If a pending ag-gag bill becomes law in North Carolina, a newly released investigation may be the last look the public will get behind the closed doors of industrial agriculture in the state. Undercover video exposing abuse inside a North Carolina chicken slaughterhouse comes just as state lawmakers are fast-tracking a dangerous ag-gag bill (H.B. 405) designed to prevent exactly this kind of disclosure.
The footage, as reported by ABC 11 Raleigh, was captured by an investigator for animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing in March and April 2015. It reveals birds being violently tossed across the facility, workers slamming birds upside down into moving shackles, and sick or injured birds tossed into piles of dead birds like trash. H.B. 405 aims to prevent the documentation and exposure of animal abuse and any other wrong-doing inside factory farms and slaughterhouses, including food safety-related violations and environmental or workers’ rights issues.
Rather than stopping these abuses, some North Carolina lawmakers and corporations would rather just keep the public in the dark. We need your help. If you live in North Carolina, take action today. All others, please share information about ag-gag with your friends and family. Animals should never suffer in secrecy!
One of the most effective ways to help shape laws is through in-person lobbying of legislators—and New Yorkers always step up! Nearly 100 animal advocates from across the Empire State gathered at the state capitol last Wednesday to make their voices heard at the ASPCA’s third annual New York Voices for Animals Day.
The day provided opportunities for animal advocates to speak directly with their legislators and staff in support of passing stronger animal welfare legislation, including measures that would provide relief to animal control agencies and taxpayers during animal cruelty cases, improve protections for animals during natural disaster responses and fighting investigations, and enhance trap, neuter and release (TNR) programs for the state’s free-roaming cats.
“While phone calls and emails are effective ways to communicate with lawmakers, face-to-face meetings make the most powerful impact, by far,” said Bill Ketzer, the ASPCA’s Senior State Legislative Director for the Northeast region. “An in-person meeting is the perfect way to show lawmakers that the constituents they represent are serious about animal protection.”
Before setting off to meet with legislators, advocates heard from several New York State lawmakers on the importance of animal welfare legislation. Senator Jeff Klein spoke passionately about the need for full-service shelters in the Bronx and Queens; Senator Kathy Marchione discussed the need to support life-saving and cost-saving TNR programs. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal highlighted legislation offering a tax credit to adopters, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick called for assistance from out-of-state veterinarians during disasters and large-scale cruelty cases.
Event attendees ranged from first-time citizen lobbyists to experienced advocates—but all of them were dedicated, and some were even willing to forgo sleep to be a part of the important day!
Filmmaker Joe Whelski of Manhattan had been up late working on a client video but awoke at 4:30 A.M. in order to catch the ASPCA-chartered bus to Albany, which departed just an hour and a half later.
“I was just [in Albany] in March and got a nice reception from lawmakers,” said Joe. While we may not immediately know all of the results from lobbying, “It’s worth it even if a bill doesn’t pass, just to show the extent of support for animal causes.”
Adding to the excitement, two priority bills successfully passed through committee during the day’s events, bringing New York closer to having more resources for spay/neuter programs and better protecting animals in cruelty cases and during disasters—and proving that it’s when we come together as a unified voice for animals that real progress on legislation can be made.
The ASPCA fights to make sure the strongest laws are in place to protect animals across the country, but we can’t do it without dedicated advocates. “We work hard to pass animal-friendly legislation, but it’s the grassroots advocacy by constituents that can provide the tipping point,” said Michelle Villagomez, the ASPCA’s New York City Legislative Director.
We want to thank all of our New York advocates and our supporters nationwide for standing beside us as we continue to fight for animals here and across the country.
Don’t miss your state’s next lobby day! Sign up to receive ASPCA Advocacy Alerts to stay up-to-date on fun and informational events near you.
Yesterday, in honor of National Animal Advocacy Day, Congress put out the welcome mat for Bam Bam, a special dog whom the ASPCA rescued as a puppy from a dog fighting yard in Alabama. The Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC) had invited Bam Bam to the Capitol as an ambassador for dogs rescued from animal fighting operations. U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Co-Chairs of the CAPC, were on hand to welcome the ASPCA and congressional staff.
Bam Bam joined a panel of experts to educate congressional staff about the fiscal and welfare challenges of caring for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases. The ASPCA regularly works side-by-side with federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to rescue animals from animal fighting rings, as well as expend vast resources caring for these animals afterward.
Federal criminal cases take many months or even years to progress. While they slowly advance, rescued animals must be housed, fed, and provided with veterinary and behavioral care. They often can’t be re-homed until the cases conclude, which means a dog may spend over a year waiting for his or her fate to be determined by a court.
