Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle. As President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, he leads the nation's largest animal protection organization in the mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. Read more »
of the fundamentals of our work is to set standards that make it a crime to
engage in malicious cruelty to animals. The nations of the world should
have a zero-tolerance policy for the torture of animals, and for specific types
of torment like dogfighting, cockfighting and bullfighting. Animal protection
efforts tend to get held back in countries where
these forms of cruelty are tolerated.
has always been viewed as a redoubt of bullfighting. In the face of
shrinking foreign tourism and in-country support
for bullfighting, Spanish politicians threw bullfighting a lifeline last February by voting in favor of plans to
declare it part of Spain's cultural heritage. This plan would allow fight
organizers to apply for tax breaks and other financial incentives, could
reverse the bans already in place in Catalonia and the Canary Islands, and make it much more difficult to introduce new regional bans in the future.
As the Spanish government debates
this proposed new law, an
Ipsos MORI public opinion poll, commissioned by Humane Society International,
shows that the majority of Spaniards do not approve of public funds being used
for this blood sport, and that three-quarters of the population haven’t
attended a bullfight in the last five years. Only 29 percent of Spanish people
support bullfighting – this represents an amazing turn-around in public
opinion, and is a marker of the emerging animal protection ethos throughout the
There is a vocal
minority of bullfighting enthusiasts whose only defense seems to be that the
blood sport is a tradition. This hackneyed line of argument just doesn’t hold up as a defense for any form of animal
Every culture has its traditions. Century-old practices remind us who we used to be as a
society. Traditions, however, are like the societies that created them – ever evolving, in terms of fairness and justice. In
Spain, and in many other countries, popular support for bullfighting is
rightfully on the decline, and the Spanish government should embrace this shift in its citizen’s values, and not cling to age-old cruelties.
Forty-three years ago to the day, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson
founded Earth Day – a day to raise awareness about the environment in the U.S. – and it’s now celebrated internationally in nearly 200 countries. It was a
grassroots insurgency, with events in communities throughout the nation
producing, in a few short years, a raft of new policies to protect the
environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the
Endangered Species Act.
About a decade before the first Earth Day, American
agriculture began speeding up its slow turn from family-operated, pasture-based
systems – with animals on the land, and in numbers that were manageable for the
farmer, and for the health of the environment – to an increasingly
industrialized process. So began the era of factory farming.
The emergence of factory
farming has produced mass suffering for animals, but it’s also been the
bane of family farming and rural communities. Within the last 35 years,
the nation has seen the loss of 90 percent of its pig farmers, 88 percent of
dairy farmers, and 95 percent of egg farmers as they’ve been run out of
business. All the while, the remaining farms got bigger and bigger and confined
more and more animals per farm.
Within the last decade, we’re finally seeing a robust
counter-movement to factory farming, with animal welfare advocates,
environmental advocates, and rural community advocates – including family
farmers – questioning this broken system of food production and
seeking to put animals back on the land.
Over the past several years, citizens and lawmakers in nine
states have moved to outlaw various forms of extreme farm animal
confinement. Within the last year or so, more than 50 of the nation’s food
industry giants have committed to phasing out some of the cruelest practices
that factory farms utilize. More people are eating local, and eating more
plant-based foods. There is a strong movement in rural communities against
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs. The Global Animal Partnership
and other certifiers are working with responsible farmers committed to raising
animals under high standards of welfare, and helping them to secure markets.
In the end, it’s pretty clear that there’s just no way we
can humanely and sustainably raise nine billion animals for food in the U.S.
That’s why we are also urging consumers to eat less meat and other
animal products. A number of the nation’s major environmental organizations
are encouraging their members, and the public, to skip meat at least one day a
week and join the Meatless Monday movement.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization, raising animals for food is responsible for nearly one-fifth of
human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and worldwide, we use more land to
raise and feed farm animals than for any other purpose. Furthermore, the farm
animal sector is a major consumer of scarce water, accounting for nearly
one-third of the global agricultural water use.
Driving less, turning down the lights, and recycling are all
enormously important. But so, too, is eating more plant-based foods and
supporting sustainable agriculture at all levels. Our diet is something
that each one of us controls. By eating with conscience, we can turn this
system around, and Earth Day is a great day to make a new commitment, or to
renew a commitment, to conscious eating.
