The new year is looking good for horse welfare on Capitol Hill! President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), released yesterday, reaffirms the President’s support for a ban on the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter. If accepted by Congress, the budget proposal will renew language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending any tax dollars on inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants and prevent horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. for another fiscal year.
“We appreciate the White House’s continued commitment to keeping the grisly business of horse slaughter out of the U.S.,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “The President’s actions reflect the will of the 80 percent of Americans who oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and large, bipartisan votes in past Congresses have underscored this position. Congress should move swiftly to heed the American people’s wishes and renew this prohibition for the sake of protecting horses from cruelty and consumers from this gross threat to human health.”
This funding limitation mirrors the language included in the President’s previous budget proposal and is in line with Congress’s demonstrated opposition to horse slaughter. Congress included this same prohibition on tax dollars for horse slaughter in its FY14 and FY15 spending packages, both after strong House and Senate committee votes on the issue.
In addition to these achievements on Capitol Hill, great strides have been made on this issue internationally. As of January 15, the European Union bans the import of horse meat from Mexico for human consumption. This decision was based on evidence of the terrible treatment of these horses—many of whom originate in the U.S.—and the risk their meat poses to human health (due to the vast array of dangerous drugs routinely given to American horses). We must build on the momentum of these recent victories to ensure that the President’s recommendations are adopted by Congress for the next fiscal year!
What You Can Do Let’s make sure the message comes through loud and clear that protecting our horses must continue to be a priority in this new Congress. Sign up for the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay current on the latest animal welfare developments, and join us in being a voice for horses on Capitol Hill!
We’re all still reeling from last week’s revelations in The New York Times of animal mistreatment that verges on the sadistic at the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). The violent images depicted in the exposé—a pig being dissected alive by an apparently gleeful researcher, a young cow left to die from her injuries after USDA employees immobilized her and allowed her to be mounted by bulls for hours until her legs broke, hundreds of “rag-doll” lambs dead in a field because researchers intentionally left them out in the cold—paint a picture of the USDA’s callous indifference to animal suffering.
Other than a few tepid statements, the USDA has done little over the past week to refute the notion that apathy toward animal suffering is endemic at the agency. The agency’s anemic response certainly raises questions about what other horrors might yet be discovered at the other federal Agricultural Research Services facilities in about a dozen states across the country that conduct research aimed at making animal production more profitable.
This week the ASPCA told the USDA that our taxpayer-funded agencies must take their marching orders from the public and not industry alone (see our full letter below). Americans will not tolerate needless animal suffering and won’t allow our public institutions to endorse and perpetrate cruelty.
We urge the USDA to directly address the allegations of abuse at the USMARC and make the structural and cultural changes necessary to ensure that this inexcusable brutality never happens again. We will not turn the page on the gut-wrenching images of abuse until the USDA accepts responsibility and decides to be a leader in eradicating cruelty.
The National Chicken Council calculates that about 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed this Sunday, February 1, when much of America will be watching the biggest football game of the year.
When you see a platter piled high with wings, remember that every pair of wings represents an individual chicken. Here’s what his life was probably like in today’s age of factory farming:
Could barely fly The chicken industry has bred chickens to be up to three times bigger than they used to be, but that weight means they often can’t walk without pain, never mind get off the ground easily. Slower-growing, healthier chickens can perch and even fly up into low branches of trees.
Couldn’t balance Some chickens are so incapacitated by their ungainly bodies that they have to use their wings for balance (like crutches) to shuffle to a source of food or water. The practice is sometimes called “wing walking.”
Could barely move Imagine a football field full of chickens, from one end zone to the other. This is what a typical industrial chicken shed on a factory farm is like: Tens of thousands of birds are packed into giant, windowless structures, living in their own waste. This causes open sores on their chests and feet that can act as gateways to infection. With often less than one square foot of floor space each, birds have no ability to perch, forage or even move easily.
It doesn’t have to be this way! The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is encouraging companies to use more humane practices to finally address the suffering stemming from unnatural growth rates and poor conditions.
On December 18, the New Jersey State Legislature unanimously passed S.1870, ASPCA-supported legislation to amend the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Law. The bill would institute new rules for pet stores that sell puppies, including a requirement that these stores inform customers about the sources of the puppies they sell. It would also prohibit pet shops in the Garden State from obtaining puppies from breeders or brokers who fail to comply with even minimal federal and state animal welfare standards.
If signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, the bill will give potential animal owners a chance to make informed decisions, while also putting much-needed pressure on some of the most unethical breeders in the industry to significantly improve their practices. Governor Christie has until early February to sign the bill, and he has yet to reveal his opinion or his intentions.
Thankfully, our friend Jessica Springsteen—an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, rescue-dog lover and proud New Jerseyan—has stepped up to help by sending a letter to Governor Christie urging him to sign the bill. Governor Christie is a huge fan of Jessica’s dad, and we’re hoping a direct plea from The Boss’s daughter will catch his attention!
The Wall Street Journal recently asked, “Will 2015 Be the Year of the Chicken?” As it noted, today’s modern meat birds are bred to “live fast, die young,” but consumers are concerned—and put off—by the standard practices of the chicken industry. The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is working to improve those practices. With your help, it can be chickens’ big year!
If you haven’t seen this incredible drone footage of a North Carolina industrial pig farm, we recommend it. But maybe wait until after lunch. Factory farming is not just bad for animals; as you’ll see, it wreaks havoc on the environment and local communities, too.
California has been in the news a lot lately, as new state laws took effect on January 1 banning cage confinement for pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves. This change reflects consumer values and it’s time for it to spread to other states.