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.
This afternoon, most members of the North Carolina State Legislature publicly reaffirmed their commitment to catering to the interests of deep-pocketed factory farmers when they raced to pass H.B. 405, the dangerous ag-gag bill, for a second time. Although they succeeded by just eight votes in the House and a slender margin of four in the Senate, there is now no stopping this overreaching, wildly unpopular bill from becoming state law.
Today’s override vote in the House of Representatives was pre-scheduled—however, the subsequent “special session” vote in the Senate was unexpected and a complete adulteration of the political process; it was a move by state senators to dodge the same flood of citizen outcry that their colleagues in the House have withstood since Governor McCrory vetoed the bill on Friday and it became clear that an override campaign was imminent. Governor McCrory and North Carolina legislators received tens of thousands of calls and letters from constituents opposing this bill and the top five newspapers in the state all editorialized against H.B. 405, which will punish whistleblowers for exposing illegal or unethical activities at factory farms, puppy mills, nursing homes, daycares or any other businesses.
Although the tide of public opinion had little impact on the majority of the state’s governing body, we would like to extend a special thanks to Rep. Harrison, Rep. Carney, Rep. Martin and Senator Stein, all of whom spoke out against this bill—and of course, our thanks go out to Governor McCrory for his common sense in vetoing H.B. 405 last week. We are deeply grateful to all of our national coalition partners, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the AARP, the Wounded Warrior Project, North Carolina AFL-CIO, the N.C. Council for Women, the Domestic Violence Commission, the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas, and the many companion animal shelters and citizens across the state who stood with us in advocating against this insidious legislation.
Today’s events make it clear that we must remain ever-vigilant in the battle to protect the welfare of the most vulnerable among us by defeating ag-gag legislation—and we hope you will support our efforts.
Yesterday, Foster Farms—one of the country’s largest chicken producers—announced that it is aiming to remove from its chicken flocks all antibiotics that are also used in humans (barring exceptional cases). This follows similar announcements by other companies like Tyson, Perdue and McDonald’s.
While chickens sometimes need antibiotics to overcome illness, the chicken industry relies far too heavily on antibiotics as a crutch to compensate for the crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions that, sadly, are standard on today’s chicken farms. You can learn more about this, and take action, through our Truth About Chicken campaign.
Some companies are removing all antibiotics, some just those used on humans, and some only those used for certain purposes. But while each case differs, the overall principle remains the same: Removing antibiotics without improving underlying conditions is like taking off a bandage and leaving a wound exposed. As chicken companies reduce or remove antibiotics, they must improve the animal welfare problems that often lead to antibiotics use in the first place.
Luckily, the ASPCA has a set of recommendations to improve the welfare of all chickens, no matter the antibiotics policy. These include common-sense practices like offering more space, better sanitation, enrichment, more natural lighting, and healthier genetics. Learn more and take action here.
After a shocking New York Times exposé on the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) unearthed extreme cruelty to animals and an atmosphere devoid of compassion and oversight, the ASPCA has been pressing for congressional reforms.
Our efforts received a huge boost recently from a respected elder statesman. Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), a key architect of federal protections for animals in institutional research, spoke out in favor of the AWARE Act (H.R. 746/S. 388). This legislation, which was introduced in direct response to the USMARC scandal, would require USMARC and similar facilities to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA, which sets minimum standards for other kinds of animal research, currently contains an exemption for “agricultural” research. The AWARE Act would close this gaping loophole for federally run facilities.
Among his many achievements during 35 years in Congress, Senator Dole introduced the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act. A key provision of that legislation, enacted in 1985, mandates that research facilities establish internal animal welfare oversight committees to review research using animals and make suggestions to reduce the number of animals used, to improve welfare for those used, and to avoid duplication. In the USMARC case, the USDA’s own investigation revealed that the facility’s oversight committee was inactive and severely negligent in its duties.
Senator Dole voiced his support for reform at USMARC by writing letters to the two current U.S. senators from Kansas, Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of whom chair committees with jurisdiction over USMARC funding.