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16 posts from HSUS Adoption Stories

December 19, 2014

Breaking News: Federal Court Restores Protections for Great Lakes Wolves, Ends Trophy Hunting and Commercial Trapping

This afternoon, we received the very welcome and far-reaching news that a federal judge just issued an order requiring that sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, in response to our legal action. This comes just six weeks after voters in Michigan soundly rejected a trophy hunting season in the state and also rejected the idea of a seven-member group of political appointees making decisions about whether wolves should be hunted, trapped, or hounded.

In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves. Photo: Alamy

The HSUS filed suit in 2013 to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 

The decision to strip wolves of protection threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.

In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. Wisconsin had announced plans to cut what was an 800-member wolf population to just 350 animals, and it authorized trapping, hounding, and trophy hunting to get there. In fact over 80 percent of the wolves this year alone were cruelly trapped

In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species. The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.

Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin lawmakers all rushed to set up killing programs for wolves. In fact, the Michigan legislature passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. It was only the referendums that we launched that prevented a much larger body count in that state, avoiding the bloodletting that we saw in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A series of stories from M-Live, a consortium of newspapers, laid bare that Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season. The lead sponsor of the hunting program had to apologize on the Senate floor for misleading statements.

Today’s ruling renders null and void the Michigan legislature’s efforts earlier this year to force a wolf hunt, despite the people of Michigan’s opposition. And it locks down the trapping and hounding and trophy hunting programs in the other Great Lakes states that left so many wolves dead and packs disrupted. A recent, peer-reviewed study from researchers at Washington State University, looking at 25 years of data, reveals that random killing of wolves, as these states permitted, actually increases the chance of wolf depredations on livestock.

Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the state of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation. 

The HSUS simply wouldn’t tolerate this slaughter of wolves, so we stepped up at the ballot box and in the courts to turn it around, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

August 27, 2014

Slugfest Over Michigan Wolves Continues – So Much at Stake With November Votes

Progress for animals isn’t easy – it never has been.  There’s no glide path when you confront entrenched interests and the politicians often so ready to do their bidding. There are still so many people in society who think that animals are just there for the taking – to do with them as they please, and to demand that the law serve their whims or economic ambitions.

If we win two referendums designed to protect wolves in November, we will block a hunting season in Michigan this fall. Photo: Alamy

Today, the Michigan House, led by the Republican caucus, engaged in an absolute charade of a vote. Lawmakers there approved, by a vote of 65 to 43, the unconstitutional Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which is really a dolled-up measure to allow a group of seven political appointees to open up a hunting season on wolves or any other protected species in the state. 

In fact, there’s much more to it than their wish to control the decision to hunt any species that falls outside of the realm of federal protection.  Michigan lawmakers have voted for wolf hunting three times in the last two years, and it’s a thinly veiled attack on citizen lawmaking guaranteed by the Michigan constitution.

The reason that the lawmakers have taken three shots at wolves is that The HSUS and a broad coalition of Indian tribes and animal protection, environmental and other organizations qualified two referendums to veto their first two legislative maneuvers.

We knew they wouldn’t take kindly to our counterpunches, but we didn’t think they’d have so much contempt for the Michigan Constitution and the people of the state as to try to subvert the long-established right of citizen lawmaking. They don’t think they can win at the ballot, when all Michigan citizens have a chance to weigh in, so they are trying to limit or entirely subvert the impact of the citizen referendum process.

But, in the end, democratic action and fairness have a way of prevailing in American society, especially when there’s a determined force pushing those ideals, like The HSUS and the entire Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition.

The good news is, if we win our two referendums in November – and we can, since the people of Michigan don’t like either these legislators’ abuse of power or their trumped-up, phony charges against wolves – we will block a hunting season this fall. The sparing of these lives will make our investments and efforts in this tangled process entirely worth the trouble. 

We are in this position to block the hunt because lawmakers today did not pass an “immediate effect” clause, meaning that their measure probably won’t take effect until March 2015 – long after the hunt season would have concluded. But what this means is, the two referendums to veto their prior wolf-hunting laws must be defeated. If we do not win both, then a 2014 hunting season for wolves could happen after the election – because the original law or laws would then take effect.

