Signed into federal law in 1999, the Crush Act banned the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty where such acts are illegal. The law had effectively dried up U.S. commerce in “crush” fetish videos (also called “squish” videos), which generally depict a woman’s feet crushing to death small animals such as rodents and kittens. Unfortunately, three weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Crush Act unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. The Court’s main concern was the broadness of the law’s language, which could make the law applicable in many circumstances not intended by its authors.
The day after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Representative Gallegly (R-CA) introduced H.R. 5092, a new bill designed to overcome the Court’s decision to strike down the Crush Act. The bill amends the Crush Act to give it a much narrower focus, but would still prohibit selling or offering to sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, impaled, or burned where such acts are illegal. Passage of H.R. 5092 will help ensure that the crush video industry is not revitalized in the absence of an enforceable federal law.
Since its introduction, H.R. 5092 has gained tremendous support in the House of Representatives. Out of the House’s 435 voting members, 199 have signed on as cosponsors. H.R. 5092 is currently awaiting action in the House Committee on the Judiciary.
If you would like to help fight animal suffering and exploitation, please visit aspca.org/HR5092 to quickly send an email to your U.S. representative asking him or her to support the revised Crush Act. We also encourage animal lovers to become members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to receive important, timely news about pending animal-related legislation in your state and in Congress.
While many have their sights on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, four counties in Tennessee have been declared a federal disaster area after devastating floods hit the Southern state. The flash floods killed at least 28 people and put Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House under six feet of water, and have also affected countless numbers of companion animals, livestock and wildlife.
Earlier this week, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team were deployed at the request of the Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society to help with the crisis. The ASPCA is currently on the ground caring for more than 70 animals, including dogs, cats and various birds rescued from floodwaters, trees, rooftops and abandoned homes. The team is also continuing the search for additional animal victims.
Thursday morning, in conjunction with the Dyersburg Fire Department, the Field Investigations and Response Team explored the flooded streets using a search and rescue boat. Reports had recently surfaced that a herd of cattle was stranded in a nearby pasture.
"The fire department took us on their rescue boat to survey the flooded area," reports Allison Cardona, the ASPCA's Director of Operations. "But the current was a lot stronger than we anticipated, and it was determined not safe to do the cattle check by boat."
The team immediately began searching for an alternative way to reach the stranded herd. Within hours, with the help of local authorities, they were able locate a small-plane pilot willing to take Cardona on a fly-over of the flooded pasture.
"We saw approximately 35 head of cattle in the affected area," she reports. "Fortunately the water was receding, the cows appeared active, and they had access to dry land."
"Countless numbers of animals have been adversely impacted by the storms' recent destruction and are in need of emergency care," says ASPCA Senior VP of Anti-Cruelty, Matt Bershadker. "We are proud to assist Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society and to be in a position to provide aid for all animal victims."
UPDATE: If you would like to directly help the animals impacted by this disaster—either with donations or by fostering/adopting—please contact the Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society at (731) 285-4889 or through its website, dyerhumane.org.
On May 7, the trial of Dachshund killer Dudley Ramsay came to a close. The 25-year-old Brooklyn man was found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty for the deadly beating of his 5-month-old puppy, Junior. The incident occurred in 2006.
An ironworker by trade, Ramsay was convicted of punching and repeatedly smashing the pup against the side of the tub. In spite of the dog’s obvious injuries, Ramsay then waited several hours before taking Junior to a veterinary hospital—ultimately resulting in the dog’s death. A necropsy showed extensive internal injuries, including six fractured ribs and damage to the liver and lungs. The alarmed veterinarian contacted the ASPCA for assistance.
After a thorough investigation, Ramsay was arrested by ASPCA Special Agent Richard Ryan. Upon questioning, Ramsay admitted that he was only trying to "discipline" Junior for misbehaving during a bath. Further inquiry resulted in Ramsay confessing to killing his first Dachshund puppy, Viola, and burying her body in the backyard. Viola’s remains were unearthed, and a necropsy performed at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Hospital revealed that the small dog’s skull had been crushed.
