On Wednesday, July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 416-3 to pass H.R. 5566, the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010. The nearly unanimous affirmative vote, as well as the fact that 262 representatives attached their names to the bill as cosponsors, makes this a decisive victory for animals—especially considering that the bill was introduced only one month ago.
Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA) introduced H.R. 5566 in response to the Supreme Court’s April ruling that the original Crush Act, a 1999 federal law banning the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty, is unconstitutional and overbroad in its scope. The Crush Act had succeeded in curbing commercial trade of “crush” fetish videos, which generally depict a woman’s feet as they crush to death small animals such as rodents and kittens. Now, in the absence of any enforceable federal law, this horrific underground industry is on the ascent.
H.R. 5566 amends the Crush Act to prohibit distributing, selling or offering to distribute or sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or burned where such actions are illegal. Rep. Gallegly reportedly worked with law and constitutional scholars when drafting the bill to ensure that its language is narrowly tailored to be able to withstand strict First Amendment challenges.
Legislation of this kind must pass both chambers of Congress to become U.S. law—and so far, a companion bill to H.R. 5566 has not been introduced in the Senate. Congress will soon enjoy a month-long recess; upon its return in September, the ASPCA will encourage the Senate to take up the Crush Videos Act of 2010. The current federal legislative session (the 111th United States Congress) ends on January 3, 2011, so it is vital that the Senate act with the same speed and resolve demonstrated by the members of the House of Representatives.
We will alert ASPCA Advocacy Brigade subscribers when a Senate version of this bill is introduced, so please join the Brigade today and don’t miss any breaking news about the progress of this and other animal-related legislation.
After violent storms ravaged the Northeastern part of Kentucky, displacing thousands of families—including hundreds of companion animals—the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team arrived at the Pike County Animal Shelter in Pikeville, KY, to provide emergency transport and placement for more than 100 animals.
"Pets have been displaced just as people have," says Brandon Roberts of the Pike County Judge Executive's Office. "The transfer has allowed the Pike County Animal Shelter to accept pets from families who were forced to evacuate their homes." The shelter will hold the displaced pets until their families can accommodate them—there will not be a charge for the emergency boarding.
Over a two-day period, the transfer animals were safely transported in the ASPCA's custom-built animal transport trailer to various ASPCA Shelter Response Partners across the country.
Organizations that quickly stepped forward to support the ASPCA's relief efforts include: Capital Area Humane Society in Columbus, OH; Humane Society of Berks County in Reading, PA; Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association in Ledgewood, NJ; Nashville Humane Association in Nashville, TN; and Elk County Humane Society in St. Mary's, PA.
"My hope is to get these animals into the great homes they deserve," says JoAnne Smith, Director and Humane Officer for the Elk County Humane Society. "We are proud to offer our full support to the ASPCA." Just last month, the ASPCA assisted Elk County Humane Society with the removal of nearly 400 cats from a local animal hoarder.
"Our team has the capability of responding to emergency situations across the country, and we will continue to provide supplies and support animals in Pike County as long as we're needed," says Kyle Held, the ASPCA's Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response.
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more details on this developing story.
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team arrived in Pike County, KY, following weekend storms that caused severe flooding and mudslides. The devastating rainfall is being blamed for multiple deaths, and a State of Emergency has been declared for the affected areas. As emergency evacuations and rescues continue, many families have been displaced from their homes—including hundreds of companion animals.
"Countless numbers of animals have been adversely impacted by the recent flooding and are in need of immediate care and housing," says Kyle Held, ASPCA Midwest Regional Director of Field Investigations and Response.
On July 20, at the request of the Pike County Humane Society, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team were deployed to help with the crisis. The Team is currently working to transport shelter animals to a temporary location and making room for displaced pets. The ASPCA's new custom designed animal transport trailer is also on hand.
"Emergency transport will help ease the strain on the already full humane society," says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. "We are grateful to be able to assist the Pike County Humane Society and to be in a position to provide aid for the animal victims."
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more details on this developing story.
Despite the pending charges, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia ordered the SPCA to return 40 of the seized horses to Hoskins. The unexpected ruling fell under the condition that Hoskins hire additional employees to care for the animals and adequate care be provided. The SPCA retained the right to inspect the returned horses and to monitor their care—the remaining 33 horses are still under their authority.
“While the animals were cared for by the ASPCA, they received medical, physical and environmental enrichment vital to their daily well-being—more importantly, time was spent helping them to rebuild their broken spirits,” says Jeff Eyre, ASPCA Northeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. “I can only hope that the same level of proper care will be maintained under these new circumstances.”
Hoskins pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released without bail. She is ordered to return to court on August 18. To date, the total cost of the investigation, including animal care, has exceeded $200,000. Aside from the ongoing criminal case, a civil suit is pending charging Hoskins with the outstanding balance.
“These are definitely some very serious charges,” said Eyre. “But it’s important to remember that each animal involved is considered a separate charge under the law.”
During the last week of June, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland brokered a deal between animal welfare groups and farm interests to halt the promotion of a citizen-backed ballot initiative intended to prevent some of the cruelest practices common in factory farming. As in most of the U.S., veal calves in Ohio are currently allowed to be chained in small crates without enough room to turn around; sows are confined in gestation crates only a few inches wider and longer than the sows themselves; and egg-laying hens are housed in tiny “battery” cages with less space, per bird, than the size of an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper.
During the recent negotiations, Ohioans for Humane Farms and the Humane Society of the United States agreed not to submit the gathered signatures for a ballot initiative in return for adoption of the following measures:
A ban on veal crates by the year 2017.
A ban on new gestation crates after December 31, 2010, and existing crates must be phased out over the next 15 years.
A moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens (this does not affect current facilities).
A ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter. A downer cow is one who has become too sick or injured to walk unassisted.
Adoption of humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured farm animals.
Enactment of legislation establishing felony penalties for cockfighting.
Enactment of legislation to regulate puppy mills.
Enactment of a prohibition on the sale and/or possession of wild and dangerous animals.
The ASPCA encouraged our Ohio members to sign hard-copy petitions to place the initiative on the state ballot in November. While this compromise agreement did not accomplish everything we hoped for, it is a good first step toward ending confinement practices, and we welcome these broad, sweeping accomplishments for the animals.
We wish to thank all of our Ohio supporters who took the time to sign petitions—and special thanks are due to those who worked so hard to gather signatures. Your efforts were instrumental in bringing the Ohio Farm Bureau to the table. Please be mindful that all of the signatures gathered during the petition drive remain valid and can be submitted in coming years if the agreement is not fully honored.
We hope that efforts such as the one in Ohio will continue to spread across the country, and that soon the cruel practices of factory farms will be a thing of the past. To help the ASPCA and your fellow animal advocates achieve humane victories, sign up to receive legislative email alerts from the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.