November 2013 Blog Home January 2014


20 posts from December 2013


December 31, 2013

HSUS: Animal Care Around the Globe

Animal care is a core part of our organization, whether it’s the deployment of our animal rescue teams or our disaster responders, our setting up of emergency shelters to help animals in crisis, our urban and rural outreach and veterinary work in underserved communities, our international street dog management, our wildlife response, or the daily sanctuary and rehabilitation provided to animals at our network of animal care centers. Here are 10 examples of such work from 2013 – work that saves lives, and work that would probably not get done but for The HSUS and its affiliates.

Animal Care Centers Helping Thousands in Need

Our animal care centers – operated by our affiliates, The Fund for Animals, the South Florida Wildlife Center, and Humane Society International – provided sanctuary and rehabilitation to more than 20,000 animals in 2013. At the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, we acquired an additional 61 acres of land, opened a new veterinary hospital and equine handling center, and continued to provide outstanding care for nearly 1,000 domestic and exotic animals rescued from research laboratories, roadside zoos, captive hunting operations, factory farms, horse slaughter plants, the exotic pet trade, and Bureau of Land Management round-ups.

CABBR burro
Jean-Paul Bonnelly
Burros at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch
in Murchison, Texas.

The South Florida Wildlife Center built two new pools for migratory and shore-birds. The Duchess Sanctuary finished its 4,464 square foot hospital barn thanks to the Ark Watch Foundation, and offered resident horses an additional six miles of fencing – completing the 1,000 acres of pastures for the horses to roam. The Cape Wildlife Center continued to expand its educational offerings to veterinary and other professionals, and further distinguished itself as a provider of care to fishers, bats, and New England cottontails, among other species. The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center near San Diego, Calif., opened its new 5,400 square foot medical, rehabilitation, and operations center, and recorded more than 12,000 volunteer hours of wildlife rehabilitation work.

HSI Latin America completed improvements and construction of wildlife rescue centers in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, we partnered with local wildlife groups to build rescue centers from the ground up, providing an alternative for confiscated wildlife to be rehabilitated and re-released. We increased the animals coming into the rescue centers by 300 percent, resulting in nearly 5,000 animals received. In this past year, we successfully released 240 animals back into the wild in Guatemala.

Contracepting Horses and Other Animals

During 2013, we darted and successfully treated more than 100 mares in Colorado’s Sand Wash Basin Herd as part of our efforts to show the value and impact of the PZP (porcine zona pellucida) vaccine for contraception of animals in specific situations where population management is warranted. We have also contracepted approximately 300 elephants in South Africa in an ongoing program that’s shown impressive success since its inception.

Delivering Street Dog Management That Matters, Worldwide

Humane Society International directly reached more than 61,000 street dogs, providing spay/neuter services, general veterinary treatment, and humane education in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Helping companion animals in developing nations, where there are few animal shelters, presents challenges not seen in the United States. HSI’s street dog programs stand at the leading edge of the trend toward humane management of the world’s 300 million-plus street dogs.

Gopher Tortoises Get to See the Sunlight

Gopher Tortoise Relocation Project
Julie Busch Branaman/The HSUS

In our ongoing efforts to prevent endangered gopher tortoises and other creatures from being entombed at development sites in Florida, we moved 428 tortoises and 368 commensal species in 2013. As a result of our team’s work, 4,000 gopher tortoises have been spared the fate of being buried alive since 2006.

HSVMA-RAVS Teams on the Go

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association-Rural Area Veterinary Services program provided free spay/neuter and veterinary care, valued at more than $1.2 million, to more than 7,000 pets in underserved rural communities in the United States and Latin America, and trained more than 400 veterinary students. In the United States, RAVS staged small animal field clinics in 20 communities on 11 Native American reservations, and veterinarians and technicians logged 40,000 volunteer hours of donated service. Abroad, RAVS provided services to animals in six countries (Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru).

Humane Wildlife Services on the Rise

Over the last year, Humane Wildlife Services solved conflicts (or carried out rescues) involving more than 2,700 animals, encompassing 21 different urban wildlife species. This program has singlehandedly sparked a shift in the nuisance control industry, which can no longer readily deny that professional services can effectively exclude animals from homes and other structures without doing them harm.

Prairie Dogs Get to Live on the Prairie

We’ve rescued nearly 600 prairie dogs from crisis situations at five sites, including the floods that devastated northeast Colorado. We continue to fight the widespread poisoning and land conversion in the western states have imperiled this keystone species and thereby the health of our northern grasslands ecosystems.

Pets For Life Expands its Groundbreaking Outreach

Pets For Life Atlanta Event
Andres Salazar

Pets for Life brought vital pet care services to 12,000 pets, providing 8,773 spay/neuter surgeries in underserved communities in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. In the first year of the Pets for Life training and mentorship program, funded by PetSmart Charities, we provided mentorship to animal shelters and rescue groups in 10 new cities. The first-year grants made it possible to provide service to more than 9,500 pets and to perform 4,200 spay/neuter surgeries. We’ve now helped with implementation of Pets for Life-style programs in 22 communities nationwide.

Response Teams Coming to the Rescue

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team deployed 19 times and rescued more than 2,500 animals from desperate circumstances. Of the animals rescued, 724 were from puppy mills, 489 from animal fighting operations, and 1,567 from situations tied to hoarding and neglect. On the disaster front, our Philippines-based HSI team led an effective animal-related response after Typhoon Haiyan.

World Spay Day Reaches Unprecedented Levels

World Spay Day, a legacy program of the Doris Day Animal League, continued to expand worldwide. This year’s action featured 616 events, 453 event organizers, 38 countries, and 58,572 spay/neuter surgeries worldwide.

In the future, we’ll be conducting even more of this work. And we know that we can count on you to help these animals in crisis. At The HSUS, we work to prevent cruelty to millions and even billions. But we never forget the individual animals and the people who care about them.

December 30, 2013

Law & Order: Special Victims APL Unit

After I was elected president of The HSUS nearly a decade ago – and right on the heels of our corporate combination with The Fund for Animals – one thing I set out to do was to create a dedicated unit of animal protection lawyers to push forward the organization’s humane agenda in the courts, and to support our legislative and corporate campaigns with the best possible legal advice and analysis.