“I think I need help with anger management because I killed my first dog, too,” Ramsey stated several hours after his arrest, according to Special Agent Ryan’s testimony in court.
The brutality of Ramsay's acts impelled Deputy Assistant District Attorney Carol Moran to push for the maximum sentence allowed by law—two years in jail. Despite her efforts, Ramsay was acquitted of killing Viola, but found guilty of felony animal cruelty in the death of Junior. He was sentenced to four months incarceration by Judge Michael Gary. The ruling also places Ramsay on five years probation, mandates anger management training and psychological counseling, and he is banned from owning an animal for eight years.
"While the severity of the crime certainly would have justified a stiffer sentence, we are pleased that this senseless violence resulted in a felony conviction and a term of incarceration," says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement.
If you know of an animal who is being hurt, please report it. To report animal cruelty in New York City, call the ASPCA's tip line at (877) THE-ASPCA. Visit our Report Cruelty FAQ to learn how to report cruelty elsewhere.
After two days of intense thunderstorms that brought devastating floods to the city of Nashville, TN, and forced evacuations across multiple states, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team have been deployed at the request of the Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society. The ASPCA is currently on the ground helping to care for more than 70 companion animals, including dogs, cats and various birds that were rescued from floodwaters, trees, rooftops and abandoned homes in the Dyersburg city limits, approximately 80 miles north of Memphis.
ASPCA responders arrived Tuesday afternoon and immediately established a temporary shelter behind the humane society to handle the overflow of animals—providing extra cages, bowls, food, industrial fans and other necessary supplies. The team also set up a decontamination station where animals affected by the polluted flood water can be washed and cleaned.
"The temporary shelter has helped ease the strain on the already full humane society," says Allison Cardona, the ASPCA Director of Operations. "The Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society and its staff and volunteers have been extremely dedicated toward the animals in their community during this life-threatening event."
The ASPCA has also worked with local authorities to implement a water rescue team, with volunteers navigating some areas in small motor boats to access abandoned pets. Most of the animals in custody have been removed from homes at the request of pet parents forced to evacuate and will be housed at the temporary shelter until they are claimed. All incoming animals will recieve a physical exam, and if veterinary records cannot be located, will be vaccinated as a precaution. The Humane Society is not charging for the emergency boarding or medical care.
"Our city has been declared a disaster area and many neighborhoods have been evacuated," says Dr. Carol Feather, President and Co-founder of the Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society. "We're grateful for the ASPCA's assistance, and to our own staff and volunteers, all of whom have been working non-stop to help animals that are abandoned or lost. We want to save all the animals we can—that's our job."
In addition to the ASPCA, local businesses assisting Dyersburg-Dyer County Humane Society include Hollywood Feed, which provided cages, and Pet Stop, which relieved the organization of some of its adoptable pets so room could be made for incoming animals.
"The ASPCA will continue to provide supplies, support and manage the temporary shelter and decontamination area for as long as we're needed," says Cardona. "We are glad to be in a position to provide relief."
Please stay tuned to the ASPCA blog for breaking news on this disaster and our efforts to aid.
Missouri may soon have to give up its nickname as the "Puppy Mill Capital of America." The landmark ballot initiative to put the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act before Missouri voters and crack down on the state's widespread and inhumane breeding practices has succeeded! The petition required 130,000 signatures of support, and we're happy to report that on May 2, our supporters delivered more than 190,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office to qualify the legislation for the November 2010 ballot.
"This can only be considered a massive outpouring of public support for the idea of puppy mill reform," said Barbara Schmitz, campaign manager of Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, a coalition made up of the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation. "We ran into few people who were unaware of the problem, and so many of them are enthused about voting to halt this cruelty in the November election."
Election officials have until August 3 to determine whether the measure qualifies for the ballot. The Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will substantially improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to provide sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing, space and exercise. To follow the proposed legislation's progress, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center. Thank you, Missouri voters, for your support!