Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle. As President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, he leads the nation's largest animal protection organization in the mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. Read more »
Today, in a mystifying and infuriating decision, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture granted an inspection permit to a discredited horse
slaughter plant operator in New Mexico, bringing the nation closer to its first
horse slaughter operation since federal courts and state lawmakers shuttered
the last three U.S.-based plants in 2007. The USDA has let it be known
that it may also approve horse slaughter plants in Iowa and Missouri next week.
Consider these facts, each of which should have been sufficient
to dissuade the USDA from proceeding with this inspection permit for New
The USDA granted the permit even though
Republican Governor Susanna Martinez and Democratic Attorney General Gary King
oppose the opening of the facility in their state.
The department took this action even though
Congress, in its 2014 agriculture spending bill, is poised to forbid the USDA
from spending money on horse slaughter inspections. In June, both the House and
Senate appropriations committees approved amendments to defund any horse
The USDA is moving ahead even though the Obama
Administration, in its 2014 budget proposal to Congress, recommended a
defunding of horse slaughter plants. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has
called for a “third way” in dealing with unwanted horses and expressed
opposition to horse slaughter.
Approval was granted even though The HSUS
submitted a petition to the USDA that provides incontrovertible evidence that
horses are routinely fed or dosed with more than 100 different drugs unfit for
The USDA pursued this course of action just
months after Europeans learned the hard way that horse slaughter operators and
meat traders substituted their product for beef, throwing the European beef
market and consumer confidence in the safety and integrity of the food supply
into a tailspin.
Horse slaughter is being approved in spite of
polling information indicating that an overwhelming majority of the American
public – to the tune of 80 percent – opposes slaughtering American horses
for human consumption.
I’ve been asked why the Administration would take this
action, contradicting its own stated goal to end horse slaughter. And I cannot
explain it, other than the lawyers at the USDA driving the train and offering a
highly legalistic view of the controversy, given that Valley Meat has sued the
USDA for unreasonably delaying action on its application. We seem to have
a case where the decision-makers have decided they are obligated to grant the
permit when there is a fact pattern that screams at them from every angle that
they should not grant that permit.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS Horses held in export pens before transported for slaughter.
The Administration wouldn’t grant an inspection permit for a
dog slaughterhouse even if the application for the permit was properly filled
out and the operator hired a lawyer to compel action. Local and national
opposition to such an idea would be more than convincing in compelling the USDA
to keep any plant from opening up and sucking dogs into the slaughter lines.
Horse slaughter is not humane euthanasia and is a betrayal
of our trusted companions. The entire pipeline of horse slaughter, including
auctions and transport in crowded trailers in freezing cold or oppressive heat,
is abusive. The slaughter process itself is horribly cruel and many horses
suffer during the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them
Sensible policy makers don’t want to see a bloodbath in the
United States resume. Let’s hope we can hold off slaughter until the defund
language, expected to take effect in a few months, becomes law.
Dave Pauli, Senior Director of Wildlife Innovations & Response, rescues a gopher tortoise in Florida.
seems that everywhere I turn, urban wildlife habitat is being cut up or dug up
for our commercial and residential and transportation needs. Animals are flushed,
struck, crushed, and even buried alive.
week, staff and volunteers with our Wildlife Innovations and Response Team are
hard at work unearthing threatened gopher tortoises at the Rock Springs Ridge
construction site in Apopka, Florida. The state permitted this development
under its former incidental take policy that allowed the animals to be crushed
or buried alive in their burrows. However, the site’s developers, D.R. Horton
and Bio-Tech Consulting, called on our expertise to rescue the gopher tortoises
and commensal species so they would not be harmed during construction. It’s an
example of the humane economy at work, and a company doing the right thing
while doing its business.
these animals out of individual burrows is a meticulous process, and we do it
over a month’s time. So far we have rescued more than 110 gopher tortoises.
