On May 12, FRONTLINE aired “The Trouble with Chicken,” an investigation into an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg at one of the nation’s largest poultry processors. With chicken consumption at an all-time high and more severe illnesses stemming from this product than any other meat, the hour-long PBS documentary questioned why our food safety system is not doing more to prevent these dangerous infections.
The most effective way out of this vicious cycle is to go to the source of the problem: sickening environments and sick animals. In a HuffPost Live conversation with Frontline Correspondent David Hoffman, the ASPCA’s Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare, Daisy Freund, stated, “when you’re talking about food safety, we have to go back to the farms and talk about how these animals are living.”
Chickens today are raised in crowded, barren, windowless sheds where disease can run rampant, and are bred to grow four times faster than they did sixty years ago. As long as chickens are raised in such unhealthy factory farm environments, they will continue to suffer and pose serious risks to consumers from foodborne illnesses.
The FRONTLINE documentary shows that federal agencies tasked with protecting the public are hampered by a culture that defers to industry and takes a reactive approach to addressing these issues. That is why the ASPCA is calling on advocates who care about animal welfare and consumer safety to demand better from the chicken industry through our Truth About Chicken campaign.
This Saturday marks Armed Forces Day, a special day to celebrate Americans serving across our five U.S. military branches including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. This year, as we honor the brave service men and women who defend our country, please take a moment to recognize the four-legged heroes who also serve on the frontline for America every day.
Military Working Dogs, or MWDs, play a critical role in our nation’s defense and are crucial to the safety of our service members. The military estimates that the average MWD saves between 150-200 lives during his or her career. These amazing dogs work tirelessly to keep us safe, successfully performing important and dangerous duties that can be difficult—if not impossible—for people, all while providing unconditional love and loyalty to the men and women who work alongside them.
In recognition of these heroic animals’ unwavering service to our country, we believe that our government’s commitment to their wellbeing must extend beyond the period of military service.
In late 2012, Congress took action in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual military policy bill, to better protect retired military dogs by streamlining the adoption process and authorizing a system of veterinary care for retired animals.
This year’s NDAA seeks to build upon the 2012 law to improve life after service for military dogs. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee included a provision in this year’s bill to require the military to bring home retired dogs serving overseas and to ease the adoption process for handlers who choose to adopt. These changes will strengthen the bond between dog and handler and ensure that these canine heroes can begin their new lives in loving, secure environments.
We are grateful to Congress, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force, which administers the Military Working Dog Program, for recognizing the importance of our service dogs and for their continued work to protect these canine heroes.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to get important updates on legislation impacting dogs on the frontline and other important animal-welfare related bills.
New and improved animal welfare laws are not to be taken for granted—and neither should elected officials, like Washington Governor Jay Inslee and State Senator Joe Fain, who championed our cause in the Legislature.
This past legislative session, Senator Fain stepped up to sponsor important new legislation that will make Washington a more humane state by enhancing several of the state’s most critical anti-cruelty laws. The bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee this past Monday, May 11.
The new law ushers in a host of new protections for animals: It empowers law enforcement to come to the rescue of animals left unattended in vehicles in extreme temperatures and expands the state’s animal fighting ban beyond dogs and roosters to include all animals. The new law also increases charges for killing or stealing pets.
We were proud to partner with Senator Fain, the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies and the larger coalition of animal welfare organizations in support of the bill’s passage.
If you’re a Washington resident, please join us in thanking Senator Fain and Governor Inslee on their Facebook pages for their work on this important law.
Even if you don’t live in Washington, you can still help animals! Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to get updates on animal-protection legislation and how you can make a difference for the animals in your state.
One of the most effective ways to help shape laws is through in-person lobbying of legislators—and New Yorkers always step up! Nearly 100 animal advocates from across the Empire State gathered at the state capitol last Wednesday to make their voices heard at the ASPCA’s third annual New York Voices for Animals Day.
The day provided opportunities for animal advocates to speak directly with their legislators and staff in support of passing stronger animal welfare legislation, including measures that would provide relief to animal control agencies and taxpayers during animal cruelty cases, improve protections for animals during natural disaster responses and fighting investigations, and enhance trap, neuter and release (TNR) programs for the state’s free-roaming cats.
