We need your help urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close a critical loophole for calves. Currently, slaughterhouses can slaughter “downer” veal calves (those too sick, weak or injured to stand and walk) rather than humanely euthanizing them. Investigations have revealed horrific animal abuse at slaughter plants, with workers kicking, slapping, dragging and electrically shocking calves in order to get them to stand and walk. Some of these calves are merely days old.
The USDA has proposed a rule requiring that downer calves be promptly and humanely euthanized on-site, and is now soliciting public feedback. Please help us ensure the proposed rule does not get watered down: let the USDA hear your voice today!
Animal hoarding is a complex animal welfare issue that can involve mental health and public safety concerns. Hoarding occurs when an individual has more animals than they can adequately care for, and in some cases—like that of kittens Hilary and Wendy—it can lead to some serious physical impairments. But old wounds weren’t enough to dampen these sweet cats’ spirits, and the bonded duo was eager to find a loving home where they could stay together. It took nearly a year, but they finally got the Happy Tail they were waiting for. Here is their story.
Hilary and Wendy came from an apartment with 14 cats and two dogs. The dogs lived in a partially-finished basement, while most of the cats lived outside and slept on and around the owner’s front steps. None of the cats were spayed or neutered, many were in poor health and some, including Hilary, had upper respiratory infections.
After their rescue in July 2014, Hilary and Wendy were taken to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) for further examination and treatment. It was there that we discovered the full depth of their suffering: In addition to stunted growth, both Wendy and Hilary were diagnosed with severe eye issues. Hilary, who is four months older, was nearly blind and, in addition to the aforementioned respiratory infection, arrived with an ear infection and chronic rhinitis. Wendy, who appears to have no eyes, actually does, but they are congenitally small, a result of the conditions in which she was born. She is blind.
Despite their hardships, the kitties had developed loving, distinct personalities. “Hilary’s like the big sister and Wendy is the little sister,” said Liliana Gomez, a Veterinary Technician who cared for the duo. “Hilary’s the leader, Wendy’s the follower. But they’re both very affectionate.”
William Rivera, an Animal Care Technician, remembers working at AAH the day that Hilary and Wendy arrived. “Hilary was sneezing blood,” he said. “But I’ve been in love with her since day one. They are the perfect combination: One’s spunky, the other’s laid back. They just feed off each other and love being together.”
Hilary and Wendy remained at AAH for eight months before they were ready to move into our Adoption Center in March 2015. For two more months, they waited and waited for the perfect adopter until finally, in May, they met an ASPCA volunteer named Elizabeth.
“I grew up with cats and my mother fostered cats throughout my childhood,” says Elizabeth, who volunteers as a cat socializer whenever her work schedule allows. “When I met Hilary and Wendy, I knew they were special. They immediately struck me as sweet and easy-going cats. I had a good feeling that they’d be happy in my home.” On May 2, she adopted them and changed their names to Pepa and Lola.
Pepa and Lola settled right into Elizabeth’s home, and it didn’t take long before their trademark personalities began to shine. “They seemed very comfortable on their first day,” Elizabeth reported, “especially Pepa—who likes to roll around on my blankets and have her belly rubbed.” After exploring every inch of the apartment, the cats were clearly in their happy place. “Within a day or two they were already able to hop onto my bed, despite their vision loss. I was really proud of them when the accomplished it the first time,” she says.
And Pepa and Lola are definitely enjoying living the good life. Elizabeth adds, “They love frolicking around the living room and dashing from one side to the other. They are both early risers, and so far I haven’t overslept my alarm once thanks to them!” she laughs. And it seems like the cats are also enjoying the safety and security of a stable, loving home—“Tonight we are watching old “Frasier” episodes on Netflix,” Elizabeth says with a smile.
From playful games to snuggly TV sessions, Pepa and Lola are a long way from their painful past. We are so thrilled that these kitties have found the perfect home together, and, despite their vision loss, we know they’ve got nothing but a bright future ahead.
“We were thrilled to see so many people come out this past weekend to give these animals loving homes,” said Jessica Rushin, Senior Partnerships Manager of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “Now we’re giving the remaining animals a chance to find homes in other communities. We’re grateful to all of our partner shelters who have stepped up and committed to getting these animals adopted.”
The animals are being transported to the following animal shelters and rescue groups:
Atlanta Humane Society – Atlanta, Georgia
Cat Depot – Sarasota, Florida
Cedar Bend Human Society – Waterloo, Iowa
Greater Birmingham Humane Society – Alabama
Great Plains SPCA – Kansas City, Missouri
Helping Hands Pet Rescue – Micanopy, Florida
Humane Society of Broward County – Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Humane Society of Charlotte – Charlotte, North Carolina
Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County – Memphis, Tennessee
Humane Society of Tulsa – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Main Line Animal Rescue – Phoenix, Pennsylvania
SouthEast Beagle Rescue – Tampa, Florida
The shelters and rescue groups listed above will care for the animals until they are ready to be made available for adoption. Additionally, some of the dogs who require behavioral rehabilitation for severe fear and undersocialization will be transported to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey, where animal behavior experts will provide treatment to help them become suitable for adoption.
In a pivotal decision, a federal judge in Idaho has ruled that an ag-gag law violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, striking this terrible law from the books. This is the first time a court has ruled on the constitutionality of an ag-gag law, and the ASPCA is hopeful that this decision will mark the beginning of the end of these dangerous laws.
The Idaho statute, which passed in 2014 despite outcry from both humane and food industry voices, criminalizes undercover investigations into animal welfare, food safety, or worker safety at industrial farms. Under the law, workers, investigators or good Samaritans could be convicted for documenting and exposing animal abuse or dangerous public health risks.
Exposés on farms are a critical animal-protection tool, forming the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurring reforms to ensure the safety of our food supply. In the past few years, in an effort to protect their bottom line from the consumer awareness these investigations provoke, the animal agriculture industry has been driving the introduction of ag-gag/anti-whistleblower bills in state legislatures across the country. A broad coalition of groups spanning animal welfare, workers’ rights, food safety, sustainable farming and environmental interests has worked together to block over 30 bills. Despite this collaborative work and broad public opposition to these bills, laws have passed in five states.
It is a great victory for farm animals, their advocates and whistleblowers across the country that the dangerous Idaho law has been deemed unconstitutional. The ASPCA applauds this decision and hopes it sends a clear message to the animal agriculture industry that hiding abuses and punishing whistleblowers is no way to conduct business in this country.
Sign the Open the Barns pledge to be an advocate against ag-gag in your state, and spread the word about these dangerous bills to your friends and family.