These tortoises, including a male who we believe may be the largest gopher
tortoise on record in Florida (though it is yet to be confirmed), will be
relocated to Nokuse Plantation, a permanently protected 50,000 acre area in
These are the most exciting of times for everyone paying
attention to The HSUS’ campaign to end the use of chimpanzees in invasive,
harmful experiments. On the heels of a groundbreaking
proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list all chimpanzees as
endangered under the Endangered Species Act, I have more progress to report –
and so much of it is a derivative of our focus on protecting chimps. Today, the
National Institutes of Health – the federal agency that owns or supports
approximately half of the estimated 850 chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories – made a long-awaited
announcement: the agency has accepted and will begin implementing most of
put forth in January by an expert, independent advisory group to retire
chimps from laboratories and move them to sanctuaries. This is a significant
agency decision that will bring about positive and sweeping changes for
government-owned chimpanzees in laboratories.
In addition to the NIH announcing its commitment to retire
the vast majority of the more than 350 government-owned chimpanzees currently
in laboratories, this development will also produce a drastic decrease in
government-funded grants involving chimpanzees in laboratories and shut the
door on NIH breeding of chimps. The NIH has decided to retain, but not breed,
up to 50 of its chimpanzees in a laboratory for potential future use if there
is an absolute need. That unfortunate decision is mitigated by stipulations
that these animals should be kept in “ethologically appropriate” settings,
closer to what would occur in their natural environments, which means they will
live in complex social groups and have year round outdoor access. The NIH
rejected the panel’s recommendation of more than 1,000 square feet of living
space per chimpanzee and said the minimum space requirement has yet to be
determined. The need for this reserve group of chimpanzees will be reassessed
periodically. And, finally, an independent committee, which includes members of
the public, will be established to assess future chimpanzee grant proposals,
making it a high bar for any future research on these remaining chimps.
Consistent pressure over the years on a number of fronts –
and our members weighing in at every turn – has allowed us to reach this pivot
point for chimps. Three years ago, NIH had a
plan to transfer approximately 200 chimpanzees from a New Mexico facility,
where no harmful research is permitted, to a Texas laboratory, which sparked a
massive outcry from the public and lawmakers, eventually leading to today’s
exciting announcement. In response to the outcry, NIH halted the ill-advised
chimpanzee transfer and commissioned a study by the Institute
of Medicine, which found that chimpanzee use in research is largely
unnecessary and, further, did not identify any current area of biomedical
research for which chimpanzee use is critical. The IOM report also laid out a
set of criteria for assessing future research proposals.
The NIH immediately accepted the IOM report and established
a working group to advise them on implementing the report’s findings and
criteria. Since January, more than 57,000 of our supporters made their voices
heard in support of the working group’s recommendations, most of which were
officially accepted today.
Of course, there are still many issues that The HSUS must
continue to address in order to reach our goals – including working
to ensure the actual move of chimpanzees to sanctuary, and assuring that
the final USFWS proposal addresses the use of privately
owned chimpanzees in privately funded research as
well as captive chimps used in film and TV commercials and the exotic pet
trade. I have no doubt that this announcement by NIH coupled with the
USFWS proposal will alter the way humans treat our closest living animal
relatives and it marks an unmistakable step forward for our nation toward the
end of the use of chimps in invasive experiments.
We’ve seen some positive action from the federal executive
agencies lately – for example, a Department of the Interior proposed listing of
all chimpanzees as endangered, and a favorable U.S. Department of Agriculture
announcement to close a loophole dealing with downer cows. We’ve also seen
some adverse moves, including a series of
de-listing actions of gray wolves, leaving them vulnerable to state fish and
wildlife agency plans for trophy hunting and commercial trapping. We are
expecting some major announcements in the next few days on a number of issues.
But preceding so many of these decisions, or in fact helping
to trigger reforms, have been reports from
the USDA Office of Inspector General and the
National Academy of Sciences that have exposed mismanagement of federal
programs, poor decision-making, or lax
enforcement – on everything from wild horses, to the operations of pig
slaughter plants, to horse soring and puppy mill oversight.
I’ve worked with our staff at The HSUS to give you a
run-down of some of the findings of these reports issued within the last few
years. These reports paint a vivid picture of what’s going wrong with
federal enforcement efforts. In some cases, the reports have provided an
impetus for policy changes, as with the use of chimps in laboratories, or the
selling of puppies over the Internet. Here’s a rather remarkable summary of
what’s been highlighted and exposed, along with corrective action.