Recently I wrote about two
outrageous campaigns against animal protection. In the Michigan
legislature, there’s a bill designed to derail our wolf protection referendum,
to repeal a 2006 referendum that banned the target shooting of mourning doves,
and to cede authority to allow hunting and trapping seasons for any protected species to the seven-member
Natural Resources Commission. And just the other day, in Tennessee, an ag-gag
bill designed to thwart investigations of, and picture-taking at, horse stables
and factory farms was passed by the legislature.
So many of you have sent me comments about this, and I want
to share just a few of them:
One thing I know that I can do is withhold my tourist
dollars from Tennessee, and I will. – Diane
To me this is taking animal welfare back to the dark ages -
who will speak for them now? How can we protect them? Only those who have
something to hide would even contemplate this evil law, and those who do should
be required to stamp their products with “ag-gag law in place.” We must stop
it now as it is gathering momentum and undoing all that the animal
activists and organizations have achieved in the past. - Valda
What a shameful, underhanded way
for any kind of so-called lawmaker to represent themselves! I am furious and
appalled at the bill that's been introduced to give the seven appointees
(hunters & trappers mostly) at the Natural Resources Commission authority
to open up hunting season on any species they want, no matter how the people feel!
This is an ignorant, careless and oblivious attitude toward God's
creations. In addition, Jackie McConnell is a monster and completely
transparent within his greed...how pathetic. – Sally
Blatant disregard for animals, the
will of the people and for democracy. – Debbie Johnson
S.B.288 in Michigan's legislature is another attempt to
destroy democratic government and hand the law over to a gang of bullies. – Arden
As more and more citizens turn to a humane way to treat
animals, our government officials and politicians need to remember that we the
people vote for them or not. Let's become a more humane nation! – Doreen
It is proven every time - if a certain portion of society
wants power in government, they run for office. We need to get our people in
and we must vote these people out. – Rita De Ferrary
One comment I
often hear from HSUS supporters who have traveled abroad is about the sadness
and helplessness they feel when confronted with homeless dogs scavenging for
food, or simply pleading for a warm caress. The handling of free-roaming
populations of street dogs and cats is a common moral and public health concern
of many nations. In the United States, we’ve conducted vaccination, sheltering
and rescue programs, but in other parts of the world, it’s not uncommon to see
poisoning, shooting and electrocution as a means of "disposing" of unwanted
In the run-up
to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, there was talk of “beautifying” the
city by wiping out the domesticated animals. Yesterday, USA
Today reported on a similar proposal by organizers of the 2014 Winter
Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We condemned the decision – and today the Black Sea
coastal city announced
it will abandon its plan to kill more than 2,000 stray dogs and cats.
Humane Society International has offered to help Sochi with a humane population
control program as an alternative. Our method relies not on building shelters, but on mass sterilization and vaccination of street
resources, we know how to get the job done. Humane Society International has
been working in a number of countries to promote and implement such programs.
In Bhutan, officials from the Queen Mother to the Leader of the Opposition
praised the HSI street dog management program and the Kingdom will be spending
its own funds to maintain the operation in the future. Following a visit from
Rahul Sehgal, director of HSI Asia, government officials in Mauritius decided
to end their street dog culling program and instead implement a sterilization
and education program. In India, we are part of a four-organization consortium
that received a large grant from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust to implement a
3-year street dog management and rabies education program in Jamshedpur, the
location of the Tata Steel Works. In the
Philippines, public health veterinarians are implementing spay/neuter
programs after taking the course on humane street dog management presented by
There may be
300 million street dogs in the world. We must cast aside reckless killing
and opt for humane management. We have the technology and the know-how; we
just need the resources and the capacity to implement these ideas.
If you would
like to join our efforts in helping to protect street dogs around the world,
please consider becoming a
street dog defender.
