On October 7, ASPCA Special Investigator Paul Romano removed Hennessy, a weak and emaciated Pit Bull, from a Staten Island home. She was found tied to a short leash, and veterinarians at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital determined that the skeletal dog had been starved.
Flash forward to December, and Hennessy is hardly the same dog. (Check out the before-and-after pics below!) During her stay at the ASPCA, she’s gained 92 percent of her body weight.
While hospital staff takes care of Hennessy, Humane Law Enforcement Agents are taking care of business. On December 11, Agents arrested Laquanda Carter, Hennessy’s owner. Carter, 27, was charged with animal abuse and faces a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if convicted.
Hennessy was rescued thanks to a concerned neighbor who reported the abuse. If you suspect an animal is being abused, don’t keep it to yourself—report it to your local authorities.
We’ve got a new ace in the hole in our fight against blood sports: Animal Fighting Specialist Terry Mills. The newest Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team member will help bolster the ASPCA’s arsenal in the war on animal fighting. Mills will train law enforcement officials nationwide and work with them to spearhead investigations of dog fighting, cockfighting and other blood sports.
Mills is a major player in his field who received the ASPCA’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award in October 2009. He’s known for his work with the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) on the 2009 dog fighting raid that covered eight states, eliminating one of the largest dog fighting operations in U.S. history. Mills, who has 30 years’ experience at MSHP, spent 18 months before the raid as an undercover officer, gaining access to the underground world of organized dog fighting and collecting extensive evidence.
Mills joins the FIR team at a time when Americans are becoming more informed about organized animal fighting. According to our recent poll on blood sports, one in 10 Americans has known or suspected that someone they know is involved in organized animal fighting; more than half—51 percent—of respondents are aware of the connection between organized animal fighting and other serious crimes; and 81 percent of the general population say more resources are necessary to stop animal fighting, particularly training for law enforcement.
“As the public learns more about this issue, the ASPCA is being called to respond to more blood sports investigations than ever before,” says Tim Rickey, Senior Director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “Terry’s background will be a vital resource in training law enforcement to combat this cruel form of animal abuse.”
With the help of our awe-inspiring Advocacy Brigade, the ASPCA fought for and celebrated major legislative victories for both companion and farm animals in 2010.
Whether you wrote letters to your legislators to express concern about a federal or state bill, signed up for ASPCA Advocacy text messages to keep abreast of important legislative alerts, or simply spread the word about our efforts to friends and family, the ASPCA appreciates your determination to make our world a better place for all living beings.
As 2010 wraps up, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of our achievements around the country. We truly could not have done it without you!
P.S.: See what we’re currently working on, ask us questions and find tools for community advocacy by dropping by the Advocacy Center on ASPCA.org. And if you’re not already a member of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, what are you waiting for? Become a part of the action and help us enact laws that help animals—join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today!
Notable 2010 Legislative Victories
Federal When the 11-year-old Crush Act was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in April, Congress acted fast to make sure that lack of a federal law didn’t lead to a revival of the vile crush video industry. A more narrowly constructed version of the law was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and was signed into law by President Obama on December 9!
Missouri Perhaps our toughest battle this year was fought in Missouri, where a puppy mill ballot initiative directly before the state’s citizens meant that every vote counted—and the opposition was fierce. On November 2, Missourians hit the polls in support of Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. Effective in one year, the Act will help dogs in the “puppy mill capital of America” by restricting commercial breeders to no more than 50 breeding female dogs, increasing the size of dogs' living spaces and requiring yearly veterinary exams.
New Hampshire In April, legislation to end Greyhound racing in New Hampshire forever was overwhelmingly passed by the state’s Senate. Governor John Lynch signed the Greyhound Protection Act into law on July 8, adding New Hampshire to the majority of U.S. states where this cruel “sport” is now illegal.
California In 2009, California passed the landmark Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which outlawed “battery cages” and mandated that California’s egg-laying hens be housed with enough room to stand up, turn around and spread their wings. This year, the Golden State upped the ante by approving Assembly Bill 1437, which requires that by 2015, all whole eggs sold in California come from farms that meet the Act’s humane standards for housing laying hens.
Tennessee Kudos to the Tennessee General Assembly for finding creative ways to fight back against dog fighting! Passed in both chambers nearly unanimously, TN HB 238/SB 555 prohibits persons convicted of certain violent and drug-related felonies from owning dogs deemed vicious—based on their individual behavior, of course!—and will also require any dog in the possession or custody of a violent felon to be spayed or neutered and microchipped. This new legislation is expected to make it much tougher for violent felons to breed and train dogs for fighting.
Connecticut A new law developed by the ASPCA, Connecticut Votes for Animals and Connecticut animal control officers to prohibit the dangerous and inhumane chaining/tethering of dogs was passed in late spring and went into effect on October 1. The vocal and steadfast support of our Connecticut Advocacy Brigade helped this legislation squeak through in the final hours of the state’s legislative session.
The ASPCA knows that when someone abuses an animal, there’s a good chance that person is hurting or will hurt a person, too. So the Linkage Project, a group that raises awareness of the deep connection between animal cruelty and other violence, is a program we can get behind. On Thursday, the ASPCA announced it is awarding $10,000 to help the Maine organization further its work.
“The ASPCA has long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes,” says Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. “Animal cruelty is not just an animal control or law enforcement problem—it is something that requires the skills and resources of many members of a community to respond to and prevent.”
The Linkage Project—a statewide coalition of animal control officers; health and human service representatives; law enforcement officials; and child, adult and animal welfare advocates—embraces that collaborative approach.
The ASPCA’s grant will help Linkage train Maine’s human- and animal-welfare workers and law enforcement officers to work together to stop violence against people and pets. The Linkage Project, a program of Youth Alternatives Ingraham in South Portland, also works to increase the capacity of communities to respond when children or adults see or commit animal abuse, including cases of hoarding and neglect.
On Thursday, December 9, at a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama signed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 into law. The new law prohibits the creation and distribution of “crush videos” and establishes a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
In April 2010, the United States Supreme Court struck down the original “Crush Act” (the Depictions of Animal Cruelty Act), a federal law passed in 1999, finding its language to be overbroad and unconstitutional. The law was meant to stop the creation and sale of crush videos and other depictions of illegal acts of animal cruelty. The animal welfare and law enforcement communities have been concerned that lack of a federal law to prohibit crush videos would lead to resurgence in their trade—done mostly via the Internet—which was suppressed effectively by the 1999 law.
The Court’s ruling did leave the door open for the Act to be rewritten—and to their credit, several members of Congress wasted no time in drafting and introducing amendments that would 1) withstand test of constitutionality, and 2) address one of the Court’s main problems with the original Act by including exemptions for visual depictions of hunting, trapping, and fishing. The Senate version of the legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Richard Burr (R-NC); the House version was introduced by Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
“The ASPCA has long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes,” says Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. “By banning crush videos, our federal government is potentially helping to protect the community from other serious crimes and sending a clear message to individuals seeking to profit from the suffering of helpless animals. This law protects both animals and free speech by focusing specifically on crush videos, which clearly have no place in our society.”
The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act has a narrower focus than the 1999 law, but still prohibits creating or distributing depictions of non-human animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.