad in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia and Mexico helped train more than 300 veterinary students who hailed from vet schools across the U.S., Canada, Latin American and the United Kingdom. The free veterinary care made available to these communities provided treatment to 7,000 animals, at an estimated value of $1.3 million.
  • HSI, in partnership with the government of Bhutan and the Bhutan Foundation, is engaged in a long-term program to help spay/neuter and vaccinate close to 50,000 dogs across Bhutan to humanely address the overpopulation of free-roaming dogs. We have launched similar programs in other countries in Asia, including Bangladesh and the Philippines.
  • Our Pets for Life program has evolved into an exciting new community-outreach effort that uses innovative strategies to save pets by helping communities that—because of economic, social, or cultural factors—don’t have access to pet-care information, resources, or veterinary and related services, despite great need. Starting in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, The HSUS has expanded this program into Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The program is being duplicated in cities across the country with the help of PetSmart Charities.
  • The HSUS is one of the largest and most diverse providers of direct animal care in the country. Veterinarians and technicians at our care centers provide relief and protection for sick, injured, abused and abandoned animals from coast to coast in the states of California, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon and Texas.

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians should be in the forefront of animal protection. They can help The HSUS’ work to drive strong public policies for animals, advance our market–based and corporate outreach efforts concerning animal welfare reforms, educate the public about best practices, and most importantly, by doing what their vocation and compassionate nature has trained them to do: conduct hands-on work saving animal lives and alleviating suffering.

We are working to engage and recruit even more veterinary professionals, and we encourage you to enlist your animal caregivers to join the more than 5,200 veterinarians, technicians and assistants, and students of the HSVMA. To learn more, please visit HSVMA.org or e-mail info@hsvma.org to find out how you can provide a gift membership to the HSVMA.

February 14, 2013

Eighty Dogs Rescued from Alleged Dogfighting Operation

Eighty dogs are finally free.

During the course of a two-year-long investigation into narcotics trafficking, authorities in northeastern North Carolina fell upon a major dogfighting operation. In the end, authorities seized dozens of dogs and arrested two alleged perpetrators.

Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office
One of 80 dogs rescued from an alleged dogfighting
operation in Elizabeth City, N.C.

So many of the raids we conduct with law enforcement turn up bloodied or scarred animals and illegal narcotics. In fact, a three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies, including domestic and aggravated battery, illegal drug trafficking and sex crimes.

“Getting these two off the streets of Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County on the drug charges alone will help provide for a much safer community, but also removing these animals and putting a stop to such cruelty goes even further to maintaining a safer community and protecting the dogs and public,” said Sheriff Randy Cartwright, in a news release from The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office.

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team assisted with the rescue, which occurred over a two-week period, according to personnel with the sheriff’s office. And we’ll be helping North Carolina authorities and local rescue organizations in the aftermath, with our experts reviewing evidence and helping the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina care for the dogs. Eventually these dogs will be placed with The HSUS dogfighting rescue coalition to be rehabilitated and assessed for adoption into loving homes.

Great thanks to all involved in helping rescue these dogs – PCSO, Elizabeth City Police Dept., the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Camden Sheriff’s Office, SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina and Pasquotank Animal Control; and thanks to HSUS corporate partner PetSmart Charities for providing food, supplies and enrichment items for the dogs as they recover and start the next, best chapter of their lives.

P.S. There has been an uptick in arrests of people involved in animal fighting in recent years because we’ve heightened awareness of the problem, trained law enforcement on investigating these crimes, and worked hard to strengthen state and federal laws against the practice. In fact, over the past decade, Congress has closed major loopholes and strengthened penalties in the federal animal fighting law. But there’s one loophole still to be addressed: the issue of spectators at the fight. To correct that, we are backing the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which will make it a federal crime to attend an illegal animal fighting enterprise. That legislation passed the Senate last Congress, but the House did not take it up before the Congress completed its work for the year. It’s been reintroduced in the House and Senate, and now it’s up to all of us to get this bill to the President in 2013.