2006, Michigan voters rejected the legislature’s plan to allow the target
shooting of mourning doves, with 69 percent casting ballots in favor of
maintaining the state’s century-long standard of protecting these gentle
songbirds. Every county in the state – including the most Republican, rural
districts – voted against the idea of dove hunting.
in an effort to block a citizen referendum to maintain protection for wolves –
one which garnered 253,000 registered voter signatures within a 70 day period –
have introduced a bill to give the seven political appointees
(dominated by hunters and trappers) at the Natural Resources Commission
authority to open up hunting seasons for doves, wolves and any other species
they wish. Citizens be damned.
a remarkable subversion of democratic decision-making, and it is an abuse of
power, albeit a legal one.
Tennessee, a different type of power play is at work.
one of the biggest stories of 2012 was HSUS’
undercover investigation of a Hall of Fame horse trainer named
Jackie McConnell abusing Tennessee walking horses, in order to give him an
advantage in the show ring. McConnell bashed horses in the head with a wooden plank, applied caustic chemicals to their
feet, and otherwise caused them so much pain that they would exaggerate their
gait and win McConnell another ribbon.
and horse lovers in Tennessee and throughout the nation expressed deep disgust
over the barbaric
abuse of horses by McConnell and his assistants, and lauded The HSUS for exposing this sickening abuse.
the Tennessee Senate passed an ag-gag bill to prevent us from ever finding
another Jackie McConnell in Tennessee. Rather than crack down on abuse, the
legislature is seeking to make it a crime to conduct a long-term investigation
of abuse at any farm – for horses, puppy mills, or farm animals.
state’s largest paper, The
Tennessean, wrote today, “It’s clear to anyone to [sic] looks at how
the Humane Society videotaped Jackie McConnell’s soring
of walking horses, that the case would have unraveled if it had to be rushed,
at risk to the safety of the person working undercover. This bill is no more
than an attempt to intimidate animal-cruelty opponents.”
bill’s authors, one an industrial pig farmer and the other a livestock auction
owner, say they oppose animal cruelty. But that’s laughable. They’ve both been
on the record as opposing the most modest animal welfare reforms. For instance,
Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, voted against legislation just two weeks ago that would
increase penalties for cockfighting.
only antidote to this kind of abuse is public participation. No lawmaker or
legislature should get away with these manipulations of the fundamentals of a
civil society, including First Amendment freedoms and democratic decision-making.
When I was a kid, the first broader animal protection issue
that I connected with was the drowning of dolphins in massive tuna nets. I told
my mom that I didn’t want to eat tuna if dolphins had to die.
Little did I know that as an adult, I’d still be working on
this issue. And here at The HSUS and Humane Society International, we’ve kept
fighting, through the ups and downs, in order to prevent the drowning of
extraordinary numbers of dolphins – with some estimates running in excess of 7
million killed in the last few decades. I am glad to report we are on the
upswing, and it’s my hope that the recent gains are made permanent.
The “dolphin-safe” label gained support in the late 1980s as
consumers expressed anger and disgust over the image of hundreds of thousands
of dead and dying dolphins suffocating and drowning in purse seine nets. For
reasons still unknown, schools of tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean
frequently swim beneath large groups of dolphins. Since around 1960, tuna fishermen
used this association to target tuna schools by chasing the dolphins until they
were exhausted, and then dropping a football field size net in a big circle
around them to catch the tuna swimming below. The dolphin-safe label promised
consumers that the tuna had been caught without deliberately chasing and
setting nets on dolphins. By June 1, 1994, the entire U.S. tuna fleet was
dolphin-safe, and all tuna in the U.S. had to meet that standard, and be
labeled as such.
Naomi Rose/The HSUS
In the mid-1990s, I, along with my colleagues, tried to stop
legislation that sought to weaken our well-known and trusted definition of the
dolphin-safe label. Pressure came from tuna fishing interests outside the U.S.,
specifically Mexico, which wanted access to the U.S. market and our label while
continuing to set nets on dolphins. It was political double-speak – kind of
like horse slaughter being humane for horses – and our adversaries were well
funded and effective. But thanks to the heroic and skilled efforts of Sen.
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., there was a provision added to the new law that
blocked the amendment to weaken the label from taking effect if science showed
that chasing and encircling dolphins negatively impacted their populations.