In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences report, entitled
“Toxicity Testing in the Twenty-first Century: A Vision and a Strategy,”
proposed a new approach to assessing chemical safety that moves away from
animal testing. Commercial chemicals, pesticides and other substances are
typically tested for safety by dispersing large doses to groups of animals and
then observing the animals for symptoms of disease. The report stated that
these animal tests are of questionable relevance for humans, provide much
information that isn’t useful, are time-consuming and costly, and cannot handle
the enormous backlog of untested agents or meet new multiplying challenges of
chemical safety. In the years following the report, a government-sponsored
collaboration, called Tox21, has been set up between the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute
of Environmental Health Sciences. The mission of Tox21 is to serve as a
catalyst for the prompt, global, coordinated implementation of pathway-based
toxicology, which will better safeguard human health and hasten the replacement
of animal use in toxicology. This approach is also gaining acceptance
In 2009, the National Academies Institute for Laboratory
Animal Research released a report that concluded that Class B dealers – animal
dealers whose operating licenses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allow
them to round up dogs and cats from animal shelters, auctions, private
individuals and other “random sources” (which could include stolen pets), and
then sell them for experimentation – are not necessary to provide dogs and cats
for research. The report was issued in response to a request by Congress
through the National Institutes of Health for a critical evaluation of the need
to use random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers in NIH-funded research.
In 2011, NIH notified its grant recipients that as of 2015, the use of NIH
funds to acquire dogs from Class B random-source dealers will be prohibited,
and it advised its grantees to identify new sources for such animals. In 2012,
NIH implemented the recommendations from the report and stated that awards
issued after October 1, 2012 will prohibit the use of NIH funds to obtain cats
from Class B random source dealers.
In 2010, the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General
criticized the agency’s long history of lax oversight of commercial dog
breeders under the Animal Welfare Act. The report reviewed inspections and
enforcement actions taken against dog dealers and found that USDA inspectors
failed to cite or properly document inhumane treatment and brought little to no
enforcement actions against violators. In response to this audit report, the
USDA significantly increased its inspections and enforcement actions against
noncompliant dealers. Although the USDA still has a lot of work to do to ensure
that all dealers are complying with the AWA, it is moving in the right
direction and focusing its enforcement resources on the worst offenders. In addition, the audit highlighted how some
prolific dog dealers are escaping USDA oversight because they sell dogs
directly to the public, including over the Internet. The USDA agreed to
seek changes that would close this regulatory loophole to require all large
scale breeders to be covered by the USDA’s AWA regulations and we are currently
awaiting the USDA’s release of this final rule.
Later in 2010, the USDA’s OIG released another audit
addressing animal welfare. This one was directed at the USDA’s oversight of
show horses under the Horse Protection Program. This law gives the USDA
authority to ensure that Tennessee walking horses and other breeds are not
subjected to the abusive practice of soring – the intentional infliction of
pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force an artificial, exaggerated
gait. The OIG released an audit of the program echoing what we’ve said all
along - that industry self-regulation does not work. The Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service agreed to abolish this industry inspection program
and to take a more direct role in licensing and oversight of inspectors, and
mandate across the board penalties for violators. The agency has yet to implement
changes to remove industry groups from the inspection program, but did issue a
rule requiring those groups to impose uniform mandatory minimum penalties on
violators. One of the groups sued APHIS in an attempt to block the rule, but it
is in effect while the suit is pending. In
response to this audit, along with HSUS undercover
investigations exposing terrible abuse, Rep.
Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., have introduced the Prevent All
Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518), which makes much needed reforms to the Horse
Protection Act, including ending the failed industry self-policing system,
strengthening penalties, banning the use of stacks
and chains on horses’ feet, and making the actual soring of a horse
for the purpose of showing or selling him or her illegal.
