Guest blog post from Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare
On March 22, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must address the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals. The fact is, factory farms feed drugs like those in the penicillin family to animals even when they’re not sick. The drugs are used to speed up the animals’ growth and compensate for their unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, which are major breeding grounds for illnesses. Indeed, the same drugs that we take when we are sick are routinely fed to healthy animals!
The FDA Fails to Protect More than 30 years ago, the FDA first discovered the overuse of antibiotics creates drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans and cause hard-to-treat illnesses. So far, the FDA has failed to follow through on its findings. This new ruling will now require the FDA to withdraw its existing approvals for routinely using penicillins and tetracyclines on farm animals unless the farming industry provides evidence that their use does not threaten human health.
Did You Know…? Almost 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to food animals. In addition to its impact on animal welfare, the misuse of antibiotics also affects our own lives. If we want to keep antibiotics working for us, we must keep industrial farms from abusing them. The ASPCA applauds this recent court decision—not only for human health, but also in hopes that it will help ensure cleaner, more humane living conditions for animals on farms.
Look who came to visit! Actress Amy Smart, currently starring in the HBO series Shameless, spent a few hours at our NYC offices on Monday helping launch the PetArmor® Protection Promise, a national flea and tick prevention awareness campaign that helps shelter pets in need. Now through May, anyone can participate by "liking" PetArmor on Facebook. For every "like" received, PetArmor will donate a dose of its bestselling flea and tick treatment (up to 20,000 doses) to the ASPCA or the shelter of the participant’s choice.
"As an animal rescue advocate and proud dog mom, I am so excited to be working with the ASPCA and PetArmor® on this wonderful campaign that supports a cause I care so deeply about," said Smart. "I encourage pet owners everywhere to participate in the Promise and help ensure all pets receive the protection they need."
Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
Did you know that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the federal agency in charge of protecting our country’s wild horses and burros? Enacted more than 40 years ago, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act states that the federal government is required to protect wild horses while balancing their presence on rangelands with commercial activities of humans and the needs of other wildlife.
Unfortunately, in the 40 years that the BLM has been managing our wild horses, we have seen a continuous cycle of roundups and removals with little regard for the welfare of these living creatures.
Taking Action on Capitol Hill I was recently invited to testify before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment to discuss the importance of protecting wild horses.
My testimony focused on four main requests. We asked the committee to 1) reinstate language to prevent the sale for slaughter and mass euthanasia of wild horses, 2) prohibit removal of more horses and burros than can be adopted, 3) prioritize on-range management of wild horses and burros, and 4) require the swift creation of standard operating procedures for humane, transparent roundups, if any are to occur.
As I spoke to the committee, I could see their obvious disgust at the descriptions I provided of recent roundups, during which: - Foals were forced to run extreme distances, losing their hooves. - Horses were driven to physical exhaustion. - Horses and burros were physically assaulted with helicopter skids. - Electric prods were used on wild horses by BLM staff or contractors. - Horses were kicked and beaten with lunge whips. - Metal gates and panels were slammed into horses. - Horses' tails were twisted and pulled during loading.
Looking Ahead Congress oversees federal agencies to ensure that government services are delivered appropriately and fairly, and it can direct agencies like the BLM to reform programs that are not working as they should. The BLM has indicated a willingness to examine parts of its wild horse program and we hope they will work with us to make needed changes.
For now, we are encouraged that both the BLM and Congress are open to input from the ASPCA and other animal protection organizations regarding the plight of these majestic animals.
On your mark, get set, go orange! One of the ASPCA's most important events is the celebration of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Each year, we urge supporters across the country to Go Orange for Animals throughout April—the month in 1866 when the ASPCA's charter was signed—to raise awareness for our cause.
Go ahead, visit the special Go Orange section of our website to see how you can get involved in the celebration. From creating grassroots fundraising events to entering our latest online photo contest to outfitting yourself and your furry friends with the finest orange designs —the possibilities are endless!
Join us for April's Go Orange for Animals campaign—together we can improve the lives of animals in every corner of the country. Go Orange! Glow Orange! Show Orange for Animals!
"It's hard to watch these poor animals running for their lives for people who could really care less if they live," said Dr. Margaret Ohlinger, a track veterinarian at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in upstate New York. – New York Times, March 25, 2012
We've known for a long time that the horse racing industry is in serious need of reform. For horses who do not win, auction and slaughter for human consumption overseas has been an all too easy outlet for an industry obsessed with the pursuit of cash winnings at all costs. The ASPCA has focused on passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, but last year, we met with the authors of the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act and heard about the rampant use of drugs to mask pain in racehorses, so we endorsed their legislation to curb this abuse.
This past Sunday's edition of The New York Times provided a disturbing reminder of how very necessary and overdue this legislation is. The Times published a shocking exposé, "Death and Disarray at America's Racetracks," documenting its investigation into racehorse doping and the sharp rise in deaths and injuries to horses and riders.
The article details the rampant use of drugs—how "trainers experiment with anything that might give them an edge, including chemicals that bulk up pigs and cattle before slaughter, cobra venom, Viagra, blood doping agents, stimulants and cancer drugs." The result? The catastrophic deaths of thousands of racehorses. Horses pushed beyond their limits by steroids, stimulants or pain-killing drugs that enabled them to run through injuries up to the point of collapse.
Though the horse racing industry has long promised to restrict the use of performance-enhancing drugs, such voluntary measures have been largely ignored. The worst offenders can easily circumvent the current patchwork of state horse commission rules by moving their operations. Lax or nonexistent oversight allows, and encourages, the use of any means possible—even cruel, life-threatening means—to win races.
"How on earth did we get to this sorry state?" Mr. Strawbridge [prominent breeder and owner] said. "The first reason is that in this country there are no significant consequences for doping horses."
Self-regulation by local horse racing commissions has failed to protect horses and jockeys from rampant drug use. And, the tragic toll on horses and riders is exacerbated at "racinos" (casinos with horse tracks) where there appears to be an even greater disregard for safety.
H.R. 1733/S. 886, introduced by Representatives Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Ben Chandler (D-KY) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), would prohibit racing any horse found to be under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs and institute a "three strikes" penalty system.
Take Action Please take action now and ask that your U.S. representative and senators cosponsor the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act. You can contact your Members of Congress at the ASPCA Online Advocacy Center. Until a federal ban on performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses is the law of the land, the lives of thousands more horses and jockeys will be at risk.