The Commerce Department found in 1999, and again in 2002,
that this fishing method did not have an adverse impact on dolphins. However,
the weakened definition never went into effect because The HSUS, along with
environmental organizations, successfully challenged the government’s finding
in U.S. courts as not having met the requirement of the law.
The U.S. government appealed to a federal appellate court,
and in 2007 it rejected the administration’s conclusion that scientific
evidence of harm was lacking and that in fact the science strongly indicated
that targeting dolphins was hurting the population. The label remained
unchanged. We prevailed.
But the story didn’t end there.
Mexico, dissatisfied with the ruling, challenged the U.S.
position at the World Trade Organization, claiming that our dolphin-safe label
was an unfair trade barrier. The HSI submitted an amicus brief in support of
the lawfulness of the U.S. label, but on Sept. 15, 2011, a WTO dispute panel
released its ruling on the matter, finding that the dolphin-safe label did not
comply with WTO rules. The U.S. appealed the adverse ruling, but the Appellate
Body ruled that our law violated WTO rules, stating that it unfairly
discriminated against Mexico.
The U.S. has chosen to comply with the WTO ruling, and, on
April 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a proposed
rule to revise the regulations governing the dolphin-safe label. However,
instead of seeking to dismantle our dolphin safe standards, the Obama
administration decided to expand the scope of these standards to all oceans
with tuna fisheries and to all countries seeking to import tuna. This is a huge
victory for consumers in the U.S., and dolphins everywhere. This rule is open
for public comment until May 6, and NOAA is aiming to publish a final rule in
I don’t believe that this latest decision ends the tuna
dolphin story. It is possible that Mexico will again appeal to the WTO,
claiming that the new U.S. rule fails to properly implement the Appellate
Body’s ruling; but if they do, we’ll be there to fight for the dolphins yet
again. At the end of the day, what is most important is that we have fought off
every attempt to weaken the label. And in the nearly 20 years since I first
worked on this issue in Congress, I can now say that we helped strengthen
protections for dolphins in every ocean and tuna fishery.
been so much public condemnation of horse abusers since The HSUS released its
video last year showing Hall of Fame Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie
McConnell and his stewards intentionally injuring horses in order to create the
“Big Lick” gait that wins ribbons at competitive shows. The practice of
“soring” has been illegal since 1970, but the industry tolerated widespread
criminal conduct and the statute and its enforcement have not been sufficient
to deter this pattern of cruelty and law-breaking.
Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced
legislation in the U.S. House to strengthen the outmoded 40-year-old
Horse Protection Act. The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, H.R.
1518, would end this industry’s self-regulation enforcement scheme. Horses will be checked
at shows for evidence of soring by inspectors trained and licensed
by the United States Department of Agriculture, not by industry insiders.
House Resolution 1518 will also ban action devices and stacks – devices
implicated for their role in the soring process - as the American Veterinary Medical Association,
American Association of Equine Practitioners and other national organizations have called for,
and which the United States Equestrian Federation has already banned from all
of its licensed competitions. For the horses, and for those who
wish to participate in Tennessee walking horse shows with sound horses and fair
judging, the stronger provisions that this bill will add to the HPA are a
Chad Sisneros/The HSUS The artificial, high-stepping gait called the "Big Lick."
While our polling shows
widespread disapproval of soring and support for state and federal laws to
fortify the prohibition on soring, there is a brazen move afoot in the
Tennessee legislature to make
it a crime to conduct these undercover investigations, by requiring that
footage be turned over to authorities just as an investigation is
starting. Such a legal requirement would terminate an investigation
prematurely and it would give law enforcement an undeveloped case. It’s an
attempt to stifle these sorts of investigations to document abuse on farms.
trainers and owners of these abused animals have had decades to clean house,
yet the majority of winning trainers in the walking horse industry
have been cited for violations of the HPA over and over again, with no
apparent deterrent effect. The American people have seen the cruelty that Tennessee walking show horses are subjected to,
and they want it to end.
will continue to call out the perpetrators of abuse for their deceptive
statements and cruel, illegal acts — please join
us and call
your representative in the U.S. Congress and urge them to co-sponsor H.R.
1518. And we’ll be fighting the maneuvers of state lawmakers who want to
cover up abuse and make it a crime to document it.
