The news just broke that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has vetoed H.B. 405, a dangerous ag-gag bill that would have prevented whistleblowers from exposing animal cruelty and food safety issues on factory farms. This bill was so far-reaching that it also threatened to prevent nurses from revealing elder abuse in hospitals or nursing homes, teachers from exposing child abuse at day cares, and workers from documenting workplace discrimination or mistreatment.
“H.B. 405 was an insidious attempt to silence whistleblowers and keep North Carolina residents in the dark about horrific animal abuse on industrial farms, but Governor McCrory sent a powerful message by vetoing this dangerous bill,” says Chloe Waterman, Senior Manager of State Legislative Strategy for the ASPCA. “Ag-gag has no place in North Carolina, and the ASPCA thanks Governor McCrory for standing up for the 74 percent of North Carolinians that support undercover investigations and the responsible farmers and businesses whose reputations would have been tarnished by this deplorable measure.”
Despite strong public opposition and the release of an undercover video that showed shocking cruelty at a North Carolina chicken slaughterhouse, state lawmakers voted in favor of this bill. Recognizing the dangers of a food system without transparency, North Carolina residents quickly appealed to the Governor for a veto alongside a broad coalition of dozens of interest groups and farmers who voiced their opposition to the bill. In addition, newspapers from around the state editorialized against the bill and celebrities including Martha Stewart, Kesha, Nikki Reed, Eric McCormack, Amy Acker, Katherine Schwarzenegger and Andie MacDowell also called for a veto on social media.
“North Carolina is one of the leading producers of poultry and pork in the U.S., so their animal products could end up on anyone’s dinner plate,” says Daisy Freund, Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare for the ASPCA. “Ag-gag bills affect everyone, no matter where they live. Those concerned with animal abuse on factory farms and food safety issues need to remain vigilant in letting their state legislators know that they do not support the passage of dangerous ag-gag bills.”
If you live in North Carolina, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center now to thank your governor for vetoing this bill and to urge your state legislators to let the veto stand.
Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
New Studies Show Dogs and Humans Bonded At Least 27,000 Years Ago: DNA evidence suggests that ancestors of domestic dogs separated from the ancestors of wolves and bonded with humans at least 27,000 years ago—earlier than previously established by geneticists. Husky-type dogs share a significant number of genes with a breed of wolf that lived 35,000 years ago. [Discovery News]
Feline Burn Victim Befriends Fellow Patients at Animal Hospital: After suffering severe injuries during a house fire that destroyed his family’s home, a North Carolina cat named Russell has spent the past year and a half recovering at a local animal hospital. As his condition improves, Russell has formed special bonds with many other patients with special needs—including an abandoned baby deer and an injured Chihuahua. [The Huffington Post]
Pending Legislation Would Allow Military Dogs to Return to U.S. with Handlers Following Service: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for a provision that would allow military dogs to go home with their handlers at the conclusion of their service. Under current law, these dogs are not guaranteed the ability to return to the U.S. upon retirement, and some wait years to be released from military ownership. [WABC-TV New York]
Bear That Inspired the “Teddy Bear” May Be Removed from Threatened Species List: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that Louisiana black bears, which are known as the visual inspiration for teddy bear toys, be removed from the threatened species list. While the population of Louisiana black bears once dwindled below 100, government officials estimate that as many as 1,000 of the bears reside in Louisiana. [The Washington Post]
Special Reunion in the Works for Pet Parent and Stolen Cats Discovered 1,000 Miles from Home: It’s not clear how two cats stolen from their home in Indiana wound up more than 1,000 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a man surrendered them to an Albuquerque shelter, shelter workers checked for microchips and found contact information for the cats, named Leroy and Shya. The shelter is still working to arrange a reunion for Leroy, Shya and their pet parent. [KRQE.com]
The ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) team will host a Vaccine Event and Pet Party on Saturday, June 6, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, where we’ll provide critical services for the community’s pets. We are seeking the expertise of dedicated veterinarians (DVMs) and other animal-lovers to assist with the event. This is a great opportunity to help New York City’s animals!
At the event, we’ll provide free vaccines to cats and dogs, as well as microchips while supplies last. We need additional DVMs and general volunteers to staff the Pet Party, which will be held at Kaiser Park from noon to 4:00 P.M.
