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 »
If you care about farm animals in Iowa, there is,
unfortunately, no shortage of high-profile, high-impact matters that would
benefit from citizen activism there. For example, with Congress in recess
and lawmakers back home in their districts, we are working to defeat the
amendment from Steve King, R-Iowa, to nullify important state laws. These are
statutes that impose conditions or standards on agriculture to protect animals,
workers, public health, or the environment. Organizing folks to defend Iowa’s
laws in his district would have great value and remind him that his
constituents don’t support this attack on states’ rights.
A cow in the field at state agricultural council member Kevin Fulton's farm.
We’ve been fighting the opening of a horse slaughter plant
in Sigourney, Iowa, and we need people in the state to speak up and remind
lawmakers and other decision-makers that the people of Iowa don’t go for
killing horses for human consumption; fortunately, we learned last night that
the plant owners decided to rescind their request to USDA for a grant of
inspection, meaning that the immediate threat in Iowa of the plant opening is
There’s the fight over banning barren battery cages and
supporting the national effort to give laying hens more space. And then
there’s our effort to phase out gestation crates, and to amplify the views of
animal advocates, rural residents, and others who don’t like systemic
mistreatment of animals.
I could go on.
But rather than take constructive and legitimate action on
these enormously consequential matters, with millions of animals lives or the
quality of their lives hanging in the balance, some fool (who claims to be an
animal advocate) defaced the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair, a cultural
event that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and is attended by
leading politicians in the state, the press, and so many rank-and-file
citizens. Apparently, this act was orchestrated in a clandestine way in
order to demonstrate some opposition to factory farming, or perhaps to all of
Can you think of any action more inane and
counterproductive? I guess this individual could have been more stupid by
committing a crime that involved more than mere vandalism. But we don’t
want to give much if any credit to the person who did this.
The take-away: when our movement is trying to conduct a
serious discussion about issues, and seeking to drive major reform, we do not
need tactical approaches that come out of the playbook of a fraternity.
We condemn the illegal conduct, and we hope that the good
people of Iowa know that The HSUS and other serious-minded animal welfare
groups think this person is as dumb as you do.
I’m in Lansing today—with leaders of Native American tribes, environmentalist, and local humane organizations—to announce a new referendum in Michigan to protect wolves and other wildlife. This weekend, we barnstormed the state and talked to HSUS supporters, Audubon society members, hunters, and other concerned citizens about the reckless plans of the state to allow trophy hunters, and in future years trappers, to kill wolves from the small, still recovering population of fewer than 700 animals in Michigan. Hunters won’t be targeting problem wolves, but randomly killing animals in national forests and other wilderness areas in the Upper Peninsula.
Wayne with Aaron Payment, the tribal chairman of the Sault Tribe of the Chippewa Indians. photo: Julie Baker
Earlier this year, HSUS and other groups—under the banner of the committee coalition, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected—collected 255,000 signatures for a first referendum to nullify the act of the Legislature to declare wolves a game species, just after they got off the federal list of “threatened species.” In response, Lansing politicians then moved a second bill to give all authority to the unelected, seven-member Natural Resources Commission to declare hunting and trapping seasons on any protected species, including wolves, sandhill cranes, and lynx. That forced our hand to launch a second referendum, and to restore voting rights here in Michigan.
It’s already legal in Michigan to kill problem wolves in the rare instances when livestock or pets are threatened. They can also be shot for public safety purposes, though there has not been a documented attack on a person by a wolf anywhere in the lower 48 states in the last century.
Those people who are in a frenzy to kill wolves have it all backwards. Wolves are an economic and ecological boon to the state, promoting tourism to the Upper Peninsula and providing a healthy check on prey populations. Wolf predation will help maintain healthy deer population, probably lowering the frequency of deer-auto collisions and the prevalence of crop losses. This has the potential to save humans lives and tens of millions of dollars for the state.
