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.
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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.
Spike would be thrilled to go home with an energetic adopter who will spend quality time with him. We feel sure Spike will make an amazing pet!
Spike is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4900. To learn more about Spike, please visit his page.
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.
Kristin M. wasn’t planning to adopt a dog when she visited the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan, but meeting Dakota changed her mind. She shared the following story with us about the way in which her family of three became a family of four.
We decided to adopt Dakota when we first saw her. She wiggled up to the glass wagging her tail and just seemed like the sweetest girl—not too big or too small—and flashed her happy Pit Bull smile.
We had never adopted before. We, of course, went to “just look.” After meeting Dakota and learning she wasn’t quite ready for adoption, we put a hold on her.
The adoption process was so easy! It was great being able to have Dakota and our bossy Chihuahua, Cali, meet in a neutral area at the Adoption Center.
Dakota has adjusted into regular home life here. When we first brought her home, we could tell she wasn't used to being in a home setting. Every time I opened the refrigerator, she tried to climb inside it! Stairs were a real challenge for her, even though it is only three steps. We kept her and her older sister separated, while we were gone, for the first two months, just to be safe.
Over the past five months, she has relaxed quite a bit. Dakota walks on a leash very nicely now and has no trouble with our little set of stairs. We often joke that she wants to be best friends with everyone she meets on the street. She and Cali sleep next to each other and even play! Of course, Cali is still the boss.
We couldn't be happier to have Dakota as a member of our little family. We don't even mind waking up to her silly face trying to lick ours!