You may have heard a lot of talk about Idaho recently, and it’s no small potatoes. Idaho’s governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, recently signed into law a controversial anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill that punishes those who expose abusive conditions on factory farms. Though Governor Otter claims this law will keep agriculture producers “secure in their property,” we, and countless others concerned about the welfare of animals, are extremely concerned about the greater implications of ag-gag.
In passing this bill, Idaho became the seventh state to enact an ag-gag law. By effectively closing out journalists, investigators, and even the general public from animal production facilities, the agribusiness industry can continue to keep consumers in the dark about where their food is coming from.
We have seen countless instances of abuse on industrial farms, including the recent case of a Wisconsin dairy farm that produces cheese for the frozen pizza brand DiGiorno. Undercover footage taken by Mercy For Animals caught workers at this farm viciously kicking, stabbing, beating, and dragging cows, and the footage led to 11 charges of criminal animal cruelty. Without such footage, we may never have known of these horrors, and because of ag-gag laws, we may never learn of countless other, similar instances.
Stopping animal cruelty is difficult enough when it’s done in secret, but when it happens legally and out in the open, ending it can be just as challenging. A tragic case in point: Greyhound racing, a cruel and senseless “sport” that not only kills or injures thousands of dogs every year across the country, but loses money for the places that operate them. State governments are often losers too, having to spend more to regulate the sport than they get back in revenue. Florida alone lost between $1 million and $3.3 million on Greyhound racing in 2012.
So why is this abomination still in business? Because for some, Greyhound racing is still big business.
Greyhounds begin their lives on breeding farms, where only a select few actually become racing dogs. Unwanted pups, those who assessed as unfit for racing, are killed or sometimes sent to laboratories, which use them in experiments. Those chosen for the sport spend most of their lives stacked in double-decker cages in warehouse-style kennels for 20 or more hours a day. Most of the areas Greyhounds are kept are not heated or air-conditioned, causing many to suffer during severe weather temperatures. Many also suffer from fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
While this is enough for most states to turn their back on the ugly practice, Greyhound racing still exists in seven states. More than half of all active American tracks, 12 of 21, are in Florida, where a ridiculous law requires gambling institutions to maintain and run dog racing facilities. You read that right: If you want to run a gaming institution in Florida, you must, by law, race dogs as well. More about that oddity in a moment, but first know that when these dogs are sent out to race, many are actually sent to their deaths.
Making use of a recent Florida law requiring that dog track deaths be reported, the Greyhound protection group GREY2K USA, with ASPCA help, put out a report last month revealing that 74 racing Greyhounds died at 10 different racetracks in Florida over the last seven months of last year. Put another way, from June to December, a Greyhound died from a racing-related injury every three days.
And only two months into 2014, there have already been an astounding 18 deaths at Florida Greyhound tracks. If this shocking rate of deaths continues, Florida tracks will have more than 100 Greyhound deaths by the end of the year.
Causes of Greyhound deaths included including fatal injuries suffered during or after races, and heat stroke. Fifty-one of the dead Greyhounds were under three years old; the two youngest dogs were both 17 months old. These majestic, perfectly healthy, gentle and loving animals were essentially run to death.
At the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey, we work to treat fearful, undersocialized dogs who need our support before they’re ready for adoption. We’re thrilled to announce that three former victims of animal hoarding—Waffle, Juniper and Hillary—have completed our rehabilitation program and are looking for loving homes!
These adorable pups have come a long way on their road to recovery:
Waffle: Waffle, one of 100 dogs living in a studio apartment in New York, was rescued in April 2012. She spent time with multiple rescue groups and in a foster home, but she remained extremely fearful—especially around men. She was transferred to Second Chance Pet Adoption League, which brought her to us for rehabilitation. Waffle has come a long way, and will be graduating from the ASPCA Rehabilitation Center in a few short weeks!