And there’s just no good reason to kill wolves for trophies or pelts. Responsible hunters eat what they kill, and because wolves are inedible, most hunters have no interest in killing them. Responsible hunters also don’t go for the use of steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves—and all of that may be in store if the Natural Resources Commission decides to allow these cruel methods.
Lansing politicians wrongly gave the unelected members of the Natural Resources Commission authority to open hunting seasons for wolves, lynx, sandhill cranes, and dozens of other species. Our referendum would restore the right of citizens to maintain their ability to influence wildlife policy, and stop this abuse of power.
often say there are bad outcomes all around when humans are bad to animals.
When we at The HSUS work with law enforcement on raids of dogfights and
cockfights, we often find other criminal behavior is taking place in these
situations, like narcotics trafficking and illegal firearms possession. In
homes where there is cruelty to animals, there are typically other forms of
domestic violence toward children and girlfriends or spouses. And on
industrialized factory farms, we often see fouling of the environment with
massive manure loads and the routine dosing of healthy animals with
antibiotics, which can produce antibiotic resistant bacteria and threaten
number of industries we fight have also had a huge hand in allowing invasive
species to colonize U.S. soil and create havoc.
are countless nutria – in the millions, perhaps – inhabiting Louisiana,
Maryland and other states, competing with native species, weakening levees, and
otherwise wearing out their welcome. These nutria, who resemble beavers in
appearance, are native to South America and became established here after they
escaped or were released from U.S.-based fur farms.
Florida, one of the most troublesome invasive species is the Burmese python. Peer-reviewed
studies from wildlife scientists have discovered that many small and
mid-sized animals – from possums to raccoons to bobcats – in surveyed areas are
severely depleted or gone, due perhaps to the predation from the Burmese
pythons. These animals are native to Southeast Asia, and came to the U.S. as a
result of the exotic pet trade. Some pet owners have released them, and others
escaped after a hurricane hit south Florida several years ago. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the
commerce in Burmese pythons, but has not yet acted on trade
restrictions for five other species of large constrictor snakes at risk
for colonizing the U.S. and wreaking their own
year, Kansas passed a law banning people from possessing or transporting wild
pigs, and in recent weeks New
York and Vermont
passed similar measures. These hyper-productive animals now number in the
millions, and are found in as many as 35 states. They are here, in part,
because they escaped from private hunting ranches where they were offered up on
a menu of animals to kill in fenced enclosures. In Pennsylvania,
which is home to a number of these canned hunts, the state legislature and
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett teamed up to pass legislation to allow the
trade in wild pigs to continue – despite concerns raised by the pro-hunting
folks at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Federation Of
Sportsmen’s Club, and from environmentalists and from The HSUS, all
concerned about the ethics of captive hunting as well as the issue of invasive
species threatening natural resources and the agriculture industry.
someone is doing something wrong to animals, typically there will be financial,
public health, public safety or ecological costs, frequently of a broad and
lasting nature. When we are good to animals, there are good outcomes on down
am pleased to report to you that Charity Navigator, one of the most recognized
charity watchdog organizations, just posted its annual rating of The HSUS
(specifically its finances and governance), and again gave us the highest
rating of four stars. While we certainly do value and appreciate this
affirmation, and believe that we’ve earned it, I think it’s unwise for any
donor to rely exclusively on a single charity watchdog group’s review of The
HSUS or any other non-profit organization. The business of charity evaluation
is complex work.
a broader gaze, The HSUS also receives the highest ratings from the other
reputable charity watchdog groups. The Better
Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance affirms that we meet all 20 of its
standards for charitable accountability. We were named a couple of years back
by Worth Magazine as one of the ten most
fiscally-responsible charities in the country. Guidestar’s Philanthropedia experts have ranked us
the No. 1 high-impact animal protection organization (peer organizations and
funders in animal protection were asked which group in the field is most
Kathy Milani/The HSUS Heather Sullivan with The HSUS holds an umbrella cockatoo at an emergency shelter in Ohio.
