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A Humane Nation : July 2013
1 year ago

July 01, 2013

India Makes Move on Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

At 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.

The 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 animals.

rabbits

Alamy

Be 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.

Now 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.

Humane 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.

Now 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 there, too.

July 02, 2013
1 year ago

Problems with USDA Oversight at Slaughter Plants

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mike McGraw of the Kansas City Star wrote a front-page story this past weekend about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failure to consistently enforce federal animal welfare laws at slaughter plants, particularly for pigs. In addition to recounting details of a recent USDA Office of Inspector General Audit about abuses of pigs at plants, he breaks the news about a USDA federal inspector being transferred after he blew the whistle on abuse at a Tyson slaughter plant in Iowa. The article gives a broad picture of the hurdles faced by some good inspectors who try to enforce the law. The McGraw exposé, combined with The HSUS’ own investigations, does not instill confidence that the USDA is up to the task of minimizing pain and distress for animals at slaughter plants – including the horses who may end up at facilities in several states, a result of the agency’s recent decision to allow horse-killing for meat.

You may remember Dr. Dean Wyatt, a food safety inspector who blew the whistle on cruelty to calves at a Vermont slaughter plant. An HSUS undercover investigation at the plant confirmed the horrendous treatment of these infant calves, some so young they still had their umbilical cords hanging from their bodies. Sadly, this courageous man died not long after he testified before Congress about the lack of enforcement action when it comes to violations of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. And now it seems that the lack of attention to animal welfare and food safety violations is ongoing.

pigs

Narvikk/iStockphoto

According to the Kansas City Star, another courageous USDA inspector – Jim Schrier – has come forward, calling out Tyson’s huge Columbus Junction, Iowa pig slaughter plant for its inhumane slaughter practices – like conscious pigs being shackled and hoisted in violation of federal  law and USDA’s own regulations – which the USDA is charged with enforcing. The story recounts unlawful retaliation by the USDA for not allowing this inspector to do his job by documenting the violations. You may recall that in 2012 at the behest of Big Ag, Iowa passed an Ag-Gag bill, making it impossible for animal welfare groups to conduct investigations there. So the only thing standing between pigs and inhumane deaths are the handful of USDA inspectors on the lines.

Mr. Schrier, a 29-year veteran of the USDA, fought to make Tyson abide by the federal humane slaughter law and, just like Dean Wyatt, he has experienced retaliation. Schrier has been transferred out of the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction and ordered to work at another plant two hours from his home. Schrier now works an 11 hour shift with a two hour commute before and after every shift – a 15 hour workday.

When we reviewed slaughter violation reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, we noticed that the Columbus Junction plant had not incurred a violation since 2010. That’s particularly curious and almost impossible to fathom given that other Tyson plants have been written up for serious violations of the HMSA, and the details are enough to make you sick at heart. Like this January 2013 incident documented by a USDA inspector in Tyson’s Logansport, Ind., slaughter plant in which a worker attempted to kill a pig not healthy enough for slaughter using a captive bolt gun:

“The hog dropped to a kneeling position, immediately began to squeal loudly, and crawl away from the stunner operator. RPHV [redacted] observed blood coming from the hog’s nose. Mr. [redacted] reloaded the captive bolt gun… He proceeded to discharge a second shot into the same area on the head of the hog. The hog immediately dropped into a kneeling position and continued to squeal. The hog rose and attempted to ambulate away from the area. Approximately 30 to 60 seconds afterwards, the hog was placed into the bucket of a bobcat, facilitating restraint. An additional employee placed his hands on the side of the hog. At this time, a third attempt to stun the hog was made. The hog was effectively stunned on this third attempt.”

The USDA may be authorizing horse slaughter plants to operate in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico. With all the ongoing problems related to the agency’s existing humane handling and food safety programs, it’s impossible to explain why the USDA would spread itself even thinner by adding a new horse slaughter inspection program. Americans don’t eat horse meat, and such a program would come at the expense of animal welfare and public health for U.S. consumers. It’s clear that the USDA needs to conduct a thorough investigation into what’s happening at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, and take a stern-minded, serious approach to humane slaughter violations.

July 05, 2013
1 year ago

Evaluating The HSUS

I 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.

Taking 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 effective).

cockatoo

Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Heather Sullivan with The HSUS holds an umbrella
cockatoo at an emergency shelter in Ohio.

These 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. 

Although 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 1954.

Really, more 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 sector.

Here are just a few of the big things we do, and some of the transformational activity we’ve driven:


  • 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
cont.
1 year ago
  • We 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.
  • We’ve 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 “uppy-free pledge,” agreeing not to sell dogs, and many now promoting adoption.
  • We 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.
  • We 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.
  • We 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.
  • We’ve 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 marketplace.
  • 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.

    July 08, 2013
    1 year ago

    The Repercussions of Callousness, Carelessness, and Cruelty

    I 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 public health.

    A number of industries we fight have also had a huge hand in allowing invasive species to colonize U.S. soil and create havoc.

    There 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.

    wild piglets

    iStockphoto

    In 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 release 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 havoc.

    Last 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.

    When 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 the line.

    July 09, 2013
    1 year ago

    The Maine Event for Bears

    Last year members of The HSUS and other animal welfare and environmental organizations convinced state lawmakers in California to pass legislation to ban hound hunting of bears. It’s been a major issue in Maine as well, and this year, our allies in the Maine legislature introduced a bill to ban bear hounding as well as the barbaric practice of bear trapping. But the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee didn’t waste any time in tabling the bill, answering the demands of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine.

