After much anticipation, we’re thrilled to announce the contestants of the 2014 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge! This year’s Challenge will be the fifth and final competition of its kind. From June through the end of August, 50 animal shelters in 24 states and Puerto Rico will engage in a spirited competition to save more animals’ lives than they did during the same three months in 2013. The shelters will compete to win a total of $600,000 in ASPCA grant funding, with prizes ranging from $1,000 to a grand prize of $100,000 for the Challenge’s top performing shelter.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of this year’s Challenge. The competing shelters will host Challenge Kickoff Week events June 1-7, and we know they’ll be working hard to prepare between now and then.
Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations *Updated 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, January 29*
After months of negotiations, the U.S. House Representatives voted Wednesday to pass the Farm Bill—legislation to set policy for many federal agriculture programs. Thanks to all who lobbied Congress with us, animals can claim important victories on two fronts in this legislation. First, the Farm Bill contains a provision to crack down on animal fighting: gruesome spectacles where gamblers wager on animals who are forced to fight to the death. Second, this legislation protects the integrity of hundreds of state animal protection laws across the country from the grievous threat of the King Amendment. The ASPCA applauds Congress for advancing its crackdown on animal fighters while handing a defeat to animal abusers in the Farm Bill.
The animal fighting language in the Farm Bill establishes the first-ever federal penalties for attending an animal fight and criminalizes bringing a child to one of these heinous events. Reflecting the language of the Animal Fighting Spectator Act (H.R 366 / S. 666), this provision creates liability for the individuals whose illegal wagers and admission fees fuel this cruelty. It also ensures that organizers cannot easily escape prosecution by hiding in the crowd when law enforcement arrives, since now everyone in the crowd will be breaking the law.
The King Amendment, named after its sponsor, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), was an incredible federal power-grab that could have prevented states from enacting many of their own laws regarding the production of any “agricultural products”—a term so broad that it can include farm animals, dogs in puppy mills, and even locally grown fruits and vegetables. The defeat of the King Amendment preserves the historic power of states to pass laws that protect the health and welfare of animals.
After today’s vote in the House, the Farm Bill is headed to the Senate for consideration and passage.
The ASPCA Government Relations team has made passage of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act and defeat of the King Amendment top priorities this Congress. We couldn’t have achieved these victories without the members of our Advocacy Brigade, who sent thousands of emails to their Members of Congress about the animal fighting bill and the King Amendment.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade!
By joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you will receive important alerts from us when we need your help to fight for laws against animal cruelty.
At the ASPCA, we know animal cruelty can happen at any time or place nationwide. That’s why our Field Investigations and Response Team (FIR) must be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. FIR responders travel throughout the nation to assist animals in situations such as natural disasters, puppy mill raids and dog fighting busts. The FIR team recently received some exciting news: thanks to generous grants from the Joanie Bernard Foundation, Inc. and the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation, FIR responders will now deploy in a state of the art mobile command center known as the Personnel Support and Operations Trailer.
The trailer will consist of a 13-foot Great Western tractor, a 53-foot semi-trailer and 12-foot command center—an overall length of 82 feet. It will serve as a mobile command center during FIR deployments, providing a secure planning space and vital communications equipment, including a meeting area, a satellite communications and command center and flat-screen televisions.
In the aftermath of a disaster, it is often difficult for the FIR team to find lodging in locations where their assistance is needed most. Now, FIR responders will have a comfortable and secure place to stay after strenuous days in the field. The new trailer will provide beds for 14 team members, a full kitchen and bathrooms with showers. The trailer also features holding tanks for water, a washer and dryer, heat and air conditioning. The FIR team is looking forward to utilizing the trailer in the coming weeks.
Following up on a promise I made to you last August, I’m proud to announce the full citywide rollout of our pioneering collaboration with the New York City Police Department. Rarely has the fight to end animal cruelty in New York City—or any city for that matter—been supported by such a powerful and broad enforcement partner.
The NYPD is taking the lead in responding to complaints and enforcing animal cruelty laws in New York City, while the ASPCA is investing significant resources to expand space and services to care for seized animals, including forensic evaluations, medical treatment, behavior assessments and backup legal support and training. We’ve already dedicated a new ward to these animals at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, including additional space for housing and rehabilitation.
All eight NYPD patrol boroughs, several detective boroughs, the Housing Bureau, and the Legal Bureau, as well as a number of assistant district attorneys, have been personally trained by ASPCA staff with extensive NYPD or New York City prosecutorial experience. That training continues, and NYPD officers have been eager and enthusiastic.
The result: a much broader, quicker and more effective way to protect and save animal lives. During the four-month pilot phase, the NYPD responded to more than 800 calls to 911 and 311, took more than 25 complaint reports, and made 12 arrests. More than 30 animals related to these cases have received care at the ASPCA Animal Hospital.
The citywide expansion comes at a busy time for the NYPD—they just welcomed their first new Commissioner in 12 years, William Bratton—but the needs of New York City animals just can’t wait. The roll-out to all five boroughs began operationally at the start of the year, and within less than three weeks, there’ve been 16 complaint reports taken across the five boroughs, including three arrests, and 24 rescued animals.
Bottom line: We’re already well on pace to saving four to five times as many animals each year than the ASPCA has done during any year in recent history.
Don't think of these animals as numbers, at least any more than you would your own pets. They include Hall and Oates, two underweight dogs living in deplorable conditions in a Bronx backyard; nine kittens rescued from a hoarding situation; and Hank, another canine victim of cruelty. Stories like these not only exemplify how the partnership is succeeding, they also illustrate the severity of animal cruelty and the need to elevate these heinous crimes.
Commissioner Bratton has shown tremendous support for this partnership, noting that “NYPD Officers have historically enforced laws to protect the city’s animals, and now the NYPD will be taking the lead role in investigating incidents of animal abuse and neglect citywide.”
We’re creating a lasting positive legacy for New York and New York animals, and hope the idea of unleashing existing police departments on cowardly animal abusers will catch on across the country.
In the meantime, if you see cruelty, stop cruelty. Call 9-1-1 for acts in progress, or call or click 3-1-1 otherwise. As I said last summer, it's your city. They're your animals. You can be their voice, too.
As many of you know, earlier this week, the ASPCA joined local authorities to remove more than 40 dogs, including Chihuahuas and blood hounds, from a large, substandard breeding facility—also referred to as a puppy mill—in Nancy, Kentucky. Many of the dogs have untreated medical conditions, and are being cared for by a team of veterinarians and responders at a temporary facility, set up by the ASPCA and the Kentucky Humane Society, in Louisville.
The dogs are safe now. With temperatures dropping rapidly across the country, it was just in time. These dogs will never again suffer in extreme cold without access to food or shelter. They’ll never be stacked in tiny cages. And they’ll never be forced to breed.
Right now, the ASPCA is providing shelter, veterinary care, healthy food and much-needed attention and affection to the rescued dogs. Our work is far from over.
Please take a moment to watch and share our video. You’ll see some of the dogs we rescued, as well as the conditions these dogs were forced to endure.