ratings are helpful not only in helping donors to assess our work and our
impact, but because there are a raft of adversaries of animal protection – the
cockfighters and dogfighters, the horse slaughter industry, the industrial
sector of the pork industry, the sealing industry, and the puppy millers, just
to name a few – that try to tear The HSUS down. They ignore our accomplishments
and our broad focus on helping all animals and argue that we should stick to
direct care of animals and give grants to other groups – which means, of course, that these major
industries causing harm to animals would get a pass and their abuses would go uncontested by The HSUS.
we do provide grants to other organizations – about $50 million in the last
decade – that has never been our purpose. We conduct our own programs, and we
are not and never have been a pass-through organization that simply redirects
gifts to other animal welfare charities. And while we are the No. 1 provider of
direct care to animals, our supporters expect us to tackle the root causes of
cruelty and to defend all animals. That is what we do, and have done since
than anything, we are about driving transformational change. Many of the
charity groups evaluate spending ratios and governance, but there’s much more
to the work of non-profit organizations (as so many of these charity groups
will tell you) than these ratios. A group can hit all of its marks on program
spending ratios and good governance, but not get much done in the real world.
What I’m most proud of is that The HSUS is driving change on the biggest animal
issues of our time while adhering to the highest standards in the charity
Here are just a
few of the big things we do, and some of the transformational activity we’ve
changed the legal framework for animal cruelty in this country over the last
quarter century. With just a handful of states treating malicious cruelty as a
felony two decades ago, now 49 states treat malicious cruelty as a felony, with
all 50 states treating dogfighting as a specific felony and all 50 states
outlawing cockfighting. Our investigations, rewards programs, direct interventions
with our Animal
Rescue Team, and law enforcement training programs are designed to give
even more teeth to these laws.
worked in cooperation with countless other organizations to drive down
euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats by 80 percent (from 15
million to fewer than 3 million when we launched our campaigns to normalize
spay/neuter and pet adoption from shelters and rescues in the
mid-1970s). Our current pet adoption public service campaign, with
Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council, has generated more than $129 million in
advertising during the last three years.
are professionalizing the operations of shelters and aiding them and their
communities when natural disasters and cruelty cases overwhelm their capacity
to respond. Animal
Sheltering Magazine, which we publish, is the bible of the field.
provide sanctuary, rehabilitation and other direct care for more animals than
any other group -- more than 100,000 animals cared for in 2012 alone – through
the work of our Animal Rescue Team, our veterinary programs, our wildlife
response unit, and our network of animal care centers. We also manage a
coast-to-coast network of more than 100 nature preserves through our Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust.
worked within the last 5 years to compel 34 states to set up new rules
regarding puppy mills. And we’ve gotten more than 2000 stores to take the
“puppy-free pledge,” agreeing not to sell dogs, and many now promoting
are working to end the suffering of street dogs in countries around the globe.
For example, we’ve sterilized 50,000 dogs in Bhutan in the last four years.
are on the verge of seeing the end of gestation crates in the United States and
Canada, after The HSUS persuaded more than 60 major food retailers in these
countries – including McDonald’s, Costco, Safeway, and Target – to pledge to
phase out their purchase of pork from factory farms that confine sows in these
inhumane stalls. With prompting from The HSUS, the veal industry is also on its
way toward voluntarily eliminating extreme confinement of the calves by 2017.
have persuaded the federal government to agree to release the vast majority of
chimpanzees from laboratories and to transfer them to sanctuaries. Through Humane Society International, we are working
globally to end animal testing and recently secured bans on animal testing for
cosmetics in the European Union and India.
closed markets throughout the world for seal skins from Canada, and saved more than
a million seals over the last four years by de-valuing the pelts in the global
This is just a sampler of the programs and achievements that your own efforts
and your support makes possible. We invite you to follow our work at humanesociety.org.
