December 4, 2009
It’s Been a Banner Year for Humane Legislation—Thank You!
Although it has been a somewhat tough year for animal-friendly legislation, hard work by legislators, the ASPCA and animal advocates like you brought several vital state-level bills over the finish line! During this season of reflection and review, the ASPCA wants you to know that every email you sent, every phone call you made, and every dollar you contributed toward the cause of humane legislation made a difference. As 2009 winds down, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of our achievements around the country. We truly could not have done it without you!
The country’s number-one dairy state is leading the way for humane farming reform! California has become the first state in the nation to ban the docking of dairy cows’ tails (SB 135). Thanks are due to the California members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, whose swift response to our three email alerts on this bill helped propel it to victory and secure the governor’s signature.
The success of the Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act (HB 386/SB 258) struck a blow in the battle against puppy mills. Effective January 1, 2010, this law will protect consumers as well as put in place safeguardsincluding yearly inspection and licensingto ensure that dogs and cats in the state’s large commercial breeding facilities are cared for humanely.
In the Northeast
2009 saw the ASPCA score major victories for companion animals in both Connecticut and New York State! On July 8, Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell approved the Puppy Lemon Law and Trace Back Bill (SB 499). The new law helps people who have inadvertently purchased a sick animal by raising the amount of money they’re entitled to claim from the seller for veterinary expenses. The law also requires pet shops to reveal the identities of the dog breeders and dealers they useand if CT pet shops sell cats and dogs from out-of-state kennels, those kennels must be licensed by the USDA and the appropriate state agency.
And this fall, New York State finally passed its Humane Euthanasia bill (A. 999B) for stray and shelter animals. Effective next October, the new law bans the euthanasia of these animals by gassing, requiring that they instead be humanely euthanized via lethal injection by a certified euthanasia technician, licensed veterinary technician, or licensed veterinarian. It also prohibits intracardiac euthanasiaa painful injection right into the hearton unsedated shelter animals.
See what we’re currently working on, ask us questions and find tools for animal advocates by dropping by the Lobby for Animals section of ASPCA.org. And if you’re not already a member of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, what are you waiting for? Become a part of the action and help enact laws that help animalsjoin the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today!
October 23, 2009
Victory for Farm Animals—California Bans Tail Docking of Cows
Attention, animal lovers! After a long fight, California’s dairy cows have emerged victorious! The ASPCA applauds California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made history by signing into law SB 135, a bill forbidding the cruel and unnecessary amputation of dairy cows’ tails. Since tail docking is already outlawed for horses in California, SB 135 will simply add the words "and cattle" to the law's language.
Tail docking is a common practice of the dairy industry, where up to two-thirds of a dairy cow’s tail is amputated without the use of painkiller or anesthesia. The docking is often performed by applying a constrictive rubber band to the tail, cutting off blood flow and allowing the tail to fall off. This often leads to neuromasdense masses of nerve endings associated with both chronic and acute pain. Infected wounds resulting from careless tail docking are also common.
“Cows naturally use their tails to swat off biting insects,” says Jill Buckley, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “Tail docking makes this simple movement impossibleleading to enormous suffering, especially during fly season.”
The bill, which will go into effect January 1, was introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez and supported by the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau. The bill was passed by the Senate 27-12, and the Assembly approved it by a vote of 58-15.
While the docking of cows’ tails is already banned in several European nations, including the U.K. and Netherlands, Californiathe U.S.’s largest dairy stateis the first state to ban the procedure. This act will protect the more than 1.8 million California cows farmed for their milk. The ASPCA is hoping this landmark legislation will encourage other large dairy states to follow suit.
Read more about the ASPCA's fight against cruelty to farm animals.
October 20, 2009
ASPCA Argues Cruelty to Animals Is Not Free Speech
On Tuesday, October 6, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in U.S. v. Stevens, a landmark appeal case that will decide whether the sale of dog fighting videos is protected by the Constitutional right to free speech.
The case involves dog fighting propagandist Robert J. Stevens, who was convicted in 2005 for marketing three videos that showed genuine animal fighting. Stevens became the first person convicted under the Crush Act (or U.S. Code Section 48), a 1999 federal law banning the sale of materials depicting animal cruelty. The law was meant to stop the creation and sale of “crush” videos and other depictions of illegal animal cruelty acts, including dog fighting, “in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed.”
