During the holidays it can be difficult to make it out of stores alive, never mind navigating the confusing labels around farm animals’ welfare. If you eat meat, eggs or dairy, look for certifications that require better treatment and independent farm audits, specifically Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and GAP (Levels 2+ for turkeys and 3+ for chickens). Unfortunately, common terms like “humane,” “hormone-free,” and “natural” can be meaningless when it comes to animals’ welfare. Take our label guide with you so you’re armed with facts.
2. Beware of Cheap Meat
Holidays can be expensive, so it’s especially tempting to go for money-saving promotions at the supermarket. But both consumers and animals can pay a steep price for cheap meat, eggs and dairy—in the form of poor animal welfare, poor quality and potential human health risks. Animal products often cost less because companies cut corners with welfare, but all things considered, choosing higher-welfare animal products is a much better deal.
3. Go to the Source
Whether you’re a city mouse or a country mouse, there’s bound to be a farmer’s market in your vicinity. Use this search engine to locate one. There you can often talk directly to people who work on or for the farms to learn how they raise animals. Start by asking about the farm’s policies on cages, debeaking, feedlots and antibiotics. Farmers tend to appreciate an informed consumer, so don’t be shy.
4. Plant Power
Try adding more vegetables to your holiday meal. Veggies are super healthy, look beautiful, and tons of recipes exist to make them taste delicious. You might also try some of the ever-more-available and tasty plant-based alternatives for meat, egg and dairy products. Testing out plant-based versions of old favorites or bringing in new veggie-based dishes is an exciting opportunity to develop new family traditions. Let us know your favorites in the comments section!
5. Ask and Receive
Above all, don’t forget that you have the power to demand more humanely raised products in your stores. This holiday season and going forward, you can impact which brands your grocery store carries. Start by demanding more humanely raised chicken in your stores with our supermarket request letter.
If you’re in the market for a new best friend, look no further than Ruth. She may seem shy at first, but don’t be fooled—once this pretty girl gets to know you, she’ll stick by your side like glue. With a little patience, a lot of love and her favorite toys, Ruth will warm up to her new family in no time.
This sweet girl plays well with others and would make a great best friend to your resident dog. Like most New Yorkers, Ruth loves to be on the move and prefers daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. She’d be thrilled to join you for a jog through the park or spend an afternoon playing with her canine buddies at the dog park. Ruth would do best with an experienced adopter in a household with kids ages 10-and-up. Adopt Ruth today!
Ruth is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Ruth, please visit her profile page.
From age to color to personality, there are a lot of factors that might go into a choosing a new pet. And though we try to find the best animal for every adopter, we can’t always guarantee an exact match. So when Wendy and Jamie A. came to the ASPCA Adoption Center with not one, but two, certain types of kitties in mind, we never dreamed that they would get quite this lucky! Here is the story of how this happy couple created two Happy Tails for cats named Bronte and Macaroni.
Bronte and Macaroni are about as different as their names suggest. Macaroni, a three-pound, five-month-old kitten, came to the ASPCA when she was just four weeks old. She had been rescued from a hoarding situation and she was timid, shy and fearful of strangers. In addition, the tiny kitty suffered from a severe eye infection that left a white scar across her cornea and blindness in one eye.
Bronte, on the other hand, was five years old when she was rescued by the ASPCA. Also saved from a hoarding situation, she was wary of strangers but had a distinctly social side to her personality. Though they were at the ASPCA Adoption Center at the same time, the two kitties were in different parts of the facility and had never met—until Jamie and Wendy showed up early in September.
After losing their beloved 18-year-old rescue kitty, Elspeth, Jamie and Wendy were heartbroken. Though they knew he could never be replaced, their house didn’t feel like a “home” without cats. Wendy recalls, “We had too much love to give and we knew there were too many kitties out there in need of love.” The couple agreed that it was time to adopt again, but they were torn on what they wanted. Wendy hoped for an older, black cat, stating, “I knew that they were harder to adopt out.” Jamie, on the other hand, was hoping for a special-needs kitten that would remind him of his best friend of 18 years, Elspeth. They decided to head to the ASPCA Adoption Center to take a look around.
