It’s been a long winter and we’re ready to dig into summer foods. For those who eat meat, eggs or dairy, avoiding the worst factory-farmed products can be tricky. We have some easy tips to help you make informed choices for a welfare-conscious summer spread.
What to Look For Look for packages that include certification stamps from Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane or Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Program (steps 2 and above).
These independent certifications offer consumers assurance of higher welfare practices on farms through publicly available standards and regular, on-farm audits to ensure these standards are met. These programs all prohibit cage confinement, subtherapeutic antibiotics and hormone use. Minimum quantity and quality of space is also defined for animals (either indoor enriched, outdoor access or pasture access).
You can find more information about these three certifications and brush up on what’s behind other claims on packages by downloading our label guide. Take it with you to the supermarket or share it with friends to make the most informed decisions when it comes to meat, eggs and dairy.
What to Avoid Don’t be fooled! While looking for more humane animal products this season, steer clear of these undefined, unregulated or misleading claims:
Humanely Raised: An unregulated and subjective term without standards
Natural: Does not impact animal welfare in any way
Cage Free: Meaningless on poultry meat since those birds are not raised in cages
Free Range: Meaningless since there is no legal definition for use on eggs, pork, beef or dairy
Hormone Free: Not approved by the USDA since all animals produce hormones naturally
No Hormones Added: Meaningless on pork or poultry products since hormone use is not allowed on chickens, turkeys or pigs
Antibiotic Free: Meaningless because antibiotic residue testing technology can’t verify an animal ever received antibiotics
Although dogs are our best friends, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by canines in the United States every year. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, and at least half of the 800,000 people who receive medical care for dog bites each year are children. To reduce the number of these injuries, adults and children should be educated about bite prevention, and dog owners should practice responsible dog guardianship. May 17-23 is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and we’d like to take this opportunity to share a few ways that you can prevent dog bites from happening in your community.
Ask first before petting a dog. When meeting an unfamiliar dog, don’t reach out to pet her. First, ask her pet parent, “May I pet your dog?” A strange hand in a dog’s face may scare her, leading to a bite.
After you receive permission to pet a dog, let her sniff your closed hand. Then, you may proceed to pet her shoulders or chest. Avoid petting the top of the dog’s head.
Don’t toucha dog who is sleeping, eating or chewing a toy. Respect her space, as startled dogs are more likely to bite.
Avoid dogs who are barking or growling. It is also best to steer clear of dogs who are loose, behind a fence or tied up.
If an unknown dog approaches you, stay quiet and still. Do not run or scream.
Please share our handy guide below with your friends and family members on your social media networks. For more information, visit aspca.org/dogbiteprevention.
Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
Mama Cat “Adopts” Kittens Just in Time for Mother’s Day: When Mikey the cat’s prematurely-born kittens passed away, she appeared visibly heartbroken. Her owner contacted a local cat rescue that happened to be caring for three abandoned kittens named Teddy, Abby and Lily, who required constant care and supervision. After introductions, the four cats bonded almost immediately—Mikey began to lick the kittens and soon rolled over to allow each of them to feed. They are now living together as one happy feline family. [Time]
New York Woman Seeks Home for 620 Turtles: After a shipment of illegal baby turtles was seized by the Department of Environmental Conservation, one state-licensed wildlife rehabber agreed to take them in. The 620 red-eared slider turtles—which are a non-native species that cannot be sold or released in New York State—are currently living in her bathtub while the woman searches for 620 loving homes. [NY Post]
SeaWorld Faces Third Lawsuit: A new class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco marks the third suit against the theme park in less than two months. The plaintiffs claim that SeaWorld® lies about the mental and physical well-being of its orcas, which violates California advertising laws about profiting from false statements. [IB Times]
Washington Governor Expands Animal Cruelty Laws: On May 11, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State signed into law a new measure making it a civil offense to lock an animal in a car or enclosed space in dangerous conditions, like heat or cold. The new law creates a $125 fine for offenders and authorizes law enforcement officers to enter a car or enclosed area to remove an animal in danger. [Seattle Times]
Caged Lion Feels Earth for the First Time: After 13 years in a cramped cage, a circus lion in Brazil was captured on film as he gleefully felt the earth for the first time. In the touching video, which was filmed in 2006 but recently went viral, Will the lion can be seen rolling in the grass and playfully pawing at the soil. [The Dodo]
On May 12, FRONTLINE aired “The Trouble with Chicken,” an investigation into an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg at one of the nation’s largest poultry processors. With chicken consumption at an all-time high and more severe illnesses stemming from this product than any other meat, the hour-long PBS documentary questioned why our food safety system is not doing more to prevent these dangerous infections.
The most effective way out of this vicious cycle is to go to the source of the problem: sickening environments and sick animals. In a HuffPost Live conversation with Frontline Correspondent David Hoffman, the ASPCA’s Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare, Daisy Freund, stated, “when you’re talking about food safety, we have to go back to the farms and talk about how these animals are living.”
Chickens today are raised in crowded, barren, windowless sheds where disease can run rampant, and are bred to grow four times faster than they did sixty years ago. As long as chickens are raised in such unhealthy factory farm environments, they will continue to suffer and pose serious risks to consumers from foodborne illnesses.
The FRONTLINE documentary shows that federal agencies tasked with protecting the public are hampered by a culture that defers to industry and takes a reactive approach to addressing these issues. That is why the ASPCA is calling on advocates who care about animal welfare and consumer safety to demand better from the chicken industry through our Truth About Chicken campaign.
This Saturday marks Armed Forces Day, a special day to celebrate Americans serving across our five U.S. military branches including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. This year, as we honor the brave service men and women who defend our country, please take a moment to recognize the four-legged heroes who also serve on the frontline for America every day.
Military Working Dogs, or MWDs, play a critical role in our nation’s defense and are crucial to the safety of our service members. The military estimates that the average MWD saves between 150-200 lives during his or her career. These amazing dogs work tirelessly to keep us safe, successfully performing important and dangerous duties that can be difficult—if not impossible—for people, all while providing unconditional love and loyalty to the men and women who work alongside them.
In recognition of these heroic animals’ unwavering service to our country, we believe that our government’s commitment to their wellbeing must extend beyond the period of military service.
In late 2012, Congress took action in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual military policy bill, to better protect retired military dogs by streamlining the adoption process and authorizing a system of veterinary care for retired animals.
This year’s NDAA seeks to build upon the 2012 law to improve life after service for military dogs. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee included a provision in this year’s bill to require the military to bring home retired dogs serving overseas and to ease the adoption process for handlers who choose to adopt. These changes will strengthen the bond between dog and handler and ensure that these canine heroes can begin their new lives in loving, secure environments.
We are grateful to Congress, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force, which administers the Military Working Dog Program, for recognizing the importance of our service dogs and for their continued work to protect these canine heroes.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to get important updates on legislation impacting dogs on the frontline and other important animal-welfare related bills.