In July 2008, a United States Court of Appeals overturned Stevens’s conviction, ruling that the Crush Act was “an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Due to this ruling, the Crush Act is no longer in effect. Internet trafficking in crush videos, which had slowed significantly since 1999, has reportedly surgedand in April of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review U.S. v. Stevens to determine the future of the Act.
“This is only the second time in history that the Supreme Court has taken on a case directly related to animal cruelty,” says Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Field Services. “It represents a difficult conflict between two traditionally ‘liberal’ valuesfreedom of expression and animal protectionso it is unclear how and if the court may be divided.”
While some view the now-overturned law in question as an attempt to create a new exception to the First Amendment, animal welfare groups argue in favor of protecting animals from brutal abuse for profit.
The ASPCA filed an amicus curiae (pdf) (or “friend of the court”) brief at the Supreme Court, siding with the position taken by the U.S. ASPCA representatives also attended the October 6 hearing in Washington, D.C., listening to arguments presented by both sides.
“Although the ‘Crush Act’ was rarely used, it had the potential for aiding in the prosecution of a variety of forms of animal cruelty that are increasingly being encouraged through the dissemination of videos,” says Lockwood. “If the Supreme Court upholds the repeal, the ASPCA will gladly work with Congress to draft new laws that can withstand tests of constitutionality to address these problems.”
The Court’s decision is expected in early 2010. Please watch for developments on ASPCA.org/lobby.
October 9, 2009
U.S. Marines Enlist ASPCA to Keep Marine Corps Pets & Families Together
On October 6, a team of ASPCA animal behavior experts arrived in Beaufort, S.C., to conduct behavior assessments of more than 100 dogs living in Marine Corps housing units in the South Carolina Tri-Command area.
The visit by ASPCA behaviorists comes after these dogs became the subject of a breed ban recently instituted by Marine Corps headquarters. The policy specifically bans purebred and mixed-breed Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids, as well as canines with "dominant traits of aggression" who pose a risk to people living in U.S. Marine Corps housing worldwide.
“Our goal in coming to the Parris Island base is to make sure safe dogs and their families are able to stay together,” says Dr. Emily Weiss, ASPCA Senior Director of Shelter Research & Development, “and so far, the results have been positive."
After assessing individual canines with SAFER (the ASPCA Safety Assessment for Evaluation Rehoming)a research-based tool that helps identify the likelihood of canine aggressionASPCA behaviorists report that of the approximately 65 dogs assessed to date, only two have had significant aggression issues. “One, we believe, will be able to be managed while on base,” comments Dr. Weiss. “The vast majority, however, are well-loved, well-behaved family pets.”
The families of safe dogs will be given the opportunity to apply for a waiver, allowing their dog to remain on the base until 2012. "We're very excited about the ASPCA’s assessment," says Army Capt. Jenifer Gustafson, the Officer in Charge of the veterinary clinic on Parris Island. "This is a welcome alternative to the unpleasant possibility of pet parents being forced to give up their dogs or leave base housing.”
The ASPCA is opposed to breed bans, which target entire breeds instead of focusing on individual dogs. Aggressive canines are often the result of owners failing to provide proper training. Our organization continues to work on identifying potential aggression in individual dogs, opening up opportunities for behavior modification. Read more about alternatives to breed-specific laws.
July 29, 2009
Legislative Victory: CT Passes Pet Store-Related Bill
Earlier this month, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law Senate Bill 499, legislation spearheaded by the ASPCA and Connecticut Votes for Animals (CVA). The new law will help shoppers make more educated decisions when purchasing a pet by requiring all retail pet shops in the state of Connecticut to disclose where the puppies they sell came from. Each dog’s “certificate of origin” must be posted openly (no more than 10 feet from his enclosure)and, when a puppy is sold, a copy of his certificate must be given to his purchasers. Pet stores are also responsible for guaranteeing that their out-of-state animal suppliers are licensed by the USDA and appropriate state agencies. Violations of these measures can result in fines and jail time.
