Guest blog by Richard Patch, Vice President of Federal Affairs, ASPCA Government Relations.
Today I had the honor of meeting one of our nation’s four-legged heroes! I was invited to the official retirement ceremony of military working dog Rambo at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina. Rambo loyally served our country, protecting human soldiers and keeping America safe, and will enjoy his well-earned retirement in the loving home of Lisa Phillips, a former soldier and founder and CEO of the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization.
Rambo will have a happy ending, but his canine colleagues are not always so lucky. Despite their heroic efforts, military working dogs (MWDs) are currently classified by the U.S. Department of Defense as “equipment.” Not only does this classification trivialize their life-saving contributions, but it also makes it difficult to transport the dogs from foreign warzones back to the United States after their service is completed so they can be adopted.
The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), reclassifies military dogs as “canine members of the armed forces” instead of equipment. The bill also simplifies the adoption process for retired military dogs and directs the military to set up a program for retired dogs’ veterinary care, at no cost to the taxpayer. It also directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other recognition for military dogs who are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to their country.
We need your help to build Senate support for the bill. For the sake of our canine heroes, please contact your U.S. senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 2134, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act. Like their human counterparts, MWDs deserve to be respected and cared for, both during and after their periods of service.
On behalf of Rambo and all our nation’s military canine heroes, thank you!
Go, teamwork! The ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and Change.org have gathered approximately 350,000 letters, comments and signatures from citizens speaking out against puppy mills. Yesterday, the information was hand-delivered to the D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in support of the agency’s efforts to regulate unlicensed puppy mills.
“The enormous public response to the USDA’s proposed rule illustrates just how strongly Americans support greater oversight of unlicensed puppy mills,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “We have witnessed the abhorrent cruelty that often exists behind the pictures of happy puppies posted on a breeder’s website, and this rule would crack down on the worst Internet breeders.”
The USDA has proposed a rule that will require large-scale commercial breeders that sell pets over the Internet or by mail or phone, sight-unseen, to be licensed and inspected under the federal Animal Welfare Act. The public comment period closes today. Now the USDA will read and consider all comments before deciding final action on the proposed rule.
“We encourage the USDA to adopt a final rule that is enforceable, effective and covers as many commercial breeders as possible,” says Perry.
Super thanks to everyone who took the time to speak out for puppy mill dogs. To learn more about our legislative efforts and how you can become involved, please visit our Advocacy Center.
Guest blog written by Deborah Dubow Press, ASPCA Regulatory Affairs Manager.
We frequently hear tragic news stories involving animals traveling in airplane cargo holds, and it’s no wonder—these animals are exposed to lots of dangers in transit. They can be left on the tarmac in the hottest summer months, transported in unsafe carriers that do not meet humane standards, or be carelessly lost in the shuffle of air cargo traffic.
Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to report the losses, injuries and deaths of pets only. Reporting requirements exclude commercial shipments of animals—like a batch of puppies heading from a breeder to a pet store. This means that there are many appalling incidents the public never hears about.
The DOT Responds A new rule proposed by the DOT could lead to greater transparency by airlines and help give people a clearer picture of the risks involved in transporting animals as cargo. The new rule would require airlines to report incidents involving commercially shipped cats and dogs, as well as more than double the number of airlines required to report incidents.
While the proposed rule is better than the one in place now, it still has room for improvement. For instance, it doesn’t cover all animals transported as part of a commercial air shipment—only dogs and cats.
Take Action! The Department of Transportation is accepting comments until August 28. Please tell them that all animals deserve to be protected during air transport while being shipped as cargo. In your comments, please include the following:
You support the DOT’s decision to extend coverage to all dogs and cats.
Reporting requirements are essential to inform consumers about the risks associated with transporting animals by air, and people deserve this information so they can make informed decisions about traveling safely with their pets.
You want the rule to extend reporting requirements to all animals shipped commercially, not just dogs and cats.
Guest blog post from Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare.
Last week, we helped organize a Capitol Hill briefing alerting legislators to the animal welfare dangers of misusing antibiotics—something commonly done on factory farms. While antibiotics are essential for treating sick animals, they’re often given on farms to compensate for overcrowded, filthy and stressful conditions. The horrible living conditions, coupled with the overuse of medications, create an added threat of the animals contracting a superbug that can’t be treated with antibiotics.
The briefing was hosted by Representatives Slaughter and Schakowsky, two supporters of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) bill, which aims to tackle this problem. It was gratifying to see these Congress members, who have shown interest in the human health implications of antibiotics for quite some time, showcase the animal welfare impacts, too.
Because the chicken and turkey industries, in particular are notorious for keeping birds in horrific conditions, where they live in their own waste on the floors of sheds packed with tens of thousands of birds, the ASPCA brought farmer Frank Reese to the panel to address the use of antibiotics in poultry farming. Reese raises chickens and turkeys at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, a farm that raises heritage (non-factory farm-bred) birds on pasture, allowing them to be true to their nature. Reese explained that, in contrast with factory farmers, he avoids subtherapeutic antibiotics by raising genetically healthy birds in a low-stress, spacious, pastured environment where they do not endure mutilations.
We will continue spreading the word about the dangers of raising animals by relying on subtherapeutic antibiotics, and we hope you will, too! Check whether your senators and Congress member are co-sponsoring PAMTA. If so, thank them; if not, urge them to!
Great news for animals nationwide! On June 21, the U.S. Senate took a huge step toward strengthening federal laws against animal fighting by approving the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which had been a stand-alone bill in the Senate (S. 1947), as part of that chamber’s version of the Farm Bill.
This humane measure 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 or causing a minor to attend.
While organized animal fighting is a federal crime and is illegal in all 50 states, the issue of spectators at these events has not been fully addressed on the federal level—and laws against spectatorship vary from state to state.
“This measure would help law enforcement by allowing them to pursue and punish the spectators who drive the market for animal fighting,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Furthermore, children need protection from the spectacle of animal fighting, as well as its dangerous and illegal associated activities, including drugs, weapons and gambling.”
In order for the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act to become law, the U.S. House must add the same language it its version of the Farm Bill, which is still being crafted. The Farm Bill is expected to be finalized by the end of summer.
For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to tackle animal fighting, please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.