In addition to campaigning to win the two referendums – by urging “no” votes on each -- we’ll be filing a lawsuit to challenge the unconstitutional Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The measure that the legislature acted on today bundled together three unrelated measures – wolf hunting, Asian carp control, and free hunting licenses for veterans – to push the wolf hunt over the finish line. In the process, they violated Michigan’s single-issue law requirement, stipulating that a law not contain multiple, unrelated subjects. We’re confident that Michigan courts will reject the legislature’s unconstitutional act and instead respect the results of the vote this November.

But whether we win or lose in court, we know we’ll be battling with lawmakers captive to the National Rifle Association and the Safari Club in 2015, to determine the fate of future wolf hunts in 2015 and beyond. 

Our immediate task must be to win the ballot measures for November, and save the lives of dozens or even hundreds of wolves. In Wisconsin, where there is no referendum process, hunters and trappers killed 257 wolves last year, and 80 percent with steel-jawed traps and snares or packs of dogs. We don’t want that cruelty, on that scale, to occur in Michigan, and that’s exactly what’s at stake if we don’t defeat the two referendums in November.

We’ve got to win, to show lawmakers that they truly are out of step with public sentiment and to protect the state’s small, recovering population of wolves from people who want to hunt them only for their heads or hides – not for food, and not to control individual animals who come into conflict with people. Just for the thrill of killing, and for their bitter hatred of animals who deserve much more in the way of our humanity.

August 26, 2014

Dog Days of Summer – Fall, Winter and Spring

It’s National Dog Day, and there are countless reasons to celebrate the remarkable relationship so many of us have with our canine friends. My beagle rescue Lily joined me for today’s video blog, but, as you’ll see, she was drowsy and decided to let me carry the conversation. 

A day to celebrate dogs is warranted, but it’s also an important reminder that our relationship with dogs is uneven, in the United States and elsewhere, and that we’ve still got work to do. Puppy mills, dogfighting, the use of dogs in invasive research, and the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals are just some of the problems we must turn around. But we are making progress on all fronts, including an announcement yesterday that with the help of The HSUS’s Kansas state director, Midge Grinstead, a small town in south central Kansas is shutting down its carbon monoxide gas chamber for euthanasia. Just a few dozen to go before we finally end that practice in the United States.

In today’s blog, I take stock of our complicated though improving relationship with the first animal humans domesticated.

August 01, 2014

‘Right to Farm’ or Right to Funnel Illegal Money Into Missouri Campaign?

Today, the Missouri Farmers Union sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for a formal investigation into the potentially illegal use of federal pork check-off funds for a last-minute lobbying blitz in favor of Missouri’s Amendment 1, an overreaching and radical “right to farm” measure to be decided next Tuesday by voters there. The constitutional amendment, placed on the ballot by state lawmakers, pits industrial agriculture and major commodity groups against the state’s family farmers and state and national animal protection, environmental, religious and good government groups.

Veal crates
The Kansas City Star called Missouri's Amendment 1 "a concerted effort to shield factory farms" from regulations to protect animals, consumers and the environment. Photo: Farm Sanctuary

According to campaign finance reports required under the state’s election disclosure laws, the Missouri Pork Association, which receives the state’s share of national pork check-off funds, and its affiliated Missouri Pork PAC, have collectively sent more than $235,000 in contributions to Missouri Farmers Care, the Big Ag front group leading the "yes" campaign for Amendment 1. Much of that money came in as the fight over Amendment 1 became highly competitive, with the “Yes on 1” campaign realizing they’d suffer a major reputational hit if they lost the race. The financial shell game between the affiliates – all of which operate from the same address -- is of great concern because most of the Missouri Pork Association’s annual revenue comes from federal check-off dollars, which are not allowed to be used for lobbying purposes.   

Under federal law, farmers of certain commodities (including beef, pork and soybeans) are required to pay a percentage of their sales into a check-off fund. These funds are intended to be used to promote the sale of farm products – not to lobby for state or federal legislation or ballot measures. There have been major questions raised, and cases filed that are still active in the courts, by The HSUS and pig farmers who believe that the National Pork Producers Council and state pork councils, like Missouri’s, may be diverting funds for illegal lobbying activities.

“There simply is no way this adds up,” said Wes Shoemyer, a family farmer and HSUS Missouri Agriculture Council member, in a statement today. “The organizations working for the corporate interests based in New York and Beijing will apparently stoop to any low to push the Missouri family farmer off the land. They need to be held accountable to us as Missouri family farmers who pay this type of federal tax on every pig sold. We deserve to know if they have illegally used our own money to lobby against the interests of family farmers.”