    Now, The HSUS and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine are members of a new coalition in the state – consisting of animal advocates, hunters, environmentalists and others, joined together under the banner of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting – announcing the launch today of a statewide ballot initiative to ban the inhumane and unsporting practices of bear hounding, baiting, and trapping.

    black bear

    In 2004, Maine voters very narrowly turned back a similar initiative. There was some thought among voters that the bear hunting community, after barely escaping defeat in that election cycle, would curb at least some cruel bear hunting practices. But there have been no meaningful reforms in the last 10 years, and that’s exactly why this initiative is being launched.

    Snare traps are at the top of the list. Maine is the only state that allows the use of bear traps –ainful snares that put bears who trigger them into an ever-tightening grip. After as many as 24 hours of struggling in one of these traps, the bear meets his end after the trapper shoots the frightened, anguished, suffering animal at point-blank range.

    The dominant hunting method in Maine is baiting – which is the method used to shoot 80 percent of the 3,000 to 4,000 bears that hunters shoot for trophies. Bear baiters set up dump sites in the woods for bears – dumping meat parts, donuts, grease and other food waste – and then shoot the animals while they feed. All professional wildlife managers discourage people from feeding bears, but Maine makes an exception for thousands of hunters who dump tons of human foods into the woods and habituate bears to human food sources. If you want to avoid creating nuisance bears, the first step is to forbid trophy hunters from turning the Maine woods into a dump site – a wasteland of half eaten pastries from Dunkin' Donuts and chewed up crusts from Domino’s.

    Finally, some hunters may unleash packs of dogs to chase bears through the woods. Fitted with GPS-collars, the dogs do all the work as they chase the bears to exhaustion – sometimes for miles. When the bear finally manages to escape up a tree in terror, the houndsman simply follows the GPS signal to the tree – then points, aims and shoots the bear out of the tree. It’s about as sporting as shooting an animal in a cage at a zoo.

    What’s even worse is when the bear doesn’t make it up the tree in time and instead turns and faces the dogs, it often leads to a fight between the two species. The dogs can maul the bear and vice versa, leading to serious injury and even death on both sides.

    Sometimes the hunters mix and match these despicable methods. They may bait bears into the traps, or they may bait them and then release hounds to chase them.

    In short, despite its great habitat and northern woods, Maine is the worst state to be a bear. A decade ago, the trophy hunting lobby fed voters a load of political garbage when this issue was on the ballot, falsely suggesting that these unfair, inhumane hunting and trapping methods were part of a wildlife management program. They are as much a part of a legitimate hunting program as deadfall traps or jacklighting or running animals over with vehicles.

    It’s unbelievable that Maine still allows these practices, especially when some of the biggest bear hunting states in the country like Montana, Pennsylvania and Washington manage their bears without resorting to baiting, hounding or trapping. It’s time to end this cruelty in Maine and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting needs your help. If you are a Maine resident, we need you to help us gather the 80,000 signatures required to qualify for the November 2014 ballot. Please go to www.fairbearhunt.com to join this critical campaign.

    Paid for and authorized by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting

    July 10, 2013
    1 year ago

    A Reckoning of Sorts for Disgraced Walking Horse Trainer

    HSUS undercover investigations have triggered a number of milestones in animal protection over the years – the first criminal prosecution of slaughterhouse workers, the largest meat recall in U.S. history, major corporate policy changes on gestation crates, shutdowns of rogue slaughter plants and stronger federal rules on handling of downer cattle and calves, the pledge that the vast majority of chimps in labs will be transferred to sanctuaries, the biggest court judgment ever entered for animal abuse, and many other major reforms.

    Yesterday, the Hon. Circuit Judge Weber McCraw in Tennessee added to that list by handing down the first ever complete ban on horse ownership in the Tennessee walking horse industry. The case arose out of The HSUS’ undercover investigation of Jackie McConnell – the Hall of Fame trainer of Tennessee walking horses – who in 2011 was captured on tape intentionally injuring the animals under his charge in order to get them to step higher and win ribbons at horse shows. The case triggered a national outcry, a federal prosecution of McConnell and his associates, a stiffening of Tennessee’s cruelty laws, the introduction of legislation to overhaul the federal Horse Protection Act, and the state cruelty case which concluded yesterday.

    soring

    Chad Sisneros/The HSUS

    McConnell pled guilty to 12 charges of soring and torturing horses in violation of Tennessee’s animal cruelty statute. He received a sentence of one year of house arrest followed by four years of supervised probation, a $25,000 fine (on top of the $75,000 fine and three years’ probation he’d already gotten in the federal case against him), and he is prohibited from owning and training horses for 20 years – essentially a lifetime ban for the 62-year-old disgraced trainer. Co-defendants Jeff Dockery and John Mays pled guilty to three and four counts of animal cruelty, respectively, and will be subject to supervised probation.

    For decades, bad actors in the walking horse industry have totally ignored state and federal prohibitions on horse soring – the cruel practice of abusing horses’ feet and legs to achieve an unnatural and painful high step in the show ring. Trainers and owners have repeatedly been cited for violations, and treated them like traffic tickets – as merely the cost of doing a lucrative business.

