- 1. ASPCA Objects to Passage of NYC Carriage Horse Industry Bill
- 2. ASPCA Pet of the Week: Thrill of the Chase
- 3. Go Orange Photo Contest: Last Call for Entries
- 4. Dogs Also Suffer from Allergies to Food, Fleas…and Cats!
- 5. Supreme Court Nixes Crush Act as Unconstitutional
1. ASPCA Objects to Passage of NYC Carriage Horse Industry Bill
Over the objections of the ASPCA, the New York City Council last week passed Intro. 35, a carriage horse-related bill that institutes a large pay increase for carriage drivers but does not significantly improve working, safety or living conditions for the horses who provide them with jobs.
The ASPCA and NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets) submitted amendments to Intro. 35, including requiring stables to be equipped with operational sprinkler systems; setting higher veterinary care standards for the horses; and restricting the use of cell phones, headphones and other distracting devices that interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the carriage. None of these amendments were incorporated into the final version of the bill.
“We are disappointed that the City Council did not include the amendments we submitted this session, which would have improved the living and working conditions for the City’s carriage horses,” says Ed Sayres, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “Conferring a fare increase without more provisions that favor the horses and offer improved safety for the drivers and passengers may eliminate the opportunity for securing such improvements, since the industry’s motivation to bargain in good faith will evaporate once it has achieved its principal goalincreased financial benefit for the drivers and owners.”
While the carriage horse industry is trumpeting the bill as a piece of humane legislation, publicizing its provisions for minimum stall size and time off for horses, they have managed merely to codify conditions that are already the norm for New York City’s working horses. The new requirements provide lower regulatory standards than those being considering by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The DOHMH was considering changing stall size to 64 square feet, but Intro. 35 requires only 60 square feet. The agency also recommended that horses not be acquired for work after the age of 20, and this bill sets the age limit at 26.
The ASPCA and NYCLASS support Intro. 86, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito’s legislation to phase out carriage horses in New York City, replacing horse drawn carriages with environmentally-friendly horseless carriages. Please visit NY-CLASS.org to learn more.
2. ASPCA Pet of the Week: Thrill of the Chase
The Siamese beauty formerly known as Mandarin was adopted from the ASPCA in October 2009 by Brooklyn resident Tiffany Calhoun. Now the gorgeous lap cat and “purr machine” is living the high life with her loving new family. We recently chatted with Tiffany, who described her first meeting with the funny feline and a few of Melo’s (as she’s now called) favorite things.
ASPCA: How did you first meet Melo?
Tiffany: I hadn't even planned on taking a cat home the day I visited the ASPCA. I just thought I’d see what they had and ask questions about five cats who I’d seen on the website and thought would be perfect. To my surprise, an Adoptions Team member recommended that I meet Mandarin, a Siamese with gorgeous blue eyes.
ASPCA: What did you think when you first met her?
Tiffany: I hadn't even noticed Mandarin on the website, and it turned out this was her second time at the ASPCA. She had previously been turned in as a stray, adopted out but returnedthis made me a little nervous. But when I went to visit her, she was really friendly, affectionate and calm.
ASPCA: How did your family react when you came home with a cat?
Tiffany: My boyfriend said he wasn't surprised when I walked through the doorhe knew I couldn't leave the adoption center without a cat!
ASPCA: What are some of Melo’s favorite activities?
Tiffany: Melo likes nothing better than waking up in the morning with a nice stretch. She also likes play time on her scratching post, sleeping during the day and cuddling up at night. She doesn't have any problems saying she wants to play, even when I’m studying. I am convinced she is a purr machine!
ASPCA: What does Melo mean to you and your family?
Tiffany: She never ceases to amaze me. Even at five years old, she is as playful as a kitten with her special catnip mouse toys. We love having her in our family, and I always look forward to coming home to see her.
To read more stories of happy endings, please visit our Happy Tails archive.
