As Big Ag continues its efforts to conceal the truth about how animals suffer on factory farms, the ASPCA and advocates continue our counterattack to protect the public’s right to know what goes on there.
"Ag-gag" bills, conceived and pushed by the agricultural industry to criminalize undercover investigations on factory farms, have been introduced in nearly half of all U.S. states. These measures are intended to silence factory farm whistleblowers—removing protection from vulnerable animals who need it and giving it to powerful corporations who hide behind it.
Last week, we launched #OpenTheBarns, a rallying cry of advocates representing interests as diverse as animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, environmental protection, and civil liberties.
On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media avenues, groups like Food and Water Watch, the Government Accountability Project, the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and the National Consumers League are sharing their reasons to #OpenTheBarns.
Because food workers fill our plates, and they deserve a voice #OpenTheBarns
Even some farmers are part of the movement, because those who have nothing to fear have nothing to hide. They include Maryland’s Carole Morison, the whistle-blowing chicken farmer who was featured in the documentary Food Inc.; Georgia farmer and American Grassfed Alliance vice president Will Harris; and Oregon farmer and Socially Responsible Agriculture CEO Kendra Kimbiraskas.
Average Americans are also speaking their minds, because these issues matter to them. In a 2012 poll, 94 percent of the American public agreed that "from every step of their lives on a farm, farm animals should be treated in a way that inflicts the least amount of pain and suffering possible." In the same poll, 71 percent of American adults said they support undercover investigative efforts to expose farm animal abuse on industrial farms, and 64 percent opposed making such investigations illegal.
In a 2014 poll, 81 percent of consumers said that chickens—the farm animals most often raised for food—should be humanely raised. That alone covers 9 billion animals.
Celebrities and Members of Congress are also adding their voices to the dialogue, including Portia de Rossi, Martha Stewart, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
One reason this alliance is so large is that animal abuse isn’t the only unethical activity Big Ag is trying to keep secret. Documented investigations of factory farms have revealed unsafe conditions that endanger workers, shoddy food safety practices that put consumers at risk, and practices that ravage our environment. Ag-gag legislation can even shield puppy mills, which can fall under the category of “agricultural activity” in some states.
Whistleblower revelations play an important part in reforming corrupt institutions. Decades of undercover investigations—the very kind these ag-gag laws are trying to suppress—have led directly to critical milestones including the passage of the federal Meat Inspection Act, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the eventual establishment of the federal Food and Drug Administration. They have also led to reform in corporate practices and criminal liability.
A broad coalition of advocates, including the ASPCA, has helped defeat more than two dozen ag-gag bills to date. Despite this, Big Ag is showing no signs of letting up. There’s just too much money to be made.
In the first few months of the 2015 legislative session, ag-gag laws have been introduced in nine states, most recently North Carolina, where ag-gag proponents are making their third try in three years.
We have to keep fighting these laws and exposing their motives, for the welfare of the animals, but also for our right to know the ultimate price truly being paid for the food on our plates.
So please add your own voice to the #OpenTheBarns campaign, and tell the agricultural industry that animal cruelty—anywhere, for any reason—demands sunlight, not secrecy.
Olivia is a sweet and social cat who would love to be your new best friend. This pretty lady loves attention from her favorite people, but prefers it on her own terms—let her sniff your hand, and once you’re friends, she’ll happily let you scratch her head and face.
It may take Olivia some time to adjust to her new home, but with the help of some yummy treats and her favorite toys, she’ll start to relax in no time. Although she likes affection, Olivia prefers not be picked up and is sensitive to touch around her stomach and tail. This sweet girl would like to be the only cat in the household and would do best with an experienced adopter familiar with feline body language. Adopt Olivia today!
Olivia 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. 4120. To learn more about Olivia, please visit her profile page.
Learn more about Olivia and watch her in action in the video below!
It’s officially spring! If you’re anything like us, you’re eager to trade in your snow shovel for a garden shovel. But pet parents should note that while gardens and yards are great spots for relaxation on a spring day, many of our favorite spring flowers and planets may be toxic to our cat and dog companions. This year, whether you’re getting ready to plant your garden or you’re just looking to add a little bit of green to your home, be wary of these popular but poisonous plants so you’ll keep your pets happy and healthy this season.
Steer Clear of Lilies and Oleander. Lilies may look pretty, but they are considered especially toxic to cats. Even ingestions of very small amounts can cause severe kidney damage in our furry friends. Oleander can cause serious health problems including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.
Be Careful with Tulips. These popular spring bulb plants add much to our gardens, but can cause significant stomach problems when ingested by our pets. The bulb portion contains toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and even cardiac abnormalities.
Say No to Azalea and Rhododendron. These favorites contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in our furry friends. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and even death.
Avoid Sago Palm. All parts of this common house plant are considered poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain a large amount of toxin. Even ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver failure.