Amendment 1 seeks to enshrine into the Missouri Constitution a right for corporations and others to engage in any activities they consider “farming” for perpetuity – whether it’s confinement of dogs in puppy mills or sows in gestation crates. Amendment 1 might also protect canned hunts and captive deer farms, which are a threat to native, free-roaming deer populations because of the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. Neighbors of giant hog farms and family farmers who are being squeezed by Big Ag are fighting back and have joined with The HSUS to fight the ballot measure. 

In addition to the use of potentially illegal check-off funds, the campaign for Amendment 1 has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indiana multimillionaire Forrest Lucas. In 2010, Lucas invested hundreds of thousands of dollars against Missouri’s Proposition B, which set standards for the care of dogs at commercial breeding operations. The anti-animal welfare group he subsequently formed has lobbied against measures in other states to set felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses, battled local efforts to promote spaying and neutering of pets, and fought against efforts to bring relief to dogs who are continuously chained outdoors.

Almost all of Missouri’s daily newspapers have editorialized against Amendment 1. The Kansas City Star called Amendment 1 “a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.” The Joplin Globe called it “a measure designed to protect corporate agriculture rather than the traditional family farm.”  The Christian County Headliner News, Columbia Daily Tribune, Jefferson City News Tribune, Lake Sun Leader, Ozarks Sentinel, Springfield News-Leader, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Warrensburg Daily Star Journal, Webster County Citizen and West Plains Daily Quill have all urged voters to oppose the amendment. 

Watch what Missouri’s Food for America and the CEO of the Humane Society of Missouri have to say about Amendment 1.

Paid for by The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, CEO, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. 

March 27, 2014

Something is Rotten in Denmark

Take a look at two contrasting institutional responses to challenging circumstances with animals, which together give a clear measure of diametrically opposed value systems – one merciful, and the other ruthless.

One of the dogs from Arkansas after arrival, ready to go to a placement partner so that he can find a home.

Yesterday, our HSUS staff greeted at our headquarters outside of Washington more than 55 dogs and an assortment of other creatures that our Animal Rescue Team rescued a month ago from a Jefferson County, Arkansas puppy mill. The dogs were living in filth and squalor, and they had a wide range of problems, including one dog who had lost the use of his lower jaw. We’ve been working hard over the last month to improve the health of these dogs, and yesterday, we handed them over to several of our Emergency Placement Partners after a 700-mile journey in one of our big rigs, for more tender care and then adoption in the weeks ahead. 

Then take a look at Act II at the notorious Copenhagen Denmark Zoo. Act I, involving the killing of a perfectly healthy 18-month giraffe named Marius, provoked widespread global outrage and condemnation not too long ago. The zoo said that it already had sufficient genetic diversity given the captive population of giraffes within European zoos and so officials there decided Marius was expendable - and should be killed. They did kill him and fed him to the lions.

It was not as if they loved the lions so much that they had to feed the big cats fresh meat. Two days ago, this same zoo announced it had killed four lions, including two cubs. Again, officials said they already had enough genetic diversity among captive lions, so these lions were expendable, too. What’s more, they were bringing in a new male lion and worried he’d kill the cubs.

A lion cub in the wild. Photo by Alamy

“If the Zoo had not made the change in the pride now then we would have risked that the old male would mate with these two females - his own offspring - and thereby give rise to inbreeding,” said a statement from Copenhagen Zoo officials.

Apparently, the memos on the option of sterilizing the big cat, or the other cats in the pride, never made it to them.

When you think of animals as individual beings, with their own lives, you rescue them from crisis and then find a way to give them a good quality of life, as we did with the Arkansas animals. If you treat animals like a bunch of ambulatory exhibits or repositories of DNA, then you have the outcome that played out in Denmark. Sadly this outcome is all too routine in many of the zoos of Europe.

The World Associations of Zoos and Aquariums and other professionals in this field must condemn these unacceptable actions in the zoo community and remind officials like those at the Copenhagen Zoo that individual animals matter. 

December 03, 2013

Ricky Bobby: Racing Star, Puppy Mill Ambassador

In 2010, The HSUS led a coalition supporting a winning ballot measure in Missouri to crack down on puppy mills. We launched that initiative because Missouri had long been the top puppy mill state in the nation, with as many as 3,000 large-scale commercial dog-breeding operations. The legislature and farm groups outrageously worked to weaken the core provisions of the ballot measure right after voters approved it. But the initiative still resulted in as many as 600 mills shutting down or otherwise ceasing operation, since they couldn’t even meet the basic standards called for under the new law.

