The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General just released an interim report of its investigation into the animal abuse detailed in a disturbing, front-page New York Times story about the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), which is run by the USDA. The abuse detailed in the story shocked taxpayers and Congress alike: newborn piglets crushed to death by their mothers; a heifer restrained and mounted by bulls until she died from her injuries; weakened and deformed calves born to cows “retooled” to bear twins and triplets instead of a normal, single birth; and newborn lambs left to freeze and starve to death in fields. All paid for with your tax dollars to boost the agriculture industry’s profits.
Seven months into its investigation, the USDA’s preliminary report is woefully inadequate and typifies the agency’s “business as usual” attitude. The report defends the lamb and piglet deaths identified in the Times article as standard agricultural practices “in line with industry norms.” More troubling, USDA has yet to contact the whistleblower or the author of the New York Times article. Without input from the two central figures responsible for exposing USMARC, the report cannot accurately examine the troubles at the facility. The USDA claims that both individuals will have an opportunity to contribute as the investigation continues, but after so many months it is challenging to take this claim seriously.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to demand more oversight of USMARC. As legislators on Capitol Hill craft a spending package to fund the government next year, the ASPCA is working to ensure that the package will include measures adopted by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees mandating USMARC’s compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and implement necessary reporting and inspection requirements. These measures complement the AWARE Act, bipartisan legislation that would close the loophole that exempts research at federal facilities like USMARC from the AWA.
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:
A Side of “Cage-Free” with Your Coffee? Starbucks® announced this week that it will switch to using only eggs laid by cage-free chickens within the next five years. This pledge currently applies to the coffee chain’s North American locations, and it follows similar moves made by McDonald’s® and Burger King® in recent weeks. [NYTimes.com]
Sunny with a Chance of Cuteness: The White House released an emergency preparedness video starring the Obama family dogs, Sunny and Bo. The light-hearted video encourages pet parents to be prepared for a natural disaster and provides tips on how to be ready to care for your pet in the worst of circumstances. [USAToday.com]
Buckle Up, Pup: A recent survey of 1,000 motorists showed that 72 percent take their pets (overwhelmingly dogs) with them in the car. But worryingly, almost the same number, 67 percent, admitted that they don’t practice safety measures by properly restraining their pets. Please remember to protect and secure your animals when travelling! [Forbes.com]
High Tech Pets: A slew of apps and other tech gadgets are now being marketed to our cats and dogs. Several tablet games encourage cats to paw at the screen, while remote-controlled dog toys can help keep Fido occupied. One company claims more than 2.7 million downloads, meaning that this pet-tech trend may be here to stay. [CNN.com]
Attention, fans of fashion and antiques: On Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, a collection of more than 1,000 beaded handbags will be auctioned off to benefit the ASPCA’s life-saving work for animals!
The beautiful bags will be among many vintage couture items at the auction, which will take place in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and online. The ASPCA inherited the handbags from the estate of animal lover and ASPCA supporter Carol Irene Bird, who was a collector of vintage bags. Some of the bags in her collection appear to be more than 100 years old.
Read on for details about the auction:
What: Couture, Vintage Fashion, Textiles & Jewelry Auction hosted by the Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company When: Previews will take place on Thursday, October 15, from noon to 6:00 P.M. and on Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, from 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. The auction will take place on Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, beginning at 10:00 A.M. Where: New Hope Eagle Fire Co. 46 N. Sugan Road New Hope, Pennsylvania 18938 Please note: Friday’s sale will be in-person only. Saturday’s sale will take place in-person and online at whitakerauction.com. More Info: Please visit whitakerauction.com
Kiki is a lovable, four-year-old American Bulldog available for adoption. This bundle of energy loves to explore the world around him, and is especially happy to have the freedom and space to run around when he’s outdoors. When he’s out for a walk, Kiki will sometimes pull on the leash, so he needs an adopter who can handle a little bit of weight. As excited as Kiki is to investigate his environment, he doesn’t always enjoy being around other dogs and will likely never be a dog park dog.
When Kiki is at home, he loves to laze around with his toys. He doesn’t always like to share them, but our Behavior specialists can give his adopter some tips on how to encourage communal toy time. Kiki does well with kids and has lived with young human siblings before. He would do best in a home with kids 10 years of age or older. Adopt Kiki today!
Kiki is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting Kiki, please call our Adoptions Department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120.
Not only is October Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, but it also marks the grand opening of the ASPCA’s new CARE Ward. This ward was created specifically to house and care for canine victims of cruelty brought in through our partnership with the New York City Police Department, and in honor of this momentous occasion, we want to share the Happy Tail of Atlas, a pit bull rescued from horrific abuse. Atlas is living proof of the resilience of animals, and his story serves as an inspiring reminder that an animal rescued from cruelty could soon become your next best friend.
Atlas was rescued by the NYPD at the end of May. The two-year-old pit bull had suffered terrible cruelty at the hands of an abuser in the Bronx, New York, and was brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital for treatment. He spent nearly a month in the Hospital, during which time he also received a neuter operation, but he never once lost his sunny-sweet disposition. Staff noted that Atlas “loves every person he meets and loves to be pet”—and with his painful past behind him, he was soon ready to begin his search for a loving home.
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Atlas’s sweet face helped him get the attention of Tricia R., also of the Bronx. “I decided to adopt a dog because I really missed having dogs around like I had growing up,” Tricia tells us. She had just finished school and finally had the time and resources to care for a pup of her own.
Tricia had been to the ASPCA Adoption Center once before to tour the facilities and “get all the paperwork out of the way,” though she first spotted Atlas on the ASPCA website. “He showed up online with a blurb about how smart and eager to please he was, and I knew he was the one,” she recalls. “I went to the Adoption Center the next day to meet him and it was love at first sight!”
After making the adoption official, Tricia reported that Atlas “adjusted to life at home with lightening speed,” and that he and his feline brother Gus love to play together. Atlas loves spending time with Tricia, whether it’s hanging out at home or romping through the nearby park, and he is also fond of making canine friends.
As if surviving abuse weren’t achievement enough, Atlas has more big plans for his future: In December, when he and Tricia pass their six-month-mark together, he will officially begin training to become a therapy dog. Not only will this special pooch bring joy to his new adopter, but he’ll spread so much happiness to others as well—and prove once more that, no matter how dark the past, every single animal deserves a bright future.