Tennessee’s anti-whistleblower bill, H.B.
is expected to come up in the state Senate as early as Tuesday of this week.
While there are some great champions of animal welfare in the Tennessee
legislature, there are too many lawmakers who defend just about any sort of animal
exploitation. Rep. Andy Holt, the House sponsor, is an industrial hog farmer
who is actively working to open horse slaughter plants in the state. The Senate
sponsor, Delores Gresham, represents the district where The HSUS undercover
investigation of Jackie McConnell took place, and she’s the owner of a
stockyard. Both legislators absurdly claim that this legislation will prevent
abuse, yet both of them voted against the Animal Fighting Enforcement Act last
week to strengthen penalties for dogfighters and cockfighters. Their decision
to align themselves with the cockfighting community speaks volumes about their
I’ve written multiple times about the efforts of agribusiness interests to make it a crime to take photos or video footage of animals on factory farms, puppy mills, or even a horse stable—the so-called “ag-gag” bills, introduced in 12 states this year. Now, coming out of Michigan, we have a different kind of power grab: Just two weeks after citizens gathered more than a quarter million signatures to nullify an act of the legislature to authorize wolf hunting and trapping, the leading anti-wolf legislator in the state has proposed a new bill that would go even further and attempt to derail the people’s referendum.
Sen. Tom Casperson’s bill, S.B. 288, is so radical and far-reaching that it would also enable the repeal of one of the most popular ballot measures in Michigan history: the measure to bar the target shooting of mourning doves. Voters rejected mourning dove hunting in a landslide vote in 2006, with all 83 counties and all 110 House and 38 Senate districts, including Sen. Casperson’s, siding with the idea of dove protection.
Instead of accepting that 2006 landslide vote on doves and the outpouring of grassroots support for wolf protection, Sen. Casperson’s bill would allow the unelected, seven-member Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add animals to the list of game species to be hunted for sport or trophies, at any time and without public input.
So hungry to wipe out wolves, these politicians are even diluting their own power to pass game species policy by granting this authority to a handful of political appointees, who are accountable to no one. If passed, S.B. 288 means that this unelected panel could ignore the will of the people, and allow wolf hunting or dove hunting, regardless of what the voters say, or have said, on these matters.
And it won’t stop there. Sandhill cranes and other rare wildlife species—and perhaps even feral cats, as was proposed in neighboring Wisconsin—could be listed by the hunter-dominated commission as game animals under S.B. 288.
S.B. 288 is a short-sighted and unprecedented usurpation of power. Every Michigan resident should pick up the phone and tell their legislators to reject this attack on Michigan voters and on the democratic process. Click here to look up your Michigan state legislator's name and phone number. Then, click here to send a follow-up message reiterating your opposition to this bill.
had hoped not to produce a blog like this – one that announces the start of yet
another sealing season in Atlantic Canada. But despite the collapse of the
sealing economy, it persists, solely because of the wide range of subsidies provided by the Canadian
government. Rebecca Aldworth, the director of Humane Society International-Canada,
was on the scene, and I asked her to produce a dispatch.
As we fly over the harp seal nursery, we are seeing the
worst sea ice conditions I have ever witnessed here. Where there should be
solid sea ice there is just open water and tiny, broken ice pans. But the slaughter
goes on, with the sealers shooting every seal pup they find.
This is my fifteenth year in a row witnessing this killing,
and it never gets any easier. Despite what the Canadian government would have
the world believe, baby seals continue to suffer horribly.
Frank Loftus/The HSUS
Below me, a fat, sleepy seal pup lies peacefully on an ice
floe. He is beautiful and his silver-grey fur gleams in the sun. If the seal
hunt had not started, it would be a beautiful sight. But there are sealing
boats all around him, and this seal doesn’t stand a chance. Sensing danger, he
raises his head and begins to crawl toward the edge of the ice. But he is just weeks
old – he doesn’t know yet how to swim properly and so he stays on the ice.
Suddenly, a gunshot blasts and he is shot in the face. For just a moment, he
lies still but then he raises his bloody head and cries out again and again.
From 1,000 feet in the air, we can see his agony clearly. And we share it,
knowing there is nothing we can do to help him.
