Today the ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors issued an open letter [PDF] in response to recent developments in ongoing litigation brought by several animal welfare organizations to halt horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States. While an emergency injunction in a U.S. Court of Appeals has temporarily stalled horse slaughter plants from opening on American soil, that injunction could be lifted at any moment. The Ambassadors are calling on all animal advocates to take action to stop the inhumane slaughter industry by supporting the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act and promoting responsible horse ownership, rescue and adoption.
The ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors are respected equestrians and horse experts committed to animal welfare—and include several ASPCA Maclay National Champions and journalist and author Jill Rappaport. They are urging Congress to pass the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and transport to slaughter outside the U.S. once and for all.
As individuals who revere, care for, and work with horses, they can speak to the importance of humane treatment of these special animals. They have joined with the ASPCA in promoting and supporting the work of the robust network of horse rescue organizations across the country. Having witnessed undercover footage showing repeated cruelties in past American, government-regulated horse slaughter plants, the Ambassadors state in the letter:
We have seen the horrifying video and photo documentation from past horse slaughter plants that were on American soil and government-regulated—horse slaughter is utterly, unmistakably inhumane . . . [C]ommercial slaughter is not about providing a kind death. It’s only about destroying as many horses as quickly as possible and making a fast profit.
The letter also acknowledges food safety concerns as another reason to ban horse slaughter.
It goes on to state:
For the roughly 130,000 horses that suffer at the hands of slaughter annually—a fraction of the 9 million horses in America—we have the power to take back the reins and lead at-risk horses to safety. Let’s refuse to allow commercial slaughter to be a convenient way out, and instead demand responsible ownership and promote rescue and adoption, just like we do for dogs and cats.
A group of amazing people and animals will be honored today at the 2013 ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City. The annual ceremony recognizes special animals and individuals who made a positive and lasting impact during the past year.
The 2013 Humane Awards winners include:
ASPCA Cat of the Year
Koshka was a stray cat when she struck up a friendship with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott at a base in southern Afghanistan. Koshka was a pleasant reminder of life at home in Oregon. Koshka stayed by Knott’s side, helping him through some of his darkest moments at war. Knott’s parents helped him bring Koshka home with him to Oregon, where she now peacefully resides.
ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year
Six-year-old Catherine Hubbard had a natural ability to connect and care for animals. She designed her own business cards and appointed herself head of “Catherine’s Animal Shelter” with the title “Care Taker.” On December 14, 2012, Catherine was among 20 children killed during a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Catherine’s parents chose to honor Catherine by asking that donations be made to The Animal Center in Newtown. With these funds, The Animal Center hopes to build the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.
ASPCA Dog of the Year
In September 2012, an animal control officer in Dekalb County, Georgia, responded to a call reporting an extremely malnourished abandoned pit bull puppy. The officer took the fragile puppy, on the verge of death, to the Dekalb Animal Shelter. Chrissy Kaczynski, one of the founders of Friends of Dekalb Animals (FODA) took her home. Remarkably, the puppy bounced back, prompting Chrissy to name her Xena the Warrior Puppy. Xena later became a companion for eight-year-old Jonny, who is autistic. Jonny and Xena spread a message of compassion for both animals and those with autism throughout America and 89 countries, territories and provinces around the world.
And they’re off! More than 72,000 signatures have been collected and delivered to the National Chicken Council urging the trade association to incorporate slower-growing birds and better living conditions into their chicken welfare guidelines.
“Our goal was to reach 50,000 signatures, and we’ve far surpassed that,” says Suzanne McMillan, the ASPCA’s Director of Farm Animal Welfare. “This sends a clear message that people care about the way chickens are treated, and they are standing with us to demand change.”
It’s no surprise that with all this support we’ve been ruffling a few feathers. Just last month the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association created a website that looks just like our Truth About Chicken site—minus much of the truth!
“The chicken industry needs to take animal welfare as seriously as Americans do,” says McMillan. “We’re proud to have such dedicated supporters who understand that chickens deserve better!”
In just two months, more than 100,000 people have signed the ASPCA’s petition calling on the chicken industry to slow growth rates and provide better living conditions! Kudos to you. We are so happy to see the public embracing this issue.
But a funny thing happened in response to this effort. The National Chicken Council—the industry’s trade group—and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association created a website too, and it sure looks familiar! The big difference between their site and our Truth About Chicken website is that they replaced our statements about chicken welfare with their own.
While we’re flattered that these groups took the time and energy to build a website that looks just like ours, we took the liberty of providing some edits. Click on the thumbnail below to take a closer look:
Most of the almost 9 billion chickens raised in this country each year for meat are suffering enormously due to unnaturally fast growth rates and inhumane, unsanitary living conditions. This is bad for chickens and bad for us. With oversight by government almost nonexistent, it’s up to us to push for better treatment of chickens.
That’s why today we delivered our recommendations[PDF] to the National Chicken Council. We’re urging them to incorporate slower growth and better living conditions into their chicken welfare guidelines, which are expected to be released before the end of the year and essentially set the standards for the industry. Please join us by asking the NCC to take this step. Show your support for the ASPCA’s recommendations by visiting The Truth About Chicken and telling the National Chicken Council to get serious about welfare!
While you’re out shopping in the weeks ahead, you might see a giant puppy staring at you from an ASPCA billboard! Because puppies are a popular holiday gift, we’re using these billboards to educate people about the overwhelming likelihood that puppies bought in pet shops were born in puppy mills.
We’ve learned that nearly 80% of consumers would not purchase a puppy if they knew he/she came from a puppy mill. The problem is that most people are still not aware that almost all pet store puppies do come from puppy mills.
We know buying a pet store puppy as a present might make your family happy, but your purchase would most likely support the cruel puppy mill industry. Operators of puppy mills breed dogs in unsanitary, overcrowded and often inhumane conditions where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.
We need your help sharing this message. Please take the following actions to help fight puppy mills!
Make the Billboard Your Facebook Cover Image! We’ve created a special Facebook cover photo that looks just like our new billboard! In a few easy steps you can download the image and use it as the cover image on your own page. Think of it like your own personal billboard! Click here to start spreading awareness.
Sign the Puppy Mill Pledge! Another easy way you can help fight puppy mills is to sign the No Pet Store Puppy Pledge! By signing the pledge, you vow not to buy anything in pet stores or on websites that sell puppies. It’s as easy as pumpkin pie! Click here to sign.