In the same audit as horse soring, the OIG also reviewed the
slaughter horse transport program and found that APHIS needs to improve its
controls to ensure that horses being shipped to foreign plants are treated
humanely. One of the OIG’s recommendations was that the USDA should withhold
shipping documents from individuals who violate humane handling regulations and
who have outstanding fines. However, the USDA has yet to implement this
recommendation, three years later. As a result of the USDA’s failure to
strengthen its enforcement oversight, horse slaughter transporters have little
incentive to transport horses humanely. The
auditors also recommended that the USDA finalize a rule to increase its
authority over horses being transported (to include all transport of horses
once they are identified as slaughter horses, to any intermediary point between
the sale barn/auction and the slaughter plant). The USDA’s previous rule
prohibiting the use of double-deck trailers only covered horses that were
directly being sent to a slaughter facility. This broader rule is critically
important to improve the humane transport of horses for slaughter. The USDA
issued this final rule soon after the audit was released.
In 2011, the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine
issued a report that found the current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research
is largely unnecessary. The Institute of Medicine report was commissioned by
the National Institutes of Health following an outcry over the agency’s 2010
proposal to move 186 federally-owned chimpanzees from Alamogordo, N.M., to the
Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio. The report makes
plain that the limited usefulness of chimpanzees will diminish further over
time, especially as alternative methods are developed. In response to the IOM
report, the NIH assembled a working group to offer recommendations on how to
implement the findings of the report and examine the NIH’s future role in
chimpanzee research. In January 2013, the working group issued its
recommendations, calling for the retirement of the majority of government-owned
chimpanzees currently in laboratories to sanctuary and no revitalization of
chimpanzee breeding for research purposes. The director of the NIH is expected
to decide this week on whether or not to adopt the working group’s
In May of this year, the OIG audited the Food Safety and
Inspection Service enforcement and inspection activities at swine slaughter
plants and found that FSIS enforcement policies do not deter swine slaughter
plants from repeatedly violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act and that
“there is reduced assurance of FSIS inspectors effectively identifying pork
that should not enter the food supply.” In addition, the OIG found that FSIS
inspectors did not take appropriate enforcement actions for violations of the
Humane Method of Slaughter Act, and as a result, many slaughter plants are not
improving their slaughter practices, and FSIS could not ensure the humane
handling of swine. We have discussed the audit with FSIS and encourage the
agency to make these much needed reforms.
In June, the National Academy of Sciences
reviewed the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, and made
recommendations for future approaches. The report stated that the BLM’s
procedures for monitoring and surveying wild horses and burros are flawed,
inconsistent, and actually contribute to high horse population growth rates.
For instance, the report took issue with the BLM’s practice of managing wild
horses “below food-limited carrying capacity” by rounding up and removing a
significant proportion of the herd’s population every three to four years,
stating that this is one of the factors contributing to a costly roundup and
remove cycle. As a potential solution, the report suggests that the agency
should end its reliance on short-sighted roundups, and instead, keep horses on
the range while humanely limiting reproduction through the application of a
contraceptive vaccine. This could, over the long term, reduce the significant
and unnecessary economic burden the BLM shoulders as it maintains approximately
50,000 horses in holding facilities. The HSUS provided the agency with a
detailed plan for implementing the changes to the program called for in the NAS
report and is awaiting the agency's response.
These reports provide a
valuable, independent look at enforcement of our federal animal welfare laws,
and make a remarkably persuasive case for changes in policy and
execution. We’re working to hold all of the agencies involved accountable
and to get the right outcomes for animals and for the nation.
a dog in my office, and she’s not a foster pet or a visitor. I adopted her on
Saturday, and now she’s a cling-on. And Lisa and I are very happy about it.
Spying a potential opportunity at a fire hydrant in Middleburg, Virginia.
a Beagle mix, and came from a shelter in rural Virginia. She may have been a
discarded hunting dog, since rural Virginia shelters are full of them. Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation,
based in northern Virginia, pulled her from the shelter, and after spaying and vaccinating
her, put her up for adoption at an event at the Fairfax PetSmart on
Saturday. This was her ninth adoption event, and somehow she’d been passed
over on these prior occasions. It was our good fortune, but I’m still mystified that
no one scooped her up before. She’s got such a gentle disposition, and is pretty
as a picture.
now splayed out on her doggie bed right behind me in my downtown D.C. office.
She’s probably about six years old, and her “maturity” cinched the deal for us.
We wanted to get an older dog, since they are tougher to place.
been some weeks since our precious cat Mungo passed on. Her sister died about a
year ago, so the apartment has been feeling empty and we’ve been missing them
terribly. It was time again to populate our home with another little being to
fill the void that every one of you who has kept pets knows all too well.