    While I wish McConnell had been slapped with a long-term jail sentence – especially since he had already been cited two dozen times for illegal soring prior to our investigation – the ban on horse ownership for him is an incremental advance for us and our cause. The HSUS’ investigation and the resulting state and federal prosecutions have sent a signal to every Tennessee walking horse trainer who sores horses that there’s no longer a free pass for this abuse. There’s no immunity for those who unlawfully torture horses to win ribbons – whether they’re the owners or the trainers. Walking horse show attendance is down due to the scandal, and the industry has devolved into infighting between holdouts insisting there is no cruelty problem in their ranks and those recognizing that their industry operates in an entirely different social and law enforcement environment today.

    We applaud the efforts of Tennessee District Attorney General D. Michael Dunavant and Assistant District Attorney General Mark E. Davidson who vigorously prosecuted this case, and we thank them on behalf of the horses rescued from McConnell’s barn and all the other horses who suffered through their time in that nightmarish environment. We’re also grateful for the hard work and assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General and APHIS Animal Care personnel. Their decisive action in this case has set an important example for law enforcement in any area where soring takes place.

    The HSUS is committed to ending soring and is strongly advocating legislation introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518), which would amend the Horse Protection Act to end the industry’s failed system of self-policing, ban the use of devices implicated in the practice of soring, strengthen penalties, and make other reforms needed to finally end this torture. Please call your representative in the U.S. Congress and urge him or her to cosponsor H.R. 1518, to enable stronger prosecutions against trainers like McConnell and to create a horse show environment that’s safe for horses and horse-lovers.

    July 11, 2013
    1 year ago

    One Step Forward, One Big Step Back in Congress

    Today, there was a positive step forward on Capitol Hill in the effort to get laboratory chimps to sanctuaries, but there was a setback in the House with the passage of a highly partisan, retrograde Farm Bill that could set back state policies on animal welfare, and represents a missed opportunity to advance a historic agreement to reduce the misery that laying hens endure in battery cages.

    FARM BILL: With not a single Democrat supporting the measure, and only 12 Republicans voting against it, the House narrowly passed its pared-down version of the Farm Bill, which excluded all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, by a vote of 216 to 208. The bill approved by the House includes the dangerous and overreaching King amendment, which could nullify dozens of state laws to protect animals, the environment, worker safety and food safety. Republican leaders blocked consideration of a series of other animal welfare amendments relating to banning barren battery cages, cracking down on horse slaughter, and upgrading the federal law against horse soring. The Farm Bill does, however, include a top HSUS priority – an upgrade of the federal animal fighting law, making it a crime to attend or bring a minor to a dogfight or a cockfight. Yet even with the anti-dogfighting and anti-cockfighting provision included, it’s impossible for us to support this disastrous Farm Bill because of the radical and overreaching King amendment that threatens so many animal welfare laws.

    hen

    iStockphoto

    At some point soon it is likely the Senate and House will conduct a conference on the Farm Bill, and we’ll do our best to nix the King amendment (the Senate version does not include any provision similar to the King amendment) and to retain a strong animal fighting provision (which is included in both the Senate and House Farm Bills). We’ll have to seek separate pathways to enact our other major reform items like horse soring and horse slaughter. The denial of a fair vote on the egg industry reforms hurts prospects for that measure, but we’ll look for any available vehicle to give the full House and Senate an opportunity to vote on this important legislation.

    CHIMPANZEES: On the good news front, today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill for fiscal year 2014 for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments, and thanks to the tremendous leadership of Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, that bill included language to allow continued National Institutes of Health funding of chimpanzee care at the national chimpanzee sanctuary system – a needed step if NIH is to follow up on its recently announced plans to transfer the vast majority of chimps out of labs and into safer, more peaceful settings. Today’s action was a technical fix to a 2000 law, which will allow NIH to save money by supporting chimp care at sanctuaries instead of laboratory settings. The fact is, NIH has a duty to provide care for these chimps, but it turns out that caring for them at sanctuaries is cheaper than caring for them in labs – even though the living conditions for the animals are far superior at the sanctuaries. So today’s outcome is great for chimps, but also welcomed by taxpayers. We’ll be working hard to assure that this language is included in final appropriations legislation that is sent to the president for his signature.

    Legislative change happens in stages, and it can be exhilarating or deeply frustrating. We had a mix of both today, but no final outcomes. The story is not complete on any of the items mentioned above, and we’ll keep up the pressure on every one of these issues.

    July 12, 2013
    1 year ago

    HSUS Works with Federal, State Law Enforcement on Operation Wild Web

    Last year The HSUS joined forces with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an unprecedented investigation into illegal wildlife trafficking dubbed Operation Cyberwild. A law enforcement action designed to take a bite out of the multibillion-dollar black market in illegal wildlife products, Operation Cyberwild paired civilian volunteers from The HSUS with special agents from the USFWS, as well as state wildlife law enforcement, to assist in scouring the Internet for evidence of illegal wildlife items being trafficked on websites like Craigslist.

    Yesterday, also with the USFWS and multiple state wildlife agencies – including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Texas Parks and Wildlife – we announced the results of Operation Wild Web, an investigation spanning 16 states, three Asian countries, and multiple federal agencies. Led by USFWS deputy resident agent in charge, Ed Newcomer, the investigation took place over two weeks in August 2012. During that time, 40 volunteers from The HSUS produced leads that enabled investigators to quickly make contact with sellers, saving law enforcement significant time and resources for field investigations.

    rhino

    Christophe Cerisier/iStockphoto

    The joint efforts resulted in 154 “buy/busts,” 30 of which were alleged federal crimes, and the rest were state violations. There were many items seized, everything from an illegal jaguar fur to a live western scrub jay.

