Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Last week proved quite a week for animal issues in our nation’s capitol. The U.S. House of Representatives took up the Farm Bill, a large agriculture-policy bill passed by Congress every five years. The ASPCA has worked hard to ensure that the bill contained priority language to make it illegal to bring children to, or be a spectator at, organized animal fights (it is spectators who fuel the market for these disgusting events).
Unfortunately, the Farm Bill also included several troubling provisions for animals.
The worst of these was a provision authored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that sought to gut state and local laws that improve conditions for farm animals and any other animals that might fall under the vague “agricultural product” label. It could have invalidated important state laws that ban gestation crates and battery cages, and even undermine laws regulating puppy mills, preventing the killing of dogs or cats for food, and protecting consumers from dangerous food products.
An amendment was proposed to remove and replace this terrible provision with standards to improve the lives of egg-laying hens. Unfortunately, House leadership ruled against consideration of this amendment, as well as amendments to ban horse slaughter and clamp down on the practice of horse soring.
In a bittersweet twist of fate, the House Farm Bill was ultimately defeated on the floor last Thursday afternoon. It failed under the weight of all-too-familiar Washington gridlock. As the House of Representatives goes back to the drawing board with the Farm Bill, the ASPCA will work to make sure the bill includes animal welfare reforms and that Congress allows fair and open debate on issues like horse slaughter, horse soring and the treatment of our nation’s egg-laying hens.
On a more positive note, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to prevent horse slaughter from returning to the United States. Stay tuned for more information about that important development for our nation’s horses.
Summer road trip season is in full swing, and we think vacations are more fun when you bring your pets! No matter where you’re headed, it’s important to consider your pet’s safety before you load up the car. Did you know that unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 auto accidents each year?
Before you hit the road, make sure you stock up on a few travel essentials. You can keep your dogs safe in the backseat with our auto barrier or car harness. It never hurts to be prepared—plan to bring along our pet first aid kit in case of emergencies. Plus, don’t forget to stock up on hats and tote bags for the whole family!
During a trip to New York City, Bill H. and his family decided to adopt a dog at the ASPCA Adoption Center. Lex, now named Sandy, was one of many animals rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Bill shared the following story with us about Sandy’s happy new life in Pennsylvania:
Adopting Sandy was a product of luck, timing and coincidence. Denise, my wife, and I were visiting New York City with our daughter Amanda, and stayed at a hotel next door to the APSCA. As we walked by, Amanda’s first question was, “Can we get another cat?”
We saw a couple of dogs that Amanda and I liked, but Denise was not sold—that is until she saw Sandy. Our introduction to Sandy involved a great deal of barking, but she became very happy and her tail began wagging like crazy upon seeing ASPCA staff. A potential adopter was visiting with Sandy, so we decided to come back the next day. We decided that Sandy was a good fit for us, and we hoped we were a good fit for her.
From that point on, Sandy has been nothing but happy surprises. She got into our car and sat on Denise’s lap for the whole ride back to Pennsylvania. We learned at the Adoption Center that Sandy might take a little longer to warm up to men. When we got home, I was sitting on our deck while Sandy explored. After a few minutes, she walked up to me, licked my face, and then rolled over and sprawled out, waiting for her me to pet her belly. Sandy also became fast friends with my 20-year-old son, Zack.
We have had a few people in and out of the house since Sandy's arrival, and she has reacted to them with varying degrees of wariness, but has warmed up to each. We host a large deck party every year, and struggled with what to do with Sandy during the party. We decided if she became uncomfortable, we would put her in our room. The best part of the party was how Sandy handled everything. In the beginning, she stuck by me or Zack. By the end of the night Sandy was "working" the party, "introducing" herself to various guests and letting them know she expected to have her belly rubbed if they were deemed lucky enough to get the "rollover."
Last weekend, we were delighted to attend the 8thAnnual Loews Surf Dog Competition, Unleashed by Petco. Thousands of spectators and hundreds of dogs gathered at sunny Imperial Beach in southern California to catch some righteous waves and help fight animal cruelty.
More than 40 dogs waxed their boards and carved up some waves, while their adoring fans met cute adoptable animals from the Humane Society of San Diego. The event raised more than $20,000 for the ASPCA.
YouTube sensation Tillman the English Bulldog took first place in the large dog category. Who knew his skills extended beyond skateboarding!? Talk about a dog of all trades!
We commend the New York State Legislature for passing a bill that gives local governments better tools to regulate puppy mills and pet stores. Passed last week in the final hours of the state's 2013 session, the bill, A.740-A/S.3753-A, now moves to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.
New York State’s “pet dealer” laws regulate commercial pet breeders andpet stores that sell live animals. These laws are quite weak, allowing these pet dealers to house animals inhumanely and sell sick animals to unsuspecting consumers.
Many local governments across the state want to stand up for dogs suffering in puppy mills and pet stores by enacting stronger regulations—but bizarrely, current state law expressly prohibits them from doing so. In fact, New York appears to be the only state where this is not permitted. If approved by the governor, A.740-A/S.3753-A will fix this problem by allowing local governments to exercise their home rule authority to regulate pet dealers.
If you live in New York, you can help! Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to quickly and easily contact Governor Cuomo to urge him to sign this legislation into state law.