Over the last eight years, our Animal Protection Litigation team has filed more than 130 legal actions, secured 110 favorable rulings for animals in state and federal courts around the country, and won millions of dollars in judgments, settlements, and attorneys' fees from animal abusers. Our in-house team has been able to leverage relationships with more than a dozen of the biggest law firms in the United States, and they deliver millions of dollars’ worth of pro bono services – multiplying our impact many times over. We are especially grateful to the incredible roster of high-profile firms that do incredible pro bono work day in and day out for animals, including Hunton & Willams, Latham & Watkins, Milbank Tweed, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Schiff Hardin, Weil Gotshal, and many other firms that contributed to this year’s legal successes.

These accomplishments, and more, led animal law expert David Wolfson to tell the Huffington Post that The HSUS is “definitely the leading shop for litigation for animal protection.”

This year has been another landmark year, with our litigation team helping endangered whales, delaying horse slaughter plants from opening in the United States, and securing the largest court judgment for animal abuse ever entered in a U.S. court.

Here is our top 10 highlights for 2013:

Multi-Million Dollar Judgment for Slaughterhouse Cruelty

Hallmark investigation

After more than six years of intensive litigation working side-by-side with federal prosecutors, The HSUS’ legal team secured the largest penalty for animal abuse ever: a $155 million judgment against the now defunct Hallmark Meat Packing Company, where HSUS investigators exposed shocking cruelty to downer cows in 2008. The owners and investors can only pay $3.1 million of the judgment, which constitutes the bulk of their remaining assets.



World Trade Organization Ruling Upholding European Union Ban on Seal Trade

In November, the World Trade Organization issued a long-awaited ruling holding that countries can ban the import of animal products based on public moral objections to cruelty. Perhaps the most important legal ruling for animals in a decade, the decision upheld the European Union’s ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts. HSUS and HSI attorneys filed extensive briefing in the case, which could have wiped out many of our key domestic legislative victories.

Upholding California Laws Banning Extreme Confinement, Foie Gras, Trapping, and Shark Finning

Throughout 2013, The HSUS’ litigation team had to grapple with nearly a dozen new lawsuits seeking to overturn the fruits of our legislative victories for animals. In California, we faced down six different lawsuits, bested every challenger, and won rulings upholding the state’s historic bans on cruel trapping methods, force-feeding of ducks for foie gras, shark finning, and abusive confinement of farm animals.

Bringing Captive Chimpanzees Under the Protections of the Endangered Species Act

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted a legal petition filed by our lawyers seeking to list all chimpanzees, whether wild or captive, as endangered. Once finalized next year, the regulation will significantly curtail the use of captive chimpanzees in invasive research and the pet and entertainment trade.

Delaying the Resumption of Horse Slaughter in the United States

Horse slaughter
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

After Congress restored funding for domestic horse slaughter inspections in the fall of 2011, our legal team set out on a two-year legal campaign to forestall the resumption of horse slaughter in the United States. The team filed two legal petitions with USDA and FDA, and then took USDA to federal court. We won a temporary injunction in August, seeking to buy time for Congress to pass proposed legislation to defund horse slaughter. In December, the injunction was lifted, but ongoing state legal actions by the New Mexico Attorney General and others have so far stymied the plants from opening.

Securing Safe Passage for Endangered Whales

Our lawyers scored two major legal victories for some of the world’s most endangered whales. In August, the National Marine Fisheries Service settled our lawsuit over the deadly entanglement of endangered whales in fishing gear. The NMFS will issue new rules to prevent entanglements, and consider closing areas to fishing when whales are present. In December, the NMFS issued a final rule reauthorizing ship speed limits in the habitat of endangered whales in response to a legal petition filed by The HSUS in June 2012. Some of the busiest shipping areas coincide with feeding, breeding, and nursing grounds, and mortality from ship strikes is one of the two primary threats to these species.

Upholding New Federal Regulations Cracking Down on Horse Soring

In July, a federal court upheld new federal regulations to prevent the practice of “soring,” in which trainers abuse horses to force them to perform an unnatural high-stepping gait for competitions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, which were adopted following a 2010 legal petition filed by HSUS attorneys, require that USDA-certified horse industry organizations impose mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act, and authorize the agency to decertify organizations that do not comply.

Blocking Trophy Hunting of Endangered Polar Bears and Antelope

Polar bear
Alamy

Our litigation team squared off with extreme trophy hunting groups seeking to shoot some of the world’s most endangered animals. A federal court struck a blow in August by throwing out a challenge to a federal rule listing the Scimitar-Horned Oryx, the Addax and the Dama Gazelle as endangered. And then the Court of Appeals turned away the Safari Club’s bid to import trophy heads of endangered polar bears shot in Canada. The hunters’ outlandish arguments triggered a hilarious Colbert Report segment lambasting their absurd 'shoot animals to save them' argument.

Holding Puppy Mill Dealers Accountable

In a rare day of reckoning for an unscrupulous puppy mill dog dealer, the owners of a South Florida puppy business were set to stand trial in December for repeatedly selling sick or dying puppy mill dogs to unsuspecting consumers. A last-minute settlement avoided trial, and required the defendants to stop sourcing dogs from puppy mills, follow strict new recordkeeping requirements, and set up a six figure settlement fund to compensate their victims.

First Amendment Victory for Gestation Crate Advertising Campaign

When the Raleigh Transit Authority in North Carolina refused to run our bus advertisement depicting the life of pigs in gestation crates because it was “too negative,” our legal team filed suit under the First Amendment to ensure that consumers would hear our animal welfare message. Shortly thereafter, the city settled the case, agreeing not only to run the single bus ad we requested, but offering to have our ad featured on two city buses for six months.

Indeed, enforcement of the law is as critical as the laws themselves. Our Animal Protection Litigation unit is a fierce force for good, and HSUS backers can take comfort in the knowledge that the best and brightest attorneys are on the case for animals every day of the year. For more information, or to join our legal team for animals, visit our Animal Protection Litigation Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HSUSLitigation.

