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535 posts from Actions to Help Animals


April 23, 2014

Creating Safer Communities for Cats and Wildlife

Every year, Spring delivers babies. And these newborn birds and mammals are particularly vulnerable to predators, including outdoor cats. Too often, folks have lined up on one side or the other – for feral cats or for wildlife. 

Yellow warbler
John Harrison/THE HSUS
Whether you’re a 'bird-person' or a 'cat-person' there is a common ground that will create safer communities for all animals.

Here’s where we stand: We’re for both.  All animals deserve protection. And in terms of the debate and on-the-ground care of cats and wildlife, we have experts and professional staff in both realms dedicated to finding humane solutions.

Our broad engagement for all species is one reason we’re involved in a broad public debate over outdoor cats, as in a recent op-ed exchange in the San Diego Union-Tribune that included a submission by The HSUS’ Wildlife Scientist John Hadidian and San Diego Humane Society CEO Gary Weitzman, and another by a representative of the San Diego Audubon Society. 

The HSUS aggressively promotes public education programs and humane management practices, including spay-and-neuter programs for owned cats as well as colony management programs like Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).  These programs reduce the number of outdoor cats by urging people to keep pet cats indoors, thereby cutting down on reproduction among free-roaming or community (feral and stray) cats and stabilizing and reducing their numbers over time.  This, we believe, is the only positive way forward, since the vast majority of citizens will never accept mass round-ups and euthanizing of feral cats.  Our approach is the best practical option. 



Cat
iStockphoto
Indoor cats can live long, healthy, happy lives and keeping your cat indoors can save the lives of other animals.

The outdated strategy of trapping and killing feral cats is generally ineffective. Moreover, if that were the only alternative, we’d lose overnight the enormous investments in cat management made by TNR practitioners and cat lovers.  And they would never participate in a round-up and kill approach, so there’s no way such a round-up could ever succeed.

While TNR and other sterilization projects may not produce substantial results overnight, they can reduce impacts over time.  What’s more, the vast national community of cat lovers can make the largest possible difference of all to help baby wildlife– simply by keeping their cats indoors or safely confined to their property.

There are more than 70 million owned cats in the United States but only 60 percent of these live safely indoors. Indoor cats can live long, happy, healthy lives, and keeping your cat indoors can also save the lives of other animals. Getting cats spayed or neutered and keeping collars and visible identification on them at all times can help decrease the overall population of community cats, keeping both your cat and wildlife safe.   If your cat really wants to explore the great outdoors, consider building or buying a catio or screened-in porch area for them to relax and bird-watch at their leisure.  Many adventurous cats can also be trained to enjoy walks on a harness and leash.  

Even if you don’t live with cats, there are many things you can do to protect all animals. These include:

  • Getting involved with a local effort to boost indoor cat programs.
  • Promoting the use of collars and visible ID.
  • Supporting programs that work to manage community cat populations.
  • Spaying and neutering any unowned cats that you or your neighbors may be feeding.
  • Subsidizing the cost of spaying or neutering for cat owners who cannot afford it.
  • Supporting local wildlife rehabilitation facilities to help injured birds and other animals.
  • Making your backyard safer for wildlife by using humane deterrents to keep outdoor cats out of your yard.

Whether you’re a “bird-person” or a “cat-person” there is a common ground that will create safer communities for all animals. An easy first step is to sign The HSUS’ pledge to keep cats and wildlife safe. 

April 18, 2014

Discover Multiple Ways to Help The HSUS Fly

So many people support The HSUS because we are the top animal-care provider in our field and also the most influential and impactful advocacy organization, battling against dogfighting, puppy mills, the trade in ivory and rhino horn, commercial whaling, factory farming, and so many other problems.

Puppy Mill
Skymiles donations have helped staff travel on critical animal rescue missions, including puppy mill rescues

But in addition to making a gift to The HSUS, you can help bolster programs with our corporate supporters.

Over the past year, donations of Delta Airlines Skymiles have helped our staff travel on critical animal rescue missions, including puppy mill rescues that saved the lives of thousands of dogs. Surveys you took on SurveyMonkey have so far contributed nearly $800,000 to help the vast spectrum of animal protection programs we work on here at The HSUS, from farm animal protection to companion animal welfare to wildlife protection.