Once the ASPCA and law enforcement authorities come to the rescue, these animals should be able to start new, happy lives; but federal seizure laws weren’t written with animals in mind. Animals can’t be warehoused like cars, drugs or commonplace evidence—and while living in limbo in this way, seized animals often deteriorate psychologically and behaviorally. Meanwhile, animal-protection agencies rack up astronomical costs to safely shelter these animals on behalf of federal law enforcement.
Fortunately, on National Animal Advocacy Day, we’re grateful for the great animal allies we have in Congress and in the Department of Justice (DOJ) working to solve this problem through legislation and regulatory changes. Reform is needed to have the alleged abusers, rather than taxpayers or groups like the ASPCA, pay for the costs of caring for their seized animals or relinquish custody of the animals, allowing them to be re-homed much faster.
We’re also indebted to our amazing citizen advocates, who sent more than 13,000 emails to the Department of Justice over the past month thanking them for prosecuting animal fighters and urging them to get even tougher this year.
Last Tuesday the ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign testified to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the committee that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its Organic rules.
The ASPCA asked the Board to examine the problem of fast, unhealthy growth among USDA Organic birds raised for meat (“broiler” chickens and turkeys). Like conventionally raised birds, most organic birds are bred for unsustainable growth that causes massive suffering (including difficulty standing and walking). You can read more on our Truth About Chicken website, which shines a spotlight on these horrendous and largely hidden problems.
The USDA looks to the NOSB for suggestions on how to improve to its rules, so it is critical that the NOSB encourages the USDA to restrict the use of fast-growing, unhealthy birds.
In the coming months, we will need your help in urging the NOSB to act. If you join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, we will let you know as soon as those opportunities arise. In the meantime, please spread the word about the need for better standards for USDA Organic animals!
Thursday, April 30, is National Animal Advocacy Day—a day to recognize a cause that’s very close to our hearts! We know that you, our wonderful ASPCA supporters, are fighting for stronger laws for animals all year long, but this is the perfect time for all of us to pause and ask ourselves how we can make our work together even more effective. Is your lobbying game on point? How do you know if your messages to legislators are getting through? We have some tips from insiders on being the best, strongest voice for animals you can be.
It’s all about becoming a known entity to your legislators. A staggering number of messages flow through legislative offices, and the way many offices handle and prioritize these communications is by sorting them by the perceived “value” of the sender. They want to see that you’re politically engaged: here’s what they’re looking for and how you can transform from a mere voice in the crowd to a valued constituent whose opinion is sought and respected!
1. Register to vote—and actually vote, especially in primary elections. Legislators want to stay in office, which means they want to hear from their constituents—not people who live outside their districts—and they really want to hear from the people who actually determine whether they get to keep their jobs: voters. When you email your elected official, staff will often cross-reference your information with district voting records to see if you’re a voter, and active voters have more value to them than someone who asks for things but who has no record of having voted. We’re sorry to say it, but if you’re not a voter, your message probably won’t be given as much consideration.
2. Sign up to receive e-newsletters from your federal and state legislators. Another way that legislators see if you’re engaged is by checking your email address against their internal lists. Almost all of them send out periodic email blasts, which you can sign up to receive from their official websites. Find your federal and state legislators here, then visit their sites and opt in for emails! These emails will also inform you of opportunities to meet your legislators, which brings us to…
3. Attend “town hall” (in-person) forums in your community. Whether it’s a formal Q&A held at your local library or a more casual get-together at a coffee shop, municipal, state and federal lawmakers frequently host in-district events to take the pulse of their constituents. These events are the perfect chance to become a familiar face to your legislators and their staff and, of course, to bring up animal-protection issues. Public speaking is not easy for many people, but the more you do it, the easier it gets—and in this case, it’s often simply a conversation you’re having with someone who represents you.
4. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and act on our Advocacy Alerts. We’ll let you know when animal-friendly legislation is pending where you live, give you specific actions you can take and provide talking points to use with your elected officials. Taking action once enrolls you in the Advocacy Brigade. Get started right now:The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would ban horse slaughter and the export of American horses for slaughter, was just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Our web alert lets you quickly and easily contact your members of Congress on the bill’s behalf. Help us make 2015 the year we eliminate this vile practice for good—email your legislators here.
We hope these tips have inspired you to get active in the policy-making process and become a stronger voice for the causes that matter to you. Please email [email protected] with any questions, and thank you for celebrating National Animal Advocacy Day with us!