- 1. Submit Your Story: $100K Challenge Photo Contest Reminder
- 2. Dogs Win Big on Election Day with Historic Victory in Missouri
- 3. Down to the Wire: Election Day Report from Missouri
- 4. Report Details Systemic Failure of Government Equine Protection Programs
- 5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Survivor to Soul Mate
1. Submit Your Story: $100K Challenge Photo Contest Reminder
Have you adopted or fostered an animal from one of our $100K Challenge contestant shelters during the months of August, September or October 2010? Have you volunteered for a contestant during the Challenge? Or perhaps you were reunited with your pet at a Challenge shelter? We want to hear from you!
Submit a photo and brief overview of your Challenge experience, and you could help your local shelter win an extra $1,000 grant. Anyone who has adopted, fostered, volunteered, or reclaimed an animal at a Challenge shelter during the past three months is eligible to enter. But hurry, the deadline for entries is November 14 (midnight EST)!
2. Dogs Win Big on Election Day with Historic Victory in Missouri
Fed up with their state’s reputation as the Puppy Mill Capital of America, Missourians hit the polls on Election Day to declare that enough is enough! On Tuesday, November 2, voters in the Show Me State passed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which appeared on their ballots as Proposition B. (Although policy reform is most often generated through state legislatures, Prop B was a citizen-supported initiative). It is an incredible victory, and one we hope will send a strong message to the governments of other statesnamely, that the public wants better conditions for puppy mill dogs, and will take on the task of changing the law themselves if elected officials fail to act.
In the last three years, 15 states, including major puppy mill states such as Iowa, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, have passed laws to crack down on puppy mills. However, in no other state were the stakes higher for puppy mill dogs than Missouri.
Missouri’s weak laws regulating commercial kennels have made it a haven for substandard breeders. As home to one-third of all the commercial dog breeding facilities in the U.S.as many as the next three largest dog breeding states combinedMissouri supplies more than 40 percent of all puppies sold in pet stores nationwide. No matter where you live, there’s a good chance that the puppies in the window of your local pet store came from a Missouri puppy mill. Implementation of the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will provide welcome relief to tens of thousands of adult breeding dogsnot to mention the approximately one million puppies born in Missouri kennels every year.
The new Missouri law, which becomes effective in one year, requires that dogs at these large-scale facilities be provided with sufficient food and clean water, regular veterinary care, adequate housing and space, and access to regular exercise. And with passage of Proposition B, Missouri becomes the fifth statejoining Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia and Washingtonto create a limit on the number of intact, adult breeder dogs a commercial dog breeder may keep.
“Tuesday’s passage of Proposition B reflects a landmark achievement in the ongoing fight against animal cruelty,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “We are proud to have worked diligently on this campaign, and we celebrate this victory alongside the caring citizens of Missouri. The ASPCA is committed to working with local animal welfare groups to help breeders transition to the new humane standards and find loving homes for any displaced Missouri breeding dogs.”
The ASPCA wishes to thank our supporters all over the country for helping us advocate for Proposition B to your friends and family in Missouri. This victory is the culmination of 18 months of work for the ASPCA and our partners in Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, and it is proof that when we join together to use our voices for animals, we will be heard!
3. Down to the Wire: Election Day Report from Missouri
ASPCA team members were on the ground in Missouri on Election Day, working long hours to get out the vote—and it paid off! Proposition B's victory was uncertain until the early morning of November 3, when it was finally confirmed by a margin of more than 60,000 votes. The following is a glimpse of the final hours before victory.
Hundreds of volunteers gave their time canvassing neighborhoods, making calls and handing out information in support of Prop B right up until the polls closed. There were more than one million registered voters to reach—and many volunteers worked around the clock, forgoing lunch breaks to keep the momentum going.
"Everyone worked hard, but we knew the future of hundreds of thousands of breeding puppy mill dogs would be vastly improved," says ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Matt Bershadker. "We knew if it passed, Prop B would send a clear message that puppy mill abuses are not welcome in Missouri."
It was no surprise that the opposition was out in full force. Opponents of Prop B presented false arguments, including that the measure would lead to greater government regulation of farm animals or even the end of pet ownership.
Missourians overwhelmingly supported the initiative and wanted to see puppy mill reform, but they were inundated with propaganda which caused them concern," explains Bershadker, who spent Election Day campaigning outside a Missouri polling center. "It was vital we made our presence known, explain the truth about Prop B and offer voters the opportunity to ask questions."