Now, we have new arrangements with Amazon and Discover that make it easier than ever for you to support animals without making too much of an effort. Here’s a short inventory of some easy ways to help:

    ● The new HSUS Discover it® credit card: Every time you use this card, Discover contributes a portion to The HSUS. But with this customized credit card you benefit too, with cash rewards and the ability to see your FICO credit score for free on each monthly statement. Visit Discover.com/HSUS to learn more and apply. Current Discover cardholders can easily convert their existing card by calling the number on the back of their card and requesting the new HSUS card.

    ● Delta SkyMiles Skywish program: This program makes it easy for you to donate your miles to a charity of your choice, and The HSUS is one of the charities featured in the SkyWish program. Visit Delta.com/SkyWish to donate your miles.

    ●AmazonSmile: Amazon.com’s charitable arm donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price of qualifying items to The HSUS when you select it as the charity of your choice. To sign up, visit Smile.Amazon.com and select The Humane Society of the United States.

    ● SurveyMonkey Contribute: By signing up to be a panel member, you will receive surveys from SurveyMonkey clients who need your opinion. For every survey you take, SurveyMonkey will donate 50 cents to help animals in need and you'll be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Sign up here for SurveyMonkey Contribute.

    ● Vehicle Donation: This program turns your used car, van, truck, RV, motorcycle, boat or even airplane into a charitable contribution for The HSUS. Proceeds from the sale of donated vehicles pump much-needed dollars into our programs. Donate your used vehicle today.

As I travel around the country, so many people ask me how they can help. I tell them that becoming a dues-paying member of The HSUS and its affiliates is an essential step. They can also volunteer in numerous ways, from assisting with disaster response, building humane communities in cities around the country, grassroots activism and direct care at our animal care centers. In addition, they can apply to become a District Leader or an intern with The HSUS. But by getting the Discover Card, takings surveys through SurveyMonkey, donating accrued Delta miles, shopping through AmazonSmile, or donating an old vehicle, you can magnify your impact.

I hope you’ll think about doing one or more of these actions today. Every small step makes a big difference for animals and for The HSUS.

April 15, 2014

Seal Slaughter Resumes in Canada

Canada’s bloody commercial seal slaughter resumed yesterday, although with many fewer boats and participants than in past years. The offseason fishermen who seek to kill seals do so only because the federal government provides subsidies to help buy up the pelts. But their actions lead to an extraordinary loss of life in this seal nursery.  Today, I offer my latest video blog and commentary.  

You can help stop Canada’s senseless seal slaughter by making a donation to The HSUS’ Protect Seals campaign, which is hard at work to shut down the commercial sealing industry.

April 07, 2014

See World From Orca’s Eyes

It’s been just a little over four years since the captive orca whale Tilikum killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando. But largely due to a powerful documentary, “Blackfish,” so many Americans now see the issue of cetaceans in captivity from a different perspective, and there are serious questions about whether a business model built around captive display of orcas is either economically sustainable or morally acceptable.

OrcaiStockphoto. 
Orcas are noted for their striking appearance, their intelligence, and their very strong social bonds

The HSUS has long opposed the display of captive whales and other marine mammals for entertainment, and in the early 1990s we created a program to make our case to the public. Orcas, in particular, are noted for their striking appearance, their intelligence, and their very strong social bonds, which rival those of elephants and higher primates.

Yet we could not have imagined the sequence of events that has unfolded since Brancheau’s tragic death in February 2010. In May 2012, a federal judge affirmed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determination that SeaWorld had exposed its trainers to a hazardous environment, violating federal law, and affirmed OSHA’s recommendation that trainers never again be allowed in close contact with the animals unless protected by a physical barrier.

In 2012, St. Martin’s Press published the riveting book “Death at Sea World” by David Kirby, who spoke around the nation about the hazards for trainers and orcas at SeaWorld. “Blackfish” added the visual details to the narrative, and when it aired on CNN a number of times during 2013, it drew huge audiences, especially among young people. When I spoke just a month ago at the University of Oklahoma’s business school, it seemed as if all the students had seen the film.  The film had become a cultural phenomenon, and we recognized its director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, at our Los Angeles 60th anniversary gala a little more than a week ago.