    The problem of wildlife trafficking is one of the major animal issues of our day, and it’s getting attention now from world leaders. President Obama recently announced, through an executive order, that he will establish a task force to develop a global anti-poaching strategy focused on elephants and rhinos. He announced this during his recent trip to several African nations, where wildlife watching is a multi-billion dollar industry and is part of the economic development picture for the continent.

    Collaboration among leading public officials, law enforcement, prosecutors, and The HSUS and other non-government organizations, is critical to facing these challenges, and we’re proud to be part of it. If you want to be part of the solution, take our don’t buy wild pledge. There is also, as author Laurel Neme and others have suggested, an urgent need for additional funding for such work at all levels, something to keep in mind when you are in contact with your state and federal elected officials concerning such issues. There is so much that we can do, individually, and together, to halt wildlife-related crimes.

    July 15, 2013
    1 year ago

    “Blackfish” Is a Must-See Film for Summer

    Three years ago, Tilikum, a captive orca at SeaWorld Orlando, killed whale trainer Dawn Brancheau by dragging her under the water and battering her to death. The killing happened in front of a large crowd of patrons who quickly realized that the whale decided to throw away the script and start telling an entirely different story. Ms. Brancheau was in fact the third victim of Tilikum, whose own tragic story encapsulates why we at The HSUS don’t think orcas belong in captive settings.

    Now “Blackfish,” a new documentary by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films, may roil the waters further, especially if you are an executive at SeaWorld. The documentary takes a serious look at the events that led up to the tragedy and the role SeaWorld continues to play in trying to whitewash the story and to drive the corporate narrative that this multi-billion-dollar company is on the side of the whales.

    Tilikum

    Magnolia Pictures
    Tilikum in a scene from "Blackfish," a Magnolia Pictures release.

    The HSUS long ago sounded the alarm about the dangers of keeping these whales in captivity, including hazards for the trainers, shortened life spans for the orcas, and repeated breeding failures of female captive orcas. David Kirby, in his authoritative book, “Death at SeaWorld,” documented these problems and many more. The book featured The HSUS’ long-time marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose, who has been a critic of keeping orcas in captivity at amusement parks for 20 years.

    “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite brings to the big screen many of the same issues that Kirby did in his book. She interviews former SeaWorld trainers – the people who have first-hand experience of SeaWorld practices and insider knowledge about Tilikum’s history – as her story-telling device.

    SeaWorld’s response to the film was that “[Blackfish] appears to repeat the same unfounded allegations made many times over the last several years by animal rights activists.”

    You can go see the film and judge for yourself.

    But let me close this tease about the movie by noting that orcas are remarkable animals – the largest and most powerful predators in the world. Therein lies the thrill for millions of people throughout the world who buy tickets from SeaWorld to get a close-up view of these creatures and their acrobatics. We understand the appeal, since we at The HSUS agree that it is magical to see them up close. But we remind would-be patrons that there is a price to patronizing these circus acts for orcas: SeaWorld leaders will continue to keep these animals in captive settings insufficient for their physical, social and behavioral needs.

    “Blackfish” opens in theaters July 19, and it may prove to be a powerful cinematic tool in awakening the public to the side of the story that SeaWorld doesn’t want to have play out in the United States.

    http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2013/07/blackfish-is-a-must-see-film-for-summer.html

    July 16, 2013
    1 year ago

    Japanese Whaling Tried in International Court

    The late Sir Peter Scott, one of the world’s most famous conservationists, once said ''Many people now regard whales as a symbol. If we can't save the whales, then we begin to wonder if we will be able to save anything - including ourselves.” By the late 1980s, when it was clear that whale populations throughout the world were rapidly declining as a result of ruthless hunting over the decades and centuries, Scott was involved in the movement that led to the global moratorium on commercial whaling being put into place by the International Whaling Commission. The HSUS was centrally involved in that fight as well.

    minke

    iStockphoto

    But since the enactment of the moratorium, the question becomes, what do you do when some countries will just not comply with a collective decision agreed to by the parties to the international convention dealing with whale policy? What do you do when one country continues to kill hundreds of whales each year and even does so in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary that was specifically intended to protect these animals?

    Australia has now shown us. The political leaders of that nation proposed three years ago to take Japan to the highest court in the world – the International Court of Justice based in The Hague, Netherlands, over its whaling in the Southern Ocean, we at The HSUS and HSI all cheered. Like so many other people throughout the world, we were increasingly outraged by Japan’s stubborn determination to continue killing whales for no good reason – since there’s no real commercial value in whale oil and whale meat is already stacked up in freezers, with few consumers in Japan or anywhere else in the world having a taste for it. Japan not only thumbed its nose at the majority of nations that voted on resolutions declaring that it should cease its rogue activities, but it also recruited other countries, and doled out foreign aid to them in a transparent vote-buying scheme designed to allow Japan to withstand the indignation and the resolutions of the pro-whale nations.

    Like so many abusers of animals, Japan tried to frame its ruthless killing in the most favorable light possible – attempting to disguise slaughter as science. The nation’s leaders said the whaling fleets were conducting “research.” Never mind that the meat is readily available in the marketplace, and the international scientific community found virtually none of the “science” relevant or compelling in any way.