December 27, 2013

Top 10 News Stories for HSUS in 2013

Today, I round up the top news stories driven by The HSUS. There were certainly other big stories centering on animals, and the publicity surrounding the release of “Blackfish” was perhaps the most notable one, generating massive concern over the plight of captive marine mammals. In New York, grassroots animal advocates put carriage horses on the media radar screen during the mayoral contest there. And the global uproar over the terrorist-driven poaching of elephants and rhinos commanded enormous attention, with pieces in major print magazines and on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”  But on so many crucial topics involving animals—from factory farming to the treatment of horses to the use of animals in labs to a wide range of wildlife issues—it was The HSUS that pushed the debate forward.

AggagAg-Gag Bills Blocked in the States
Arguably, the biggest story of the year was the controversy over ag-gag bills, introduced in 11 states. The New York Times featured the issue on its front page, I appeared on Ellen Degeneres to discuss it, and Jon Stewart hit the topic with his distinct brand of sarcasm. The raft of bills, pushed by agribusiness interests, prompted daily news coverage in California, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wyoming, and other states where the measures were debated. I don’t think a single non-industry newspaper supported the legislation, while at least 49 papers opposed the advance of the bills.

Horse Slaughter Debate Rages in North America and Europe
Horse slaughter was certainly one of the biggest topics of the year, with the horse meat scandal in Europe and the effort to resume slaughter in the U.S. capturing headlines. In Europe, which is the main market for North American horses, horse meat was commingled with beef products, and the Europeans wondered if they could trust the meat industry. In the U.S., there were maneuvers to open plants in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico, even though these businesses have almost no chance of being profitable. Thus far, we’ve staved them off in court, but what happens in 2014 is uncertain. We have secured language in the House and Senate 2014 spending bills to bar USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, but the Congress has not given final approval to the measure.

ChimpsLaboratory Chimpanzees to Find Sanctuary
It was an enormous year for chimps, with NIH announcing it would transfer nearly 90% of government-owned chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service making a preliminary finding that all chimps should be listed as endangered, and the Congress passing a bill to allow NIH to spend money on the transfer and care of government-owned chimps in sanctuaries, which the President signed into law. The New York Times covered all of these developments, as did other major outlets. Our chimpanzee art contest also garnered positive publicity, showcasing the intelligence and creativity of chimps.

Gestation Crates Battered
There were many concrete successes in our campaign to end gestation crate use, including an announcement in Canada about a likely phase-out of gestation crates there. We secured more than a dozen commitments from major companies, including Papa John’s, Quiznos, Bob Evans, IHOP, Applebee’s, Marriott, and Johnsonville Sausage, that they would phase out crates. Just this month, Safeway announced that its entire Eastern division is now 100% gestation crate-free, and Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone wrote an extraordinary piece about farm animals, reviewing much of the progress we’ve made on the crate issue. Tyson Foods remains the primary pork industry mouthpiece defending gestation crate confinement of sows, and the company endured a barrage of negative media attention in connection with my brief run for its board of directors.

WalkinghorseCruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses Out of the Stable and into the Sunlight
Our campaign to halt the cruelty of soring of Tennessee Walking horses garnered enormous attention, with ABC News continuing to expose the abuses. Trainer Jackie McConnell was sentenced for his abuses, trainer Larry Wheelon was indicted (both under Tennessee state law), Congress held a hearing on soring, and the USDA set up mandatory minimum penalties for violations associated with the practice. The PAST Act, legislation to upgrade the federal law against soring, gathered substantial support with more than 250 House members signing on to the bill. The former leader of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association came out in favor of the bill, as did other prominent leaders within the industry.

King Amendment Scorched in Press
Both Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times and Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post called on Congress to reject the King amendment, as did major papers throughout the United States, including USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and even the Des Moines Register. So did Stephen Colbert.  We continued to press the case, in columns and in stories on NPR, about the value of the agreement The HSUS reached with the egg industry that would set a minimum care standard for the treatment of laying hens in the United States. But the beef and pork industries fought it because they don’t want to see any policy advances on animal welfare.

Wolf Killing in U.S. Continues Unabated
It’s been a terrible year for wolves, with states in the Northern Rockies and the Upper Great Lakes slaughtering wolves by the hundreds. They are doing so mainly with the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and snares, although Wisconsin is even allowing dogs to be used. We’ve drawn a line in the sand in Michigan, and launched two referenda there to try to block hunting and trapping of the state’s small population of wolves. M-Live, a consortium of eight newspapers, exposed lies and exaggerations advanced by senior state lawmakers, DNR officials, and a prominent farmer to trump up charges against wolves. Major Michigan papers said the propaganda campaign was a disgrace. We are preparing for ballot fights in November 2014.

DogfightingMassive Dogfighting Bust in the South
We helped lead one of the biggest dogfighting busts in U.S. history, with 14 individuals arrested in four states. The bust helped dismantle a major network of dog-abusers in the South. Meanwhile, in Congress, we secured passage of amendments to the House and Senate Farm bills to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a minor to an animal fight.

Getting the Lead Out of Hunting
In California, we pushed for the enactment of legislation to require the use of lead-free ammunition. It was a big issue in our biggest state, but it reverberated all across the nation, with the hunting and ammunitions industry paying close attention to our effort to drive the shift toward less toxic ammunition.

Shark Finning Losing Favor Throughout the World
We’ve come a long way since Jaws. There is an emerging understanding of the value that sharks play in marine ecosystems, and we worked to enact legislation in three states to ban finning. We also made great gains in China, the EU, and India. We are fending off an effort by the National Marine Fisheries Service to undo the state bans. And we won a major federal case in California that challenged the constitutionality of California’s 2011 ban on the sale of possession of shark fins.

December 26, 2013

Our Biggest International Gains in 2013

In recent days, I’ve recounted some of The HSUS’s wide-ranging accomplishments for 2013, achieved with your help and support. We maintain a separate affiliate, Humane Society International, whose work spans the globe. Indeed, in this era of globalization, with the pathways of trade and transport used  by just about every animal-exploitation industry, we must meet them on that playing field. Here are some of the highlights from HSI’s work for 2013:

A BANNER YEAR FOR ANIMAL TESTING BANS

The European Union implemented a ban on cosmetics tested on animals anywhere in the world, India banned animal testing for cosmetics, and China has agreed to stop requiring animal testing of cosmetics manufactured in the country. HSI’s work was a key factor in all three of these moves.

