The government shutdown may be a nightmare for many American citizens, but humans aren’t the only ones to suffer the consequences. It turns out animals are also suffering due to staff and budgetary cuts. Here are five cute creatures who will feel the impact of the furloughs:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the responsibility of verifying that animals are being kept safe in various capacities; one major USDA task is to keep an eye on the unconscionable puppy mill industry. Unfortunately, the inspectors of these facilities have been deemed “non-essential” and rule enforcement will not be carried out during a government shutdown.
Because this (hopefully temporary) department elimination is public knowledge, many dogs are at risk for abuse. Not only will as yet unchecked puppy breeding facilities be able to continue running their illegal businesses without fear of repercussion, but the Humane Society also worries that other breeders will begin to cut corners when it comes to caring for their pooches knowing that no one is on the lookout.
In New Jersey, even the goats are getting furloughed. USA Today details the unusual story of a herd of goats that was brought to the Gateway National Recreation Area this summer to tackle a massive poison ivy problem. Though a massive spread of the toxic plant was enough to keep humans at bay, it turns out that goats consider poison ivy a delicacy.
While the poison ivy has all but disappeared from the grounds thanks to the goats, the hungry helpers are also being removed from the park due to its closure. In the meantime, the goats will take up residence at a farm.
One of the more publicized aspects of the government shutdown is the end of many an animal lover’s favorite live web cam of the pandas at Washington DC’s National Zoo. Though internet-surfers can generally check in for a cute diversion, for now, the camera has been turned off to cut expenses.
The dark screen has made some panic that the pandas are going hungry during the shutdown, but rest assured, all at the National Zoo animals are being fed and cared for even if we can’t watch it happen live anymore.
Soring – the practice of torturing/injuring a horse into taking exaggerated steps to look more pretty in competitions – is a growing problem in this country. Previously, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has the authority to monitor show horses and punish trainers that sore, but the program has been discontinued during the shutdown. ASPCA believes that some trainers might start resorting to pain-based tactics to change their horses’ gaits during this period without oversight.
Just a few hundred North Atlantic right whales remain alive at this point, and their existence is continually threatened by accidental fatal collisions with large boats. Normally, right whales receive protection from the National Marine Fisheries Service via its Dynamic Management Area program, which monitors ship speed in the right whale’s territory in order to prevent accidents, but this program will not be enforced during the shutdown.
Whales of all species face danger in cases of entanglement. While federal agents would usually respond to whales caught in nets promptly, now such incidents will be considered on a case-by-case basis of how life-threatening the entanglement is.