    The ICJ has just concluded its public hearings. Now the 16 judges disappear – probably for several months – to pore over the arguments and hundreds (probably thousands) of pages of evidence that have been presented to them by either side. All of us at The HSUS and HSI hope the judges see through the smokescreen created by Japan and hold the nation accountable for its killing of the largest animals who have ever lived on our planet. If our international conventions are to have meaning, the responsible nations of the world must band together and make sure that the rule of law is honored.

    http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2013/07/japanese-whaling-tried-in-international-court.html

    July 17, 2013
    1 year ago

    Spreading the Word for Animals

    Look at any major social movement and it has communications platforms to disseminate ideas, review books in the field, dig deep into issues, release research or investigations, and allow debate and discussion within the fraternity. The left, for example, has magazines like Mother Jones and The Nation and talk show hosts at MSNBC. The right has Rush Limbaugh and the National Review, the Weekly Standard and Fox News.

    animal house

    Go to a newsstand, and you’ll see hunting magazines galore, and there are newsletters and other print publications that come from major hunting rights organizations. On the agriculture front, there is Feedstuffs and then there are trade magazines like Pork and Beef. There is a laundry list of blogs.

    Years ago, I served as an editor at The Animals’ Agenda, the national magazine of the animal protection movement. That periodical is defunct, but now Animal People plays the role of an independent journal covering news within the field of animal protection.

    The HSUS has a remarkable magazine called All Animals, and we also publish Animal Sheltering Magazine. They are published by The HSUS, but their content reaches far beyond the programs and activities of The HSUS. These magazines talk about the big issues of the day for animals and for our society.

    I’m pleased to see that there is a number of emerging local radio shows in our field, and the most important is The Animal House, broadcast from WAMU in Washington, D.C. It’s hosted by long-time news man Sam Litzinger, who is an anchor and reporter at CBS News. And its featured animal expert is my good friend Dr. Gary Weitzman, who is president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA.

    I’ve started doing regular commentaries on the show, including on horse slaughter. I am so pleased to be able to contribute to this important show.

    The Animal House is the No. 1 rated show in its time slot in the Washington, D.C. market, and it’s now on the air in 30 other markets as well. You can contact your local public radio station and urge them to carry The Animal House, too. If they run it, they’ll soon find out that there are herds and gaggles and packs of listeners who care about veterinary health issues for their pets and animal issues in our society.

    Tune in, and let’s work to get more information about our vital cause into the public domain.

    July 18, 2013
    1 year ago

    Turn Up the Heat

    I know it’s plenty hot in these dog days of summer, but we need to turn up the heat even more in our fight to ensure that the King amendment isn’t part of a final Farm Bill or any other legislation that may end up containing Farm Bill provisions. The King amendment, which is part of the Farm Bill that narrowly passed the House last week in a highly partisan vote, threatens to supersede a wide swath of duly-enacted state laws addressing animal protection, as well as laws regarding other concerns like food safety, child labor, dangerous pesticides, labeling of products, and even restrictions on firewood transported into a state (which protects against invasive pests and damage to local forests). Now is the time to contact your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to bounce the King amendment from any final Farm Bill package considered by the House and Senate.

    The threat posed by this shocking usurpation of state authority is bringing together a broad coalition of more than 50 groups – representing sustainable agriculture, consumer, environmental, animal welfare and other interests – all voicing opposition to the provision that Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, got into the House Farm Bill to wipe out state laws affecting agriculture production. The list includes major organizations such as the Consumer Federation of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Organic Consumers Association, Pew Charitable Trusts, and Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as smaller groups such as the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives and Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water.

    chickens

    Rep. King claims his provision is narrow and only deals with interstate commerce, but the language is so vague and poorly worded, it could stop states from regulating in-state producers, as long as the agricultural commodity at issue is sold in interstate commerce, by someone. The exact answer to this question will only be determined after years of litigation and regulatory uncertainly – uncertainty that will stifle business and limit economic growth. And remember, this is the same Steve King that has fought federal policies to crack down on animal fighting, horse slaughter, the trade in primates as pets, and every other proposed federal policy to help animals. He doesn’t want state or federal laws to help animals. He wants no laws to protect animals!

    It’s also important to keep in mind that farmers work in a national and global environment and they typically move their products in interstate commerce. Because almost all agricultural commerce involves interstate movement and sales, the King amendment would be a de facto nullification of state laws that impose some standards on agricultural production – from Prop 2 in California to Prop 204 in Arizona to Amendment 10 in Florida. The states have a critical role in agriculture policy and these rules and standards were approved by voters, or in other cases by state lawmakers and by rule-making.

    Forcing states to allow commerce in products that violate state health and humane laws is about as heavy-handed as it gets. If any one state in the country allows the sale of horse meat or dog meat, every state would have to allow it. It’s the lowest common denominator approach to policymaking, and puts all states at the mercy of one or a handful of states.

    Many Members of Congress like to say they are strong defenders of states’ rights. Now is the time for them to not only mouth the principle but to stand up and be counted on a pivotal matter of policy. The King amendment is an outrageous violation of the Tenth Amendment’s guarantee that the states’ sovereign rights cannot be abridged by Congress – it aims to eliminate states’ historic police powers within their borders and would destroy the fundamental principles of federalism that have guided our nation since its founding. We need to make sure it doesn’t get swept into law and sweep away countless measures important to states and their citizens.