The HSUS and HSI, we are pushing for the application of 21st century
science in support of a vision in which cell cultures,
“organs on a chip,” and other methods substitute for the use of animals in harmful
and often deadly tests. In addition to saving lives, these alternative
techniques can provide better results, on a faster time frame, and with a
cheaper price tag.
HSUS recently announced a mission-related investment in Hurel
Corporation, a leading developer of technology
that can replace animals in drug development and chemical testing. We also work
closely with companies and other stakeholders by spearheading the Human Toxicology Project Consortium,
which seeks to replace animals in all toxicity testing by spurring development
and implementation of non-animal alternatives and lobbying to increase the
government’s investment in technological advancements that don’t involve
Cruelty-Free is our ground-breaking global campaign to end animal testing in
the cosmetics sector. Thanks to campaigning by HSI and others, testing
cosmetics on animals in Europe and Israel is now illegal. And our Be
Cruelty-Free team in Brussels led the fight to achieve a Europe-wide ban on
selling cosmetics if newly tested on animals anywhere else in the world.
I am pleased to announce that we’ve achieved another
major milestone in our global campaign: an
end to animal testing for cosmetics in India.
Society International/India worked with political leaders throughout the
country to convince regulators that animal testing practices are archaic and
unnecessary. As a result, the Bureau of Indian Standards has approved
the deletion of any mention of animal tests from India’s cosmetics
standards. Mandatory use of modern non-animal tests is now the national standard,
replacing invasive tests on live rabbits and mice.
we’ll turn major attention to China, where animal testing of cosmetics is still
required by law and where many internationally-approved non-animal tests are
not yet accepted by regulators. Last week's launch
of Be Cruelty-Free China marks the beginning of a dynamic process of consumer outreach and regulatory policy discussions. And in
collaboration with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, HSI, The HSUS,
and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium are funding hands-on training for
China’s regulators. In a country with an astonishing appetite for innovation
and cutting-edge technology, we hope to find fertile terrain to make gains
We’ve seen some positive action from the federal executive
agencies lately – for example, a Department of the Interior proposed listing of
all chimpanzees as endangered, and a favorable U.S. Department of Agriculture
announcement to close a loophole dealing with downer cows. We’ve also seen
some adverse moves, including a series of
de-listing actions of gray wolves, leaving them vulnerable to state fish and
wildlife agency plans for trophy hunting and commercial trapping. We are
expecting some major announcements in the next few days on a number of issues.
But preceding so many of these decisions, or in fact helping
to trigger reforms, have been reports from
the USDA Office of Inspector General and the
National Academy of Sciences that have exposed mismanagement of federal
programs, poor decision-making, or lax
enforcement – on everything from wild horses, to the operations of pig
slaughter plants, to horse soring and puppy mill oversight.
I’ve worked with our staff at The HSUS to give you a
run-down of some of the findings of these reports issued within the last few
years. These reports paint a vivid picture of what’s going wrong with
federal enforcement efforts. In some cases, the reports have provided an
impetus for policy changes, as with the use of chimps in laboratories, or the
selling of puppies over the Internet. Here’s a rather remarkable summary of
what’s been highlighted and exposed, along with corrective action.
In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences report, entitled
“Toxicity Testing in the Twenty-first Century: A Vision and a Strategy,”
proposed a new approach to assessing chemical safety that moves away from
animal testing. Commercial chemicals, pesticides and other substances are
typically tested for safety by dispersing large doses to groups of animals and
then observing the animals for symptoms of disease. The report stated that
these animal tests are of questionable relevance for humans, provide much
information that isn’t useful, are time-consuming and costly, and cannot handle
the enormous backlog of untested agents or meet new multiplying challenges of
chemical safety. In the years following the report, a government-sponsored
collaboration, called Tox21, has been set up between the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute
of Environmental Health Sciences. The mission of Tox21 is to serve as a
catalyst for the prompt, global, coordinated implementation of pathway-based
toxicology, which will better safeguard human health and hasten the replacement
of animal use in toxicology. This approach is also gaining acceptance
In 2009, the National Academies Institute for Laboratory
Animal Research released a report that concluded that Class B dealers – animal
dealers whose operating licenses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allow
them to round up dogs and cats from animal shelters, auctions, private
individuals and other “random sources” (which could include stolen pets), and
then sell them for experimentation – are not necessary to provide dogs and cats
for research. The report was issued in response to a request by Congress
through the National Institutes of Health for a critical evaluation of the need
to use random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers in NIH-funded research.