We believe the book and the film provided an important backdrop as The HSUS and other groups pushed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2013 to reject a bid by the Georgia Aquarium and SeaWorld to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales from Russia.  And they also set the stage for the introduction of legislation to end the captive display and performance of orca whales in California. 

In fact, on Tuesday, California state lawmakers serving on the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in Sacramento will conduct a hearing on AB 2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, to phase out orcas in captivity in California.  Assemblyman Bloom’s legislation, if approved, would end the captivity of orcas for the purpose of entertainment in California. The HSUS supports AB 2140, and California residents can use our online alert to contact their Assembly members.

Scientific opinion over the last two decades or so has coalesced behind the case against keeping orcas and other marine mammals in captivity. We are too aware now of their intelligence, social needs, longevity, ranging habits and size, and it’s just harder and harder to accept their turning tricks for audiences day after day.

A few days ago, there were news accounts that attendance at SeaWorld facilities is down 13 percent. The company’s owner since 2009, The Blackstone Group, is filing to sell another 15 million of its shares in SeaWorld (SEAS), after selling off 18 million in December 2013.  That would make Blackstone a minority shareholder, which must make its ownership feel better given the run of events.  In the meantime SeaWorld is acquiring some of those shares, in effect trying to buy itself.  At this point, that may be the only option, since I cannot imagine many companies investing in an enterprise built around the controversial practice of captive display of orcas.  I don’t expect the public will want much to do with such an industry in the years ahead, and the sooner SeaWorld embraces a new model for doing business, the better.

March 21, 2014

Spring Forward -- for Wildlife

The calendar says spring, but winter doesn’t seem to want to release its hold in some parts, with snow forecast again for next week in Washington, D.C.. But rising temperatures and other signs of spring cannot be held off for many more days. 

Squirrel
The first two baby squirrels of the season arrive at the Cape Wildlife Center. These two were brought in after someone found them and disturbed their nest and was not able to reunite them with their mom. See a slideshow of the spring animals at the animal care centers here.

As the air and soil warm, animals also get more active, bringing life with a new season. At our wildlife care centers, that means babies, and lots of them.  In March, April and May last year, our three affiliated wildlife care centers  (in California, Florida, and Massachusetts) took in more than 1,600 animals – from barn owls to turtles to foxes. To help animals at this time of year, there are some ways you can help, or some rules to pass on to neighbors and friends.

Ten Ways to Spring for Wildlife this Spring

  • Create a Humane Backyard. Perhaps the best way to help wildlife this spring is to create your own sanctuary for them in your own backyard, patio, or balcony.

  • Postpone your spring tree cutting. Squirrels and raccoons den in tree hollows with babies, and trees become nest sites for woodpeckers and all manner of songbirds. Your trees may be occupied, so before cutting, survey as best you can for active dens or nests. Learn more about humane spring cleaning here.

  • Scrap the trap. Spring and summer is when wild animals search out secluded dens and nest sites for raising young – and some of those sites may be in your attic, chimney, or under your deck. Whether you are having issues with prairie dogs, skunks, or pigeons, there are resources available to help you and them.

  • Re-nest baby birds. It’s a myth that if you touch a baby bird, the parents will abandon their baby. There are signs to look for to see if they need help here.

  • Don’t kidnap fawns. People don’t realize that it’s entirely normal for deer to “park” their fawns in yards or other “hiding” spots.  The doe will only visit and nurse her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators to her scent.  Unless you know that the mother is dead, or if the fawn has been crying and wandering around all day, leave him or her alone. 

  • Leave baby rabbits. If the nest is intact and the babies are not injured, leave them be. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2-3 times a day. If you’re concerned, you can put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse them. If the X stays perfectly in place for 12+ hours, they may be orphaned and need to go to a wildlife rehabilitator.

  • Put up your woodchuck fence. Set up protection for your vegetable garden now - see our tips for preventing conflicts with woodchucks here.

  • Contain your trash. Many wild animal “problems” are actually created by poor garbage disposal practices. Keep trash indoors until the morning of pick-up, use an outdoor storage container (available at home building stores), or use Animal Stopper garbage cans, which have built in bungee cords and are virtually raccoon proof.