    July 19, 2013
    1 year ago

    New Interior Secretary Can Turn Around Broken Wild Horse Program

    Those of you who regularly watch our good friend Jane Velez-Mitchell’s show on HLN may have seen me last night in a brief segment talking about a potentially dangerous situation for 1,800 captive wild horses at a Bureau of Land Management facility near Reno, Nev., where temperatures have been reaching record highs exceeding 100 degrees this month. Despite the fact that the BLM requires those adopting wild horses from the agency to provide adequate shelter, there is no shelter for the horses at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center. Our request is hardly unprecedented, since the BLM has installed shelters at other facilities, like the one in Ridgecrest, CA.

    After several wild horse advocates brought this matter to our attention, we wrote a letter to the BLM, urging the agency to develop a shelter to provide some protection from the sun at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center. Thus far, the BLM has installed a sprinkler system, but no shelter. Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell can take action to show she’s serious about reform of this program.

    roundup

    Kayla Grams/The HSUS

    While an important welfare issue for the horses, the situation unfolding at Palomino Valley is yet another symptom of a broken horse and burro program. The central problem is that the BLM continues to round up and remove thousands of wild horses and to aggregate more horses than it can responsibly care for at short-term and long-term holding facilities, all at an enormous expense to taxpayers and to horses, and in defiance of the spirit of the federal law designed to protect them.

    We have only about 40,000 wild horses and burros living on our public lands today, but we have almost 50,000 in holding facilities. This is not what the drafters of the original Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act could ever have imagined, and the BLM knows that it’s removing more animals from the range than the agency can possibly hope to adopt out to loving homes – yet the round up and removal treadmill persists. This is the larger problem that Secretary Jewell confronts.

    The only way the BLM will ever right the sinking ship that has become its Wild Horse & Burro Program is by immediately implementing the recommendations of a report prepared by the National Academies of Sciences’ National Research Council panel which, among its key findings, urged the agency to end its reliance on short-sighted roundups, and instead, to keep horses on the range while humanely limiting reproduction through the application of a contraceptive vaccine. And just recently, The HSUS also developed and presented a proposal to the agency for a bold new program that meets the challenges of the budget, the horse population and land-use issues head on.

    We are ready to work with the BLM to address its continuing troubles in this area and to solve them for the long term. But in the meantime, the BLM needs to do right by the animals in its care and the best place to start is by providing the 1,800 wild horses at PVC with the shelter they so desperately need.

    July 22, 2013
    1 year ago

    Sundance Kid Rides in to Help Horses

    When your business is horse slaughter, you don’t attract many fans. It’s a transactional business, with ruthlessness and profit driving the enterprise. The people who work with you aren’t idealists or even hobbyists, but hired guns – people who lobby or file lawsuits or send out press releases, and don’t much care who they work for or what kind of suffering they enable. They don’t admit that they have contempt or disregard for our society’s standards against animal cruelty, but they do their best to cloak their cruelty behind some high-minded purpose.

    On the other hand, when you want to promote the protection of animals, you can attract some extraordinary allies – people who speak up against cruelty as a matter of principle, and do so for no material gain. That’s the case with the horse slaughter fight. Today, actor, director, and philanthropist Robert Redford and former New Mexico Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson announced the formation of a new foundation which has filed a motion to join our lawsuit as a co-plaintiff, with Front Range Equine Rescue and other respected animal protection groups, to block horse slaughter plants from resuming operations. Within the last three weeks, the Obama Administration granted permits for inspection to would-be slaughter plants in New Mexico and Iowa.

    slaughter

    Kathy Milani/The HSUS
    Horses being loaded onto a truck bound for slaughter.

    And Redford and Richardson aren’t the only ones coming to the aid of horses. Also joining the case is New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, who has established a record of untiring opposition to animal cruelty during his tenure as the state’s chief law enforcement official. Attorney General King previously declared that horsemeat fits the legal definition of an adulterated food product and therefore cannot be manufactured, sold or delivered anywhere in New Mexico; trainers and horse owners frequently treat American horses with drugs prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food-producing animals, raising serious public health concerns. In joining the lawsuit, the State referred to its responsibility to enforce regulations pertaining to the environment and public health, the adulterated nature of horsemeat, and the harms the state would face, including the additional regulatory costs of ensuring the horse slaughter plant’s operations do not endanger the local water supply or the health of residents. The State also pointed to the harm that New Mexico’s beef industry could face if a horse slaughter plant were to begin operating in the state.

    The USDA’s inspection permits are not the final word, as our lawsuit demonstrates. Horse slaughter has no place in New Mexico, Iowa, or anywhere else in North America. Eighty percent of Americans support a ban on horse slaughter. We owe horses more than to treat them as a cheap, throw-away commodity, and to slaughter them as a matter of convenience and profit. If you have a horse, you should be a responsible owner, and handle the animal with care and a sense of stewardship.

    The international horse slaughter industry is an inhumane, predatory one. Ultimately, Congress must ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and the sale of live horses to our North American neighbors for similar purposes. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094/S. 541, introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., would do just that. The imminent threat of horse slaughter makes it critical, now more than ever, to contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the SAFE Act to shut the door on horse slaughter for good.

    July 24, 2013
    1 year ago

    Terns of Endearment

    Birds don’t smile. Neither do turtles. Not at least that we can see.

    But they can make me smile – and never so much as when the spark of life that exists in all creatures meets up with the big hearts of people at The HSUS’ South Florida Wildlife Center.

    The HSUS and our family of affiliates provided direct care to more than 100,000 animals in 2012 – more than any other animal group. That’s a big number, but what matters most is the impact on those individual lives – from the largest bison to the smallest seabird.

