State Lawmaking for Animals Surges in 2013
This year, The HSUS has helped engineer a slew of corporate policy reforms for animals – from factory farming to fur to animal testing policies. We’ve also conducted dozens of animal rescues and other direct interventions to help animals in crisis. We’ve won a raft of legal victories for animals in the courts. And when it comes to public policy, while the Congress has been dysfunctional, we’ve achieved some signature gains in the states. So far in 2013, we have helped to pass 107 new state animal protection measures, and worked to defeat 61 bills that would have been harmful to animals.
There are still two months remaining for the year and we expect more gains, but for now, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most important state legislative victories for animals in 2013:
- California adopted the first state-wide requirement for sport hunters to use lead-free ammunition. Millions of animals are poisoned by lead left behind by hunters, and more than 130 species are affected. We hope this gain provides inspiration to other states and to federal agencies to make the switch to non-toxic ammunition.
- Several Atlantic Coast states – Delaware, Maryland, and New York – adopted bans on shark fins. This follows the work we’ve done in prior years in Pacific Coast states and territories. Next year we will seek a similar reform in Massachusetts and continue engaging stakeholders in Texas and Florida, as well as building on our international efforts to halt this gratuitous and destructive killing of dozens of species of sharks.
- Alabama and North Dakota upgraded their anti-cruelty laws, creating felony-level penalties for certain malicious acts against animals. South Dakota remains the only state with no felony-level penalties for extreme and malicious cruelty to animals.
- Arkansas banned future private possession of primates – including chimpanzees, baboons and macaque monkeys – as exotic pets. It’s part of our broader effort to prevent people from having large, powerful wild animals as pets, since it almost always turns out badly for the animals, and it can result in terrible harm to human beings.
- Nevada upgraded its anti-cockfighting law, to make it a first offense felony. Meanwhile we are poised to succeed in the Congress to make it a federal crime to be a spectator at an animal fighting venture.
- West Virginia joins more than 30 other states that have passed laws to crack down on puppy mills. All of these laws came to be in the last five years, including Prop B in Missouri, which has resulted in the shutdown of more than 600 puppy mills.
- Texas passed a state-wide ban on the use of carbon monoxide gas chambers as a method of euthanasia in animal shelters (our state director in Mississippi worked to end the use of the chambers in that state without enacting a statute, and our state directors in Kansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina are getting close to success in their efforts to end its use in their states as well).
- Our team blocked so-called “ag-gag” legislation in 11 states – Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wyoming and Vermont. These bills were written and advanced as part of an attempt to block undercover investigations by The HSUS and other animal protection groups, mainly at factory farms. These investigations expose illegal and unethical activity at such facilities and are an important part of bringing factory farming abuses to light.
- Oregon and Nevada banned horse tripping, a barbaric practice employed in Mexican-style rodeos.
- Pennsylvania and Tennessee passed laws to require those convicted of animal abuse and cruelty to pay for the animals' cost of care – rather than saddling animal welfare groups that come to the aid of animals in crisis with the burden of paying the freight.
We also secured important gains to protect bobcats in California, to restrict tethering in Oregon, and to increase penalties for poaching in nearly half a dozen states. When it comes to animals, the law must speak and The HSUS is working hard to build a body of law to shield animals from cruelty and abuse. Please get involved with your state and your HSUS state director, and join us in all of our efforts to make this a better world for animals.