  • Don’t rush to judgment about rabies . It’s false that seeing raccoons, foxes, or coyotes active during daylight means they have rabies.  Only if they are acting strangely --- circling, dragging themselves, acting injured or unusually aggressive or tame, should you call an animal control officer for assistance.

  • Support your local wildlife rehabilitator and follow our animal care centers. In addition to volunteering or providing financial support, you can help by donating towels and blankets and other items to wildlife care centers. You can get other tips and learn of rescues and release stories by liking Humane Wildlife Services and our affiliated animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers on Facebook: South Florida Wildlife Center, The Fund for Animals Wildlife CenterCape Wildlife CenterDuchess Sanctuary, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and Doris Day Equine Center.

The HSUS is our nation’s largest animal care provider, and much of that work involves protecting wildlife. Wildlife need our help, especially during the spring.

March 18, 2014

Sounding the Alarm on Horse Soring

 

2013_NationalCelebrationShelbyville
A horse at the National Celebration in Shelbyville in 2013, one of many wearing chains and stacks.

This week, The HSUS rolled out a new television advertisement calling on lawmakers to crack down on the illegal, unethical, and inhumane practice of horse “soring” – where trainers injure the feet and legs of horses by mechanical or chemical means to force them to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait (known as the “Big Lick”) at competitive shows. The ads started running in Kentucky this week, and urge viewers to call on Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which has 51 cosponsors and was introduced by their Republican colleague Kelly Ayotte. (The House bill, introduced by Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield and Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, has a remarkable 268 cosponsors.) We’ll be expanding the reach of these advertisements to other media markets around the country in the coming weeks.

Sen. Paul sounded off recently in a news story and said he was considering introducing a companion to Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn’s pro-soring bill, H.R. 4098, which would put authority to oversee the practice of soring under the control of the very people engaging in criminal conduct. The Blackburn bill is sham reform, and it would make enforcement of the current weak rules even more difficult.

Sen. Ayotte’s bill, on the other hand, would end the failed industry self-policing system; ban the show-ring use of chains, stacks, and excessively heavy shoes (devices that are part and parcel of the soring process); and increase penalties for violators.

MasterStreakerLiftingHoof
Footage from the undercover investigation revealing shocking abuse. You can ask your legislators to support the PAST Act here.

Sen. Paul would only bring shame on himself to stand in the way of legislation to root out this form of illegal, malicious and intentional cruelty to horses. It’s my hope that he sees that the industry is attempting to deny that abuses are widespread and to protect the “Big Lick” scofflaws. No one should be able to get away with burning chemicals on the legs of horses to cause them pain and misery in order to win ribbons for themselves.

The entire issue was thrust into the spotlight after a 2011 HSUS investigation into Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s (no relation to the Senator) stable in Collierville, Tenn. The investigator recorded horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face and intentionally burned with caustic chemicals. The new commercial shows footage from this investigation.

McConnell is not just one bad apple. He was a leader in the industry and a Hall of Fame trainer, and insiders have said that just about everybody in the “Big Lick” segment of the industry is abusing horses. If they don’t, they feel the other trainers will have an unfair advantage. The rot within the industry has set in for decades, and they are fighting this effort to clean out the decay and criminal subculture.

If they weren’t doing it, why would they fear the PAST Act? And why are they saying the PAST Act would destroy their industry? If there were just a handful of bad operators, they would have nothing to worry about.

The PAST Act is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, every state veterinary medical association (including the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association), the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the American Horse Council, along with a host of other national animal protection, veterinary and horse industry organizations.

It is noteworthy that such a diverse and powerful array of organizations have come together to call for a legislative solution to a problem – and some of these groups disagree on other welfare issues, such as horse slaughter. But all of them see soring as torture, and agree that the law must speak and it must be enforced.

