Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of Government Relations
Yesterday was the National Day of the Horse, designated by the U.S. Senate in 2004 as a day for “people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history and character of the United States.” This led me to take stock of how our nation is doing when it comes to equine protection. While there have been advances in horse protection, much work remains to be done.
A 2012 national poll found that 80% of American voters oppose horse slaughter. Even though the last domestic horse slaughter plants have closed, the slaughter of American horses has continued in Canada and Mexico. Attempts made this year to resume horse slaughter in the U.S. were thwarted by massive public opposition. Legislation to ban these practices awaits action in Congress.
This spring, media attention focused on the plight of racehorses. A New York Times investigation detailed the tragedies befalling these equine athletes as a result of widespread drugging. Congress quickly introduced legislation to address this root cause of catastrophic injuries, and we continue to press for its passage.
We worked to draft a new piece of legislation to clamp down on “soring”—the practice of inflicting pain in horses’ legs and hooves so severe that they move with an unnaturally high-stepping gait. This new bill was introduced in Congress this year to amend the Horse Protection Act and end soring once and for all.
While New York City continues to allow the shameful and dangerous practice of driving carriage horses on congested city streets, the ASPCA has backed a pilot program to replace those vulnerable animals with vintage, electric cars. This project is gaining momentum but has not yet replaced the antiquated urban horse-drawn carriage. We continue seeking ways to implement alternatives to the suffering of these noble creatures.
Though Congress recognized wild horses as living symbols of the American West in 1971, competition for public land use has threatened the welfare of our last mustangs. In 2004, a backroom deal led to the amendment of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act permitting the sale of these iconic animals for the first time. This exception allowed over 1,700 mustangs to be sold to notorious pro-slaughter buyer Tom Davis (a devastating discovery made earlier this year). Many fear those horses were sent to slaughter, despite the Bureau of Land Management’s policy against such an action. In response to this incident, the agency just announced reforms to prevent such tragedies in the future—but it may be too little, too late. The ASPCA calls for an end to the sales program and a return to the preservation focus of the Act.
In 2004, when the U.S. Senate recognized December 13 as the National Day of the Horse, it called America to action, stating “horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion.” We at the ASPCA pledge to remain committed to this challenge and will ensure you know when and how you can join us in fighting for our beloved horses.
Sometimes we can’t help ourselves. It’s not uncommon for an ASPCA employee to fall in love with one of the animals at our Adoption Center—in fact, it happens all the time. For Dea Taylor, it happened to her when she met a spunky little dog in our care who had been struggling to find a forever home.
“Halo is sweet, energetic, and the friendliest dog I’ve ever met,” Taylor says. “I knew she would be a challenge when I learned she was returned to the ASPCA three times. But I knew I was up to the challenge.”
Taylor was right. The first night she took Halo home, the little dog was a bundle of energy. In fact, Halo had “energy bursts”—short periods of time when she ran around the apartment until she tired herself out. “When I put her in her crate, she calmed down,” Taylor says. “Then I looked at those cute little eyes, and thought about how many people didn’t give her a chance.”
Lucky for Halo, Taylor gave her all the time she needed to settle in. In the end, Halo just wanted a patient adopter who would let her play and learn the joy of relaxation.
Did you adopt a cat or dog from the ASPCA? Send us photos at [email protected] for a chance to be featured on the blog.
Okay, we admit it. Lady comes with certain limitations. She’s a senior. Her limited vision and hearing make it so she can’t live with cats or most other dogs. And well, she needs daily medication for her arthritis. WAIT! Don’t click away quite yet. Even if you can’t personally provide a home for Lady, we could really use your help in spreading the word.
Although Lady has endured a lot of suffering in her life, she adores hugs and kisses, playing tug-of-war, and—it’s true—sitting in your lap! Despite her charming personality, she has been at our shelter for nearly two years. So we’re asking all of our supporters to use social media to help Lady find a home for the holidays. Please share this flyer on your Facebook, Twitter, blog and other social networks. Together we can find her a home!
If you live in a teens-and-up household and are interested in adopting this sweet girl, please call our Adoption Center in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4900, or come meet this special Lady in person.
Last night, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill requiring all commercial dog-breeding facilities to be licensed and inspected—for the first time ever in the state’s history.
Friends, that’s a big step in the right direction for dogs in Ohio, a state known as a haven for puppy mill operators, and where untold numbers of dogs are currently languishing in filthy, barren facilities.
This law is the culmination of more than six years of work by steadfast animal advocates, including the ASPCA and our supporters, and we’re very encouraged to see it signed. “Ohio has taken a critical step,” says Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign.
Still, the law doesn’t go quite as far as we’d have liked. For one, it doesn’t require commercial breeders to provide breeding dogs with annual veterinary care, which is critical to ensuring the dogs are healthy and safe.
“This is just one of the problems that we weren’t able to fix, but the legislation is still a step in the right direction,” says Vicki Deisner, State Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. “We look forward to working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to ensure humane standards of care are instituted through the regulatory process.”
We’ve got so much more work to do for puppy mill dogs in Ohio and other states. If you’re ready to join the fight, visit NoPetStorePuppies.com to get started.
It’s hard to understand how someone could beat an animal to death with a rock, and then proudly post a video of the grisly scene online. And yet, that’s exactly what one individual did. On December 3, ASPCA Agents arrested Jordan Heuer for attacking, injuring and causing the death of an opossum in a Queens, New York, park.
After the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) received complaints about a video of the incident posted online, the organization referred the issue to the ASPCA. We opened a criminal investigation.
“This is a disturbing case of violent abuse in which the suspect went out of his way to not only inflict pain on a helpless animal victim by smashing it repeatedly on its head with a rock, but to also record and post the brutal event on the Internet,” says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Legal Advocacy departments.
Heuer, 18, was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty—under current New York law, felony animal cruelty charges can be brought only in cases involving companion animals. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
“This is precisely the sort of case that supports making the more callous acts that cause serious injury or death to wild animals into felony offenses,” Wolf notes, citing the extreme depravity of the opossum’s death.
We couldn’t agree more, and our Government Relations team is on the case. Bill Ketzer, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations for the Northeast, adds: “We will continue to work with legislators…to help shape laws to cover these types of especially heinous acts, regardless of whether the animal victim is a pet or a wild animal.”