10-day-old harp seal
Keren Su/Alamy

A DEATH BLOW TO THE CANADIAN SEAL HUNT

The World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld the European ban against Canadian seal products, saying the ban was valid because of public moral concerns about seal welfare.

SAVING STREET DOGS

HSI directly reached more than 61,000 street dogs in 2013, and through our training and advocacy programs helped millions more avoid cruel and misguided dog culling programs and neglect. We have successful programs in Bhutan, the Caribbean, Haiti, India, Latin America, Mauritius, Philippines, and the South Pacific. We build capacity in country by training and working with local groups and veterinarians to spay, neuter, and vaccinate the animals.

SHARK FIN BANS AND REDUCTIONS TAKE HOLD

HSI staff helped to secure a ban on shark finning in India, a revamped anti-finning law in the European Union, and tangible gains in China, including an end to the serving of shark fin soup at some government functions. In Canada, 18 municipalities have banned the sale of shark fin products. The Government of Hong Kong announced it will not serve shark fin products at official functions and urged employees not to consume such products at external functions. Staff members helped The HSUS to secure bans on the trade in shark fin products in three U.S. states, and are working to fend off a proposed rule within the National Marine Fisheries Service that poses the threat of pre-emption of state laws against finning.

FIGHTING FACTORY FARMING ALL OVER THE GLOBE
 
I’ve mentioned that we secured declarations in 20 of 28 Indian states to ban battery cage confinement for laying hens. This sets the stage for a phase out of barren battery cages in India, currently the third largest egg producer in the world. Another huge gain was the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD announcing that it would end its support for companies that rely on barren battery cages and sow stall confinement systems. The EBRD will now require its clients to meet (at a minimum) European Union standards for farm animal welfare. The EBRD annually provides millions of finance dollars to animal agribusiness facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and other nations within Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. As some of the largest firms transition to higher welfare housing systems over the next several years, it will have a positive effect on the lives of billions of animals.

MARINE & OTHER ANIMALS GAIN PROTECTION AT CITES

At the 16th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in March, Humane Society International pushed member nations to adopt protections for commercially valuable marine species such as oceanic whitetip, hammerhead, and porbeagle sharks, as well as manta rays. Member nations also adopted increased protections for a wide range of other species including the African manatee, and more than 40 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises. Rules governing “introduction from the sea” were also finally accepted, which means that animals taken from the high seas that are listed on Appendix I and II of the convention are now subject to CITES trade provisions. In addition, parties to the convention agreed to a raft of recommendations to strengthen rhino and elephant protection in range states, to encourage demand-reduction, and to prevent illegal commercial trade.

RHINO HORN REDUCTION CAMPAIGN

HSI launched an awareness and education campaign with the government of Vietnam to stop the cruel trade in illegal rhino horn, after that nation was declared the largest consuming country of rhino horn in the world.

Bhutan street dog
Kathy Milani/HSI

HELPING HAIYAN’S ANIMAL VICTIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Our practiced international disaster response team reunited pets with their families in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.  We were the first international organization on the ground and rescuing and caring for the animals, as our Philippines-based team responded to the devastation in Tacloban and other communities with textbook efficiency and impact.

ENFORCING DOG FIGHTING LAWS IN LATIN AMERICA

Humane Society International-Latin America supported the first dog fighting raids conducted in Costa Rica. Working with law enforcement staff members participated in raids on two illegal breeding facilities for dogs used in fighting, and rescued 88 dogs from a life of suffering. Many of these were discovered to be bloodlines imported from the United States. In conjunction with the Department of Animal Health of the Ministry of Agriculture, HSI-Latin America developed a guide to understanding and dealing with aggressive dogs, to help government entities put processes in place to protect animals and themselves during raids and handling of dog bites. This guide is in the process of being made official by the government and distributed throughout the country. Over 100 police officers and first responders were trained on the use of the guide.  Additionally, HSI-Latin America started collaborating with the Costa Rican government on animal hoarding, rescuing over 200 cats and 32 dogs from inhumane and dangerous conditions.

UP WITH DOLPHINS, DOWN WITH DOLPHINARIA  

After hard work by HSI and other parties, the United States expanded the scope of its dolphin-safe label to tuna fisheries and dolphins in all oceans. And India banned dolphinaria while its Ministry of Environment and Forests advised state governments to reject proposals to set up amusement parks or aquariums for housing other marine mammals in addition to cetaceans. We blocked the import of 18 belugas to the Georgia Aquarium, which collaborated with SeaWorld to press for import permits.

Indeed, the suffering of animals is bound by no national borders, and not peculiar to any part of the world.  That’s why we’re actively building our international capacity, relying on the core strengths of The HSUS to extend our reach to every dark corner where cruelty festers.

December 23, 2013

Our Top Achievements for Dogs and Cats, at Home and Abroad

The HSUS’ visionary founders did not want to duplicate the work of the local animal shelters. They wanted to complement and augment that work by professionalizing the field and taking on problems beyond the reach of local organizations. In the early years, when it came to companion animals, this included promoting and embedding in our culture the notions of sterilization and adoption, cracking down on animal dealers, and eliminating particularly inhumane methods of euthanasia. Today, The HSUS works on many of the same challenges, but also does so much more in the United States and abroad.

Here are our top 10 accomplishments in 2013 for companion animals.

Animal Fighting on the Run

Animal fighting bust
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

We persuaded the U.S. House and Senate to adopt amendments to the pending Farm Bill to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fight. The HSUS helped lead the nation’s second largest dogfighting raid ever, a four-state operation that resulted in the rescue of some 360 dogs. We also helped to pass legislation to list animal fighting as part of Florida’s organized crime statute, and legislation to strengthen penalties for animal cruelty in Alabama, Hawaii, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oregon.  We participated in several dogfighting operations in Central America, through our Costa Rica office.