Juniper: Juniper was rescued from a hoarding situation in Connecticut in May 2013 and taken in by Second Chance. She was extremely shy—she bolted away from people and was very fearful of handling and leashing. Second Chance brought her to the ASPCA Rehabilitation Center, where she recovered. Juniper is thriving in a foster home, and she can’t wait to join a loving family.
Hillary: Known as a “Most Improved Pup,” Hillary was rescued from a hoarding situation in New York and taken in by Second Chance. She was the shyest and most traumatized dog of the group of 19 dogs in her former home. In a foster home, Hillary remained extremely fearful of all people and wouldn’t allow anyone to handle her. She was transferred to the ASPCA Rehabilitation Center in July 2013, and after extensive care and treatment, she graduated in January 2014!
Waffle, Juniper and Hillary are back with Second Chance waiting to find loving homes. All three dogs would do best with adult adopters who already have people-friendly, dog-friendly dogs. If you’re interested in meeting one of these new graduates,contact Second Chance by email: email@example.com or by phone: 973.208.1054.
Note: You must be in the New Jersey area to adopt. Thanks for helping us find homes for these adorable dogs!
Great news! President Obama’s newly released FY 2015 budget proposal once again includes a request for Congress to block spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect U.S. horse slaughter plants. If adopted, this prohibition would effectively ban horse slaughter on U.S. soil through September 2015 because only USDA-inspected meat can be sold for human consumption.
The President’s request reflects the will of the Congress, whose FY 2014 spending bill, passed in January, included the same language. (The inspection-defund language was initially introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) as an amendment to the FY 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill.) However, the FY 2014 spending bill expires this September, which is why it’s critical to get the measure extended via the FY 2015 budget.
“We are grateful to the White House and USDA for their continued leadership in ensuring that American horses are not slaughtered on our own soil for foreign demand, especially in light of the recent news from Europe about the horrors of discovering horse meat mixed with frozen lasagna and other meat products,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Wasting tax dollars on the cruelty of horse slaughter makes no sense, and we urge Congress to once again adopt this provision.”
Help us ensure that Capitol Hill hears the message to protect our horses, both here and abroad! The pro-slaughter industry will lobby intensely against this newest effort to prohibit federal dollars from being spent on horse slaughter, and our goal is to stop all American horses from experiencing the horrors of slaughter wherever it occurs, so we must continue to press for passage of the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter permanently.
In celebration of the ASPCA’s new collaboration with Lil BUB, we’re dedicating this week’s Happy Tail to another special needs cat, Ella. Ella was adopted from the ASPCA in 2012, and was soon after diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite the challenges of her illness, her adopter, Stephen B., has nothing but love for this sweet older cat. Here is their Happy Tail.
Stephen met Ella on his very first trip to the ASPCA. Drawn in by her glowing green eyes, he says, “When we found out that Ella had lived her entire life in shelters and never had a real home before, there was really no chance of saying no to her.” After Ella’s adoption, Stephen discovered tumors on her stomach and learned that she had terminal cancer. “My first reaction was to be glad that we had given her a real home for the last months of her life, or however long she had left,” recalls Stephen.
As time went on, their relationship strengthened. Stephen says, “She is very much my cat, and I’m very much her human.” In fact, he put together a “Bucket List” for Ella after receiving her diagnosis! “One of the things I really wanted to do was try taking her outside on a leash. She likes to sit on my window and look outside, so I thought she should have a chance to actually feel the grass beneath her paws.”
Four months after her first outdoor excursion, Stephen sent an exciting update: New X-rays show that Ella’s cancer has subsided, and her three-month prognosis has been updated to at least a few years. Whether it was the grass, Stephen’s love, or simply a miracle, we’ll never know, but we are so happy that this feisty feline will be around for a long time to come.
Stephen says, “Ella is probably the smartest decision I’ve made in my adult life. Cats with medical conditions deserve love just as much as the rest of them, and they’re so, so ready to give it.”