The ASPCA, along with horse-lovers from near and far, headed out to Bridgehampton, New York, this week for the prestigious and star-studded 40th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show.
For the ninth consecutive year, the ASPCA partnered with this iconic week-long show to promote animal adoption and raise awareness of critical equine cruelty issues with two special ASPCA-hosted events.
Things kicked off on Monday with our annual ASPCA Adoption and Animal Welfare Day, during which spectators got the opportunity to meet rescue horses face-to-face, hear their rescuers’ stories and learn ways they can make a difference for equines. Several local animal shelters and rescue groups were on site throughout the day to find loving homes for adorable, adoptable animals, including dogs, cats and, of course, horses. Even some formerly wild mustangs made an appearance!
Attendees were invited to the ASPCA Equine Town Hall just days later to hear experts from the ASPCA’s Government Relations department and Our Farm Equine Rescue discuss critical issues impacting horses today, like horse slaughter, homelessness and neglect, and how to rescue, rehab and re-home horses from the slaughter lot.
To make the events even more special, the ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors team of top international riders, including Georgina Bloomberg, Brianne Goutal, Hayley Barnhill, Stacia Madden and our newest ambassador, Jennifer Gates, were on site during the week to answer questions and greet show-goers. Network correspondent and animal advocate Jill Rappaport, who is also an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, hosted Monday’s event.
The protection of horses has been a core part of the ASPCA mission since our founding nearly 150 years ago. The Hampton Classic allows us and our Welfare Ambassadors to share that passion with the equine community and spectators of the show, and to encourage them to serve as a voice for animals.
In the veal industry, calves are often confined and tethered by their necks, rendered virtually immobile for nearly all of their short lives. Female breeding pigs face a similar fate: Confined to gestation crates, pregnant pigs cannot take more than one step in any direction. But if voters get their say, that may soon change in Massachusetts.
This morning, animal advocates gathered in Boston as Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, a coalition of animal welfare groups including the ASPCA, announced a new ballot proposal to phase out extreme and inhumane confinement systems used for breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens in factory farms in the Bay State.
The cages and crates generally used to confine these animals are among the cruelest forms of factory farming. Forced to live in spaces barely larger than their bodies, hens, veal calves and pregnant pigs are often unable to even lie down, turn around or extend their limbs. The coalition will collect more than 90,000 signatures in order to qualify the proposal for the 2016 statewide ballot.
If approved by voters, Massachusetts will join 10 other states that have already passed laws cracking down on this type of farm animal abuse.
In addition to the ASPCA, the coalition includes the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Rescue League of Boston and The Humane Society of the United States, along with family farmers, veterinarians and public health professionals. The measure has won support from food safety advocates.
This is a huge step forward for Massachusetts’s farm animals, but we’re not there yet! Bay State advocates: if this important measure is to get on next year’s ballot, we’ll need your help. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay up-to-date as the campaign moves forward and for opportunities to help.
“So many animal confinement practices on farms are unacceptably cruel, preventing animals from fully extending their limbs or even turning around freely,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “No animal should have to suffer like that. We support this ballot initiative that rejects some of the cruelest farming practices used today.”
In June we asked you to tell the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) to get tough on dog fighting by committing to stronger sentencing guidelines for convicted animal fighters—and the agency listened. On Friday, August 7, the USSC voted unanimously to examine the sentencing guidelines for animal fighting in the coming year and propose amendments based on changes in the law and the evolving nature of the crime.
The USSC is the independent federal agency that constructs sentencing guidelines as a reference for federal judges. Its guidelines currently classify animal fighting as a gambling crime. Anyone who has seen footage of a fight or an animal fighting raid knows that the real harm of these crimes has nothing to do with placing bets. We thank the USSC for working to make the punishment fit the crime.
In response to objections raised by the ASPCA and the Washington Humane Society (WHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that a Washington, D.C. ban on pets in public housing violates federal law. As a result, the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) will have to amend its policy and allow pets in housing for the elderly and disabled.
DCHA currently prohibits all pets in D.C. housing projects with the exception of pets already living in senior buildings before 2005. However, the Housing and Urban-Rural Recovery Act of 1983 mandates that owners and managers of federally assisted rental housing for the elderly and disabled cannot prohibit any tenant from having common household pets.
The ASPCA’s extensive research on pet homelessness has found that lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing is consistently a driver for relinquishment.
“Pets provide a source of constant, uncomplicated comfort and have been shown to enhance health and wellbeing, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “We look forward to working with DCHA to craft a model pet policy that benefits pets and people.”
Other groups who support the proposed changes to DCHA’s pet policy include the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Bread for the City, Legal Aid of the District of Columbia, and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless
We need your help urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close a critical loophole for calves. Currently, slaughterhouses can slaughter “downer” veal calves (those too sick, weak or injured to stand and walk) rather than humanely euthanizing them. Investigations have revealed horrific animal abuse at slaughter plants, with workers kicking, slapping, dragging and electrically shocking calves in order to get them to stand and walk. Some of these calves are merely days old.
The USDA has proposed a rule requiring that downer calves be promptly and humanely euthanized on-site, and is now soliciting public feedback. Please help us ensure the proposed rule does not get watered down: let the USDA hear your voice today!