On Wednesday, April 14, the New Hampshire State Senate voted nearly unanimously to pass the Greyhound Protection Act (House Bill 630) to permanently ban the racing of Greyhounds in the Granite State. The bill had already passed the state’s House of Representatives in March, so it now goes to Governor John Lynch, who is expected to sign it into state law.
Thanks for this legislative victory are due in part to the New Hampshire-based members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, who sent 267 emails to their state senators urging support for the act, and to Senator Sheila Roberge, who took the Senate floor to tell the tragic story of Amber, a Greyhound who lost her life in a violent track accident. Amber was one of nearly 1,200 dogs injured while racing in New Hampshire between 2005 and 2008—these injuries included broken legs, paralysis, cardiac arrest and head trauma.
The ASPCA opposes dog racing, which is an inherently cruel form of entertainment. Racing dogs are confined for 20 hours or more a day in small cages, often wearing muzzles; they are bred excessively in the quest for good runners, with the “excess” puppies killed or otherwise discarded; they suffer from inhumane transportation as they’re shuttled from state to state for racing purposes; and they regularly endure serious and fatal injuries.
The nine states that have banned dog racing are: Maine (1993), Virginia (1995), Vermont (1995), Idaho (1996), Washington (1996), Nevada (1997), North Carolina (1998), Pennsylvania (2004) and Massachusetts (2008, effective 2010). For more information about the plight of racing Greyhounds, please visit ASPCA.org/dogracing.
Today is Earth Day! There are plenty of ways to show the planet some love with eco-friendly pet parenting. Just like us, our beloved animal companions love to eat and play—but they haven’t yet mastered the art of recycling or composting. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your pet’s carbon paw print.
Tap is where it’s at! Give your pet filtered tap water instead of bottled to drink. If you must use bottled water, be sure to recycle the bottle.
Scoop the poop with biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags. Kitty parents, go for eco-friendly cat litters, avoiding brands containing mined minerals.
Don’t reach for the bleach to clean your pet’s messes. Use vinegar instead—it’s green, removes odors and kills bacteria.
Get Moving! Walk your dog to the doggie park rather than driving there.
Buy pet supplies in bulk or the largest available size. You’ll make fewer trips to the store and cut down on discarded packaging.
It’s the little things that count and add up to big savings for you, your pet and Mother Earth. For more ways to celebrate Earth Day with your pet, check out our guide to living green with cats and dogs.
Action Tip: Reuse and recycle by contacting your local shelter reps and asking if they need extra towels, bedding, leashes, litter boxes, pet toys or other gently used items that you plan to throw away.
The Supreme Court released its verdict on U.S. v. Stevens today, finding for the respondent, Robert Stevens, throwing out his 2005 conviction and permanently striking down the "Crush Act," the 1999 law under which he was convicted. The court had been weighing the merits of the case since October 2009.
The Crush Act (U.S. Code Section 48) was a 1999 federal law banning the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting animal cruelty. The law was meant to stop the creation and sale of crush videos and other depictions of illegal acts of animal cruelty "in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed." Stevens, who marketed videos of dog and hog-dog fighting, was the first person convicted under the Crush Act.
With the 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court has concurred with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2008 overturned Stevens' conviction due to its interpretation of the Crush Act as an unconstitutional infringement on the free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Federal courts have long made the distinction between illegal conduct and speech about illegal conduct, which is generally protected. (The only types of speech totally beyond the protection of the First Amendment are obscenity, incitement to illegal activity, "fighting words" and child pornography.)
Moreover, the Court found the Crush Act to be substantially overbroad, arguing that its intent could be twisted for use in frivolous prosecutions—but it did not choose to decide whether a hypothetical statute limited to crush videos or other depictions of extreme animal cruelty would be constitutional. This is good news, as it opens the door for the animal protection community to propose new language for legislation that will achieve what the Crush Act was meant to do.
"Although the Crush Act was rarely used, it had the potential for aiding in the prosecution of a variety of forms of animal cruelty that are increasingly being encouraged through the dissemination of videos," says Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. "Going forward, the ASPCA will gladly work with Congress to draft new legislation that can withstand tests of constitutionality to provide law enforcement with tools to effectively combat extreme animal abuse."
"Gothic Kitty" creator Holly Crawford has been sentenced to six months of house arrest for using a 14-gauge needle to pierce the ears, necks and tails of three kittens and then attempting to sell the maimed felines over the Internet. The 35-year-old Pennsylvania woman was further ordered to close her dog grooming business for at least two years. Despite opposition from concerned citizens, the judge ruled in favor of allowing Crawford to maintain guardianship over her other pets, including a dog, three cats and three snakes.