Dog and so many other rescue groups are doing such great life-saving work. They
are typically pulling animals from shelters, and then getting out into the
community to encourage people to get a companion and save a life – a double
bottom-line benefit. The cooperation between shelters and rescue groups, and
the movement of animals between them, is part of any successful plan to
eliminate unneeded euthanasia.
to our survey work with Maddie’s
Fund and The Ad Council, there are about 17 million people in the market
for companion animals this year. Only about a quarter of them will get a dog or
cat from a rescue or shelter. If just an additional two or three million of
them went to an adoption event hosted by PetSmart or Petco, logged on to
Petfinder.com, or went directly to a shelter or rescue group to adopt a
homeless dog or cat – an easy choice, since there’s an abundance of great,
well-socialized, vaccinated, sterilized animals at these sources – we’d
have the national problem of euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals
licked. Local organizations could spend more time on the wider range of animal
protection issues, and not be bogged down, as they’ve been for a century, with
the plight of homeless animals. In short, just a small percentage of people who
want an animal in their life can make an intentional choice and help us get to
the finish line.
little one doesn’t have a name yet. If you have suggestions, we’re all ears. And she’s all
ears, too, as you can see. We’ve got to get the name settled by midnight
tonight, as a practical matter for her and for her proud pet parents.
Dogs are on my mind even more than usual these days. That’s
because I am dog shopping this weekend. Not through a pet store or an
Internet seller, but with a local rescue group here in the Washington, D.C.
metropolitan area. My guess is, there’s going to be a new dog in the Pacelle
household come Sunday.
And on Monday, I am going to bring this adoptee to work,
assuming all goes according to plan, and I pass muster with the organization’s
adoption group (I’ll pull rank if I must, though). That practice – of
people bringing dogs to work – has been in place at The HSUS for several years,
not long after I became president of the organization in 2004. Some of our
staff petitioned me, mainly our very persuasive and persistent Jennifer Fearing,
and it didn’t take long for me to buckle to the pressure campaign. I announced
a dogs-in-the-workplace policy, with all the appropriate bells and whistles,
some months later. Jennifer has even co-authored a book on
Falkor, companion to our online media outreach specialist Jennifer Moulton, is ready to work.
On a typical day, we have about 100 pooches at the office,
but it is important to remember that they are spread throughout a large
physical office environment with hundreds of people. What’s amazing is
that you hardly hear the dogs. They are so well-behaved, and seem that
they know they are in a professional setting. There’s a woof or a bark every
once in a blue moon, and the ears go down since they know they’ve committed a
transgression. Hearing a growl is almost as rare as a sighting of Bigfoot.
Most dogs sleep through the day, with their slumber
interrupted by a periodic walk or even a gambol around the building. It’s good
for the dogs and the staff to stretch their legs, and for the dogs to do their
business. Our employees report a decrease in stress and appreciate not having
to leave their canine companions at home all day, or to pay the costs of pet
sitter or dog walker. A study
by Central Michigan University shows that allowing dogs in the
workplace results in a more cohesive and effective working environment. This
policy also increases employee retention, productivity and morale. And let’s
face it, as highly social animals, dogs are much happier hanging around their
people all day.
Along with being the first day of summer, today also happens
to be the 15th annual Take Your Dog To Work Day.
Created by Pet Sitters International™ in 1999, TYDTW Day honors the human-animal
bond, promotes adoption of homeless pets, and gives employers the opportunity
to see how beneficial a pet-friendly workplace can be.
If you brought your dog to work today, show us! Post a photo
or video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine with the hashtag #takeyourdog.
Today, in an unprecedented outcome in the history of
congressional action on the Farm Bill, the full House rejected the bill
advanced to the floor by House leadership. The HSUS and a large coalition
of organizations opposed the bloated, regressive potpourri of
agriculture-related measures for a wide variety of reasons. Even though the
bill did include the HSUS-backed proposal to make it a federal crime to attend
or bring a child to an animal fight, The HSUS opposed the bill because of the
noxious “King amendment,” authored by Rep. Steve King, R- Iowa, that would have
repealed dozens of state laws on animal protection. In addition, Republican
leaders denied lawmakers the opportunity to offer three key animal protection
issues on the floor for votes – one banning barren battery cages for laying
hens, a second to crack down on horse soring, and the final one to stop the
slaughter of American horses here at home and in neighboring countries. The
vote was 195 in favor, and 234 against.
