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.
Thumbs up to Rhode Island for enacting two critical measures to protect farm animals. The new laws ban the intensive confinement of veal calves and female breeding pigs and prohibit the inhumane tail-docking of cows.
"These two new measures are a significant step toward improving the lives of farm animals in Rhode Island, who all too often endure lives of agony and frustration on factory farms," says Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare. "All animals, including those raised for food, deserve to be treated humanely."
S.2191/H.7180 prohibits two of the most horrible factory farming abuses: veal crates for calves and gestation crates for female breeding pigs. Veal calves and female breeding pigs on factory farms are often confined in crates so tiny that they are unable to lie down, stand up or turn around freely. Eight other states have already passed similar humane legislation, and 16 Rhode Island farms came forward in support of the state ban.
S.2192 prohibits the inhumane practice of "tail-docking" cows. This process involves the partial amputation—typically without pain killers—of up to two-thirds of a cow's tail. Despite claims from some in the dairy industry that tail docking is needed to help ensure cow cleanliness and udder health, the scientific evidence shows that tail docking creates no benefit to the cow or quality of milk produced. Instead, the practice causes cows pain and distress and often results in increased fly attacks. The American Veterinary Medical Association, theNational Milk Producers Federation, and numerous dairy industry representatives are highly critical of the practice and oppose routine tail docking of dairy cows.
"We thank Governor Chafee for protecting Rhode Island's animals from some of the worst factory farm abuses," says Debora Bresch, Esq., ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations for the Eastern Region.
Horse lovers across America can celebrate a big victory. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee just approved an amendment that will prevent taxpayer dollars from being used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect U.S. horse slaughter facilities. By blocking this federal funding, the House has taken its first step to ensure that horse slaughter facilities cannot legally operate on U.S. soil. We will need your help to ensure this provision gets through the whole House and the Senate, so stay tuned for upcoming advocacy alerts.
While our current Congress has prided itself on reducing government spending, last year's agriculture funding bill actually omitted this provision—opening the U.S. market to the horse slaughter industry.
"Using taxpayer dollars to fund this abhorrent industry is a wildly unpopular decision," says Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Government Relations. "At a time when funding for many vital programs is being cut, it is imperative that Congress not use $5 million of taxpayers' money to fund horse slaughter, a cruel practice that benefits only foreign interests."
Take Action! Rep. Moran’s amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill protects American communities from the devastating environmental and economic impact of horse slaughter facilities, but the bill still has to pass the full House of Representatives. The House will vote on the bill on Tuesday, June 26.Please contact your U.S. representative today and urge him or her to pass the bill with the Moran Amendment intact and reject any attempts to fund horse slaughter during fiscal year 2013!