This month nine states are considering legislation to criminalize the documentation of animal abuse on farms. “Ag-gag” or anti-whistleblower bills prevent the exposure of photos or video showing the unethical and often highly unsafe practices that all too often occur on industrial farms. This kind of evidence has recently led to cruelty prosecutions, massive food recalls and industry reform. The ASPCA is working hard to make sure these dangerous bills do not become law and you can help by reaching out to your representatives.
There is a reason that footage of farm animals is controversial. The vast majority of U.S. farm animals are raised on factory farms in filthy, overcrowded ammonia-filled sheds. They lead short lives full of suffering and frustration, are bred for unnaturally excessive growth and production, and are regularly dosed with antibiotics to compensate for their wretched surroundings. They also, way too often, are subject to cruel and depraved acts of violence.
The good news is that awareness of farm animal welfare is on the rise in all sectors: among consumers, farmers, legislatures, retailers, prosecutors and even food corporations. Better treatment of farm animals has simply become an ethical imperative, and the ASPCA is on the scene, educating the public, fighting for stronger laws and supporting more humane farming practices.
Great news! This week members of Congress reintroduced legislation to establish greater federal oversight of puppy mills and online dog sales.
The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act would require commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, sight unseen, including via the web, to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Currently, only breeders who sell dogs to pet stores or to puppy brokers are subject to federal oversight.
Many puppies sold online come from puppy mills and are commonly bred in unsanitary, overcrowded and often cruel conditions without sufficient veterinary care, food, water or socialization. While facilities that breed puppies for commercial resale through pet stores are required to be licensed and inspected, breeders who sell directly to consumers, via the Internet, newspaper classifieds or other outlets, are exempt from any federal oversight.
“As the ASPCA has seen firsthand, the photos of happy, healthy puppies posted on a breeder’s website often grossly misrepresent what conditions are really like for these puppies and their parents,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Puppy mills are able to completely evade federal oversight by taking advantage of a pre-Internet loophole in current law, but the PUPS Act would change that.”
As mentioned in USA Today, the PUPS Act will require that any breeder who sells more than 50 dogs each year to pet stores or online must meet federal standards.
“The current loophole has allowed too many dog breeders to get away with abusive behavior for far too long,” adds Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA’s Puppy Mill Campaign. “We encourage Congress and the USDA to take meaningful steps to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities.”
To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to eradicate puppy mills, and how you can help, please visit www.nopetstorepuppies.com.
They live chained up or in a tiny cage. They don’t get the veterinary care they need. They die in the ring or are unceremoniously shot for losing. Some are used as “bait” for other dogs. Some have litter after litter. Some starve. Some go without water for days.
Odds are that dog fighting is happening in your state right now. We need your help to stop it. Give dog fighting victims three minutes of your time?
1. Ask your U.S. representative to support the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act.
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 23, would make it a federal offense to knowingly attend an organized animal fight and would impose additional penalties for bringing children to animal fights. Violators would face up to one year in prison for attending a fight, and up to three years in prison for bringing a minor to a fight.
You can help the bill along by contacting your rep. We’ve made it easy at the ASPCA Advocacy Center, and we promise it only takes a few minutes, tops.
2. Download our new anti-dog fighting toolkit for citizen advocates.
If you’re as horrified by dog fighting as we are, and you think you might want to commit more time to stopping dog fighting in the near future, download our new toolkit developed with the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s got everything you need to know to get more involved. (We admit, actually reading it will take more than three minutes, but you get the idea.)
3. Fight Pit Bull prejudice via social media.
Pit Bulls and dogs who look like Pit Bulls get a bad rap because of their reputation as fighting dogs. Fight it by becoming a tireless advocate for them on your social networks. Start by posting the profile of a cute, adoptable Pit Bull-type dog on Facebook (we suggest Pet of the Week Champion) or sharing a happy tail about a Pit.
You can even share the story of a rehabilitated ex-fighting dog, like Ninja.
Oh, and of course, a bonus fourth thing you can do: Share this post on your social networks.
We told you last week about our plans to have a booth at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this year, so we wanted to make sure to let you know how it went. Our booth, which we used to raise awareness about our campaign to fight puppy mills, was a bit of an outlier at the event, as you might expect. But, with just a few exceptions, our booth was generally well received.
We talked to people who came by about the sad realities of puppy mills, where dogs are severely neglected and left suffering for the sake of profit, showing them our written materials and pictures from puppy mill breeders. Some were surprised to learn that many of those breeders are USDA licensed. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that USDA licenses thousands of breeders who keep dogs in tiny, wire-bottomed cages and churn out as many puppies as possible to be sold in pet stores.
Other visitors asked us about a New York Times article that appeared on the front page of the Sunday sports section taking a hard look at the American Kennel Club’s role in the puppy mill industry. In it, the ASPCA revealed that a majority of the puppy mills in raids that we have participated in had ties to the AKC-registered litters. According to the AKC’s own website, “[r]egistry with the AKC indicates that a puppy had two parents of the same breed; it does not indicate that the dog comes from healthy blood lines or guarantee that a puppy will be in good health.”
Unfortunately, AKC registration papers often give the public a false sense of reassurance that the puppy did not come from a puppy mill, which is not necessarily the case. AKC registration is in no way a guarantee of humane care for the breeding dogs or their puppies. We would like to thank the over 200 dog show attendees who took our “No Pet Store Puppies” pledge to not buy anything in pet stores or on websites that sell puppies—no pet food, kitty litter or even toys . If you weren’t able to stop by our booth, you can take the pledge at nopetstorepuppies.com/take-the-pledge and spread the word!
Although the dogs exhibited at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show were all beautiful, it’s important to keep in mind that approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals end up in shelters every year—and half of those are dogs. If you’re looking to bring a new pet into your home, please make adoption your first option. And remember that mixed breed and older dogs can make just as great companions as purebred puppies, and you get to save a life, too!
Capitol Hill has gone to the dogs…and cats! Today our Government Relations Team will join the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus in hosting the “Paws for Love” animal adoption event.
“On this annual celebration of love, we think it is most appropriate to offer a truly unconditional bond, regardless of your party affiliation—the love of a wonderful cat or dog,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “There are millions of dogs and cats waiting to be adopted into loving, permanent homes. Republican or Democrat, we all want to do our part to help.”
“I’m proud to be a sponsor of Paws for Love and am looking forward to welcoming so many rescued dogs and cats, as well as the dedicated volunteers and staff that care for them, to Capitol Hill,” says Representative John Campbell, co-host of today’s event. “Not only will this be a fun and memorable event for all involved, it will be an opportunity for many to adopt these pets and raise support and awareness for the millions of rescued animals that need homes each year.”
“There is no better time than Valentine’s Day to express our appreciation for the unconditional love that shelter pets bring to our lives,” says Representative Jim Moran. “Thanks to the ASPCA and all the shelters and rescues here today for showcasing the hard work done across the country to help homeless pets find loving homes. ”
The event is expected to draw hundreds, including members of Congress and their staff.