Unless the House leadership twists arms, and replays the
vote next week, this Farm Bill is dead and the Agriculture Committee will have
to start the process again – or cobble something together behind-closed-doors (an increasingly common slap at open democratic decision-making) – if it wants to renew a substantial number of
American agricultural policies.
In the other chamber, in a second major win for animal protection today,
the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote an amendment,
offered by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to bar the
U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at horse slaughter plants in the
United States. This comes just a week after the House approved an
identical amendment by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Bill Young, R-Fla., to do
the same thing.
We don’t know what House Republican leaders will do on the
Farm Bill, now that the House has rejected it. But we do know, whether it’s on
the Farm Bill or in the form of independent legislative proposals, the American
people want reform on animal welfare. Hens should not be confined in cages and
hardly be able to move. Walking horses should not be subjected to torture to
have them perform better in shows and win prizes. And no American horses should be funneled
into the slaughter pipeline for human consumption. Finally, the states should
have a right to adopt policies to protect animals and not have their own
deliberative processes undercut by the federal government on agriculture
It was an important day for animal protection in Washington.
Stay engaged, and if you do, we’ll see positive outcomes for animals.
at the history of any social reform movement, and you’ll see heroes who led the
way. Yet the historical record is also peppered with people who did
the opposite, blocking progress by any means they could muster. Those
leaders and those obstructionists also did their handiwork in legislative
bodies, including in our Congress. When the subject of women’s rights came up,
male lawmakers mocked the notion. When civil rights emerged as an issue,
some white lawmakers stood in the way, spewing hatred that gave voice to their
prejudices and dim view of the world. Until, that is, they were overcome by the
forces of history, and the power of right.
is the case today with animal welfare, with strong leaders driving needed
change. But there remain a small number of lawmakers who shill for outliers in
the agribusiness industry and others who have no regard for the well-being of
animals, and simply see them as economic opportunities in the waiting.
night, the House Republican leadership made a statement about animal welfare
and their disregard for that universal value in our society. The Rules
Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions, denied the full House the opportunity to
debate three critical bipartisan amendments: to codify a national agreement to
approve the welfare of egg-laying hens in barren battery cages – and to nix the
amendment and its attack on states’ rights, to end
the shameful slaughter of healthy American horses for human consumption,
and to crack
down on horse soring (deliberately inflicting pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses in training and in
the show ring).
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Rules Committee approved more than 100 amendments for consideration, but not
one animal welfare amendment. The members chose to include amendments for
floor debate on promotion and research on natural stone, Christmas tree taxes, and on the spiny dogfish,
but could not find their way to allowing debate on policies to help hundreds of
millions of animals suffering right now. Mind you, the egg industry reform
bill was a compromise measure among all the key stakeholders – producers,
animal welfare groups, consumers and scientists. It was not going to require an
act of courage to ratify it, but merely a sensible execution of their
the beef and pork lobbies, and the Farm Bureau, demanded its demise. Maybe
we would listen to these people if cows and pigs laid eggs, but they do
not. These special interests simply want to obstruct any progress on
animal welfare, and no decent-minded lawmakers should heed their reckless
demands. Their worldview is that that we’ve reached the end point of
animal welfare policymaking, or more honestly, that there should be no
policymaking at all for farm animals.
Speaker John Boehner announced prior to the Rules Committee fiasco, “The Leader
[Rep. Eric Cantor] and I will encourage the Rules Committee to provide a fair
process that will allow for a vigorous and open debate – the kind of process I
pledged we would have more of in the House when I became speaker.”
called hollow-speak. You cannot make such claims and then just allow
amendments you agree with. This is an abuse of power and an abuse of the
process. There’s no reason that all animal welfare amendments should have
been denied consideration, especially since they were all authored by
respected, mainstream Republican lawmakers with bipartisan cosponsors.
it’s critical that animal advocates contact
their lawmakers and urge them to defeat the Farm Bill, H.R. 1947. Please
do your part.