The other major puppy mill states border Missouri – Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas – and we’ve also been working hard in those states to create at least some minimal standards as well.

Given this emphasis, it’s been amazing that North Carolina, far from the Midwest and the heart of the industry, has been the stage for the largest number of puppy mills raids we’ve conducted with law enforcement – 15 in the last two years.

Today, we released a video about one dog we rescued in North Carolina who has a new, better life since The HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team members, Jennifer Kulina-Lanese and Tia Pope, and North Carolina state director Kim Alboum, took him into their arms.

Ricky Bobby
Meredith Lee/The HSUS
Ricky Bobby (or "RB") was rescued from a North Carolina
puppy mill in February 2013.

At a mass dog-breeding facility in Magnolia, N.C., on a day when rain was pouring down, the team (including members from two local animal welfare groups) arrived on the scene with the sheriff’s office to serve a warrant. They found a variety of small-breed dogs suffering from severe, untreated medical conditions, including dental disease, infection, tumors, eye issues and malnourishment. Some of the animals experienced such severe dental disease that their jaws had rotted away, and one dog’s severe eye issues required the removal of one of her eyes to end the suffering she experienced.

Many dogs were underweight and sick as a result of their dental disease: they could not chew or swallow hard food, so they would have to wait until the food had become soft and rancid to be able to eat it. The owner agreed to surrender 58 of the dogs on the property, and eight of the worst cases were transferred for immediate care at an animal hospital nearby.

Jennifer removed Ricky Bobby, a small, paralyzed dachshund, from the facility. When she picked him up, he was terrified and shaking. Ricky Bobby was among the dogs who required immediate treatment. He had been dragging his non-working legs along a cement floor for so long that he had open sores, inflamed patches, callouses and muscle atrophy throughout his underside and back legs. His hindquarters were covered in urine scalding from being confined to bedding soaked in urine and feces. The condition that paralyzed Ricky Bobby was most likely genetic, but if treated by a veterinarian early, is often reversible.

Ricky Bobby was adopted by Megan, a veterinary technician from CareFirst, the veterinary hospital where he was treated. Before she had even decided to adopt Ricky Bobby, Megan (who calls him RB for short) set to making a wheeled cart to enable RB to get around without hurting his underside. Cobbling together PVC pipe, wheels from a larger cart that didn’t fit him, hair ties, a standard small pet harness, and a make-shift sling, Megan gave RB mobility he’d likely never had.

Give animals like Ricky Bobby a second chance. Become a Humane Hero today >>

RB accompanies Megan to work, where he spends his days with another dog, Stella, who was rescued from the same facility and adopted by another kind CareFirst staffer. At home, RB finds comfort in his big brother Tucker, a gentle yellow Labrador. Everywhere Megan and RB go, they act as ambassadors for the puppy mill issue, telling RB’s story to interested passersby and explaining the need for more strict laws governing commercial dog breeders.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers when it comes to puppy mills – 2 million plus dogs churned out every year, 15 raids in North Carolina, and 3,000 mills just in Missouri with 600 shuttered in that state alone since Prop B passed. But RB reminds us that it’s all about individual creatures, and how your support allows us to turn around their lives and gives them a new beginning.

Watch Ricky Bobby's video:


P.S. Yesterday, after we announced that Kohl's is selling real rabbit fur accessories advertised as "faux," many of you responded with action and calls. Now Kohl's appears to be switching its customer service numbers and webpages frequently. We suspect this is due to the volume of calls received. Help us keep the pressure on! Click here to look up the most recent customer service phone number »

After making your phone call (please do not skip that crucial step!), submit an email to Kohl's and ask them to adopt a fur-free policy ». Check my Facebook page for updates in the coming days.

October 24, 2013

No Rest for the Whiskered

Most people go out and find a dog when they want to bring one into their life. Cats, on the other hand, typically find their new keepers.

Zoe relaxes in a rare moment of

Lisa and I got a dog from a rescue group three months ago – very intentionally. And now by happenstance, we also have a new cat in our lives.

Zoe, our new cat – of uncertain age but certain beauty – found me when I was out walking Lily, our rescue dog, on an early morning jaunt.