Watch the ad below, and then take action by contacting your legislators here

 

March 04, 2014

The Tweet Heard Round the World

Ellen DeGeneres never ceases to amaze me, with her unparalleled wit and talent, generosity of spirit and passion for animal protection. But she really reached a new high in my book, by directing $1.5 million to The HSUS after Samsung decided to give a dollar to her designated charity for every re-tweet of her now-famous selfie with some of the biggest stars in attendance at Sunday night’s Oscars awards. Her picture, which she tweeted that night to her 27 million followers, became the most re-tweeted in history, with more than three million people pushing out the picture, snapped with an assist from Bradley Cooper and capturing Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and others in it.

We are going to divide her donation among three of The HSUS’ remarkable programs: Pets for Life, our Shelter Pet Project and our Animal Rescue Team. I’ve written about all of these life-saving programs before, and you can read all about them on our web site. The Animal Rescue Team has particularly been on my mind this week after its heroic rescue of 183 animals, living in filth and suffering from a lack of basic care, at a suspected puppy mill in Jefferson County, Ark. Tia Pope, manager of puppy mill response for The HSUS, said, "No animal should ever be forced to live in conditions like this…Now, they'll get the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives."

Arkansas puppy mill 240x270
Chuck Cook/ The HSUS
A dog rescued from Jefferson Co. Arkansas

Indeed, that’s what we try to do for all animals – provide them with happy, healthy lives. Ellen has always been on board with our strategy. She, too, cares about all animals. She’s had me on her show to talk about our campaigns a half dozen times, including back in 2008 in the run-up to Proposition 2, the landmark ballot measure to ban the extreme confinement of laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves in the Golden State. That law, and a follow up law to apply Prop 2 standards for hens to eggs sold in the state, is under attack from the Missouri Attorney General, so our work is never done.

We’ve talked about the lives of privation and misery that animals on factory farms endure, and also about defending Missouri’s anti-puppy mill ballot measure from attacks in the Legislature, and about blocking ag-gag bills that try to silence our undercover investigations.

She’s the leading celebrity voice for animal protection in our nation, and we are so lucky to have her on our side. And all of us at The HSUS are so honored she chose to invest in our work, given all of the other worthy charities that serve animals and people.

Her support comes at an especially significant time as we are making preparations for our first 60th Anniversary gala event in Los Angeles later this month – to raise money for our companion animal and anti-factory farming work. There, California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has signed a raft of animal welfare legislation since becoming governor in 2011, will receive our Humane Governor award. We’ll also be recognizing Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish, and two other celebrities who have done so much to advance the cause of animal protection – James Cromwell and Paul Wesley.

Because we’ll have a whole bunch of other celebrities at the event, I may go out and buy a Samsung Galaxy Note and go into the crowd and take a selfie with them. Bradley, can you help me, like you helped Ellen? We need you, man. March 29, Beverly Hilton, 6:30 p.m.

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Associated Press/ Ellen DeGeneres

February 27, 2014

Modern Family (Planning) for Animals

Spay Day comic
Mutts ©2014 Patrick McDonnell

It’s a year of milestones for The HSUS.  It’s our 60th year, and my 10th as CEO.  Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of World Spay Day (started by our affiliate the Doris Day Animal League) which involved more than 600 organizers in all 50 U.S. states, and almost 50 countries hosting events. Our Pets for Life teams in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia hit the streets, transporting dozens of pets to the spay/neuter appointments at our partner clinics. In all, thousands of dedicated individuals worked to limit dog and cat reproduction as a way to prevent pet homelessness and euthanasia across the globe.

It took The HSUS, more than any other group, to normalize the practice of spaying and neutering by starting that discussion decades ago.  Especially over the last three decades, our movement has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in sterilization as a humane population control strategy. And there’s been a big pay-off -- euthanasia rates that perhaps once eclipsed 15 million now hover at around 3 million. Of course, that’s still 3 million too many, but the trends favor us. We now know, with an investment of additional resources in spay and neuter, promotion of pet adoption, and other companion animal protection strategies, we can drop that number even further.

Through the years, veterinarians and advocates have become extremely efficient in perfecting the spay/neuter surgery process – with more than 100 high-volume, high-quality, low-cost clinics running across the country. All the while, we’re all looking for a better, faster, easier and cheaper method for sterilizing cats and dogs.