You probably know her as the world’s cutest Internet star (and as our former Cat Executive Officer!), but Lil BUB also works very hard to make a difference for cats in need. On May 28, the ASPCA and Lil BUB announced an additional 29 recipients of grant funding through Lil BUB’ BIG Fund for the ASPCA.
The 29 organizations, spanning 17 states, received a total of $57,190. The latest grantees from Lil BUB’s BIG Fund for the ASPCA are:
Angels of Assisi (Roanoke, VA) Animal Shelter Volunteers of Texas, Inc. (Montgomery, TX) Seattle Area Feline Rescue (Shoreline, WA) Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Inc. (Arlington,VA) Animalkind, Inc. (Hudson, NY) Austin Pets Alive! (Austin, TX) Beaver County Humane Society (Aliquippa, PA) Cat Matchers (Dallas, TX) Fancy Cats Rescue Team (Herndon, VA) Five Acres Animal Shelter (Saint Charles, MO) Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic (Fort Collins, CO) Heartland Humane Society of Missouri (O'Fallon, MO) High Desert Humane Society (Silver City, NM) BrightSide Animal Center (Redmond, OR) Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe, Inc. (Truckee, CA) Humane Society of Warren County, Inc. (Front Royal, VA) Lexington Humane Society (Lexington, KY) New England Society for Abandoned Animals, Inc. (Osterville, MA) Northwoods Humane Society (Wyoming, MN) Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay Neuter Clinic, Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) Partners for Animal Welfare Society, Inc. (Greenfield, IN) Peninsula SPCA (Newport News, VA) Preston County Animal Shelter (Kingwood, WV) SAFE Haven for Cats (Raleigh, NC) Second Chance Pet Adoptions, Inc. (Raleigh, NC) Southern Colorado Spay & Neuter Association (Pueblo, CO) Tabby Town-Friends for Felines, Inc. (Blasdell, NY) The Foundation of Animal Care and Education (FACE) (San Diego, CA) Tickled Pink Weimaraner Rescue (Albuquerque, NM)
One hundred percent of donations collected for Lil BUB’s BIG Fund for the ASPCA are distributed to animal welfare organizations to support homeless pets that need special care or extra help getting adopted, due to conditions such as: physical deformity, birth defects, developmental disability, mobility impairment, blindness, deafness, wounds suffered from a disaster, accident or abuse, any permanent diseases or chronic illnesses and old age. Since the fund started in 2014, over $132,000 has been distributed to 67 organizations nationwide.
It’s no secret that animal abuse and animal fighting affect communities across the country. At the ASPCA, we know that the most effective way to fight these crimes is through proper response and investigation, and thankfully, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the Nassau County Police Department are on our side. On Wednesday, May 27, members of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group (ACG) gathered at the Nassau County Police Academy in Long Island, New York, to share critical expertise and anti-cruelty knowledge with around 100 attendees from the Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County SPCA, Town of Hempstead, Town of North Hempstead, Hempstead Village Police Department and other municipal public safety representatives from throughout Nassau County.
Training topics included:
An overview of New York animal cruelty laws
The role of forensic veterinary medicine in animal cruelty cases
Proper investigation and evidence collection
How to have safe encounters with dogs
Introduction to blood sports investigation
A guide to recognizing hoarding and early intervention
The training was a continuation of an ongoing collaboration with authorities in Nassau County. On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the request of the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the ASPCA assisted local authorities in a dog fighting investigation led by the Nassau County DA and Police Department. The ASPCA provided experts to identify crime scene evidence, conduct behavior evaluations of the seized animals, and serve as expert witnesses
Pictured from left: John Bolin, ASPCA NE Regional Investigator; Terry Mills, ASPCA Dir. of Blood Sports Division; Dr. Pam Reid, ASPCA Animal Cruelty Behavior Team; Elizabeth Brandler, ASPCA NYC Legal Advocacy Council; Colleen Doherty, ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy; Howard Lawrence, ASPCA Sr. Director of Anti-Cruelty Group; Detective Investigator Elizabeth Rye, NCDA Animal Crimes Unit. Credit to Nassau County District Attorney's Office