Co-chaired by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), this bipartisan caucus raises awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress and builds broad coalitions in support of common-sense animal welfare legislation. In recent years, the caucus helped pass new laws to:
close the federal loophole protecting spectators at animal fights,
ban the commerce in appalling “crush videos,” and
protect the rights of states to pass their own animal protection laws.
The ASPCA regularly works with the Animal Protection Caucus to hold briefings that inform legislators and their staff about animal issues and legislation. Additionally, the caucus co-hosts our overwhelmingly popular biannual “Paws for Love” and “Paws for Celebration” adoption events on Capitol Hill, which highlight and celebrate the important work of our nation’s shelters and rescues.
The Animal Protection Caucus currently boasts 115 House members. It is wonderful to have so many legislators engaged on animal protection issues, but that leaves over 300 Representatives who are not involved with the caucus. We’re confident that many of them would happily join the ranks if their constituents—you—encouraged them to.
You Can Help! Use the form below to send a quick email to your U.S. Representative in Washington, D.C., and ask him or her to consider joining the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Just enter your info and we’ll provide a pre-drafted message to your legislator (and if your representative is already a member, a “thank you” message will load up!). Please feel free to tell your representative why animal protection is important to you.
The New York State legislative session will come to a close on June 17, but there is still an important order of business for it to address—S.1081, ASPCA-supported legislation that will allow a portion of the funds allotted for the Animal Population Control Program (APCP) to be used to fund viable trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in parts of Upstate New York and Long Island.
Lending her voice to this critical issue is award-winning actress Edie Falco, who was recently honored at the ASPCA Bergh Ball for her work to increase awareness and inspire action on behalf of animals in crisis in the United States. Edie is a lifelong New Yorker with strong ties to the animal welfare community and we’re hoping a direct plea from her will encourage the Senate to take swift action before time runs out! This bill is on the Senate’s floor calendar and is eligible for a vote by the full Senate, but leadership alone decides which bills are allowed to go to a vote.
TNR programs successfully reduce community cat populations, decrease intake and euthanasia at overburdened animal shelters, and protect public health by vaccinating cats against rabies. It is the only humane and effective way to manage these populations. Unfortunately, TNR programs are not eligible for APCP funding, but the New York Senate has the opportunity to ensure these life-saving programs get the funding they need to protect community cats throughout the state. S.1081 already passed the Assembly unanimously with bipartisan support, but the Senate must pass the bill by June 17, when the Legislature adjourns for the year.
Read Edie’s letter to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan below, and if you live in New York, please follow up by adding your voice to hers! Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to quickly and easily contact Senator Flanagan and urge him to bring S.1081 to a vote before the end of this session.
Last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum requiring that when certain meat is purchased by the federal government for federal cafeterias, preference is given to producers who raise animals according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) antibiotic recommendations.
Unfortunately, those FDA recommendations fail to address the deplorable animal welfare conditions that drive the overuse of antibiotics in the first place.
Nearly all land animals raised for food are kept in factory farms where crowding, filth and stress abound. To compensate, and to speed animals’ growth, companies often feed animals a steady dose of antibiotics. The chicken industry is a prime example.
The FDA recommendation that forms the basis of the White House’s new policy aims to stop companies from using antibiotics to speed animal growth. However, it does not address the common practice of routinely administering “preventative” antibiotics to compensate for poor welfare.
Reduction in on-farm antibiotics should always feature better animal welfare, and the ASPCA has a host of recommendations for achieving this on all farms, regardless of antibiotics protocols. These include things like more space, lower stress, better sanitation and, of course, treating animals with antibiotics when truly needed. Read more about how these common-sense measures can improve chicken welfare, and take action for chickens, on our Truth About Chicken site.
While over 80 local governments around the country have passed ordinances prohibiting the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, no U.S. state has yet enacted such a law—but that could soon change.
On June 9, the Maine Legislature passed a bill, L.D. 335, to prohibit new pet stores in the state from selling puppies and kittens sourced from commercial breeders, allowing them to offer adoptions only of dogs and cats from shelters and rescue groups. The bill would also prohibit existing pet stores from selling pets sourced from breeders (in any part of the country) who fail to meet the basic standards of care required by federal law.
Maine’s legislature is the first in the nation to take this groundbreaking step against puppy mill cruelty! The bill now goes to Governor Paul LePage for final action. Unfortunately, our friends in Maine believe there is a distinct possibility that the Governor will veto the bill. We can’t let that happen!
L.D. 335 needs Governor LePage’s signature to become law—it would be the first state law of its kind and set an amazing precedent for other states. If you live in Maine, we urge you to call the Governor’s office at (207) 287-3531 and leave a message that as a Maine voter and taxpayer, you want him to sign L.D. 335 to strike a blow against puppy mill cruelty. Maine residents are also welcome to email the Governor from the ASPCA Advocacy Center.
Guest blog by Brianne Goutal, a highly respected top international equestrian on the United States show jumping team. She represents Cloverleaf Farm, Remarkable Farm and her own stable, Brianne Goutal LLC. She is currently ranked 10th in the United States and 54thin the world and is the only rider to have won all four coveted equitation finals for junior riders, the crown being the ASPCA Maclay National Championship in 2006. Brianne is from New York City and has served as an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador since 2008, speaking out against horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse.
Like many Americans (and people worldwide) this weekend, I watched with my heart in my throat to see the outcome of this weekend’s famous annual horse race. We all witnessed an amazing day in history as American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the seemingly unattainable title of Triple Crown champion.
But as I watched, I was wrought with guilt knowing the horrors these horses may face once their careers are over. Every day hundreds of American horses are shipped in unimaginable conditions to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada where they will be killed for human consumption. Over the course of this year alone, roughly 150,000 horses will face this terrifying experience.
It is nightmarish to think no horse is safe from ending up at a slaughterhouse. Not even American Pharoah is more than one bad sale away from this horrendous fate until horse slaughter is banned for good.
Rather than discuss the grisly details of this sad finality, I want to shine a light on a root cause of this problem: irresponsible breeding.
The racing industry, the western show industry and even my industry of show jumping—as well as many more—are guilty of irresponsible breeding practices. Breeding champions is a numbers game: the more you breed, the better your chances of breeding a star. As long as it remains legal to sell horses to slaughter, there are no real ramifications for irresponsible breeding.
Breeders can take responsibility for the horses they breed, starting now, without waiting for Congress to act. As an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, I call for an end to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and ask all horse industries to adopt responsible breeding practices including:
Breeding horses purposefully and intentionally with specific good homes in mind.
Reclaiming a horse if he or she is at risk of abuse, neglect or slaughter.
Including a clause in every sales contract that gives you the first option to buy back the horse you are selling.
Pledging to never send a horse to auction where is no way to control who will buy him or her and for what purpose.
I want to applaud those breeders who already have publicly pledged to abide by these principles. I do not have a perfect solution, but I know these steps can make serious advances in prioritizing responsible breeding in the horse industry.
I urge everyone who cares for horses to think about this problem. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for updates on critical animal welfare legislation, including horse-slaughter-related legislation, and opportunities to lend your voice quickly and easily.
If you are a barn owner or run an equine business or organization, please sign the ASPCA Endorsement Form to let us know you support a ban on horse slaughter.
Whatever American Pharoah’s future may hold, I hope our awareness about equine welfare can take just one step closer to a goal of protecting the horses we rely on and who, in turn, rely on us. I truly believe that together we can find a solution. We are responsible for the horses we breed. Their fate depends on us. We are their voice.