I wasn’t expecting to see many people out at 5:30 a.m. I thought I might see a few rats in the alleys, but no dogs on a walk quite that early.

It turned out that a dazzling-looking cat was walking behind a pedestrian, and keeping pace with him. I’ve seen a lot of unusual relationships that people have with animals and I figured this was one of those – a guy with his cat off-leash on a walk.

But when I circled back, a very nice young woman, who was out for a jog, was trying to coax the kitty to come to her. The pedestrian I saw earlier was nowhere to be found, and it was clear that this cat, at least for the moment, was on her own. It didn’t take much coaxing, and the cat was in the jogger’s arms.

Zoe and Lily
Zoe and Lily have become fast friends.

I made a lifeline call to Lisa for a cat carrier. She responded with groggy eyes and one of our carriers, which we quickly filled with the kitty.

Later that morning a local vet scanned the kitty and discovered she had a microchip - but it was unregistered. The vet clinic posted flyers. We posted her on several websites and called her in to the Washington Humane lost pet hotline, but nobody claimed her.

So now there is a hilarious cat who seems to never sleep, bounding and racing around the apartment.

Lily occasionally plays hide and seek with the cat, and they are known, once in a while, to rest side by side. She greets me at the door each evening and tries to sneak out to explore the hallway. During the middle of the night, she pounces on me. It’s not a soothing effect.

So everyone, say hello to Zoe. And if you can, please talk some sense into her. I need to sleep.

June 24, 2013

The Beagle Has Landed

There’s a dog in my office, and she’s not a foster pet or a visitor. I adopted her on Saturday, and now she’s a cling-on. And Lisa and I are very happy about it.

At a fire hydrant in Middleburg
Spying a potential opportunity at a fire hydrant in
Middleburg, Virginia.

She’s a Beagle mix, and came from a shelter in rural Virginia. She may have been a discarded hunting dog, since rural Virginia shelters are full of them. Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, based in northern Virginia, pulled her from the shelter, and after spaying and vaccinating her, put her up for adoption at an event at the Fairfax PetSmart on Saturday. This was her ninth adoption event, and somehow she’d been passed over on these prior occasions. It was our good fortune, but I’m still mystified that no one scooped her up before. She’s got such a gentle disposition, and is pretty as a picture.

She’s now splayed out on her doggie bed right behind me in my downtown D.C. office. She’s probably about six years old, and her “maturity” cinched the deal for us. We wanted to get an older dog, since they are tougher to place.

It’s been some weeks since our precious cat Mungo passed on. Her sister died about a year ago, so the apartment has been feeling empty and we’ve been missing them terribly. It was time again to populate our home with another little being to fill the void that every one of you who has kept pets knows all too well.

Lost Dog and so many other rescue groups are doing such great life-saving work. They are typically pulling animals from shelters, and then getting out into the community to encourage people to get a companion and save a life – a double bottom-line benefit. The cooperation between shelters and rescue groups, and the movement of animals between them, is part of any successful plan to eliminate unneeded euthanasia.

Relaxing at the new crib
Relaxing at the new crib.
See the full photo album here.

According to our survey work with Maddie’s Fund and The Ad Council, there are about 17 million people in the market for companion animals this year. Only about a quarter of them will get a dog or cat from a rescue or shelter. If just an additional two or three million of them went to an adoption event hosted by PetSmart or Petco, logged on to, or went directly to a shelter or rescue group to adopt a homeless dog or cat – an easy choice, since there’s an abundance of great, well-socialized, vaccinated, sterilized animals at these sources – we’d have the national problem of euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals licked. Local organizations could spend more time on the wider range of animal protection issues, and not be bogged down, as they’ve been for a century, with the plight of homeless animals. In short, just a small percentage of people who want an animal in their life can make an intentional choice and help us get to the finish line.

This little one doesn’t have a name yet. If you have suggestions, we’re all ears. And she’s all ears, too, as you can see. We’ve got to get the name settled by midnight tonight, as a practical matter for her and for her proud pet parents.

June 12, 2013

Miracle Horse Returns Favor

Two years ago, I wrote about a foal named “Moonstruck,” a colt who survived against all odds. While pregnant with Moonstruck, his mother, Catori, was crammed aboard a cattle trailer, bound for slaughter in Mexico, when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The truck careened off the road. The grisly accident left only 17 of the 30 horses on board alive.

Catori was one of the survivors.

