“I am interested in long-term humane solutions to manage our horse populations. Our land is precious to the Navajo people as are all the horses on the Navajo Nation. Horses are sacred animals to us.” – Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation
Phenomenal news! Horse-welfare advocates just gained an important new ally in the fight to stop the brutal practice of horse slaughter. As reported earlier this week in TheNew York Times, Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, announced that the Nation opposes the practice of horse slaughter and has stopped all horse round-ups on the reservation.
This statement follows two important developments for horses on Navajo lands. In September, a coalition of Navajo elders and medicine people passed a resolution to oppose horse slaughter, and a Navajo Nation chapter opted to suspend round-ups in its territory for fear the horses would be sent to slaughter.
The ASPCA applauds President Shelly’s announcement, which underscores the fact that the inherently cruel practice of horse slaughter is never an acceptable end for a horse.
President Shelly’s message on behalf of the Navajo Nation confirms the building momentum for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would forbid the slaughter of horses in the U.S. and end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
Just take a quick look at these distressing photos, and it’s obvious: Many puppy mill dogs clearly do not receive adequate veterinary care. The dogs in these photos are suffering from symptoms of grave neglect—emaciation, severe matting, advanced dental disease, eye and ear infections, skin diseases and mammary growths—that indicate a lack of regular, preventive veterinary care. This is especially true of adult breeding dogs, who typically are bred at every opportunity regardless of their health.
Why does this happen? Part of the problem is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the enforcement agency for dog breeding requirements outlined in the Animal Welfare Act, recommends that facilities have veterinarians visit a minimum of once a year. An annual veterinary exam may be sufficient for a well-cared-for pet, but for dogs living in crowded, filthy enclosures and enduring frequent pregnancies—which vets consider a state of “accelerated starvation” because it is so physically taxing—annual vet visits are simply not enough.
Take Action! The USDA is accepting comments on its veterinary care policy until Friday, October 11. Please tell the agency to revise its policy to recommend twice-a-year vet exams for animals, especially breeding animals. Submit your comments directly on this government webpage—we’ve provided talking points you may use (below), but your message will be more powerful if you tell the USDA how you feel in your own words.
The USDA’s Policy #3 on veterinary care falls short of common professional standards. The recommendation that veterinary visits occur “at least annually” is not sufficient to protect animals. -Breeding dogs frequently suffer from emaciation, severe matting, advanced dental disease, eye and ear infection, skin diseases, and mammary growths that indicate a lack of regular, preventive care. -Organizations including the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the American Kennel Club, the American College of Theriogenologists and the Society for Theriogenology recommend semiannual veterinary exams and veterinary exams prior to breeding. -Please revise Policy #3 to recommend a hands-on veterinary exam at least twice annually for all animals, particularly those bred more than once a year.
On behalf of the puppy mill dogs, thank you for your help.
As the budget stalemate in Washington led to this week’s government shutdown, a lot of animal advocates have been left wondering exactly how this unusual event is impacting our nation’s animals. Yesterday we told you about the shutdown’s effect on puppy mill inspections, but the federal government has many additional routine animal-protection responsibilities. We’ve done a little digging and outlined how the following animal welfare-related duties are being altered during this shutdown:
Horse Soring The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act to combat the abusive practice of horse soring. APHIS oversees the inspection of at-risk show horses to ensure that they have not been sored and assesses penalties for violations. Suspension of this program during the shutdown could mean that unscrupulous trainers will take advantage of this lapse in oversight.
Animal Slaughter The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) upholds the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act related to the treatment of animals prior to and during slaughter. This has been deemed a necessary function, so FSIS inspectors who monitor food safety and humane treatment in slaughterhouses continue to perform their duties during the shutdown.
Wild Horses Federal agencies periodically round up and remove large numbers of free-roaming wild equines on public rangelands, a policy that has resulted in tens of thousands of wild horses languishing in holding facilities. Additional gathers are suspended during the shutdown, but caretakers for the horses already confined remain on the job.
Zoos/Circuses Exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and unfortunately, the welfare of these animals will go unchecked for the time being. However, the National Zoo in D.C., managed by the Smithsonian Institution, has retained employees essential to the security and the care of the zoo’s animals.
Animals in Laboratories The USDA enforces the AWA to ensure minimum standards of care for animals in laboratories. While employees are on the job maintaining the animals, there is no USDA watchdog ensuring that minimum standards of care are being met.
Hunting and Trapping All National Wildlife Refuges are currently closed to the public, meaning hunting and trapping on these lands is prohibited for the duration of the shutdown. Federal law enforcement activities will continue on public lands to preserve resources and protect against illegal hunting.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade! By joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you will receive important alerts from us when we need your help to fight for laws against animal cruelty.
This weekend, legendary environmental writer and activist Wendell Berry leaves his Kentucky farm for an inspiring conversation, and rare TV interview, with veteran journalist Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company. In an excerpt from that conversation below, Berry talks about how humans live at the expense of other creatures, making it our responsibility to treat those animals “with the minimum of violence.”
“It’s always great to see an esteemed figure like Wendell Berry sticking up for farm animals and so eloquently drawing that vital connection between respecting animals, our environment and ourselves,” says ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Campaign Director Suzanne McMillan.
The temporary shutdown of the federal government is affecting people across the country, but we cannot overlook its impact on those who have no voice—our nation’s animals.
Right now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not performing all of its duties under the Animal Welfare Act: For one thing, it is not inspecting puppy mills or pet dealers. During this break in oversight, untold harm could be done to commercially bred animals simply because no one is empowered to monitor their safety.
“With limited resources and less-than-vigorous enforcement under ordinary circumstances, we know that the shutdown is a terrible blow to dogs in puppy mills,” says Cori Menkin, Senior Director, ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “Think of the mills that were scheduled for a follow-up inspection today to make sure serious issues had been resolved.”
For more information about our campaign against puppy mills, please visit our No Pet Store Puppies website. And for a more in-depth look at how the government shutdown is affecting routine oversight of several other animal-related industries, please check back with ASPCA.org/blog tomorrow for a special report from our Government Relations team on the ground in D.C.