House Agriculture Committee, which impedes animal welfare at nearly every turn
and has fought positive actions to help animals in many ways, had previously
allowed the King amendment to be inserted into the Farm Bill, even though there
was no underlying bill to examine, no hearings, and no assessment of its
sweeping impact on state law. This reckless measure seeks to nullify state laws
and rules that impose any standard of condition on agricultural
products. That could sweep up and nullify a half dozen state anti-horse
slaughter laws, ten state laws to restrict extreme confinement of pigs and
laying hens, and more than a half dozen bans on the sale of shark fins for
soup. And that’s just the start. It’s the lowest common denominator
approach to policymaking, and puts all states at the mercy of one or a handful
the Agriculture Committee leaders, who worked in tandem with House leadership
to block major animal welfare reforms from even being debated last night, all
fought the provision to crack down on people bringing kids to dogfights and
cockfights and to make it a crime to be a spectator at these awful spectacles
of cruelty. They lost that battle because a majority of their committee
members favored our position. And they knew they’d lose the fight over egg
industry reform and protection of horses, so their only maneuver was to block a
fair and open debate.
the late hours of the night, they made a mockery of their comments about
transparency and open and vigorous debate about the issues that concern
American citizens. Call and email
your House member today and urge him or her to oppose H.R. 1947. It must be
defeated for the sake of our cause, and these lawmakers must hear our roar.
Friday, the California-based Santa Rosa Press Democrat published an editorial
calling out the hypocrisy of the Farm Bill amendment introduced by Rep. Steve
King, R-Iowa, “who will enthusiastically tell you that Washington meddles too
much in state and local affairs. Until he disagrees with local voters and their
elected representatives. Then he's all for Washington laying down the law.”
With the Farm Bill scheduled to come up in the House this week, the paper said
“Congress should let the states — like hens on California farms — spread their
wings, leaving King's amendment to line cages.”
week, Representatives Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., will
try to strike the King provisions with an amendment of their own. The
Denham-Schrader amendment will also attempt to substitute legislation to ban
barren battery cages for laying hens and to drive a transition in the egg
industry toward more humane housing systems.
so much at stake – for more than 250 million laying hens now crammed in small
cages and for more than 150 state laws that could be wiped out if the King
amendment survives. The King amendment is not just an affront to animal
welfare, but also to the longstanding Constitutional rights of the states to
protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens and local businesses.
the amendment ostensibly seeks to target state animal welfare laws, such as California’s
Prop 2 and other anti-confinement laws
and state laws banning horse slaughter, it is so broad and vague that it could
be interpreted to nullify an entire spectrum of state laws dealing with food
safety, labeling, labor and environmental protection. It could also trigger
expensive court cases about any state law related to agricultural products,
from the sale of raw milk, to the labeling of farm-raised fish or artificial
sweeteners, to restrictions on firewood transported into a state in order to
protect against invasive pests and damage to local forests. That’s why the King
amendment is opposed by so many diverse organizations, including the Center for
Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, Natural
Resources Defense Council, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action
Network, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
states to allow commerce in products they have banned is about as heavy-handed
as it gets. If any one state in the country allows the sale of horse meat or
dog meat, every state would have to allow it – it’s the least common
denominator approach to policymaking.
King amendment is especially dubious because there is a much better and more
reasonable solution to the problem of conflicting state laws on agriculture
products – which is to adopt a uniform national standard, not to throw out
standards altogether. This is the idea behind the Egg
Products Inspection Act Amendments, H.R. 1731/S. 820, which would preempt
state standards for laying hens, but replace them with a minimum standard when
it comes to animal welfare (producers, driven by the market, can reach for an
even higher welfare standard, but they can’t fall below the federal rule). If
there is a problem with interstate commerce caused by conflicting state laws,
such as on the housing of egg-laying hens, the more workable and narrow
approach to provide regulatory certainty is the Denham-Schrader amendment –
which is supported by all the key stakeholders, the egg industry, veterinary
groups, leading animal welfare groups and consumer groups.
you have a win-win solution that is better for animals, better for consumers,
and better for the egg industry, it’s time for Congress to get on board.