Punching up the Pressure against Puppy Mills

Under pressure from The HSUS, the USDA closed a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act regulations that had allowed thousands of puppy mills to sell animals sight-unseen, particularly over the Internet, in order to avoid basic regulation and inspections. With the loophole now closed, the number of puppy mills regulated for basic standards of humane care may double. The HSUS also released the results of two undercover investigations of pet sellers that exposed the true sources of puppies sold in pet stores and at flea markets. The Today Show highlighted our report on the AKC’s links to puppy mills, and our report on the “Horrible Hundred” puppy mills received widespread attention. We also helped to secure 14 new state laws to crack down on puppy mills.

Pets for Life Breaking New Ground

The HSUS’ groundbreaking outreach program brought vital pet care services to 12,000 pets, with 8,773 spay/neuter surgeries provided in underserved communities in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. We completed our first year of the Pets for Life training and mentorship program, funded by PetSmart Charities, providing mentorship to 10 new cities. The first-year grants were a huge success – with more than 9,500 pets served and 4,200 spay/neuter surgeries provided, and Pets for Life has been officially implemented in 22 communities, and counting.

Shelter Pet Project and World Spay Day Reach Millions

The Shelter Pet Project, which promotes adoption of shelter animals in partnership with Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council, generated another $50 million in advertising this year, making it the most successful campaign of its kind in our movement’s history with more than $150 million in total advertising since its inception. In 2013, we partnered with Halo Pet Foundation to create a series of YouTube videos featuring adopters and their pets, with more than 35,800 people pledging to adopt their next pet. And this year’s World Spay Day event involved 453 event organizers in 38 countries, who hosted 616 events and reported 58,572 spay/neuter surgeries worldwide. We added Petfinder as a 2013 partner.

Taking a Big Bite out of Carbon Monoxide Euthanasia

Gas chamber destroyed
Kimberly Alboum/The HSUS

We helped lobby to ban the use of gas chambers in Texas. We also worked to eliminate the last remaining carbon monoxide gas chambers in Mississippi and South Carolina, received commitment from the last shelter using a gas chamber in Illinois to discontinue, and reduced the number of chambers operating in Kansas and North Carolina, while continuing to push for statewide bans in Kansas and Michigan.






Rescue Central Has its Debut

We launched “Rescue Central,” a first-of-its-kind effort to reach, support, and unify the nation’s rescue groups. More than 14,000 rescuers have used the Rescue Central website resources to date, and the Rescue Central forum has nearly 200 active members. The Rescue Central webinar series is bringing best practices education directly to hundreds of rescue group members. And The HSUS made grants of $257,000 to 31 rescue groups through the Lowell Fund. In the meantime, our Animal Rescue Team deployed 18 times and rescued more than 2,500 animals from situations of extreme cruelty. Of the animals rescued, 724 were from puppy mills, 489 from animal fighting operations, and 1,567 from hoarding and neglect.

HSVMA in the Field

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association provided free spay/neuter and veterinary care valued at more than $1.2 million to more than 7,000 pets in under-served rural communities in the United States and Latin America while training more than 450 veterinary students. Close to 7,000 veterinary professionals have now become HSVMA members, and more than 675 veterinarians worked with HSVMA on legislative initiatives throughout the year.

Ramping up on Cat Protection and Policy

We launched the “Rethinking the Cat” day-long training symposia series to improve outcomes for cats nationwide. We conducted statewide legislative advocacy in 9 states and additional policy-related outreach to more than 50 municipalities across the United States to encourage policies and initiatives relating to cat ordinances, trap/neuter/return programs, eliminating feeding bans, and mitigating disease control issues. In partnership with PetSmart Charities, we developed the “Supporting Community Cats” webinar series, a three-track, 18-session series of trainings designed to save more cat lives through innovative outdoor cat management.

Helping Street Animals All Over the Globe

Feral cat colony
Don Bok

Humane Society International reached more than 61,000 street dogs, providing spay/neuter services, general veterinary treatment, and humane education in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Whether in India, where we have been working with government agencies and private companies like the Tata Trust; or in Bolivia and Costa Rica, where we are working with governments to control dog populations humanely, we are introducing transformative approaches to a problem that used to result in the horrible killing of animals 100 percent of the time. 

Putting a Stop to the International Dog Meat Trade

Humane Society International hit the dog meat trade hard in 2013, with action in Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Our work included a focus on enhancing enforcement of the current ban on the trade in the Philippines, and the seizure of dog transports and other collaborative efforts with government officials in Thailand and Vietnam who are committed to a ban on the illegal, international trade in dog meat.

It’s an extraordinary range of work, unparalleled in impact and reflecting our commitment to protect dogs and cats all over the world, no matter the old ideas or economic interests standing in the way.

December 20, 2013

Nation Needs to Quit Horsing Around - Protect Horses

This has been a big and challenging year for horses, with many equine issues covered in the news throughout 2013. There was the horse meat scandal in Europe, a move by the horse slaughter industry to resume killing on U.S. soil, continued excessive and often harsh round-ups of wild horses and burros in the West, Congressional hearings on the abuse of Tennessee walking horses and high-profile prosecutions of abusive trainers, and drugging of horses within the horse racing industry. There are so many challenges, and these issues are in great flux, but I want to point to progress we’re making, or at least the promise of change when it comes to the mistreatment of horses.

Defunding Horse Slaughter in the Congress

Horse slaughter
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

We successfully advocated for passage of amendments in the House and Senate Appropriations committees offered by U.S. Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and the late Bill Young R-Fla., and U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La. and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, respectively, to defund horse slaughter inspections – language requested for the first time by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the president’s budget. The Congress is expected to take up the final FY 2014 spending bill in January, and if lawmakers retain the anti-slaughter language, we’ll restore the ban on horse slaughter in the United States, which had been in place from 2007 - 2011.



Playing it SAFE

We worked with U.S. Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sens. Landrieu and Graham, to introduce the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States and prohibit the export of horses abroad for that purpose. The House and Senate bills have nearly 200 cosponsors between them, and they enjoy strong bipartisan support. While defunding helps prevent slaughtering on U.S. soil, only the passage of the SAFE act will prevent the slaughter of our horses throughout North America.