Just last week, on February 17th, Ark Sciences commercially launched Zeuterin™, the only FDA-approved nonsurgical sterilant for male dogs. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians around the country have been receiving training and certification in its use, and for the first time in World Spay Day history, ten communities—from San Francisco to Orlando to Chattanooga—hosted “Zeuter-a-thons” where dogs were sterilized without surgery.

Zeuterin™ (zinc gluconate neutralized with arginine) is approved for use in male dogs between 3-10 months, and is administered by intratesticular injection. Unlike surgical castration, Zeuterin doesn’t require anesthesia, just a light sedation if necessary, and dogs treated are alert within 15 to 20 minutes of the procedure and ready to go home.

The introduction of Zeuterin is an exciting innovation, and we hope the first of many non-surgical sterilization methods for animals.  Just as the pill revolutionized women’s health and family planning, contraceptive strategies for animals can be game-changing.  Other organizations, like the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs (ACC&D), are continuing the important work to expedite the successful introduction of such new methods for sterilization. 

The HSUS has worked for years to develop a workable immunoconceptive vaccine for horses and white-tailed deer in free-roaming settings.  In fact, next week, in partnership with the Village of Hastings-On-Hudson in New York, The HSUS will launch the first ever immunocontraception study conducted on a free-roaming deer population living in an open, suburban area in the U.S. If successful, we hope the project will serve as a model for municipalities in New York to replicate, and throughout the country.

And with Zoo Montana, we’ve worked to see the use of contraceptive vaccines to control reproduction for dozens of species on exhibit in zoos.  Another sometime collaborator has been Innolytics, a company that has a non-surgical reproductive inhibitor (Ovocontrol) for pigeons; what a revolution that would bring in the management of this urban species, if it could be widely used.  

Imagine the possibilities if we as a movement can perfect chemical sterilization methods for dogs, rats, pigeons and other animals where the current strategies are lethal.  New technologies and innovation will provide a pathway to see animal protection values soar in the years ahead.

February 26, 2014

Shelter Pets Coming to a TV Screen Near You

Last week I visited the Maryland SPCA in Baltimore, where I participated in a national satellite radio and television media tour to publicize the launch of a new series of public service advertisements on behalf of The Shelter Pet Project campaign. The campaign is a joint project involving The Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund, and the Ad Council. Maddie’s Fund president Rich Avanzino and I, along with The HSUS’s Betsy McFarland, did interviews in 28 media markets to trumpet the new ads and to remind millions of viewers about the importance of helping shelters and saving the lives of companion animals by choosing adoption.

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Find the shelter pet for you at TheShelterPetProject.org
 Photo by HSUS

In these wonderful ads, fetching dogs and cats practically reach through TV screens, imploring audiences to play with them. The new TV, outdoor and web PSAs take a playful approach to breaking down shelter pet adoption barriers. The individual personalities of real-life adopted shelter dogs and cats are showcased, with the pets playfully licking or pawing at screens seemingly in an effort to reach pet lovers on the other side.

All of the animals featured in the ads—cats like Maui and Stetson, and dogs like Arnie, Jules, and Kuma—were adopted from shelters and rescue groups. The goal of the ads is to remind prospective pet parents that at any one time there are hundreds of thousands of amazing shelter pets ready to meet them in the nation’s local animal shelters. Each PSA concludes with the message that, "The only way to find out how amazing shelter pets really are…is to meet one," and invites viewers to visit TheShelterPetProject.org to learn more.

Since we launched this campaign in 2009, The Shelter Pet Project has worked to lift public perception of animal shelters and shelter pets and has played a part in driving down the number of pets euthanized in shelters by 12 percent. Three to four million shelter pets get adopted each year, which means just 29 percent of dogs and 33 percent of cats in American homes were adopted from shelters or rescue groups. Still, 2.7 million healthy or treatable pets are euthanized each year in shelters, and we will not rest until that number stands at zero.

So far, the Shelter Pet Project has generated more than $167 million in free public service advertising to promote local shelters and rescue groups – and this is a way that The HSUS not only helps animals, but also the animal shelters that would not otherwise be able to afford or place this kind of advertising. More people are walking through their doors, more homeless pets are getting homes, and euthanasia rates are on the decline.