They’ll have that chance this week, but lawmakers must hear from you.
hope you will put aside what you’re doing and call your U.S. Representative at
(202) 225-3121, or send an email, and
urge him or her to nix the
King amendment and its radical assault on state laws, and support the Denham-Schrader
amendment, which provides a national solution to the problem of intensive
confinement of the more than 250 million laying hens in our country. And please spread
the word to other animal advocates.
The House may also take up two separate amendments on the Farm Bill – one to ban
the slaughter of American horses here at home, but also in Canada and Mexico,
and a second one to strengthen the Horse Protection Act to make “soring”
abuses a felony and to add prohibitions to the law against the use of stacks and
chains on the horses’ feet. I’ll have more to say about these amendments on
tomorrow’s blog, but I’ve written about slaughter and soring frequently and you
can learn about them here
work of The HSUS is grounded on a couple of core principles: animals have the
capacity to suffer, and we humans have the capacity to help them. We hold
all the power over animals and our choices and conduct have enormous
consequences for them. And it’s hardly some far-off or abstract concern,
since they live in our communities, as pets and wild neighbors, and they are
enmeshed in so many sectors of our economy and society, whether in food
production, fashion, science or wildlife management.
warranted, we at The HSUS invoke moral conviction to assure better outcomes for
animals, placing principle ahead of selfish concerns, whether profit or whim or
habit. In some cases, exercising moral choices may require some sacrifice,
whether it’s seen in higher prices for products in the marketplace, or some
tangible inconvenience in our lives. But to make a modest or a meaningful
sacrifice to do good is a mark of our humanity, not some naïve or impractical
notion. It’s a moral imperative when the well-being and even the survival of
others rest with our routines and choices.
often than not, these choices are easy, and hardly require any sacrifice at
all. We can meet the necessities of life and hardly notice the
difference. With the genius and creativity of the human mind, we can
devise alternatives to cruel treatment of animals – and these alternatives
often provide us with equivalent or even superior options.
is a classic case example. Fur itself is beautiful, and for keeping warm it has
practical value. But today, we have natural fiber and synthetic
alternatives that can match fur for style and warmth. If we choose coats
not made of fur, our lives are not diminished in any way. We gain all the
comforts, but we do not needlessly extinguish 20 or 40 animal lives for a
single coat. In this case, human innovation has made the moral path obvious,
and it’s up to us to travel down it.
the case of our ongoing campaign to require that sport hunters swap out lead
ammunition in favor of copper or steel. The evidence suggests that
millions of wild animals – from as many as 130 species – die from lead
poisoning after feeding on carcasses laced with lead shard left behind by
hunters, or in some cases, by foraging on lead pellets left on the ground. The
less harmful types of shot are already available for sale and they have all the
necessary ballistic properties. A simple purchasing preference for less
toxic or non-toxic shot does the trick.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
wildlife issues are more complex, but that doesn’t diminish the need for
active problem-solving. In recent months, with the release of a study from
the Smithsonian Institution that sought to quantify the impact of free-roaming
cats on wildlife, there’s been a high-pitched debate about the issue. We are
one of the few non-profit organizations on the planet with world-class staff
and programs devoted not only to helping cats and other companion animals, but
also wildlife (including running the nation’s largest wildlife rehabilitation center),
so we think we are uniquely suited to guide and lead the debate.
predation on wildlife is a serious issue, but the answer is not to capture
free-roaming cats and kill them – which some wildlife enthusiasts wrongly and
impulsively suggest. Rather, it’s to encourage responsible pet ownership –
including spaying and neutering and, to the greatest extent practicable,
keeping cats indoors. And for free-roaming cats, it involves active
management of colonies through trap-neuter-and-return programs. In this case,
there are no simple answers, but The HSUS brings moral concern for cats and
wildlife, and a realistic view based on long and practical experience with
HSUS reminds thoughtful citizens that there are a dizzying number of moral
choices we have when it comes to animals and our interactions with them. These
are not moral burdens, but moral opportunities. By demonstrating mercy and
intelligence, we have the power to exert a lasting, healthy, and beneficial
impact on the lives of other creatures. And it’s that kind of
transformational change that The HSUS, through decisions of every supporter
like you, seeks to bring to life.