According to news reports, Smithfield’s new ownership is primarily intended to export pork products to China, which is prohibited from sending its pork and beef to the U.S due to food safety concerns for both humans and companion animals. Increasingly, American consumers are concerned with the conditions in which their food is produced. Smithfield is one of many companies phasing out gestation crates, horrendous metal-barred cages that keep breeding sows in spaces so tight they cannot even turn around. It had pledged to remove these archaic cages from its international operations by 2022, and we are encouraged to hear the company state that it plans to keep this commitment.
What You Can Do
What can consumers do when faced with difficult issues surrounding food safety and the welfare of animals? Animal health and consumer safety can be encouraged through expanded education. If meat is part of your diet, there are several product-labeling programs that require higher standards of care for farm animals. They include:
Similarly, the government is increasingly responding to consumer demand for more transparency around the conditions in which our food is produced. Just last week, the US Department of Agriculture approved mandatory country-of-origin labeling on steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat that will indicate where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. This is a huge step in the right direction and will help consumers make informed choices when shopping for their families.
Thor, a dog with special needs, has covered a lot of territory over the past three years. Since her adoption from the ASPCA Adoption Center in 2009, she has traveled with her pet parents, Steven R. and Roberto D., to countries including the Netherlands, Spain, England and Scotland. Steven shared the following story with us about this globetrotting pup:
We adopted our dog in June 2009. At the ASPCA her name was Mimi, but now she goes by Thor, which is much more fitting for her personality. When we first met her, she had just recovered from surgery. Thor had been hit by a car and had to have one of her hind legs amputated. Having three legs did not put a damper on her happiness and high energy.
Thor is now an international star! When my husband got a job offer in the Netherlands, we moved to Amsterdam for a year. After the flight, she looked a bit distressed, so we let her sleep in the bed that night for the first time. Now there is no going back—and she insists on sleeping between us every night. We gave her a pillow of her own.
Since then, Thor has been to Barcelona, where Roberto is from, several times for vacation. She's also been to Mallorca, Scotland and Utrecht. We now live in London, and it looks like this is where we will be settling down. Even with her three legs, Thor is always excited about taking several walks a day through the park next to our flat. She is very popular. In fact, she just won second place in a "cutest dog" competition for the north London neighborhood of Stoke Newington!
In the coming year, we hope to adopt a sister for her so we can add to our happy little family.
Just in time for summer, here’s some great news to bark about! California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) wants to see more dog parks in the Golden State—and last week, his bill to make it easier for local governments to create these havens for their four-legged residents passed the Assembly unanimously.
Gatto's bill, A.B. 265, would help cities and counties by limiting dog park-related liabilities; it would also protect local governments from lawsuits by people claiming that they were unaware of the potential dangers of such parks. Since California already has a similar law limiting liability for skate parks, the concept is not unfamiliar to state legislators.
"Dog parks help build safer and stronger communities by providing a public space for neighbors to interact while training and socializing their dogs," said Assemblyman Gatto. "We should not allow liability concerns to be a major barrier to creating these valuable spaces." Added A.B. 265's co-author, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego): "This bill would have made my life significantly easier when I was on the San Diego City Council and trying to site a dog park."
We think that this bill, which aims to enrich communities and make life more pleasant for dogs and responsible pet parents, is a breath of fresh air! If you think so too, please take a few seconds to thank Assemblyman Gatto for his efforts by tweeting him a nice thank-you message (@mikegatto).
Tinker’s family was at work when the tornado hit and destroyed their home. After visiting two shelters searching for their precious pooch and almost losing hope, the family visited OK Humane, where their beloved pup was waiting for them.
This Memorial Day weekend was one of healing and hope for the residents of Moore, Oklahoma. The ASPCA saw the community’s incredible resilience firsthand as many of our responders spent the weekend on the ground in Oklahoma City assisting the heroic sheltering and rescue efforts of Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane).
The ASPCA was happy to lend a hand to OK Humane and provide extra staffing to handle the influx of animals affected by this disaster. In what was truly a joint effort, we also enlisted the support of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Code 3 Associates Animal Disaster Response, RedRover, and SAWA (Society of Animal Welfare Administrators) to help OK Humane.
We are thrilled to report that dozens of reunions occurred over the weekend, as people who lost everything came to OK Humane and found missing family members. Here are just a few of those heartwarming moments:
Tasha the Pomeranian, another tornado survivor, gets a big hug from her human sister on May 25 at OK Humane.
Porkchop and Asia (pictured above) were brought to OK Humane as strays shortly after the tornado. They were reunited with their pet parents over the weekend.
Chance, a handsome Boxer, suffered facial fractures and a deep wound on his leg as a result of the storm. Over the weekend, Chance was reunited with his guardian at OK Humane after their home was completely destroyed by the tornado. Here he is pictured with ASPCA Director of Planning and Field Operations Joel Lopez.
To learn how you can help pets and people impacted by the Moore tornado, please visit OKHumane.org.
Military dogs aren’t the only animal heroes finally getting their due—the New York State Legislature has just passed a bill making it a felony to intentionally kill a police animal! The bill (A.2596/S.1079), which protects both police dogs and horses, passed unanimously and is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
This legislation was brought to the forefront after a March incident in New York’s Herkimer County: While pursuing an at-large gunman, Ape, an FBI police dog, was shot and killed by the suspect. Ape had been on the job for less than one month.
“Police dogs are on the front lines detecting dangers, apprehending criminals, and rescuing victims every day,” says Bill Ketzer, Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast Region. “The loss of a police animal is a loss to the entire community, and we applaud New York legislators for passing this bill.”
A.2596/S.1079 was a priority bill at New York Voices for Animals Day, an ASPCA-sponsored animal advocacy event held in Albany earlier this month. Citizen advocates lobbied their state lawmakers in person to support the bill’s passage, and we think the results speak for themselves!
Inspired by this big win in New York? Share it with your friends with the hashtag #PoliceDogs.