Pass on the Cocoa Mulch. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch attracts dogs with its sweet smell—and like chocolate, it can cause problems for our canine friends. Depending on the amount, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs from vomiting and diarrhea to muscle tremors, elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark.
If your pet likes to stop and smell the flowers, it’s important to not leave him or her unsupervised where these plants may be present. Want more information or have greenery in your home or garden that you’re not sure is toxic or not? Please visit our full list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
We are happy to report two significant state-level wins for horses in the past few days that will ensure horses have more options to protect them from slaughter:
Nevada Finalizes Wild Horse Agreement With Wild Horse Protection Group: Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) reached an agreement to humanely manage more than 1,500 horses in the Virginia Range, which encompasses more than 280,000 acres. This precedent-setting agreement launches the largest-ever private-public partnership to manage horses while improving public safety and benefiting Nevada taxpayers.
Kentucky Gov. Signs Bill to Assist Stray Horses: Governor Steve Beshear enacted a measure to reduce the hold period for stray horses from 90 days to 15 days to enable the rescue and care of those horses. By shortening the amount of time a horse must be held before being re-homed, costs for local officials are significantly reduced and will enable a great deal more rescue work for horses in need. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 312, which takes effect on June 24, 2015, Kentucky had the second-longest hold period in the country at 90 days. This new law brings Kentucky more in line with bordering states that all have 10-day hold periods.
The ASPCA stepped in to provide grants for diversionary feeding, fencing and other management tools and we worked to help enact these reforms knowing these victories will pave the way for further assistance from local and national organizations. Importantly, these horses now have more options, which will help keep them off the auction block and out of slaughter plants.
As part of the ASPCA’s goal to end the slaughter of American horses, we work to pass legislation that protects horses from this predatory industry, including pushing for a full federal ban on horse slaughter. We also work to provide options for at-risk horses through grant-making, education and equine programs that support the horse-rescue community, offering more than $1.1 million in equine grants in 2014 alone.
It’s amazing what a difference the perfect home can make. Sometimes, animals who seem fearful or reserved will blossom into social, friendly pets just by landing in the right environment. In the case of a five-year-old Dalmatian named Hazel, the perfect home was all it took to let her personality shine. Here’s her Happy Tail.
The ASPCA rescued Hazel from cruelty in 2010. She was just a puppy at the time and it didn’t take long for her to find a home. We celebrated Hazel’s adoption and then returned our focus to the hundreds of dogs still under our care. A year went by, then another and another, until all of a sudden we got a phone call from her adopter in May 2013. Hazel wasn’t doing well.
Although the spotted pup’s adopters loved Hazel, she just wasn’t thriving in their home. She had put on a lot of weight and was showing signs of aggression. In addition, she was suffering from a leg injury that left her limping and uncomfortable. With a heavy heart, the adopters acknowledged that they couldn’t care for a dog of her size and needs, so they made the decision to do what they thought was best for Hazel: they returned her to the ASPCA.
It had been three years since we had seen Hazel, and when she arrived, she wasn’t in great shape. Her leg injury had made exercise difficult, and as a result, she became morbidly obese at 86-lbs. She was also reactive to other dogs and fearful of strange objects. We knew that it would take some time to help Hazel get ready for adoption again.
Over the next year and a half, Hazel received surgery, including the insertion of a metal plate and screws to repair a torn ligament in her knee, and was put on a strict weight-loss diet and socialization routine. When she was finally ready for adoption in February 2014, we hoped that the process would be as easy as it had been the first time around, but we weren’t quite so lucky. Nine months went by before Samantha F. and her boyfriend, Paul, stepped through our doors.
Samantha and Paul both had dogs growing up, so when they moved into a big apartment they decided it was finally time to adopt a pet of their own. They met Hazel on their first trip to the ASPCA Adoption Center, and they were instantly intrigued by the beautiful pooch. We filled them in on her history and had a frank conversation about her medical and emotional needs, but the couple was undeterred.
“I could immediately tell that she was the perfect dog for us,” Samantha recalls. “We fell in love with her story and couldn’t imagine leaving her in her kennel for another day.” With no hesitation, they adopted Hazel and brought her home to their Queens, New York, apartment. Samantha adds, “With everything she’s been through, she deserved a second chance at life.”
And what a difference that second chance has made. Within a few weeks, the Hazel we had known—fearful, wary, overweight—had all but disappeared under Samantha and Paul’s care. When we asked for an update, Samantha gushed, “Hazel transformed and exceeded our expectations! Through her time at home, she has been weaned off of all pain and anxiety medication. Her behavioral evaluation said she would never be a ‘dog-park dog,’ but now she loves going and is extremely social and friendly with the other dogs there. Even strangers fall in love with her, too.”
The ASPCA staff is overjoyed to hear of Hazel’s success. She is proof that there’s just no substitute for the perfect home—and that every animal deserves a chance to shine. Samantha says, “We feel extremely blessed to have Hazel,” but we know that for this Dalmatian, Samantha and Paul’s home was “just the spot.”