- 1. Missouri Senate Nixes Prop B; House Expected to Do the Same Next Week
- 2. ASPCA on the Frontlines: Anatomy of a Raid
- 3. ASPCA Happy Tails: The Accidental Pet Parent
- 4. Reminder! $100K Challenge Applications Open March 16
1. Missouri Senate Nixes Prop B; House Expected to Do the Same Next Week
As we informed readers last week, Missouri state legislators are moving quickly to weaken or fully repeal the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (PMCPA), which was passed in November by the majority of their constituents. Completely disregarding the will of the people, on Thursday, March 10, the Missouri Senate passed Senate Bill 113—a bill to roll back every humane provision of the PMCPA—by a vote of 20 to 14. To add insult to injury, earlier this week senators rejected an amendment that would have referred their new, weak commercial breeding law back to the ballot for Missouri voters to weigh in on.
Senate Bill 113 now moves to the Missouri House of Representatives, which is expected to pass it in a matter of days. (The House is also considering a slightly different version of the bill, HB 131, but the Senate bill has more momentum and will likely be the first to pass both chambers of the General Assembly.) This is extremely bad news for animal advocates and the hundreds of thousands of dogs languishing in Missouri’s more than 3,000 puppy mills, which supply approximately 40 percent of all puppies sold in pet stores nationwide.
If SB 113, HB 131 or any other bill that guts or repeals the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act passes the full General Assembly, the ASPCA plans to appeal to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for a veto. Since the governor is elected by popular vote and Governor Nixon will be up for reelection in 2012, we are hopeful that he, unlike his colleagues in the legislative branch, will respect the will of the voters, which was clearly expressed last year when they passed Proposition B by a margin of 60,000 votes.
In the meantime, the ASPCA is asking Missouri citizens to contact their state representatives immediately to express their opposition to SB 113, HB 131 and any effort to weaken or repeal the PMCPA. We know the rest of the country is keeping a close eye on Missouri, as what happens there will likely set the stage for puppy mill reform nationwide. If you don’t live in Missouri but want to help, please share this article via Facebook and Twitter
2. ASPCA on the Frontlines: Anatomy of a Raid
Readers of News Alert know that the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team deploys many times a year to rescue animal victims of cruelty, abuse and neglect around the country. Here’s an inside look at how we execute these large-scale raids and rescue hundreds of animals at a time.
Investigation and Planning
An ASPCA Regional Director of Field Investigations and Response gets a call requesting that we help rescue animals in an abusive situation, and the wheels of a raid are set in motion. The FIR Team is especially in demand for criminal investigations, but “where there are animals in need, that’s our priority,” says Jeff Eyre, Northeast Regional Director of Field Investigations and Response.
An essential and early component of a raid’s early planning, notes Allison Cardona, ASPCA Operations Director, is ensuring that the team has established legal grounds. “Just like with a human crime, we need to have probable cause,” she says.
When the Regional Director and Operations Director have coordinated a cohesive plan, the team springs into action. That often involves constructing a temporary shelter from scratch—and it can’t always be out in the open in a criminal case, says Tim Rickey, head of the FIR Team.
Raid and Forensics
Once the FIR Team is ready to carry out the raid, “we have pretty strict protocols on how we approach things,” says Tim Rickey. Accompanied by veterinary professionals, the team arrives on the property and immediately sets to work taking a full inventory of the animals, listing where the animals came from on the property and notating any scars or injuries—all evidence for criminal proceedings.
As soon as possible, the FIR Team brings the animals to safety using transport vehicles. The team currently has two—one 40 feet and one 28 feet—but they’re ordering two more this year. “Surprisingly, the actual removal part is the quickest for us,” says Rickey. “Our team can go in and remove 300 or 400 animals in less than a day.”
Sheltering and Treatment
The animals are greeted at the temporary shelter by a medical team, animal handlers and a general staff. They go through triage—where vets examine them and do any necessary emergency treatments, as well as take notes on the animals’ overall condition and lay out a treatment plan.
When the ASPCA becomes the legal guardian of rescued animals, we aim to place them in loving homes, both through our extensive network of shelter partners and rescues and through adoption events of our own.
“We want to approach investigations in a really holistic way and be a resource to local organizations,” Rickey says. So when the dramatic rescue work is done, the ASPCA sees all the details of a case through to the end.
Says Cardona: “We don’t just place the animals and leave. We’re in for the long haul.”
3. ASPCA Happy Tails: The Accidental Pet Parent
This week, in honor of Mardi Gras, Happy Tails is taking a trip to New Orleans, where Elizabeth Hassig became an unlikely pet parent after her boyfriend found a tiny kitten near a local wharf. Elizabeth shared her story with us:
It was a normal day for me—I had finished my classes and work. I was about to go grocery shopping when my boyfriend, Nick, called me. But when I picked up the phone, I heard a loud, piercing meow instead of a hello. At first, I thought it was my boyfriend joking with me.
Then he said: "I have a kitten in the car with me."
As I waited 25 minutes to see this kitten, I prepared cat food and a bed. Of course when she finally came home she was in a box, and when I peeked in I saw a mouse...No, it was a small, weak kitten begging to be fed and taken care of.
The next day I brought her to a vet I trusted and found out that this kitten was not a boy, like Nick had thought, but a girl. So naming her Governor Nick, after Governor Nicholls Street Wharf, where she was found, was out. For a day she went around having no name—until I thought of Duchess. The name fits her personality perfectly.
Duchess is now almost six months old, was just recently spayed and absolutely loves being the center of attention. Whenever we are reading or working on our laptops, she walks in front of us, sticks her head in our faces and gives us a "Pay attention to me!" look.
While at first I feared Duchess would not make it, she proves to me every day how strong she is, and how much love she is capable of giving. Every day is a joy, and when people ask if we are cat people, we say, "We are Duchess people."
For more heartwarming stories of furry fate, visit the Happy Tails archive.
4. Reminder! $100K Challenge Applications Open March 16
Last week we told you all about this year’s $100K Challenge—that winningest of shelter competitions sponsored by yours truly—including some brand new prizes for contestants at the local, regional and national levels. Now it’s time for a little friendly reminder—applications open this Wednesday, March 16! So hurry and tell your local shelter to get in it to win it—and save more animals’ lives!!
Applications will remain open for just 48 hours from noon ET on March 16 through noon ET on March 18. To read the complete rules for the 2011 Challenge, please visit http://challenge.aspcapro.org.