Meters away, another pup is shot and wounded. Terrified and
in pain, she bravely dives into the water, leaving a slick trail of blood
behind her. There, she will likely succumb to a slow death, and her body will
never be retrieved.
We fly on, and see another pup, shot and crawling around the
ice in her own blood. The sealers don’t shoot her again, and she suffers until
they maneuver their boat into position and beat her to death on the ice.
It is so important we are here. This year, we are the only
ones out here filming.
We see no enforcement people, no Canadian government
officials, no other NGOs. It is just us. Our helicopter and our cameras are the
only defense these seals have, the only way to show the world what is happening
so that we can bring it to an end.
Your support keeps our helicopter in the air and our cameras
rolling and for that, I cannot thank you enough. The evidence we gather is the
foundation of our campaign to stop this atrocity. It will help the European
Union defend its ban on commercial seal product trade at the World Trade
Organization, convince more nations to follow the EU’s example and inspire
seafood distributors to avoid Canadian seafood until the slaughter is ends.
Seals are dying again this year, and, as in previous years,
the sealers take their lives without thought and with too much cruelty. But so
many more will be spared, because of your support for our campaign, which has
closed markets for pelts throughout the world. Please stay with us as we
continue to bear witness to Canada’s commercial seal slaughter and work around
the world to stop the killing for good.
It is taking winter a long time to release its grip here in Washington, D.C., but this unusually cold spring has not slowed down the local wildlife. Our Humane Wildlife Services team has been out in full force—climbing through attics and peering down chimneys for squirrels and raccoons.
As part of our commitment and investment in developing and perfecting humane approaches to urban wildlife control, our team keeps detailed records of every wildlife exclusion job they perform, how well it worked, how long it took for mothers to retrieve and move their babies and what might be done to improve reunion success. Humane Wildlife Services does not trap and relocate or kill wild animals that are causing conflicts with homeowners, which is often the common practice in the burgeoning wildlife control industry. Rather, we simply evict the attic-dwelling squirrel or chimney-living raccoon, remove babies if present, and block any entry points that were being used to gain access to the structure we want to protect.
Heather Fone/The HSUS
We then reunite the babies with their mother by using specially constructed reunion boxes in which the young can be comfortably held and warmed if necessary until mom comes back to retrieve them—which the mother almost always does. Then, using her extensive knowledge of alternative den sites (scientists refer to an animal’s “cognitive map” of the home range or territory they occupy), the mother moves the young to an already known and existing safe harbor and remains within her home range in which she can easily acquire the needed resources necessary to raise her young.
The concept is elegantly simple, solves homeowners’ problems, and saves animal lives. But it is far less practiced than the lethal option of trapping and killing the mother and either leaving babies to die in their attic or chimney den or removing and surrendering them to a wildlife rehabilitator, who is likely to already be swamped with orphans to care for and is unnecessarily burdened with others who need not have been remitted to their care.
The HSUS is committed to making this practice an industry standard and utilizing it elsewhere wherever possible. That is why our urban wildlife specialists have focused on the broader concept of orphan reuniting; actively working and promoting the development of reunion criteria for many species of wildlife. For instance, recent advances in wildlife rehabilitation have demonstrated that many orphaned birds of prey can successfully be re-adopted by their own parents or even other adults if the proper vocal cues are used to attract attention to them as quickly as possible.
We are learning that an owl or hawk chick blown from a nest and brought by a caring individual to a wildlife rehabilitator stands an excellent chance of being reunited with a parent or even an unfamiliar adult and cared for if brought back out to entice the adults to reunite. Recordings of the young’s calls can be broadcast to help attract the adult animals to begin providing care. Because the maternal instinct is so strong the young’s vocalizations are a powerful attractant to their parent(s) and playing them has helped reunite young even days after the original separation occurred. Every young animal we can successfully reunite with an adult allows for more resources for animals that are not candidates for reuniting and who may need long-term care.
Reunion and reuniting are important keys to the future of the humane treatment of urban wildlife. The HSUS is committed to these concepts and we’re investing in developing and perfecting these techniques. It’s worth every penny.
Click here to enjoy our latest reunion video of the first squirrel babies of the year.
Found an injured or orphaned animal? Click here for resources.