3. Go Orange Photo Contest: Last Call for Entries
For the past three weeks, we’ve been asking everyone to get active and “go orange” in celebration of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. As always, we’re seeking pics of your pets looking their carrot-y bestbut this year we’ve raised the bar, adding a twist to our annual Go Orange Photo Contest. We’re on the lookout for unique, one-of-a-kind ways that your pets or you have donned our favorite color! Did you get married, go skydiving, or hit the town in ASPCA gear or other orange apparel? Did you host an orange-themed pet parade? Send us your best shot! Entries in the ASPCA Go Orange Photo Contest are being accepted now through April 30. The top 10 winners will be featured on our website and receive an ASPCA Prize Pack.
For more information about Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, or to submit photos for consideration, please visit ASPCAApril.org.
4. Dogs Also Suffer from Allergies to Food, Fleas…and Cats!
If your pet has been showing signs of itchy discomfort lately, clouds of potent springtime pollen may be to blame. Just like people, cats and dogs can be allergic to common environmental substances including pollen, mold and dust mitesand they can also be allergic to ingredients in their diets and to fleas. According to the ASPCA, more than 20% of pets may suffer from some sort of allergy. Most cats and dogs who are going to develop allergies do so in their first years, although adult onset also occurs.
Common signs of allergies include recurrent ear or skin infections and scratching, licking, chewing/biting or face-wiping; the face, ears, armpits and paws are most often the targets of a pet’s distress.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, talk to your veterinarian, who can provide short-term relief by prescribing itch-control medication, and then help determine the source of the allergy or refer you to a specialist in veterinary dermatology.
The first step toward an allergy diagnosis will generally be a skin scraping to check for mites, yeast, and/or bacterial infections. Your vet might prescribe special shampoos or topical sprays and frequent bathing, which solves the problem for many pets.
If not, the next easiest thing to test for is food allergies, which will require you to put your pet on a strict hypoallergenic diet for several months (your vet will prescribe the food) to see if there is a change in his condition. No treats or animal-based chewies are allowed during this period!
The next option is blood testing. It’s a little pricey, but provides definitive confirmation of contact/inhalant allergies. If your pet tests positive for environmental allergies (mold, pollen, cat dander, etc.), your vet will analyze the results, along with your pet’s clinical signs and history, to devise a treatment plan. This may be as simple as changes around the house, or your pet may need drug therapy or allergy shots (immunotherapy).
To learn more about pet allergies and what you can do to make your pet more comfortable, please visit our Pet Care section for specific information about cats or dogs.
5. Supreme Court Nixes Crush Act as Unconstitutional
In its Tuesday ruling in U.S. v. Stevens, the U.S. Supreme Court permanently struck down the “Crush Act,” a 1999 federal law banning the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty. In the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the court attributed its decision to the law being both unconstitutional and overbroad.
The Crush Act was designed to stop the commerce of crush videos and other depictions of illegal acts of animal cruelty “in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed.” The act depicted did not have to be illegal where it was filmed, only where the resulting product was sold. Stevens, who marketed videos of dog and hog-dog fightingsome of which he filmed overseaswas the first person convicted under the Crush Act.
In addition to violating free speech rights, the Court asserted that the Crush Act could be used to prosecute frivolous cases due to its overbroad language. An example it cited was the sale of hunting videos: hunting is illegal in Washington, D.C., so under the Crush Act, someone selling a hunting video in D.C. would be breaking the law, even if the video had been filmed in a state where hunting is legal. When he signed the bill into law, President Clinton recognized this potentially sticky issue and requested the Justice Department to limit prosecutions to “wanton cruelty to animals designed to appeal to a prurient interest in sex.” However, in the opinion of the Court, “We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the Government promised to use it responsibly.”
Although this verdict is disappointing, there is good news on the horizon. The Supreme Court left the door wide open for new, more narrowly drafted legislation to specifically target crush and animal fighting videosand there is already interest on Capitol Hill in getting such legislation passed. The ASPCA will gladly work with Congress to draft new language that can withstand tests of constitutionality to provide law enforcement with the tools to effectively combat extreme animal abuse.
Action Tip: To help enact state and national laws that protect animals from abuse, join our online Advocacy Brigade. It’s free and lets you take action for animals right from your computer!