When our Oklahoma state director Cynthia Armstrong found out that the 17 surviving horses were again slated for slaughter, she worked with Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue and a few generous HSUS donors to secure safe haven for the horses. It was only then that it was discovered that Catori was pregnant. Ten months later, during the 2011 spring equinox – when the moon was closer to the earth than it had been in more than 20 years – Catori gave birth to a healthy, rambunctious foal. This miracle foal, born under the "supermoon," was appropriately named “Moonstruck.”

Moonstruck and Catori settled into their new life at Blaze’s Tribute, hopefully leaving behind a life of tragedy and danger. Their peace was short-lived, however. Just two months later, a major tornado hit Oklahoma and Blaze’s Tribute farm was destroyed. Miraculously, three of the 21 horses on the property survived: a blind horse named Fiona, Catori, and Moonstruck.

Moonstruck and Twister hanging out
Desiree Fees Walling
Twister and Moonstruck are now inseparable.

Once again, Catori and Moonstruck had beaten the odds.

In May, two F5 tornadoes, including one purported to be the largest tornado in recorded history, swept through Oklahoma, destroying nearly everything in their path. Out of the rubble emerged a two-day-old filly named “Twister.” Twister's mother was killed in the tornado. Work began immediately to find a surrogate mother to care for the little foal. Several horses were evaluated, but Twister totally disregarded them.

Twister was then introduced to Moonstruck, now two-years-old, and the two became fast friends. They shared a connection, a legacy of near-death and amazing survival that connected them in a way that touches us profoundly. It was as if Moonstruck was returning a favor, caring for a foal that had a story of survival not unlike his own.

There are times when the debate about horse slaughter can seem abstract or distant or impersonal. Moonstruck’s story of tragedy, survival and friendship reminds us of the personalities, the unique characteristics, and the will to live that all animals have.

This week, New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King shut the door on horse slaughter in New Mexico. And on Thursday, the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives is set to take up an anti-horse slaughter amendment. We hope that all the lawmakers understand what and who is at risk in deciding the fate of horses we’ve brought into this world and who we have a responsibility to protect.

March 04, 2013

Past Due to Deal with Puppy Mills Selling Over Internet

I’ve published a number of moving rescue stories on this blog, including last week’s account of our North Carolina puppy mill rescue of 58 dogs, who were in terrible shape. But I want to leaven the images of suffering dogs by featuring a few dogs on the mend and in a much better place. Take the case of Isabelle, a black Labrador we rescued from a Vermont puppy mill a few years ago, along with 60 of her friends. The older nursing mom was skin and bones, yet she was patiently nursing 11 small puppies. The “post-rescue” photo of a robust and smiling Isabelle, that her adopter sent us just months after her rescue, shows that her poor condition had been due not to her age, but to neglect. It shows how our work can be life-changing.

Kathleen Summers/The HSUS and Pamela Krausz
Before and after photo of Isabelle from when she was
rescued and then just months after being adopted.

These incidents of animal cruelty recur because of a gap in the law. Isabelle’s breeder, and the breeder raided last week in North Carolina, were selling puppies via Internet and newspaper classified ads. Since the breeders weren’t selling puppies to middlemen or pet stores, they were able to take advantage of a “retail sales” loophole in the federal Animal Welfare Act, evading the basic oversight required in the regulations.

Last week, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and David Vitter, R-La., along with Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif., reintroduced the PUPS Act, S. 395 and H.R. 847, to close that loophole, requiring direct sellers of 50 or more puppies to be federally licensed and inspected for basic humane standards of care. The PUPS Act would also require that licensed facilities let dogs out of their cages for at least an hour a day – a bare minimum requirement if dogs are to be healthy and happy.

We’ve been keeping track of puppy mills licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, watching their numbers decline almost 40 percent since 2007. While some of that decline can be attributed to operators who were shut down due to stronger enforcement, we fear that many others are simply dropping their federal licenses in order to convert to online sales and avoid regulation altogether. The PUPS Act will keep bad breeders from slipping under the radar – and help thousands of mother dogs like Isabelle.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has an administrative rule pending to close this loophole and bring these sellers under the authority of the USDA. We need them to finalize that rule now – it got tremendous public support, with nearly 350,000 signatures and comments, and has been under consideration for plenty of time. We must deliver oversight and bring these dogs relief. It cannot happen soon enough. Please urge congress to pass the PUPS Act, and close this loophole once and for all.