Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Horses have been central to the ASPCA’s work since our founding in 1866. Trying to help horses through congressional action often demands patience and persistence, and the interests of animals are not always at the forefront in Congress—but tomorrow is the exception.
We worked closely with the House Appropriations Committee to secure a vote to accept the Moran-Young Amendment to prevent horse slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil. Tomorrow, it is the Senate’s turn, and our stalwart leaders, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are offering the Landrieu-Graham Amendment to do exactly the same thing in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill—to prevent the flow of our tax dollars to the horse slaughter industry. You can help by checking to see if your U.S. senator sits on the Appropriations Committee and then taking action.
Prohibiting federal funding for horse slaughter facility inspections is a critical step toward ending the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. If the Landrieu-Graham Amendment is adopted by the Senate Appropriations committee, planned horse slaughterhouses will be prevented from opening on U.S. soil, and we will have that much more support and momentum for passing a full ban on horse slaughter and transport to slaughter.
Simultaneously, our leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives worked diligently this week to offer an amendment to the House Farm Bill that would ban horse slaughter for human consumption altogether by prohibiting the slaughter of horses here as well as transport for slaughter to other countries. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee rejected that amendment late last night—but we will persevere and direct our full energy to the Landrieu-Graham Amendment in the Senate. And when we are able to bring the issue of a full horse slaughter ban to the House floor, we will be ready.
We’ve heard it a million times: “Yes, I bought my puppy at a pet store, but he didn’t come from a puppy mill. The store told me that they only get puppies from USDA-licensed breeders.” That line is used frequently by pet store employees to reassure customers—but what does it really mean?
Sadly, it doesn’t mean much. The USDA’s standards of care are so minimal that most of us would not consider them to be humane. Dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in cages only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. It's completely legal to house them in cages with wire flooring, and to breed female dogs at every opportunity. These federal standards leave a lot of room for dogs to be severely mistreated.
But seeing is believing. We wanted to make it easy for the public to truly understand where pet store puppies come from. That’s why today we’re launching a new tool on our No Pet Store Puppies website that lets users view more than 10,000 photos of USDA-licensed commercial dog breeding facilities and links some of them to specific pet stores that have sold their puppies within the past year.
You can search the website by pet store name or zip code, USDA license number, the breeder’s name, and specific breed. The photos were taken by USDA inspectors during routine inspections of the facilities.
“Our research reveals a clear disconnect between what many Americans think ‘USDA licensed’ means and what the USDA actually requires of commercial dog breeders nationwide,” explains Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “The federal requirements fall far short of the public’s standards and expectations for the humane treatment of dogs, and we hope that people will use the new tool on the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies website to see for themselves.”
We hope to work with USDA to better enforce and improve the care standards for dogs in commercial breeding facilities, and you can help, too, by decreasing the demand for puppy mill puppies. Take the No Pet Store Puppies Pledge to not purchase anything—including pet food, kitty litter and toys—from a store or website that sells puppies.
The ASPCA works hard to ensure that there are good laws on the books to protect animals across the country. But we can’t do it without the grassroots advocacy of our dedicated ASPCA supporters!
The most powerful way for animal advocates to help reshape our laws is through lobbying their legislators directly. We help you do that by hosting Lobby Days, where we invite passionate citizens like you to be trained by our advocacy experts and make your voices heard at your state Capitol.
Be part of history and make real change for our animals—join our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. Sign up now, and ask your friends and family to join, so you’ll never miss out on the next Lobby Day, grassroots training or opportunity to take action. Together, we are unstoppable!
The U.S. Senate lost a voice for animals this week with the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). A leader on many important pieces of legislation to help animals, his contributions will have a lasting impact for years to come.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katina, which saw many people forced to leave their animals behind as they evacuated, Sen. Lautenberg helped pass the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act. This legislation, signed into law in 2006, ensures that localities consider pets and animals in their disaster plans. The ASPCA sees the benefits of Sen. Lautenberg’s legacy today as we assist states and municipalities in disaster recovery efforts all across the country.
Senator Lautenberg was also a leader on legislation to protect animals during air travel, and had a special fondness for horses. He was a leader on the Horse Transportation Safety Act, which would ban the cruel transport of horses in double-decked trailers, and was a longtime supporter of legislation to ban the grisly practice of horse slaughter. The senator’s compassion also extended to wildlife. He fought to protect exotic animals from captive hunts; dolphins and whales from brutal slaughters; wildlife and pets from the dangers of lead shot; and polar bears from trophy hunts. He had a big heart and a strong sense of justice.
The ASPCA remembers Sen. Lautenberg for his many years of service to this country and for being a strong voice for animals on Capitol Hill.
Surveys conducted by Lake Research Partners in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa confirm that an overwhelming majority (70%+) of voters in all three states disapprove of horse slaughter for human consumption and would oppose the opening of horse slaughter facilities in their states. Opposition to horse slaughter for human consumption in these three states is broad and deep, extending across every demographic, regional and partisan group.
Unfortunately, meat processors in at least five states—the three surveyed, as well as Oklahoma and Tennessee—are currently trying to get horse meat plants up and running. The New Mexico processor, Valley Meat Company, passed a USDA inspection in April and its permit to begin slaughtering horses for meat could come through as soon as the end of June.
Take Action There has been no slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. since 2007, but there is no federal law against it. But with your help, we can fix that! Please join us in advocating for Congressional passage of the SAFE Act, a bill that would ban horse slaughter in all 50 states, as well as the transport of our horses over our borders for slaughter in other countries.