Crawford was initially charged after a tip led humane investigators and the state police to her home on December 17, 2008. Investigators found and seized three kittens wearing heavy piercing jewelry on their ears, necks and tails. At least one of the kittens had a thick elastic band wrapped around his tail to prevent blood flow, as a means of docking it.
Despite arguments that Crawford used sterile needles and surgical soap when piercing the kittens, a Luzerne County jury found her guilty of animal cruelty. Helping to seal the conviction was expert testimony from the ASPCA's leading forensics veterinarian, Dr. Melinda Merck, who testified that the kittens had been maimed and disfigured, had their hearing damaged, and could have died.
"I was very happy to work with the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office on this case of abuse," says Dr. Merck. "The idea of mutilating animals in such a way for profit is appalling, I am glad justice was served."
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.
Last week, we asked if you were ready to take our Challenge and boy did you answer—in a big way! Officially launched on April 8, the ASPCA $100K Challenge seeks to encourage animal welfare leaders to develop innovate ways to increase pet adoptions in their communities. We received so many amazing applications that we reached our Challenge limit of 50 contestants in less than a week! Congratulations to the following shelters and rescue groups who now have a chance to win more than $125,000 in prizes—including a grand prize grant of $100,000—and save more animals' lives!
SPCA, Inc., Lakeland, FL
Wisconsin Humane Society, Milwaukee, WI
St. Hubert's Giralda, Madison, NJ
Team: Richmond AC&C and Richmond SPCA, Richmond, VA
Kansas Humane Society, Wichita, KS
Kauai Humane Society, Kauai, HI
SPCA of Wake County Raleigh, NC
South Suburban Humane Society, Chicago Heights, IL
Animal Aid Coconut Creek, FL
Erie County SPCA, Tonawanda, NY
HS of Boulder Valley, Boulder, CO
Animal Resource Center, Dayton, OH
Irvine Animal Care Center, Irvine, CA
Jacksonville Humane Society, Jacksonville, FL
Joplin Humane Society, Joplin, MO
Larimer Humane Society, Fort Collins, CO
Louisiana SPCA, New Orleans, LA
Humane Society at Lollypop Farm, Rochester NY
Tallahassee Leon County Animal Services Center, Tallahassee, FL
Team: Geauga Humane Society and Lake Humane Society, northeast Ohio
Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society, Menands NY
Team: Arizona Animal Welfare League and HALO Helping Animals Live On, Phoenix, AZ
Western PA Humane Society, Pittsburgh, PA
Atlanta Humane Society & SPCA, Atlanta, GA
Animal Rescue League of Boston, Boston, MA
Animal Welfare League, Chicago Ridge, IL
Humane Society for Southwest Washington, Vancouver, WA
Humane Society of North Texas, Fort Worth, TX
Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham, AL
Santa Fe Animal Shelter, Santa Fe, NM
Autauga County Humane Society, Prattville, AL
Calcasieu Parish Animal Services & Adoption Center, Lake Charles, LA
Northwest Organization for Animal Help (NOAH), Stanwood, WA
Kern County Animal Control, Bakersfield , CA
Puerto Rico Animal Welfare Society, Isabela, PR
St. Tammany Parish Dept of Animal Services, Lacombe, LA
Capital Area Humane Society, Hilliard, OH
Southern Pines Animal Shelter, Hattiesburg, MS
Dubuque Humane Society, Dubuque, IA
City of San Jose Animal Care Center, San Jose, CA
McKamey Animal Center, Chattanooga, TN
Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society & SPCA, Tacoma WA
Animal Friends Humane Society, Hamilton, OH
Humane Society of Greater Dayton, Dayton, OH
Kent County SPCA, Camden, DE
Maui Humane Society, Maui, HI
Salt Lake County Animal Services, Salt Lake City, UT
The official competition period is August 1 through October 31, when all 50 contestants will start tracking their progress. To qualify for the grand prize grant, shelters need to save a minimum of 300 more animals from August through October 2010, compared with the same three-month period in 2009. Beyond that, the winner will be the shelter that saves the most additional animals during the same time period. The ASPCA will also grant $25,000 to the shelter that most engages its community to promote pet adoptions and reunite lost animals with their pet parents. Winners will be announced in December 2010. Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for the latest news about the ASPCA $100K Challenge.