Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Like many, we’ve been watching the situation in Moreauville, Louisiana, where a local “vicious dog” ordinance threatened the lives of innocent pit bulls and Rottweilers—including one serving as a loyal therapy dog for O'Hara Owen and her family. We’re relieved to hear local leaders say they have repealed the unjust law.
The ASPCA has long opposed legislation that targets specific breeds of dogs, because all dogs need to be judged on the merits of their individual behavior, not stereotyped based on misperceptions about their breed. Fortunately, many state legislatures agree. Currently, there are no state-level laws that discriminate against certain dog breeds, though a number of cities and municipalities do have breed-specific laws in place. Eighteen states have taken the extra step to ban breed-specific legislation altogether.
When safety is a community issue, we support laws that focus not on breed but on individual dog behavior, including those prohibiting prolonged chaining and tethering.
But behind this unfair law and its nearly tragic consequences is another story that’s just as important: the story of how a community’s voice—whether it’s a geographical community or one united by common values—can create meaningful change, save lives, and reverse something as seemingly untouchable as established law.
We applaud local decision-makers for listening, and extend our services to help craft new ordinance language that will offer the intended protections to Moreauville while avoiding the tragic pitfalls of breed-specific legislation.
This ordinance—and the fate of Moreauville pets—only got a second look when individual voices online, and later, news media brought it to light. As a result, our culture is a little more humane and a little more civilized today than it was yesterday. That may sound like a tiny difference to some, but to families like the Owens and to those of us dedicated to this cause, it’s life-changing.
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
“They’re not happy. And they’re definitely not healthy.” These are the words of one fed-up contract farmer who allowed cameras into his barn to reveal exactly how factory-farmed chickens live. Watch the video and be sure to sign our petition calling on the chicken industry to improve their standards.
In January 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed milestone legislation to allow local governments to regulate pet dealers for the first time in almost 15 years. We are thrilled to announce that the New York City Council has risen to the occasion and is currently considering three pieces of ASPCA-supported legislation that would lay down new rules for city stores that sell puppies and kittens.
While there are very few puppy mills within the five boroughs, there are over 70 stores that sell puppies and kittens, and they obtain their “stock” from breeders all over the country. While the Council can’t regulate breeders outside of the city, it can make sure that New York City pet stores don’t support the cruel treatment of these pups or their parents, who never get out of the puppy mills.
The three proposals currently under consideration:
Intro. 55-A would help ensure that NYC pet shops do not sell dogs and cats from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic care standards—those with certain violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act on their records—and would prohibit stores from doing business with Class B dealers, animal brokers notorious for obtaining animals from disreputable, difficult-to-trace sources. Intro 55-A would also require NYC pet shops to disclose critical information to customers about the origins of the dogs and cats they sell.
Intros. 136-A and 146-A would require that any dogs and cats sold at city pet shops are spayed/neutered and microchipped and all dogs are licensed prior to sale. Spaying and neutering animals sold in pet shops is critical to reducing pet homelessness; microchipping is essential to reuniting lost pets with owners; and licensing not only helps ensure the safety of pets and the public, but also generates much-needed revenue for the New York City’s shelter system.
If passed, these measures would take effect on June 1, 2015.
Guest blog by Jessica Johnson, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for ASPCA Government Relations.
Are you interested in learning more about key animal-protection issues? Want to find out how you can do more to help the animals in your area? If so, please join me and my fellow ASPCA experts for our free December Webinar Series, where we will discuss several important areas of animal legislation, what has been accomplished, and what work still needs to be done!
Cost of Care Legislation: Empowering Rescue Agencies and Getting Animals Out of Limbo Wednesday, December 10 6:30 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Debora Bresch, Senior State Legislative Director, Mid-Atlantic Region; Chloe Waterman, Senior Manager, State Legislative Strategy
One of the largest obstacles facing abused animals today is that it costs so much to care for them while cruelty charges are pursued following their rescue. Law enforcement may be reluctant to assume this burden, and local shelters with limited resources may be forced to. Animal victims can remain in shelters for months—or even years—as their cruelty cases wind through the court system. Through this Cost of Care Legislation webinar, you’ll learn how the ASPCA is addressing these problems through the legislative process so that abused animals can be rescued but not left in legal limbo, and shelters can afford to serve other animals in need.
Puppy Mill Laws: How YOU Can Make a Difference for Dogs Wednesday, December 17 3:00 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Bill Ketzer, Senior State Legislative Director, Northeast Region; Cori Menkin, Senior Director, Puppy Mills Campaign
Dogs in puppy mills spend their entire lives housed in tiny cages, often stacked on top of each other, forced to produce countless puppies all for the sake of a dollar. The ASPCA is working to guard animals against this despicable industry, but we can’t do it without you! By attending this Puppy Mill Laws webinar, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the federal, state and local laws that help crack down on puppy mills, including all the new and innovative approaches that advocates are using to address this horrific problem.
Federal Legislation Wrap-Up: Looking Back at the 113th Congress and Its Impact on Animals Thursday, December 18 6:30 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Andrew Binovi, Federal Legislative Manager; Carolyn Schnurr, Federal Legislative Manager
The ASPCA works with Congress—100 U.S. Senators and 435 U.S. Representatives—to provide stronger legal protections for animals across the country. But before the 114th Congress convenes in January 2015, let’s review what the 113th Congress did to help animals! In this Federal Legislation Wrap-Up webinar, the ASPCA’s federal lobbyists will discuss what animal-related initiatives have been considered by Congress over the past two years and which bills we should expect to see next year!
Registration for December’s Animal Legislation Webinar series is now closed. Couldn't make it? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to stay up-to-date on fun and informational events.
During the holidays it can be difficult to make it out of stores alive, never mind navigating the confusing labels around farm animals’ welfare. If you eat meat, eggs or dairy, look for certifications that require better treatment and independent farm audits, specifically Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and GAP (Levels 2+ for turkeys and 3+ for chickens). Unfortunately, common terms like “humane,” “hormone-free,” and “natural” can be meaningless when it comes to animals’ welfare. Take our label guide with you so you’re armed with facts.
2. Beware of Cheap Meat
Holidays can be expensive, so it’s especially tempting to go for money-saving promotions at the supermarket. But both consumers and animals can pay a steep price for cheap meat, eggs and dairy—in the form of poor animal welfare, poor quality and potential human health risks. Animal products often cost less because companies cut corners with welfare, but all things considered, choosing higher-welfare animal products is a much better deal.
3. Go to the Source
Whether you’re a city mouse or a country mouse, there’s bound to be a farmer’s market in your vicinity. Use this search engine to locate one. There you can often talk directly to people who work on or for the farms to learn how they raise animals. Start by asking about the farm’s policies on cages, debeaking, feedlots and antibiotics. Farmers tend to appreciate an informed consumer, so don’t be shy.
4. Plant Power
Try adding more vegetables to your holiday meal. Veggies are super healthy, look beautiful, and tons of recipes exist to make them taste delicious. You might also try some of the ever-more-available and tasty plant-based alternatives for meat, egg and dairy products. Testing out plant-based versions of old favorites or bringing in new veggie-based dishes is an exciting opportunity to develop new family traditions. Let us know your favorites in the comments section!
5. Ask and Receive
Above all, don’t forget that you have the power to demand more humanely raised products in your stores. This holiday season and going forward, you can impact which brands your grocery store carries. Start by demanding more humanely raised chicken in your stores with our supermarket request letter.