    Here, in this short video, let’s watch the most important seconds in the lives of three orphaned least terns and a single soft-shell turtle – the instant of their release after rescue and rehab at our center.

    The dedicated staff at the center call it a happy ending. I think we can also say it’s a joyous beginning.

    It reminds me to say thanks to the many of you who support our work at The Humane Society of the United States. With your support, we’re there for all animals – great and small.

    http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2013/07/terns-of-endearment.html

    July 25, 2013
    1 year ago

    Steve King on Mules – and Pigs and Puppies

    Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is again in the news for embarrassing, offensive statements – this time for his rants about immigrants and immigration policy. He told an Iowa radio show host that undocumented immigrant children are often drug mules who carry illegal substances across the border, and “they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

    For these comments, he’s been condemned by just about every sane mind in the immigration debate – from Latino leaders, to House Democrats to House Speaker John Boehner, who called his comments “deeply offensive and wrong,” and stated that, “there is no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials.” But this didn’t stop King from repeating his remarks today on the House floor.

    For us at The HSUS, it’s more nonsense from a guy who is at least as extreme on animal welfare as he is on immigration and a range of other topics.

    pig

    Matt Prescott/The HSUS

    Last year King said that there was something wrong with passing legislation to keep children away from animal fights when "it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.” He added, “there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that [sic] think like that. There’s something wrong with Wayne Pacelle and the Humane Society of the United States' way of thinking like that.”

    Fortunately, the vast majority of the House disagrees with King on animal fighting and wants to crack down on it. 

    Unfortunately, there have been times when King’s crazy ideas gain some measure of traction in the House, perhaps because not enough people are paying attention to the substance. Maybe they’ll pay attention now and realize what a threat he is to the body politic.

    The House Farm Bill contains a provision authored by King that could nullify a wide range of measures relating to animal welfare – like farm animal confinement, horse slaughter, puppy mills and shark finning – as well as food safety, labeling, environmental requirements, labor standards and other issues. The King Amendment seeks to create a blanket federal preemption of state and local standards regarding agriculture production. The provisions of the King Amendment are at odds with core Republican Party values, like respecting states’ rights and promoting local government.

    In one fell swoop, King’s amendment could negate Proposition 2 in California, Prop 204 in Arizona, Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing pig gestation crates), eight state laws against shark finning, 34 state laws and sets of rules on puppy mills, six state laws on horse slaughter, and countless other duly-enacted laws across the country.

    It is time to create a ruckus, and demand that the House and Senate reject the ideas and legislative fantasies of this crank. Contact your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to oppose the King amendment and keep it out of the final Farm Bill package.

    July 26, 2013
    1 year ago

    Ag-Gag Bills Bite the Dust

    As our society makes continuing progress on animal welfare, exposing cruelty and creating social, corporate and public policy standards, there’s an inevitable backlash from the industries that want to continue to do things just the same as always. I’ve written about the funded brand attack on The HSUS by a hired gun whose resume is dominated by his work for alcohol, tobacco, and animal cruelty work. Then there’s the King amendment, which seeks to wipe out state laws that create standards or conditions for agriculture operations. And, in perhaps the biggest news story of the year, lawmakers in 11 states introduced measures to make it a crime, in one form or another, to conduct undercover investigations at agricultural operations – the so-called “ag-gag” proposals.

    gestation crate

    Meat industry consultant and scientist Temple Grandin said that, “[ag gag bills are] the stupidest thing that ag ever did.” The San Francisco Chronicle called the package of bills from agribusiness "The worst PR gaffe since New Coke." And we’d have to agree. As controversy over the legislation raged in the states, newscasters repeatedly showed footage of past investigations, exposing the public to images of factory farming abuses like extreme confinement in gestation crates – and the industry had to view that as self-defeating. And, in a general sense, consumers had the impression that agribusiness interests had something to hide.

    Today, the North Carolina legislature adjourned without approving its version of an ag-gag bill. Similar bills failed in 10 other states. The most vigorous debate had played out in Tennessee, where a bill narrowly skidded through the legislature, but it was ultimately vetoed by Governor Bill Haslam.

    So, yes, it’s a great outcome that The HSUS and its allies worked with upstanding lawmakers to block these bills this year. But a half dozen states approved similar measures in prior years, and these laws have had a chilling effect on whistleblowers and investigations. We are quite sure we haven’t seen the last of them.

    It should be a policy priority for lawmakers to protect animals from cruelty and to maintain strong food safety standards. Treating the investigations of cruelty and unsafe business practices as the problem turns logic and common sense on its head. It protects scofflaws and people with something to hide, and does a disservice to the workings of a civil and transparent society.

    http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2013/07/ag-gag-bills-bite-the-dust.html



    This post was modified from its original form on 26 Jul, 19:55
    July 29, 2013
    1 year ago

    75 New Animal Welfare Laws This Year, and Counting

    I thought Nicholas Kristof was right on point yesterday in his wide-ranging column about animal protection as a critical moral question in our society. We will indeed look back on our time, as Kristof says, and wonder how we could have been so callous and cruel in our treatment of innocent and vulnerable creatures.

    orca

    In addition to the myriad ways in which we exploit or assault animals – in the form of factory farming, puppy mills, seal clubbing, animal fighting, horse soring and so many other abuses – there are also so many attempts by animal-use industries to thwart reform and to slow and complicate our journey forward. They work to pass ag-gag laws (to make it a crime to take pictures of animals in confinement or in slaughterhouse lines), to enact constitutional amendments to establish a right to (factory) farm or to hunt (including by defending the most egregious practices), to make it very difficult to qualify or pass animal welfare ballot measures by raising signature-gathering minimums or imposing supermajority passage requirements, and by other means. In short, just as civil-rights campaigners or women’s advocates and other social reformers faced backlash as they pressed ahead with calls for fairness and decency in pursuit of their noble goals, they were often met with fierce resistance and even violence.