  

We hope these videos inspire animal lovers around the country to support their local animal shelters and that they encourage their friends to adopt a pet in need of a home. Take a look at the new ads here, and please share them widely.  You can also ask your local TV and radio stations to run the ads as a way to help animals.

 

February 25, 2014

The Rule of Law, and the Criminal Enterprises of Cockfighting and Horse Soring

Recently, a group of cockfighters made some noise in Kentucky, threatening to oust U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in his 2014 re-election bid because he voted in January for the Farm Bill, which included an HSUS-backed provision to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fighting spectacle.  I think it’s fair to say that these fellows have brought single-issue politics to an historic low.

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A Tennessee Walking Horse at the National Celebration in Shelbyville, TN
Photo by HSUS

Because of a weak state anti-cockfighting law and no federal enforcement of the ban on fighting animals in the Bluegrass State, Kentucky cockfighters have staged animal fights with impunity. Now with the upgrade in the federal law, they know there’s trouble ahead. Instead of finally complying with federal and state law, and ceasing their ruthless and barbaric activity, these organized criminals are threatening political retaliation in its defense. My head spins at their gall.

It’s pretty much the same thing with the horse soring crowd. It’s been illegal under federal law for more than 40 years, and also illegal under the state laws of Kentucky and Tennessee, to intentionally injure the hooves and legs of horses to cause them to exaggerate their gait during horse shows. It’s called horse “soring” and it involves the infliction of torment upon horses – by chemical or mechanical means -- as a way to get a leg up and win ribbons at competitive showing events.

These people, like the cockfighters, are scofflaws. They are actively working in the political domain – in this case, lobbying against pending federal legislation, H.R. 1518 and S. 1406, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act -- to protect their criminal enterprise.

As with the cockfighters, the walls are closing in on the horse soring crowd. There’s a growing list of endorsing organizations, including groups that don’t always see eye to eye on other issues, such as horse slaughter for human consumption. In the fight to end soring, The HSUS is aligned with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Horse Council, and more than 100 other major equine and veterinary groups. More than ever, veterinarians and other prominent individuals who have seen soring first hand are speaking up and demanding that Congress pass this legislation.

Among the most prominent voices announcing his support for the PAST Act in recent weeks is Bill Harlin, a man The Tennessean describes as “synonymous with Tennessee Walking Horses,” and the owner of Harlinsdale Farm where some of the most famous grand champions in the breed originated. “Self-regulation,” he said in recent comments to The Tennessean, “will never work.” 

horse with stacks
Horses are still subjected to cruel stacked shoes and chains while we wait for Congress. Take action today.

We’ve known for a long time that there’s a cult at work in this industry, determined to cover-up and excuse their crimes. Harlin has said that passing the bill -- which would eliminate the self-policing system, ban the cruel use of chains and stacks associated with soring, and strengthen penalties for violators -- is the only way “to save our breed.” His son Clay, who has been involved in the industry for 47 years, said the Big Lick crowd, as they’re known, was “unwilling to completely stop the abuse of show horses.” He, too, called on Congress to pass the bill.

Veterinarian John C. Haffner recently related that his increasing exposure to ever more blatant abuse of horses compelled him to sell his veterinary practice. After years of witnessing trainers’ efforts to make sure their horses were in enough pain to perform the Big Lick but not so much that they’d fail inspections, he found that he was unable to stomach the corruption and cruelty any longer, and joined the effort to protect walking horses from this outrageous treatment.

There are now more than 300 cosponsors of the PAST Act – a majority of the Congress (45 Senators and 264 House members). We must demand that congressional leaders take up this bill, with its overwhelming support, and not let a band of organized criminals on the Big Lick circuit block a vote. I hope you’ll contact your two U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative today and urge them to cosponsor the PAST Act, H.R. 1518/S.1406, and do all they can to get it enacted quickly. I hope you’ll forward this e-mail to friends and ask them to do the same.

Cockfighters and horse soring enthusiasts should have no more influence on the political process than drug dealers or car jackers.  Any legislators who stand with these criminals and against progress for animals won’t face just hollow threats from the lawbreakers, but an actual revolt among upstanding citizens and voters. With election to public office comes a duty to uphold and preserve the rule of law, all the more compelling in light of the moral rot associated with these two cruelties.