“This bill ensures accountability from both pet stores and the animal breeders that sell to them,” says Debora Bresch, ASPCA Legislative Liaison to Connecticut. “Sadly, puppies sold at pet stores are usually from puppy mills.” A puppy mill is a commercial breeding enterprise where dogs are mass-produced for profit without concern for their health or welfare. With your help, the ASPCA is working tirelessly to pass legislation in every state to ensure that all animals bred to be pets are raised in healthy conditions.
For more information about Connecticut's victory for animals, please read our press release. And a special thanks to Connecticut members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, who worked hard for this legislative victory, calling and emailing their legislators on the bill’s behalf since February.
Want to have a hand in passing pro-animal legislation in your state? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade!
What do you think? Tweet on this article. Include @aspca and #CTPuppyLaw
February 10, 2009
You’ve Got ‘Til Monday to Help Improve Standards in Puppy Mills!
We’re on the right track, Pennsylvanianow let’s keep up the momentum. Last year, with your amazing support, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a puppy mill reform bill, HB 2525, which mandated standard-of-living upgrades for the dogs kept by your state’s commercial breeders. But that’s not the end of the story. Acceptable standards of certain kennel elementsincluding lighting, humidity and ventilationhave to be defined before HB 2525 can really live up to its full potential.
Now, the PA Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement have outlined these standards in the form of regulations that, if passed, will help ensure that last year’s puppy mill bill has teeth!
The ASPCA supports these regulations, and we’d love your help moving them forward.
If you live in PA, here’s what you can do:
Please tell the Department of Agriculture that you back its efforts to better regulate the puppy mill industry. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online to learn more and to find a letter of support that you can send to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau is accepting letters from the public until February 16that’s Monday!so please don’t delay. Submit your comments today.
Thank you for your continued support of Pennsylvania’s animals and the ASPCA.
January 29, 2009
The Fight Against Puppy Mills is ON in 2009!
If you haven’t read the latest from our weekly News Alert, this development on a bill to ban puppy mills is a must-read! Check out this action-packed article, reposted below.
As America ushers in a new era of federal leadership, many state governments are also getting back to workand at least one of them is making puppy mill reform a priority. On Sunday, January 18, the ASPCA joined animal welfare advocates and Illinois lawmakers in Chicago to announce the arrival of Chloe’s Bill, legislation that will help stamp out the worst puppy mills in the Prairie State.
“Illinois has a unique opportunity to adopt one of the strongest commercial breeding laws in the country,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “As commercial breeding increases throughout the United States, particularly in the Midwest, it is reassuring that Illinois is recognizing the need for stronger laws before the prevalence of puppy mills becomes a blight on the state’s reputation.”
As currently written, Chloe’s Bill would:
Limit to 20 the number of unaltered dogs a breeder may possess
Ban anyone convicted of felony-level animal cruelty from acquiring a dog-breeding license
Prohibit wire flooring in commercial breeding facilities and create guidelines for appropriate heating, cooling and ventilation
Require pet stores and breeders to provide customers with a dog’s full medical history
Establish penalties for violations, ranging from fines to animal seizure and license revocation
Sponsored by State Rep. John Fritchey and State Senator Dan Kotowski, Chloe’s Bill is named for a young cocker spanielrescued from a Macon County, IL, puppy millwho was present at Sunday’s press conference. Now living with one of the animal control agents involved in the raid on her kennel, Chloe is the sole survivor from her litter. Like thousands of other commercial dog breeders in the U.S., the owners of Chloe’s kennel focused on producing as many puppies as possible with little regard for the physical and mental health of their animals. The dogs found at this puppy mill were matted with feces and urine, and infested with fleas and internal parasites. Many suffered from deformed paws from living their lives on wire-floored cages.
As Rep. Fritchey explained to the media, “We are not trying to do anything drastic; we’re not trying to do anything radical. We’re trying to implement standards for what is humane care, for what is decent care.” Fritchey added that although he expects the bill will encounter some opposition, any dog breeder who would oppose it is likely to be the type of breeder that should make consumers wary. How can you help? It is animal lovers like you who bring about change. Even if you don’t live in Illinois, what happens in one state becomes easier to accomplish in othersso we need you in the fight. In the coming weeks, the ASPCA Advocacy Center will email our Illinois advocates, providing guidance on how they can join us in getting Chloe’s Bill passed.
Wherever you live, don’t miss out on this or any other important legislative news from the ASPCAplease sign up to receive animal advocacy-related emails.