    Yet, with all of the challenges we face, as a movement we are making unmistakable progress. This year, state lawmakers have passed more than 75 new state laws to help animals. I reported last week that we’ve succeeded in blocking all 11 ag-gag bills introduced this year. Kristof wrote of the documentary “Blackfish” as a way of educating millions about the plight of captive orcas – just one more expression of the work of artists, producers and authors in spreading the word about animal issues and enlightening the public.

    Last week, I posted a document on our web site that lays out how our social reform efforts are driving transformational change in all of the major areas in which we conduct our work. Please take a look at it, and take pride in it. Now that we have accomplished these goals, surely we can be catalysts for even greater change for the better.

    July 30, 2013
    1 year ago

    Step by Step Progress for Walking Horses

    We are making steady progress in our campaign to crack down on trainers and owners who injure the feet and legs of Tennessee walking horses to induce an unnatural, high-stepping gait in the show ring. Yesterday, a federal court in Texas rejected a legal claim by SHOW, a supposed industry enforcement organization, challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authority to set minimum penalties for soring violations under the federal Horse Protection Act. The regulations were implemented by the USDA following The HSUS’ legal petition in 2011 asking the agency to enact a number of regulatory reforms to better protect horses from this cruel practice. HSUS lawyers also filed a brief in defense of the USDA’s new rules.

    hooves

    Kathy Milani/The HSUS
    "Big Lick" show horses are fitted with tall, heavy stacks like
    these, forcing them to stand at a painful, unnatural angle.

    The entire case is a sad statement on the status of self-regulation in the walking horse industry. The organization that filed this legal challenge is certified by the USDA for the specific purpose of enforcing Horse Protection Act regulations to help end soring. Instead of helping the USDA enforce the Act, they are fighting in court to limit the USDA’s enforcement authority, and help repeat offenders avoid justice. The USDA should be commended for taking steps to enhance enforcement, and shouldn’t have to fight baseless, regressive lawsuits from their own enforcement organizations to get there. 

    It seems that in this industry, some trainers and owners are so addicted to the “Big Lick” that they’ll abuse their horses and violate federal law to achieve this bizarre and unnatural gait, and then go through the expense of a lawsuit against the USDA to fight enforcement of meaningful deterrents against these gruesome training methods. 

    The “Big Lick” subculture of cheating, cruelty, and deception has been maintained by crooked trainers and owners – but increasingly, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors, horse owners, and other members of the public, are bent on stamping out this faction's abusive training techniques.

    The HSUS won’t relent in its work to make Tennessee walking horse competitions honest again, by exposing abuse, supporting humane and fair Tennessee walking horse competitions, and pushing for needed reforms.

    August 01, 2013
    1 year ago

    A Safety Net for Dogs in Need

    I am always inspired and empowered by the devotion of advocates who fight for animals. One day it may be volunteers who are helping to prevent the needless trophy hunting of wolves, another day it may be grassroots organizing to ban horse slaughter. Today, I want to highlight the work of dozens of groups and thousands of hardworking people – though there are too many to name – changing the lives of large mixed-breed, pit-bull type and senior dogs.

    These dogs have found two angels in a pair of long-time animal advocates, Dwight and Kimberly Lowell, who are steadfast in their devotion to helping senior, pit-bull type and mixed breed dogs, in particular. It all started with a shelter dog named Chrissie who, Dwight will quickly tell you, “changed my life.” Driven by the love discovered in that special relationship, Dwight and Kimberly vowed to help other dogs in need, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.

    LowellFund

    iStockphoto
    The Lowell Fund provides grants for organizations that
    help large mixed-breed, pit-bull type and senior dogs.

    They’ve been quiet in their giving and want all focus on the dogs and the great work of so many people who are helping dogs in need. But, I want them to know how much their generosity is valued by all of us who share their love of dogs. Dwight and Kimberly have made a generous donation and long-term commitment to The Lowell Fund, which plans to continue to give grants to support organizations over the years to come.

    Today, The HSUS announced grants, funded exclusively through The Lowell Fund, to 31 groups in 21 states. There’s Bama Bully Rescue in Birmingham, Ala., which helps dogs who have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or fallen victim to other situations in their lives. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tenn., gives senior dogs, especially those with medical problems or disabilities, a place to live out their lives as a loved family member. Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minn., is an all-volunteer group that fosters animals in homes until they are adopted, and New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better, based in Rio Rancho, N.M., focuses on helping to free chained dogs through owner education, outreach and rescue. These are just a few examples of the many great groups, often all-volunteer run, that are changing the lives of so many dogs. 

    There is a remarkable network of dog rescue organizations, operating in thousands of communities across the country. The Lowell Fund grants cannot help them all, but they make a difference for dozens of organizations, and therefore for thousands of dogs. I know the Lowells join me in celebrating these wonderful folks taking care of so many creatures in need. Congratulations to the grant awardees, the Lowells, and all of you who change the world for the better.

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