“While phone calls and emails are effective ways to communicate with lawmakers, face-to-face meetings make the most powerful impact, by far,” said Bill Ketzer, the ASPCA’s Senior State Legislative Director for the Northeast region. “An in-person meeting is the perfect way to show lawmakers that the constituents they represent are serious about animal protection.”
Before setting off to meet with legislators, advocates heard from several New York State lawmakers on the importance of animal welfare legislation. Senator Jeff Klein spoke passionately about the need for full-service shelters in the Bronx and Queens; Senator Kathy Marchione discussed the need to support life-saving and cost-saving TNR programs. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal highlighted legislation offering a tax credit to adopters, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick called for assistance from out-of-state veterinarians during disasters and large-scale cruelty cases.
Event attendees ranged from first-time citizen lobbyists to experienced advocates—but all of them were dedicated, and some were even willing to forgo sleep to be a part of the important day!
Filmmaker Joe Whelski of Manhattan had been up late working on a client video but awoke at 4:30 A.M. in order to catch the ASPCA-chartered bus to Albany, which departed just an hour and a half later.
“I was just [in Albany] in March and got a nice reception from lawmakers,” said Joe. While we may not immediately know all of the results from lobbying, “It’s worth it even if a bill doesn’t pass, just to show the extent of support for animal causes.”
Adding to the excitement, two priority bills successfully passed through committee during the day’s events, bringing New York closer to having more resources for spay/neuter programs and better protecting animals in cruelty cases and during disasters—and proving that it’s when we come together as a unified voice for animals that real progress on legislation can be made.
The ASPCA fights to make sure the strongest laws are in place to protect animals across the country, but we can’t do it without dedicated advocates. “We work hard to pass animal-friendly legislation, but it’s the grassroots advocacy by constituents that can provide the tipping point,” said Michelle Villagomez, the ASPCA’s New York City Legislative Director.
We want to thank all of our New York advocates and our supporters nationwide for standing beside us as we continue to fight for animals here and across the country.
Don’t miss your state’s next lobby day! Sign up to receive ASPCA Advocacy Alerts to stay up-to-date on fun and informational events near you.
Yesterday, in honor of National Animal Advocacy Day, Congress put out the welcome mat for Bam Bam, a special dog whom the ASPCA rescued as a puppy from a dog fighting yard in Alabama. The Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC) had invited Bam Bam to the Capitol as an ambassador for dogs rescued from animal fighting operations. U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Co-Chairs of the CAPC, were on hand to welcome the ASPCA and congressional staff.
Bam Bam joined a panel of experts to educate congressional staff about the fiscal and welfare challenges of caring for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases. The ASPCA regularly works side-by-side with federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to rescue animals from animal fighting rings, as well as expend vast resources caring for these animals afterward.
Federal criminal cases take many months or even years to progress. While they slowly advance, rescued animals must be housed, fed, and provided with veterinary and behavioral care. They often can’t be re-homed until the cases conclude, which means a dog may spend over a year waiting for his or her fate to be determined by a court.
Once the ASPCA and law enforcement authorities come to the rescue, these animals should be able to start new, happy lives; but federal seizure laws weren’t written with animals in mind. Animals can’t be warehoused like cars, drugs or commonplace evidence—and while living in limbo in this way, seized animals often deteriorate psychologically and behaviorally. Meanwhile, animal-protection agencies rack up astronomical costs to safely shelter these animals on behalf of federal law enforcement.
Fortunately, on National Animal Advocacy Day, we’re grateful for the great animal allies we have in Congress and in the Department of Justice (DOJ) working to solve this problem through legislation and regulatory changes. Reform is needed to have the alleged abusers, rather than taxpayers or groups like the ASPCA, pay for the costs of caring for their seized animals or relinquish custody of the animals, allowing them to be re-homed much faster.
We’re also indebted to our amazing citizen advocates, who sent more than 13,000 emails to the Department of Justice over the past month thanking them for prosecuting animal fighters and urging them to get even tougher this year.