Guest blog by Ann Church, Vice President of State Affairs, ASPCA Government Relations
Thanks to the support of animal advocates like you, the ASPCA’s Government Relations team was able to expand greatly this year, increasing our ability to fight for better laws for animals in all 50 states. As 2012 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of this year’s legislative accomplishments on behalf of animals. Here is a small sampling of state-level victories that the ASPCA and our mighty Advocacy Brigade helped secure in 2012:
California—“Hounding” of Wildlife California has banned hounding, a form of trophy hunting in which radio-collared dogs are released in forests to chase and tree bears and bobcats.
Idaho—Felony Cruelty 2012 will be remembered as the year that Idaho, a long-time holdout, finally enacted a law making animal torture a felony offense. The state made cockfighting a felony as well.
Massachusetts—Animal Control Reform Among other achievements, this far-reaching, comprehensive new law creates a statewide spay/neuter program, prohibits breed-specific legislation, places restrictions on outdoor tethering, and allows pets to be included in domestic violence-related protection orders.
New Jersey—Horse Slaughter New Jersey banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption as well as their transport through the state—a very meaningful provision, given the continued problem of export of horses over the border for slaughter.
Ohio—Exotic Pet Ownership and Puppy Mill Regulations Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animal Act passed seven months after 56 exotic animals were released by their owner. (Most were killed.) Ohio was one of only a handful of states with virtually no regulations on wild/exotic animal pet ownership. In addition, the state passed its first-ever puppy mill law, which sets standards of care and requires annual inspections.
Tennessee—Felony Cruelty to Livestock While most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statues, Tennessee became one of the first to make extreme acts of cruelty to livestock subject to felony-level penalties.
It’s important to remember that these victories, as well as the countless others, could not have been achieved without collaboration among state legislators and humane advocacy groups. Let’s all continue to champion stronger laws protecting our nation’s animals and make 2013 an even better year!
As 2012 draws to a close, we’re thinking back on some of our favorite rescue stories of the year. One of them has to be Dora’s.
On a chilly day last holiday season, the ASPCA rescued Dora, a starving, matted little Shih Tzu with a severely injured tail. Back then, she was weak, terrified and emaciated.
But slowly, Dora began to gain weight and strength. She started to gain confidence, too, and as 2012 began, Dora’s spirited personality started to shine through.
That’s when world-renowned designer and architect Robert Couturier learned about Dora. A steadfast ASPCA supporter with three Shih Tzus of his own, he was deeply moved by her story. Within a week, he became her new foster parent.
“She slept in my arms the whole time on the way home,” Robert remembers. “It was as if she could finally sleep, and that she knew nothing bad was ever going to happen to her anymore.”
At his Connecticut country house, Robert introduced Dora to his boyfriend, Jeffrey, who fell in love with her immediately. Then he gave Dora a toy. She took it to her crate and looked at him with wide, cautious eyes, as if to ask: Is it OK for me to keep something of my very own?
“Of course it’s OK,” Robert told her, his heart breaking a little. He scooped her up and carried her with him all evening, just as he does now whenever they are together.
These days, Dora sleeps between her guardians’ pillows and enjoys playing with her favorite canine sibling: five-year-old Hercule, who fell head over heels for her the first day they met. “He’s her knight,” Robert jokes.
In October, Robert and Jeffrey adopted Dora. That makes it official: For the first time in her young life, Dora was home for the holidays.
If Robert’s acts of kindness don’t melt your heart, we don’t know what will. We’re so glad these two found each other!
We love connecting people with their local animal shelters—which is exactly why we love the HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) program!
We awarded $50,000 in grants to HEART programs across the country to help students of all ages learn about human rights, animal protection and environmental ethics. One such program, at Stockton Elementary in Chicago, gave students a chance to participate in a service learning program focusing on animal issues.
The students organized two fundraisers to benefit the Chicago Canine Rescue and paid a visit to meet the animals they helped. A big shout out to the HEART students of Stockton Elementary for all their hard work! Great job, all!
For more information on the ASPCA Grants program and how you can get involved, visit the Grants page.
On a cold December day last year, eight-year-old Hennessy came to us limping and suffering from multiple untreated conditions. She underwent extensive surgery on her right knee. And through it all, she never lost her trust in people.
Housetrained and a great leash walker, she learned commands like Sit, Down and Leave It with the same enthusiasm she showed greeting people. Naturally, staff members fell in love with her one by one.
But Hennessy still hasn’t found find a home of her own.
We know that some dogs take a little longer to find forever homes—but in the meantime they benefit from our top-notch veterinary care, playtime and snuggles with our devoted staff. At the ASPCA, dogs like Hennessey get all the time they need.
We’re working hard to help as many animals as possible. With your support, we can continue to save lives like Hennessy’s. We think she’s worth it. Don’t you?
Even as we celebrate with our own families and friends this season, those of us at the ASPCA can’t forget that right now, millions of animals across the U.S. are still homeless. Without loving families to call their own, far too many of these animals are suffering alone on the streets.
If you’re like us, you might find that reality nearly too much to bear. That’s why we wanted to remind you that you can help!
We’ve got big plans for 2013, and you can be a part of them. Through ASPCA initiatives promoting animal relocation, adoption and rescue, hundreds of thousands of formerly homeless, unloved animals will get the most precious gift of all: safe, warm homes in which to spend the 2013 holidays.
If you’ve already pledged your support for homeless animals, thank you—from the bottom of our hearts. If you haven’t, please remember that it’s not too late!