Wendy remembers her first meeting with Bronte at the Adoption Center very vividly. “I sat on the floor in the front area and she came over and rubbed against me right away. Not only was she a beautiful, shiny, five-year-old black cat, but I noticed that the tip of one ear was missing. This imperfection made me love her all the more!”
Meanwhile, in a different part of the Adoption Center, Jamie met Macaroni. “The only kitten to reach out to him just happened to be the same coloring (gray and white) as Elspeth,” Wendy recalls. “Macaroni was also blind in one eye. Jamie was smitten with this kitten right away!”
Having found the older black cat and special-needs kitten they were hoping for, the couple decided to adopt both that same day. They changed Bronte’s name to “Maya” and Macaroni’s to “Gelsomina,” and headed home to begin their new life as a foursome.
Back at home, Maya and Gelsomina (or Gelsie, as she’s called) got to know each other—and their new home—right away. Wendy says, “They’ve adjusted beautifully. Maya is extremely affectionate and sleeps in my arms every night. She’s more loving than I could have imagined!” Both cats love to take advantage of the many windows in their home, and they love to spend their days on window sills, in their “cat tree,” or in their cat beds watching birds and enjoying the view. Wendy adds, “Gelsie is a rambunctious rascal that loves to play. She also loves her big sis. We expect some major cuddling between the two come winter.”
It’s hard to believe that these two very different kitties from two separate hoarding situations could end up in the same happy home. Gelsie and Maya were not only perfect for Wendy and Jamie—they were a perfect fit for each other, too.
The ASPCA’s annual Humane Awards Luncheon is one of the most exciting events of the year. It is our chance to honor and recognize the heroes—both animal and human—who have made a positive and lasting impact on the world of animal welfare, and this year’s winners are certainly worth celebrating!
The 2014 Humane Awards winners include:
ASPCA Cat of the Year
Studley the cat was found abandoned along the side of the road by Washington-based Joint Animal Services in 2006. Weighing a mere four pounds and covered in matted fur, Studley was sick, emaciated and nearly starved to death at the time of his rescue. After being nursed back to health by one of the shelter volunteers, Studley—a cheerful white-haired feline with one gold eye and one blue eye—became a therapy cat, giving love and comfort to people in need. Studley is the only therapy cat out of more than 30 animals in the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy Program (PAAA/T), and has been a regular visitor to the Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where he’s been offering comfort to patients primarily in the psychiatric unit since 2007.
ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year
Although Annika Glover looks like a typical fifth grader, the 11-year-old has bravely battled a type of cancerous brain tumor called Medulloblastoma for nearly the last four years. When she was just nine years old, Annika was a participant in the Make-A-Wish program, where she put her love for animals above her own human interests by using her one wish to save animals in need. This wish was granted by the Alabama chapter of Make-A-Wish, which donated $7,000 in Annika’s name to the Pets Are Worth Saving (P.A.W.S.) rescue group in Florence, Alabama. “I wanted to help animals a whole bunch. I grew up around animals and love them so much,” says Annika. In August 2014, Annika received remarkable news of her own: Her cancer was in remission.
ASPCA Dog of the Year
Jonny Justice was one of 49 dogs rescued from unimaginable cruelty in the 2007 Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, which resulted in a the conviction of NFL quarterback Michael Vick and others. A black and white pit bull, Jonny had had minimal positive interactions with people or other dogs at the time of his rescue, but was given a second chance when he was adopted by his foster parents, Cris Cohen and Jennifer Long. As Jonny adjusted to life as a typical pet, it became clear that he loved interacting with children. In 2008, he found his true calling as a therapy dog, and these days spends much of his time offering love and support to terminally ill children and their families. Jonny is also a champion for literacy and has participated in programs where children practice their language skills by reading aloud to him. The tale of Jonny’s comeback—from the horrors of dog fighting to the inspirational work of a therapy dog—has traveled far and wide, even inspiring a line of plush toys that extend his ability to comfort children across the country.