Taking on the USDA on Horse Slaughter Permits

When the USDA issued grants of inspection to domestic horse slaughter plants, we filed a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act and obtained a temporary restraining order, delaying horse slaughter plants from opening in New Mexico, Iowa, and Missouri. Those lawsuits blocked the opening of plants for four months, and now we are working at the state level to stop them from ever opening.

Putting PZP out on the Range for Wild Horses

Wild horses
Jacquelyn Pyun/The HSUS
A wild herd of horses in Colorado that The HSUS is
managing using immunocontraception.

We have continued our push to get the Bureau of Land Management to scale back its wild horse round ups, and to increase its fertility control efforts. A National Academy of Sciences report issued in May called for an increased use of on-the-range management tools, including the fertility control drug PZP. The Environmental Protection Agency granted approval of an equine immunocontraceptive vaccine developed by the USDA. The vaccine will be applied to adult female wild or feral horses and burros, and is the first single-shot, multi-year wildlife contraceptive for use in mammals.

Protecting Burros through the Platero Project

We launched the Platero Project to promote the protection of wild burros managed by the BLM. The aim of the project is to develop partnerships and programs to research the effectiveness of contraceptive vaccines on wild burro herds and to reduce the number of wild burros currently living in BLM holding areas, by increasing adoptions and relocating difficult to place burros to sanctuaries.

Finding Allies among Responsible Horse Breeders

We formed the Responsible Horse Breeders Council in recognition of the key role breeders can play in reducing horse suffering. The council has enlisted the support of more than 1,000 horse breeders from around the country who have pledged to assist with horses they’ve bred in the event that they become homeless or at-risk for slaughter.

Pushing the PAST Act

In April, U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced H.R. 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, and in August, Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Mark Warner, D-Va., introduced the companion bill, S. 1406, to finally rein in the cruel soring of Tennessee walking horses and other related show horse breeds. The House bill had a successful hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Committee in November. The PAST Act has nearly 300 cosponsors in the House and Senate – more than any other animal protection bill in Congress – and it is endorsed by a host of horse industry groups, including the American Horse Council and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

New Rules Adopted by USDA to Crack Down on Soring

A federal court in Texas upheld anti-soring regulations adopted by the USDA following a legal petition filed by The HSUS, requiring that USDA-certified horse industry organizations impose uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act. The USDA successfully defended its mandatory minimum penalty protocol under the HPA in federal court.

Wheelon Indicted and McConnell Guilty – Again

Horse soring
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Horse "soring" should be a thing
of the PAST.

On Dec. 2, walking horse trainer Larry Wheelon and three of his employees were indicted by a Tennessee grand jury on charges of violating the state’s law against soring. The HSUS had previously assisted the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Blount County SPCA, and Horse Haven of Tennessee with the seizure of 19 horses allegedly subjected to soring in Wheelon’s training barn. In July, Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell and two associates entered guilty pleas to charges of abusing horses in violation of Tennessee’s cruelty to animals statute. McConnell pled guilty to 22 counts of animal cruelty, and to avoid jail time, agreed to a sentence of one year’s house arrest followed by four years of supervised probation, a $25,000 fine, and a prohibition on his owning and training horses for 20 years.



Rewards and Recognitions Programs

The HSUS announced a new reward program to help expose corrupt activities within the “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee walking horse show industry. The reward offers up to $5,000 for any tip leading to an arrest and conviction for bribery, intimidation, fraud, or other corrupt activities related to the inspection of Tennessee walking horse shows. The HSUS also rolled out the “Now That’s a Walking Horse!” grant and recognition program to recognize humanely trained flat shod Tennessee walking horses.

We are battling round-ups of wild horses, slaughter of tens of thousands of American horses, and soring of walking horses. The HSUS is committed to continuing the fight on all fronts, and turning around all of these problems. We’ll need your help in each case. Horses have served humanity for centuries, and it’s time to treat them with dignity and respect; not as vermin on our public lands, slabs of meat in the waiting, or instruments for trainers to manipulate and abuse to win ribbons at horse shows.

December 19, 2013

Scurrilous Treatment of the Top Dog

We humans like to be top dog. We feel threatened by other predators, especially wolves. Though they are the forebears of the domesticated dog – and we’re in their debt for this contribution to civilization, family life and to countless human hobbies and enterprises – we’re still threatened by the wild, non-domesticated canids who’ve managed to survive our sustained onslaughts. Like us, they are powerful, wide-ranging, and leave much in their wake. Wolves also travel in packs, and that form of social organization, which we admire as an example of loyalty and cooperation, is also all the more forbidding because it is mobile and it concentrates their power.

Grey Wolf
Alamy

Wherever you live in the United States, there’s a good chance gray wolves once roamed your state. But year-round killing allowances and bounty programs, combined with an army of government hunters who killed wolves by land and air with an array of poisons, traps, and firearms, put an end to that, except in a fraction of their original range.

But a greater understanding of the value of apex predators, along with the federal Endangered Species Act, put them on the road to recovery in certain parts. But intolerance runs high, and federal and state officials have withdrawn protections in the last few years and unleashed an orgy of wolf killing, concentrated in the northern Rockies and the upper Great Lakes. Just this week, the public comment period closed on another proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protections in just about every other part of the country.

We know what will happen if wolves are de-listed nationally, because we’ve seen how we as a species have behaved in the West and Upper Midwest. In Wisconsin, hunters chase down wolves with packs of dogs. In Michigan, they bait the animals and use predator callers to lure them into the open. In Minnesota and other wolf-killing states, most wolves die in the vise grip of a trap, freezing in sub-zero temperatures as their legs are crushed within the unforgiving jaws of a steel trap or a noose tightens around their neck as they vainly try to escape.

The cruelty of the wolf killers knows no bounds. This week, in the small, remote town of Salmon, Idaho, some ruthless people are hosting a “wolf derby.” The contest, which runs Dec. 28-29, will reward teams of two with cash prizes and trophies for shooting the largest wolf or killing the most coyotes. Children as young as 10 years old are encouraged to participate in the killing, and even have their own prize categories. Fur buyers will be at the event to purchase pelts.