In 2011, NIH notified its grant recipients that as of 2015, the use of NIH
funds to acquire dogs from Class B random-source dealers will be prohibited,
and it advised its grantees to identify new sources for such animals. In 2012,
NIH implemented the recommendations from the report and stated that awards
issued after October 1, 2012 will prohibit the use of NIH funds to obtain cats
from Class B random source dealers.
In 2010, the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General
criticized the agency’s long history of lax oversight of commercial dog
breeders under the Animal Welfare Act. The report reviewed inspections and
enforcement actions taken against dog dealers and found that USDA inspectors
failed to cite or properly document inhumane treatment and brought little to no
enforcement actions against violators. In response to this audit report, the
USDA significantly increased its inspections and enforcement actions against
noncompliant dealers. Although the USDA still has a lot of work to do to ensure
that all dealers are complying with the AWA, it is moving in the right
direction and focusing its enforcement resources on the worst offenders. In addition, the audit highlighted how some
prolific dog dealers are escaping USDA oversight because they sell dogs
directly to the public, including over the Internet. The USDA agreed to
seek changes that would close this regulatory loophole to require all large
scale breeders to be covered by the USDA’s AWA regulations and we are currently
awaiting the USDA’s release of this final rule.
Later in 2010, the USDA’s OIG released another audit
addressing animal welfare. This one was directed at the USDA’s oversight of
show horses under the Horse Protection Program. This law gives the USDA
authority to ensure that Tennessee walking horses and other breeds are not
subjected to the abusive practice of soring – the intentional infliction of
pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force an artificial, exaggerated
gait. The OIG released an audit of the program echoing what we’ve said all
along - that industry self-regulation does not work. The Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service agreed to abolish this industry inspection program
and to take a more direct role in licensing and oversight of inspectors, and
mandate across the board penalties for violators. The agency has yet to implement
changes to remove industry groups from the inspection program, but did issue a
rule requiring those groups to impose uniform mandatory minimum penalties on
violators. One of the groups sued APHIS in an attempt to block the rule, but it
is in effect while the suit is pending. In
response to this audit, along with HSUS undercover
investigations exposing terrible abuse, Rep.
Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., have introduced the Prevent All
Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518), which makes much needed reforms to the Horse
Protection Act, including ending the failed industry self-policing system,
strengthening penalties, banning the use of stacks
and chains on horses’ feet, and making the actual soring of a horse
for the purpose of showing or selling him or her illegal.
In the same audit as horse soring, the OIG also reviewed the
slaughter horse transport program and found that APHIS needs to improve its
controls to ensure that horses being shipped to foreign plants are treated
humanely. One of the OIG’s recommendations was that the USDA should withhold
shipping documents from individuals who violate humane handling regulations and
who have outstanding fines. However, the USDA has yet to implement this
recommendation, three years later. As a result of the USDA’s failure to
strengthen its enforcement oversight, horse slaughter transporters have little
incentive to transport horses humanely. The
auditors also recommended that the USDA finalize a rule to increase its
authority over horses being transported (to include all transport of horses
once they are identified as slaughter horses, to any intermediary point between
the sale barn/auction and the slaughter plant). The USDA’s previous rule
prohibiting the use of double-deck trailers only covered horses that were
directly being sent to a slaughter facility. This broader rule is critically
important to improve the humane transport of horses for slaughter. The USDA
issued this final rule soon after the audit was released.
