The temporary shutdown of the federal government is affecting people across the country, but we cannot overlook its impact on those who have no voice—our nation’s animals.
Right now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not performing all of its duties under the Animal Welfare Act: For one thing, it is not inspecting puppy mills or pet dealers. During this break in oversight, untold harm could be done to commercially bred animals simply because no one is empowered to monitor their safety.
“With limited resources and less-than-vigorous enforcement under ordinary circumstances, we know that the shutdown is a terrible blow to dogs in puppy mills,” says Cori Menkin, Senior Director, ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “Think of the mills that were scheduled for a follow-up inspection today to make sure serious issues had been resolved.”
For more information about our campaign against puppy mills, please visit our No Pet Store Puppies website. And for a more in-depth look at how the government shutdown is affecting routine oversight of several other animal-related industries, please check back with ASPCA.org/blog tomorrow for a special report from our Government Relations team on the ground in D.C.
Guest blog post by Ashley Chengerian, ASPCA staffer and Gray Wolf advocate.
I've loved wolves my whole life. Perhaps it was watching all those TV movie marathons of Dances with Wolves with my dad. Maybe it was reading about them at an early age in Scholastic-ordered books. Whatever the case, they mean something to me. So when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to remove Gray Wolves from its list of Threatened and Endangered Species, I had to speak out.
I knew that other departments within the ASPCA are working to protect wolves, but what’s a citizen advocate to do?
First, I did a basic search for online petitions and opportunities to submit official public comments. Most online petitions can save your basic information if you want, which makes signing on behalf of a cause take about two clicks of a button. For this issue, though, I still wanted to do more. I discovered there were several public hearings throughout the country on the potential delisting—so earlier this week, I hopped a bus from New York City to D.C., site of the nearest hearing.
At the hearing at the Department of the Interior, I testified publicly for the first time in my life. What a rush! I immediately felt a sense of pride in our democracy and was humbled to be an active participant. Most surprising, however, was the feeling of interconnectedness throughout the room.
It happened again: Yesterday a terrified carriage horse bolted down a busy New York City street, flipped over and was pinned to the ground. As traffic ground to a halt, rescue workers and good Samaritans labored to free the equine from under the wrecked carriage and prevent further suffering.
This is unacceptable. Carriage horses were never meant to live and work in today’s urban settings. From congested city streets to startling noises, New York City is a nightmare for these animals—and current City laws do not afford working horses adequate protection to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
"How many horses and people must be hurt before New York City wakes up and realizes we are in the 21st century?" asks Michelle Villagomez, ASPCA New York City Legislative Director. "Let’s change with the times and push for a safe, humane alternative."
Take Action! Your help is urgently needed to protect our city's working carriage horses. The ASPCA has been working hard to pass legislation that would take the burden off these horses and create a more humane attraction for tourists. If you live in New York Cityplease urge your councilmember to support and cosponsor Intro. 86A, legislation that would phase out horse-drawn carriages in New York City, replacing them with vintage electric cars. Yesterday’s accident is only the latest reminder that the time has come to get these sensitive animals off our streets.
In 1971, Congress declared our wild horses and burros an integral part of our public rangelands and ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to care for them as cultural icons. Over the years, the BLM has rounded up tens of thousands of our wild equines, often with cruel methods, and shipped them to tax-funded holding facilities where they are confined for the rest of their lives.
The BLM is again looking to apply the same failed model of round-ups and removals in revised management plans for wild horses out West. These plans must be altered.
If adopted, these management plans would decimate the wild horse population in the Wyoming Checkerboard, a two-million-acre mix of public and private land where nearly half of Wyoming’s wild horses live. This is certainly not the free-roaming vision Congress set out for these majestic animals.
The good news is that you can help! The BLM is accepting public comments through Friday, September 27, on the potentially devastating revisions to Resource Management Plans that will cull wild horses in Wyoming.
Every year, thousands of puppies are sold over the Internet and shipped to consumers like any other product. Websites advertising happy, healthy puppies commonly conceal a grim reality: They’re often fronts for puppy mills—large-scale, commercial breeding operations that rear dogs in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions with complete disregard for the animals’ wellbeing. Breeding dogs typically spend their entire lives in tiny, wire-bottomed cages churning out litters of puppies until they can no longer reproduce. All of this happens hidden from public view because outdated laws haven’t applied to Internet breeders. Until now.
Today, the USDA steps into the Internet age by issuing a rule that brings breeders selling animals to consumers sight-unseen under the regulatory umbrella of the Animal Welfare Act. That means for the first time, USDA inspectors will be laying eyes on animals who have been ignored for too long.
It also means that the ASPCA will be able to provide the public with a window into Internet breeding facilities through our No Pet Store Puppies campaign. The No Pet Store Puppies site boasts over 10,000 photos taken by USDA inspectors at licensed breeding facilities, allowing you to see where pet store puppies really come from. Once the USDA begins inspecting Internet sellers, we will be able to expose the bleak lives of puppies sold over the Internet, too.
We commend the USDA and the Obama Administration for taking this long-awaited step, and we thank you and the more than 350,000 supporters who told the USDA how crucial this rule is.
For more information about puppy mills and to see the conditions captured by USDA inspectors, please visit NoPetStorePuppies.com.
Take Action! It’s important to let government officials know when we think they’ve done a good job—it also never hurts to remind them that animal welfare is important to their constituents. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center right now to quickly thank the USDA and President Obama for taking steps to protect our nation’s long-suffering puppy mill dogs.