We did it! Today the North Carolina State Senate adjourned for the year without passing S.B. 648, an “ag-gag” bill that sought to keep the public in the dark about animal abuse and food-safety problems on factory farms. We are thrilled to announce that this means all 11 state-level whistleblower suppression bills proposed this year were defeated!
This huge victory is thanks to the hard work of a large coalition of interest groups and the actions of concerned citizens, like the dedicated members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, who told their legislators that they want transparency and accountability when it comes to how farm animals are treated. With the defeats of these bills, we have shown the agriculture industry that suppressing investigations—and the hard truths they often uncover—is not an acceptable response to the real problem of abuse on factory farms.
Way to go, San Diego! On July 9, the City Council voted to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores. Effective 30 days from the vote—so, in early August—retailers may no longer source animals from commercial breeders (many of which are puppy mills). They are allowed to offer in-store adoptions of humanely sourced animals, such as those from shelters, which the ASPCA, of course, fully supports.
The new rule makes San Diego the second-largest city in California, behind Los Angeles, to ban retail sales of commercially bred animals—and you might be surprised to learn that a total of 32 cities in North America (including Austin, Albuquerque and Toronto) have similar ordinances in place!
At the ASPCA, we’re working from many angles to end puppy mill suffering. Encouraging stores to offer pet adoptions, rather than selling pets bred in questionable, often inhumane conditions, is one of our very top priorities. Please visit No Pet Store Puppies to learn more and to get involved.
Guest blog by Deborah Dubow Press, Regulatory Affairs Senior Manager, ASPCA Government Relations
It has been nearly eight years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, forever changing the way America responds to natural disasters. The human and animal suffering wrought by Katrina and Superstorm Sandy should remain fresh in our minds as we enter another hurricane season, and preparedness should top the agendas of animal caretakers and policy makers.
That’s why yesterday we were shocked to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may be reconsidering the disaster plan rule requiring all facilities licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act—this includes breeders, zoos, research facilities, dealers, and other exhibitors and intermediate handlers—to prepare emergency plans for protecting and caring for animals during disasters. Asking those who use animals commercially to demonstrate a level of readiness to protect animals in their custody is fair and reasonable. We are dismayed by the possibility that the USDA would waver on a rule that could save lives at such a small cost.
For the ASPCA responders who experienced Katrina, Sandy, and countless other disaster deployments firsthand, the horrors of these events have not faded from memory: dogs chained in yards and left to drown; cats starving to death in homes after evacuations dragged on and on; animals covered in oil and toxic sludge; dogs stranded on rooftops; animals wandering the streets malnourished, dehydrated, and frightened, many never to be reunited with their owners.
The more that pet owners and animal facilities prepare for emergencies, the better responders can focus their relief efforts when disaster strikes. We hope that ultimately the USDA will remember the heartbreaks of Katrina, Sandy, Joplin, and countless other disasters and renew its resolve to protect imperiled animals under its jurisdiction.
Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a modified Farm Bill that will affect animals in two distinct ways. On the plus side, the bill contains an important provision to strengthen laws against animal fighting. The provision, included through the leadership of Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Tom Marino (R-PA), would make attending an animal fight a federal offense and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight. This provision is similar to the Animal Fighting SpectatorProhibition Act (S. 666/H.R. 366), standalone legislation with strong bipartisan support from 154 cosponsors in the House.
The ASPCA applauds Representatives McGovern and Marino for their continued leadership in strengthening laws to combat animal fighting and protect public safety.
On the negative side, the House-passed Farm Bill includes a provision introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that would weaken state animal cruelty laws across the country. This dangerous provision would prevent states from passing their own laws regarding the production of “agricultural products”—a term so broad that it could include farm animals and dogs in puppy mills. As a result, improved animal welfare standards at the state level could be negated if this provision is enacted.
The House Farm Bill must now be reconciled with the Senate-passed version. The Senate bill, passed last month, contains similar animal fighting language but does not contain the dangerous King provision. The ASPCA continues to work with Congress to make sure that the final Farm Bill eventually presented to the President includes the best possible protections for animals. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to learn how you can help!
We recently told you that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved applications for horse slaughter inspections at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, New Mexico, and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa. The USDA is likely to also grant horse slaughter inspections at Rains Natural Meats plant in Gallatin, Missouri, in the coming days.
This week we learned that no horse slaughter plants will be granted inspections until at least July 29 as a result of a lawsuit filed against the USDA by several animal welfare organizations.
This lawsuit buys critical time for our horses. The Agriculture Appropriations bills, which contain language that would prevent horse slaughter in the U.S., are expected to pass in the coming months. We are seeing building momentum for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would prevent the slaughter of horses in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad and protect consumers from unknowingly ingesting toxic horse meat.