In 2011, the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine
issued a report that found the current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research
is largely unnecessary. The Institute of Medicine report was commissioned by
the National Institutes of Health following an outcry over the agency’s 2010
proposal to move 186 federally-owned chimpanzees from Alamogordo, N.M., to the
Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio. The report makes
plain that the limited usefulness of chimpanzees will diminish further over
time, especially as alternative methods are developed. In response to the IOM
report, the NIH assembled a working group to offer recommendations on how to
implement the findings of the report and examine the NIH’s future role in
chimpanzee research. In January 2013, the working group issued its
recommendations, calling for the retirement of the majority of government-owned
chimpanzees currently in laboratories to sanctuary and no revitalization of
chimpanzee breeding for research purposes. The director of the NIH is expected
to decide this week on whether or not to adopt the working group’s
In May of this year, the OIG audited the Food Safety and
Inspection Service enforcement and inspection activities at swine slaughter
plants and found that FSIS enforcement policies do not deter swine slaughter
plants from repeatedly violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act and that
“there is reduced assurance of FSIS inspectors effectively identifying pork
that should not enter the food supply.” In addition, the OIG found that FSIS
inspectors did not take appropriate enforcement actions for violations of the
Humane Method of Slaughter Act, and as a result, many slaughter plants are not
improving their slaughter practices, and FSIS could not ensure the humane
handling of swine. We have discussed the audit with FSIS and encourage the
agency to make these much needed reforms.
In June, the National Academy of Sciences
reviewed the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, and made
recommendations for future approaches. The report stated that the BLM’s
procedures for monitoring and surveying wild horses and burros are flawed,
inconsistent, and actually contribute to high horse population growth rates.
For instance, the report took issue with the BLM’s practice of managing wild
horses “below food-limited carrying capacity” by rounding up and removing a
significant proportion of the herd’s population every three to four years,
stating that this is one of the factors contributing to a costly roundup and
remove cycle. As a potential solution, the report suggests that the agency
should end its reliance on short-sighted roundups, and instead, keep horses on
the range while humanely limiting reproduction through the application of a
contraceptive vaccine. This could, over the long term, reduce the significant
and unnecessary economic burden the BLM shoulders as it maintains approximately
50,000 horses in holding facilities. The HSUS provided the agency with a
detailed plan for implementing the changes to the program called for in the NAS
report and is awaiting the agency's response.
These reports provide a
valuable, independent look at enforcement of our federal animal welfare laws,
and make a remarkably persuasive case for changes in policy and
execution. We’re working to hold all of the agencies involved accountable
and to get the right outcomes for animals and for the nation.
Today, in an unprecedented outcome in the history of
congressional action on the Farm Bill, the full House rejected the bill
advanced to the floor by House leadership. The HSUS and a large coalition
of organizations opposed the bloated, regressive potpourri of
agriculture-related measures for a wide variety of reasons. Even though the
bill did include the HSUS-backed proposal to make it a federal crime to attend
or bring a child to an animal fight, The HSUS opposed the bill because of the
noxious “King amendment,” authored by Rep. Steve King, R- Iowa, that would have
repealed dozens of state laws on animal protection. In addition, Republican
leaders denied lawmakers the opportunity to offer three key animal protection
issues on the floor for votes – one banning barren battery cages for laying
hens, a second to crack down on horse soring, and the final one to stop the
slaughter of American horses here at home and in neighboring countries. The
vote was 195 in favor, and 234 against.
Unless the House leadership twists arms, and replays the
vote next week, this Farm Bill is dead and the Agriculture Committee will have
to start the process again – or cobble something together behind-closed-doors (an increasingly common slap at open democratic decision-making) – if it wants to renew a substantial number of
American agricultural policies.
In the other chamber, in a second major win for animal protection today,
the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote an amendment,
offered by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to bar the
U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at horse slaughter plants in the
United States. This comes just a week after the House approved an
identical amendment by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Bill Young, R-Fla., to do
the same thing.
