Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new guidelines designed to curb the rampant over- and misuse of antibiotics on factory farms: 80 percent of all antibiotics bought in the United States are purchased to give to farm animals, primarily to speed their growth and prevent illnesses that would otherwise spread like wildfire in their unsanitary, crowded conditions. Daily doses of drugs are propping up an inhumane factory farming system and contributing to growing antibiotic resistance among humans, threatening people’s lives as well.
The FDA now acknowledges that antibiotics should not be used to make animals grow faster, which is important, but the new guidelines are voluntary and the same drugs can still be used for “prevention” of illness. Factory farms wouldn’t need to prevent disease so much if the animals were kept in better conditions. But pharmaceutical and agricultural industries have an economic interest in producing as much product, as cheaply as possible, often at the expense of animal welfare, and routine doses of antibiotics are perpetuating this sick system.
As an example, most of today’s chickens raised for meat spend their lives in giant, windowless sheds where they have less than 1 square foot of space each by the time they are full grown. Breeding for disproportionately large breasts and excessive body weight means they struggle to stand or move. Essentially immobilized in their own waste, chickens raised on factory farms could be at higher risk of carrying Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Antibiotics stand in for these birds’ compromised immune systems and allow the meat industry to continue to cut corners dangerously. Farm animals and consumers alike need stronger action from the FDA.
With the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping in full swing, we know you’re busy. But if you have a second, we could really use your help. This week, we launched our holiday campaign focusing on puppy mills and why you should never, ever shop at any pet store that sells puppies.
You see, most pet store puppies come from puppy mills—you know, those huge, factory-like breeding operations where dogs live in horrible conditions and never receive love. Every time you buy anything from a pet store that sells puppies, you’re actually supporting this very cruel industry. We made a one-minute video that explains how:
We think our video has a really great message and we’d love for it to go viral. That’s where you come in. After you watch our video, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, and kindly ask them to share it, too. Be sure to use the hashtag #AdoptDontShop. We’re counting on you to help us reach millions of people with this important message.
Also, if you’re really into helping end puppy mills, sign up for a chance to win a free ASPCA Puppy Mill Advocacy Pack. It contains all sorts of cool gear, including a puppy mill message tote, a puppy mill message tee and more!
Today the ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors issued an open letter [PDF] in response to recent developments in ongoing litigation brought by several animal welfare organizations to halt horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States. While an emergency injunction in a U.S. Court of Appeals has temporarily stalled horse slaughter plants from opening on American soil, that injunction could be lifted at any moment. The Ambassadors are calling on all animal advocates to take action to stop the inhumane slaughter industry by supporting the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act and promoting responsible horse ownership, rescue and adoption.
The ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors are respected equestrians and horse experts committed to animal welfare—and include several ASPCA Maclay National Champions and journalist and author Jill Rappaport. They are urging Congress to pass the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and transport to slaughter outside the U.S. once and for all.
As individuals who revere, care for, and work with horses, they can speak to the importance of humane treatment of these special animals. They have joined with the ASPCA in promoting and supporting the work of the robust network of horse rescue organizations across the country. Having witnessed undercover footage showing repeated cruelties in past American, government-regulated horse slaughter plants, the Ambassadors state in the letter:
We have seen the horrifying video and photo documentation from past horse slaughter plants that were on American soil and government-regulated—horse slaughter is utterly, unmistakably inhumane . . . [C]ommercial slaughter is not about providing a kind death. It’s only about destroying as many horses as quickly as possible and making a fast profit.
The letter also acknowledges food safety concerns as another reason to ban horse slaughter.
It goes on to state:
For the roughly 130,000 horses that suffer at the hands of slaughter annually—a fraction of the 9 million horses in America—we have the power to take back the reins and lead at-risk horses to safety. Let’s refuse to allow commercial slaughter to be a convenient way out, and instead demand responsible ownership and promote rescue and adoption, just like we do for dogs and cats.
A group of amazing people and animals will be honored today at the 2013 ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City. The annual ceremony recognizes special animals and individuals who made a positive and lasting impact during the past year.
The 2013 Humane Awards winners include:
ASPCA Cat of the Year
Koshka was a stray cat when she struck up a friendship with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott at a base in southern Afghanistan. Koshka was a pleasant reminder of life at home in Oregon. Koshka stayed by Knott’s side, helping him through some of his darkest moments at war. Knott’s parents helped him bring Koshka home with him to Oregon, where she now peacefully resides.
ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year
Six-year-old Catherine Hubbard had a natural ability to connect and care for animals. She designed her own business cards and appointed herself head of “Catherine’s Animal Shelter” with the title “Care Taker.” On December 14, 2012, Catherine was among 20 children killed during a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Catherine’s parents chose to honor Catherine by asking that donations be made to The Animal Center in Newtown. With these funds, The Animal Center hopes to build the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.
ASPCA Dog of the Year
In September 2012, an animal control officer in Dekalb County, Georgia, responded to a call reporting an extremely malnourished abandoned pit bull puppy. The officer took the fragile puppy, on the verge of death, to the Dekalb Animal Shelter. Chrissy Kaczynski, one of the founders of Friends of Dekalb Animals (FODA) took her home. Remarkably, the puppy bounced back, prompting Chrissy to name her Xena the Warrior Puppy. Xena later became a companion for eight-year-old Jonny, who is autistic. Jonny and Xena spread a message of compassion for both animals and those with autism throughout America and 89 countries, territories and provinces around the world.
And they’re off! More than 72,000 signatures have been collected and delivered to the National Chicken Council urging the trade association to incorporate slower-growing birds and better living conditions into their chicken welfare guidelines.
“Our goal was to reach 50,000 signatures, and we’ve far surpassed that,” says Suzanne McMillan, the ASPCA’s Director of Farm Animal Welfare. “This sends a clear message that people care about the way chickens are treated, and they are standing with us to demand change.”
It’s no surprise that with all this support we’ve been ruffling a few feathers. Just last month the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association created a website that looks just like our Truth About Chicken site—minus much of the truth!
“The chicken industry needs to take animal welfare as seriously as Americans do,” says McMillan. “We’re proud to have such dedicated supporters who understand that chickens deserve better!”