Balloons and posters adorned the Humane Society of Missouri's large lecture room, where more than 100 supporters gathered to watch the election returns. Three news networks televised ongoing election updates, and a large projection of the Missouri Secretary of State's election-tracking system was displayed on a wall. As the "no" votes began posting to the tracking map, it became clear to all that Prop B was not faring well—at one point falling behind by 200,000 votes.
"There was such anxiety in the air, and all eyes were glued to the monitor," says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response and a Missouri resident. "It was nearly 11:00 P.M. before the urban districts of Kansas City and St. Louis brought us to an even tally."
An hour later, close to midnight, Prop B pulled ahead by 38,000 votes and victory was tentatively declared. "It was an incredible, historic moment," recalls Bershadker. "We are proud to celebrate with our partners and the many selfless volunteers who sacrificed so much of their time, energy and money to help make a difference." A few hours later, the lead grew to 60,000 votes, and the win was officially confirmed.
"I am proud of my fellow Missourians who voted yes on this very important issue," says Rickey. "Today we sent a strong message that we won't stand for deplorable puppy mills in our state—finally, Missouri dogs have had their day."
4. Report Details Systemic Failure of Government Equine Protection Programs
For the second time this year, the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued a troubling report outlining the failure of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)an agency within the USDAto enforce federal animal-protection laws. In May, the OIG detailed the USDA’s lax and ineffective enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act against puppy mills. Now it has taken on the humane treatment of horses, and its findings are similarly dismal.
APHIS operates the “Horse Protection Program,” which is supposed to ensure that show horses are not subjected to the abusive practice of soring (physically harming a horse to cultivate an exaggerated, artificial gait in the show ring), and the “Slaughter Horse Transport Program,” which is supposed to see to it that horses being shipped to foreign processing plants for slaughter are transported humanely. The OIG’s audit of these two programs, released October 28, found a long list of violations and failures to enforce the law.
The audit concluded unequivocally that APHIS’s “current program for inspecting show horses for abuse is not adequate.” Regarding the transport of horses to slaughter, the report states that, among other reforms, APHIS needs to implement stronger penalties to prevent individuals with humane handling violations from transporting slaughter horses. The agency also needs to strengthen its controls over the identification tags used on horses bound for slaughter.
APHIS has responded to the audit by acknowledging violations on horse soring and the need to remove inspectors too close to the industry. The agency also said it plans to discipline veterinarians who don’t enforce horse protection laws, and hopes to have a "chip" system in place by next year to track sored horses.
The ASPCA has been in direct contact with APHIS leadership on the enforcement failures. We will continue to work with them in the hopes that the promises made really do come to fruition in the form of active, effective enforcement.
To stay up to date on the latest developments in animal-protection law, please regularly visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center.
5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Survivor to Soul Mate
On September 21, the ASPCA joined the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) in removing dozens of dogs from a puppy mill in Camden County, MO. Most of the dogs were transferred to the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri in Springfield and HSMO in St. Louis, but a few made their way to the ASPCA in Manhattan. One such pupa darling Welsh Corgi named Peanutwas adopted by one of our own: Julia Nelson, ASPCA Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
Julia first met Peanut while the sweet pup was recovering at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “She was in her temporary living quarters in our Adoption Center director’s office. She was so excited when she first saw me, and the feeling was mutual,” Julia recalls. “She was adorable!” The happy pooch soon joined Julia’s family of cats, Ireland and Woody, and quickly settled into life in Manhattan. Woody, the younger cat, and Peanut became best pals right away. “He showed her his tummy, and now they eat side by side in the kitchen,” Julia says.
Some of Peanut’s favorite things include her daily walks in Central Park and the area’s off-leash hours on the weekends. “She gets along famously when happily runningor herding other dogs,” Julia says. “She is so cute when she runsshe has a little hop in her step.”
That’s not to say Peanut is all action. She also enjoys dozing on her back with her paws straight up in the air, and capping it off with a little light snoring. “When she wakes up in the morning,” says Julia, “she wiggles to say hello.”
“She has an excellent positive attitude, and constantly looks up to me with her soulful brown eyes to make sure I'm still there,” Julia adds. “I cannot imagine her locked up in a puppy mill missing out on life and love, and I'm very grateful to the ASPCA for rescuing her.”
Check out our Happy Tails archive for more heartwarming stories of furry fate.