We don’t know what House Republican leaders will do on the
Farm Bill, now that the House has rejected it. But we do know, whether it’s on
the Farm Bill or in the form of independent legislative proposals, the American
people want reform on animal welfare. Hens should not be confined in cages and
hardly be able to move. Walking horses should not be subjected to torture to
have them perform better in shows and win prizes. And no American horses should be funneled
into the slaughter pipeline for human consumption. Finally, the states should
have a right to adopt policies to protect animals and not have their own
deliberative processes undercut by the federal government on agriculture
It was an important day for animal protection in Washington.
Stay engaged, and if you do, we’ll see positive outcomes for animals.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
One might look at the whole of American history and see one
strand of it as an expanding sphere of ethical concern for others – first, in
the 18th century, a legal concern for propertied males; in the 19th
century, after the Civil War, the abolition of slavery and the establishment of
basic rights for African Americans; in the 20th century, the
granting of women’s suffrage and the advance of civil rights for minorities;
and now in the 21st century a pulse of gains for gays and lesbians,
and in the area of our core concern, for animals – all predicated on widely
shared societal values of fairness and decency and a basic concern for the
Jennifer Fearing/The HSUS
In a less well-known strand of history, one might also say that
there’s been an ever-expanding effort by dogs and cats to claim more ground in
our lives. Most all of them used to live outside, never knowing the comfort or
warmth of a human home. Then, with their ears down and the eyes pleading, they
snuck into our living rooms. Then they came into our bedrooms, and even our
beds. They can even fly for free, if they are the right size, in first class.
And now, thanks to Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Steve Cohen
D-Tenn., they may soon be able to travel on Amtrak!
“This important measure is long overdue,” wrote Washington
Post writer Kathleen Parker this week in her nationally syndicated
column. “It’s sensible, pro-family, humane, smart business and no one’s
bother. It is a bipartisan measure that finally offers and opportunity for
humans to be the kind of people our dogs think we are.”
“My dog, Lily, is part of our family and travels with us to
and from California all the time,” said Denham, the prime sponsor of the
measure. “If I can take her on a plane, why can’t I travel with her on Amtrak,
The congressmen and the journalist have it just right. Dogs
and cats are part of our lives, and they are members of our families, they are
part of our communities. With so many of us traveling, for so many reasons, we
want them around and they want to be around us.
It may seem like a small matter, and on some levels it is.
But the small matters count, especially to dogs and cats, and the people who
care about them. Here’s an easy one for Congress. And livening up our train
rides a bit by sharing some space with our canine and feline friends won’t hurt
the soul one wit.
Tomorrow and Saturday, President Barack Obama and China’s
President Xi Jinping will meet in California. While the two have a laundry list of issues on their agenda,
I truly hope they'll find time to discuss how the two countries might work
together to address the growing security crisis in Africa, where in recent
months, 82 or so elephants have been slaughtered by poachers for their ivory
tusks every single day.
Recently, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported
to the U.N. Security Council that elephant poaching was a growing security
concern, particularly in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Gabon, and that the illegal trade in ivory
may be an important source of funding for armed groups, including warlord
fugitive Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.
Sergey Khachatryan/The HSUS
What does this have to do with the U.S. and China? China
is the world’s largest consumer of illegal ivory, and the U.S. is second; both
countries have a legal ivory trade that is being used as a cover for trade in
illegal ivory from poached elephants. Ivory trinkets sold in both countries are
like blood diamonds, the sale of which funds wars that are not only wiping out
elephants but are destabilizing governments and posing a security risk to
African people and African governments.
Matthew Scully – one of the animal protection movement's
most talented writers and thinkers, a former senior speechwriter for President
George W. Bush, and author of “Dominion”
– has advanced a remarkable written appeal to President Obama to put this
international wildlife protection and international security issue on his to-do
list with the Chinese leader. He's done so in the form of 12,000
word essay on the web site of The Atlantic.
If you can, take the time to read it and see how Scully
argues that the welfare of elephants is as closely intertwined as it can be to
the political and economic health of so many countries in Africa.