This is a wolf massacre. Rewarding shooters (including young children) with prizes takes us back to an earlier era of wanton killing that so many of us thought was an ugly, ignorant and closed chapter in our history.

There is no law or regulation on the books in Idaho that prohibits contest kills like this one. Idahoans can contact the Idaho Fish and Game commissioners and ask that they pass regulations that prohibit events like this one. If you live outside of Idaho, please contact the sponsors of this event and politely ask them to pull their sponsorship.

Whether in Idaho or elsewhere, it will take the collective voices of all of us to shame people who have irrational fears of wolves and who act with malice toward these noble creatures.

Idahoans: Tell the Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game to Stop This Cruel Event >>

December 18, 2013

Forging Farm Animal Progress in 2013—Top 10 HSUS Advancements

The worst thing in politics, it is said, is to be ignored.

No risk of that happening with The HSUS, especially on farm animal protection.

Feedstuffs noted that The HSUS has “achieved a foothold in the food industry and consumer media.” Meatingplace told its readers that “HSUS and its efforts are having an impact.” Pork magazine said our strategies are “masterful,” and at the World Pork Expo, The HSUS was described as a “tough opponent,” “formidable,” and “sophisticated.” Another observer notes that agribusiness media outlets discuss HSUS 500 percent more than any other animal protection organization.

Pigs in gestation crates
The HSUS

The HSUS was founded 60 years ago to confront cruelties of such vast scope that their cessation required a potent national force. As The HSUS’s first board chairman, Robert Chenoweth, stated, “the American humane movement needed an organization that would tackle the problems which, because they were national, were beyond the views and the powers of any local society.”

I’m proud that 2013 was yet another year of progress on the farm animal front.  Here are our Top 10 Accomplishments for Farm Animals in 2013:

1. Reducing the number of animals eaten domestically and internationally

It’s not sustainable to raise 9 billion farm animals for food in the U.S., or 70 billion worldwide. We’re helping reduce total numbers to spare animals from factory farming and seeing that the animals raised are more humanely treated and receive greater care from farmers on the land. In 2013, we helped school districts from coast to coast, including some of the nation’s largest, adopt “Meatless Monday” programs. Our work with Los Angeles Unified School District alone switched an estimated 34 million meals each year from meat-based to meat-free. We also helped dozens of organizations internationally—from New York to China and Vietnam—promote Meatless Monday menus. Overall, we garnered nearly 100 institutional-level Meatless Monday policies in 2013.

2. Shifting the food industry away from cruel gestation crates

Gestation crates have been decried for decades by animal advocates, but it wasn’t until recently that their demise became, as Meatingplace wrote, “inevitable.” Following our success last year galvanizing McDonald’s, Burger King, Kroger, and dozens of other major food companies to oppose gestation crates, 2013 saw many more companies added to that list. This year alone, we helped Papa John’s, Quiznos, Bob Evans, Applebee’s, IHOP, Johnsonville Sausage, Marriott, Ahold (owner of Giant and Stop & Shop), and others join the movement. Now, more than 60 of the largest food companies are saying ‘no!’ to gestation crates and demanding more humane alternatives in their pork supply chains.

3. Moving Canada toward a gestation crate-free future

In 2013, Canada’s largest retailers (Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Metro, Loblaw, Safeway Canada, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys, and Co-op Atlantic) made a joint announcement opposing gestation crates while enacting a timeline for their suppliers to move away from the practice. Shortly after, Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council, which sets the country’s farm animal welfare policies, announced its draft code of practice for the pork industry, which includes a phase-out of the lifelong confinement of breeding pigs. Additionally, Olymel, Canada’s largest pork processor, announced that it will eliminate gestation crates from its operations—another major win for pigs. We are also helping the pork industry in South Africa meet their commitment to phase out the crates.

4. Blocking meat industry-backed anti-whistleblower “ag gag” bills in 11 states

Anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills seek to criminalize whistleblowing investigations that spotlight factory farms’ and slaughterhouses’ routine animal abuse and food safety problems. In 2013, agribusiness pushed fifteen bills in eleven states. Not a single one of these dangerous bills has passed so far this year, thanks to The HSUS’s legislative campaigns and partnership with other organizations.

5. Building a more humane economy

HSUS personnel played a major role in helping to develop Hampton Creek, a plant-based food company featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Washington Post, and backed by the likes of Bill Gates and PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel. And our investments in plant-based “meat” company, Beyond Meat, and restaurant chain Veggie Grill helped accelerate their growth and create more options for conscious consumers in the marketplace. This coincides with social leaders promoting a more plant-centric diet, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Pastor Rick Warren, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Z, and Beyoncé.

6. Litigating against factory farms

HSUS litigators worked with California’s Attorney General to successfully defend the state’s historic bans on force-feeding and abusively confining farm animals—scoring four straight legal wins for the animals. We took legal action on behalf of consumers who were duped into buying factory-farmed chicken, mislabeled as “humanely raised,” and on behalf of neighbors of factory farms in rural communities of Minnesota and Iowa. We successfully petitioned the USDA to end the slaughter of veal calves too sick or injured to walk. And we worked with pro bono lawyers from Milbank Tweed and federal prosecutors to secure the largest penalty for animal abuse ever: a $500 million symbolic judgment against the now defunct Hallmark Meat Packing Company, where HSUS investigators exposed shocking cruelty to downer cows in 2008.

7. Curbing factory farming’s spread across the globe

We’ve persuaded the majority of India’s 28 states, and the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, to agree with the Animal Welfare Board of India’s 2012 statement that barren battery cage confinement is in violation of the nation’s animal cruelty laws. This sets the stage for a phase out of barren battery cages in the country, which is currently the third largest egg producer in the world.  We’re also making progress in other parts of Asia. In only three months, our Meatless Monday campaign in China has had great success, with seven restaurants having already joined the movement.

8. Reaching faith-based communities with a message to eat mercifully

Thousands of members of faith-based communities participated in HSUS Faith Outreach programs in 2013, to advance dialogue on factory farming issues and encourage the shift toward eating with a conscience and a more merciful diet—one based on stewardship of farm animals rather than domination of them.

