Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of Government Relations
Yesterday was the National Day of the Horse, designated by the U.S. Senate in 2004 as a day for “people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history and character of the United States.” This led me to take stock of how our nation is doing when it comes to equine protection. While there have been advances in horse protection, much work remains to be done.
A 2012 national poll found that 80% of American voters oppose horse slaughter. Even though the last domestic horse slaughter plants have closed, the slaughter of American horses has continued in Canada and Mexico. Attempts made this year to resume horse slaughter in the U.S. were thwarted by massive public opposition. Legislation to ban these practices awaits action in Congress.
This spring, media attention focused on the plight of racehorses. A New York Times investigation detailed the tragedies befalling these equine athletes as a result of widespread drugging. Congress quickly introduced legislation to address this root cause of catastrophic injuries, and we continue to press for its passage.
We worked to draft a new piece of legislation to clamp down on “soring”—the practice of inflicting pain in horses’ legs and hooves so severe that they move with an unnaturally high-stepping gait. This new bill was introduced in Congress this year to amend the Horse Protection Act and end soring once and for all.
While New York City continues to allow the shameful and dangerous practice of driving carriage horses on congested city streets, the ASPCA has backed a pilot program to replace those vulnerable animals with vintage, electric cars. This project is gaining momentum but has not yet replaced the antiquated urban horse-drawn carriage. We continue seeking ways to implement alternatives to the suffering of these noble creatures.
Though Congress recognized wild horses as living symbols of the American West in 1971, competition for public land use has threatened the welfare of our last mustangs. In 2004, a backroom deal led to the amendment of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act permitting the sale of these iconic animals for the first time. This exception allowed over 1,700 mustangs to be sold to notorious pro-slaughter buyer Tom Davis (a devastating discovery made earlier this year). Many fear those horses were sent to slaughter, despite the Bureau of Land Management’s policy against such an action. In response to this incident, the agency just announced reforms to prevent such tragedies in the future—but it may be too little, too late. The ASPCA calls for an end to the sales program and a return to the preservation focus of the Act.
In 2004, when the U.S. Senate recognized December 13 as the National Day of the Horse, it called America to action, stating “horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion.” We at the ASPCA pledge to remain committed to this challenge and will ensure you know when and how you can join us in fighting for our beloved horses.
Last night, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill requiring all commercial dog-breeding facilities to be licensed and inspected—for the first time ever in the state’s history.
Friends, that’s a big step in the right direction for dogs in Ohio, a state known as a haven for puppy mill operators, and where untold numbers of dogs are currently languishing in filthy, barren facilities.
This law is the culmination of more than six years of work by steadfast animal advocates, including the ASPCA and our supporters, and we’re very encouraged to see it signed. “Ohio has taken a critical step,” says Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign.
Still, the law doesn’t go quite as far as we’d have liked. For one, it doesn’t require commercial breeders to provide breeding dogs with annual veterinary care, which is critical to ensuring the dogs are healthy and safe.
“This is just one of the problems that we weren’t able to fix, but the legislation is still a step in the right direction,” says Vicki Deisner, State Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. “We look forward to working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to ensure humane standards of care are instituted through the regulatory process.”
We’ve got so much more work to do for puppy mill dogs in Ohio and other states. If you’re ready to join the fight, visit NoPetStorePuppies.com to get started.
Guest blog by Andrew Binovi, ASPCA Federal Legislative Manager
With all the political gridlock in Washington D.C., it seems that Congress has nearly ground to a complete halt. So it was very exciting late yesterday when the U.S. Senate considered two important measures to help animals in need!
First, the Senate took up the cause of canine heroes who have served in our military and passed a provision that streamlines the adoption process for retired military dogs and authorizes the Department of Defense to provide veterinary care in the animals’ retirement without any cost to American taxpayers. Military dogs perform dangerous, critical tasks, and it is our duty to honor these dogs and ensure they are cared for after their service is complete. The House passed similar language in their version of the military bill earlier this year.
Then, just moments later, the Senate passed the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act by a unanimous voice vote. This bill, introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Scott Brown (R-MA), will give law enforcement additional tools to crack down on animal fighting. The legislation will make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and will impose additional penalties for taking minors to animal fights.
Take Action! We are encouraged that in the twilight hours of this Congress, animals in need have not been forgotten by federal lawmakers. Our team has been working around the clock with members of Congress to ensure passage of both bills, but we still need your help. Please call your representative and ask him or her to support the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act in the House. Animals victimized in this grisly blood sport are in desperate need—and they are counting on us to get the job done!
Guest blog post from Bill Ketzer, Senior Director of the Northeastern Region for ASPCA Government Relations.
Last week, a historic law went into effect that will vastly improve the quality of life for thousands of dogs and cats in Massachusetts.
Advanced by a forward-thinking state legislature led by Senator Patricia Jehlen and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick this August, Massachusetts’ new animal control law is one of the best in the nation.
At Animal Advocacy Day in Boston earlier this year, I had the privilege of working directly with the MSPCA, the HSUS, the Animal Rescue League of Boston and more than 80 citizen advocates to discuss the importance of this bill with key members of the Massachusetts House and Senate. Everyone involved was engaged, well-informed and passionate—and as you can see, this clearly resonated with legislators and staff.
The new Massachusetts law:
Creates a statewide spay/neuter program—funded by a voluntary tax check-off—to reduce the number of homeless animals in Massachusetts.
Requires animal control officers to receive training.
Prohibits the use of inhumane gassing to euthanize shelter animals.
Eliminates ineffective, breed-specific local ordinances while improving dangerous dog laws.
Allows pets to be included in domestic violence protection orders to protect both animals and people.
Creates a framework for statewide oversight for animal control.
Creates categories for kennel licensing.
Creates consistency in the holding time for stray dogs at shelters statewide.
Hooray for L.A.! Last night, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12 to 2 in favor of a proposed city ordinance to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores. If the Council upholds the vote next week, L.A. will become the largest city in the U.S. to pass this type of law!
The ordinance is designed to stem puppy mill abuse by making sure that dogs from puppy mills don’t find their way to pet stores in the city. There’s good news for homeless pets, too: The new law will allow pet stores to sell animals who come from shelters, humane societies, and registered rescue groups—just not from commercial breeders. It also still allows people to buy directly from breeders.
According to our No Pet Store Puppies map of stores that sell puppies, there are 18 stores in Los Angeles that will no longer be able to prop up the puppy mill industry once the ban takes effect.
Kudos to our good friends at Best Friends Animal Society for spearheading this incredible effort and helping to turn the tide for puppy mill dogs across the country! Please help us keep momentum moving in the right direction by taking our No Pet Store Puppies pledge today!
Update 11/19/12: Way to go, Los Angeles! On October 31, the L.A. City Council formally approved a new ordinance that bans retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits. The ordinance will go into effect by the end of 2012, after which stores have a six month grace period to stop selling these animals. The ordinance will not affect responsible hobby breeders.