9. Organizing farmers against factory-style production and helping them reach and connect with consumers

We announced new HSUS Agriculture Advisory Councils in Ohio and Iowa, working with family farmers who practice humane and sustainable agriculture. We hosted a workshop helping Nebraska farmers become certified by animal welfare programs. And in Nebraska and Colorado, we hosted farm tours educating people on higher animal welfare practices and family farms.

10. Putting farm animals in the mainstream media

In 2013, The HSUS’s work protecting farm animals—reducing consumption, improving conditions, and giving them a presence in the legal system and beyond—generated massive public attention to their plight. We leveraged the debate over ag-gag bills to discuss the inherent cruelties with factory farms on Ellen, CNN, and so many other outlets. We secured editorials in the nation’s largest newspapers condemning factory farming practices. And we saw feature-length pieces in Salon.com, RollingStone.com, and other outlets that allow long-form journalism.

December 17, 2013

Blogs That Engaged and Enraged in 2013

So far this month, I’ve written about our biggest accomplishments of 2013, reported on our progress for wildlife in 2013, and taken measure of your favorite HSUS videos of the year. And I’ll continue running down our gains in particular subject areas, such as equine protection, direct care, and companion animals over the next few days. Today, I wanted to share the most clicked-on blogs of the year - another indication of the things you found important and newsworthy.

TX Puppy Mill
Mark Greenberg/The HSUS

Most of you, like me, appreciate good news. The top blogs of the year celebrate some of the gains we’ve made, with the readers’ favorite being the announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized the rule bringing Internet sellers of puppies under the agency’s regulatory authority. When the House defeated the Farm Bill, we all celebrated its demise, because the King amendment was part of the package (the House took up a modified bill later on, and passed the measure, so the King amendment is still with us and we are fighting that battle now in the House-Senate conference committee).

You also like compelling new information, and the blogs about the American Kennel Club, cats and wildlife, and the documentary “Blackfish” got your attention. The horse meat scandal in Europe and the ongoing crisis with American horses going to slaughter also attracted a lot of views. 

What’s so unique about The HSUS is its reach into so many issues, and its decisive impact. We as a community care about so many different animals, and together, we support and applaud efforts to turn around these problems and come to the animals’ aid.

Top 10 Blog Posts for 2013 (in order):

  1. USDA Announces Landmark Rule to Crack Down on Online Puppy Mills
  2. The King (Amendment) Is Dead. Long Live the Animals
  3. Miracle Horse Returns Favor
  4. TODAY Show Exposes Link Between Puppy Mills and the AKC
  5. Widening Horse Meat Scandal Prompts Action in the EU
  6. Cats and Wildlife: An HSUS Perspective
  7. Puppy Mill Horror Uncovered in Mississippi
  8. USDA Approves Horse Slaughter, Despite Overwhelming Opposition
  9. “Blackfish” Is a Must-See Film for Summer
  10. Turn Up the Heat

December 16, 2013

Gotta Have Heart – for Orcas

You’ve got to love it when a group called Heart spurns SeaWorld on account of its keeping killer whales captive for entertainment at its theme parks. Heart is one of eight major bands that have cancelled out on SeaWorld’s “2014 Bands, Brew and BBQ Fest” since the documentary “Blackfish” aired. The other names – all major players in the music industry – are REO Speedwagon, .38 Special, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Cheap Trick, Barenaked Ladies, and Willie Nelson. In addition, Joan Jett and Edgar Winter have reportedly asked SeaWorld not to use their music in the theme parks’ shows. That’s some list, and some rebuke. Just two musicians set to appear haven’t yet made the pledge.

The action taken by these performers amounts to a run on the bank when it comes to SeaWorld’s cultural capital. It’s an indicator of the tremendous slippage in the theme park’s reputation since February 2010, when the orca whale Tilikum killed trainer Dawn Brancheau and SeaWorld officials threw the dead trainer under the bus, suggesting that the incident was her fault.

Orca
Hakan Karlsson

It’s also the sign of the tremendous power of culture in stimulating and shifting public discussion. Over the weekend, the legendary Miami Herald writer and satirist Carl Hiaasen praised the impact of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Blackfish”in raising awareness of SeaWorld’s cruelty in keeping such majestic creatures of the oceans in “extreme and stressful confinement” in “glorified guppy ponds.” CNN created a cultural moment around the issue several months ago, with its repeated airing of the documentary. Like David Kirby’s 2012 book “Death at SeaWorld,” “Blackfish” examines the heart-wrenching misery associated with whale capture and captivity and the entire history of fatal accidents that culminated in Brancheau’s death.

Not long ago, SeaWorld’s primary investor, the private equity firm Blackstone Group, announced its decision to trim its ownership share from 63 percent to 45 percent. This means that SeaWorld will no longer be a controlled company and will eventually have to appoint a majority of independent directors. This could bode well for the end of captive orca performance at the theme park, something The HSUS began campaigning for in the early 1990s and a position from which we’ve never wavered. 

Yet Hiaasen’s column warns of SeaWorld Entertainment’s record take of $120 million in the third quarter of 2013, and of its likely ability to weather the storm of Blackfish, just as it did with the film “Free Willy,” and Kirby’s book in prior years. In mid-November, SeaWorld appealed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ruling that the park, having subjected trainers to a hazardous environment, would be required to keep humans out of the water with killer whales unless physical barriers were present to reduce the risk of serious injury or death.

And in September, the Georgia Aquarium and SeaWorld – part of a consortium trying to import 18 wild-caught belugas (of which SeaWorld would take 11) – appealed the ruling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association that such action would further the decline of the wild beluga population from which the whales were captured.

As part of this genuine grassroots uprising against SeaWorld, we’ll be asking Justin Moore and Scotty McCreery to cancel their appearances, too. And we’re asking consumers to take their entertainment dollars elsewhere until SeaWorld Entertainment ends its captive whale performance programs and its support for taking whales from the ocean. However long that takes, 2013 will be remembered as a year in which an absorbing film, aired in prime time on a national network, placed the issue in front of millions of viewers worldwide, stirring the conscience of the American public and setting the stage for a strong moral correction on the treatment of whales in captivity.