On Monday, the ASPCA announced the Million Dollar Rescuing Racers Initiative to help rescue retired racehorses from neglect, abuse and slaughter. The two-to-three year initiative, which was made possible by a generous donor, involves six equine rescue groups and sanctuaries that have accepted the challenge of saving more thoroughbreds than ever before.
While healthy, well cared-for horses live an average of 18 to 25 years (and often much longer), a racing horse’s career generally lasts only one or two years. “Racing thoroughbreds rarely live out their final days in peace and comfort when their careers are over,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Too often, they end up at auctions—or worse, are sent to foreign slaughterhouses where their lives come to brutal ends. These grants will give organizations devoted to equine rescue the ability to save more horses and further advance their missions.”
The six grant recipients are: California Equine Retirement Foundation in Winchester, CA; Old Friends in Georgetown, KY; MidAtlantic Horse Rescue in Chesapeake City, MD; Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Lexington, KY; Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY, with contracted housing in 14 states; and Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) in East Lansing, MI, with chapters in eight states. These recipients will use the grants to expand direct intake programs, incorporate physical therapy/rehabilitation programs, renovate facilities to accommodate more horses, create voucher programs to increase adoptions, and implement training programs for thoroughbreds to prepare them for second careers.
“The ASPCA truly values each group’s steadfast efforts to promote equine welfare,” says Jacque Schultz, Senior Director of ASPCA Community Outreach. “The thoroughbred that has given his all on the racetrack deserves to live out his life free of pain, fear and suffering.” For more information about helping horses and preventing equine cruelty, please visit ASPCA.org.
When two severely emaciated Jack Russell Terriers arrived at the New York City Animal Care & Control (AC&C) shelter in Brooklyn, staff immediately suspected they had a cruelty case on their hands. Brooklyn resident Vera Osborne had relinquished the starving dogs, claiming that her niece could no longer afford to feed them—and that she could no longer bear witness to it. One of the dogs, a two-year-old pup named Patches, died within hours of being admitted.
“Unfortunately, starvation is one of the most common types of cruelty we investigate,” says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Department. “Animal cruelty is a serious crime, and we are doing everything we can to see that the victims receive justice.”
AC&C contacted the ASPCA Humane Law Department for assistance with the case, and a necropsy performed at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital confirmed that Patches’ cause of death was indeed starvation.
Soon after, ASPCA Special Agent Joe Vais began investigating Patches’ death, traveling to Osborne’s East Flatbush home for an interview. When questioned, Osborne again stated that the dogs were under the sole care of her niece, Rlisa Youell, and that after several failed attempts to have the dogs properly cared for, she turned them over to the shelter.
On February 24, Special Agent Vais arrested Youell and charged her with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. She faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Looking back at our accomplishments in 2009, champions of animal welfare throughout the United States have plenty to celebrate! For a quick and easy rundown of last year's coolest new laws, check out the Legislative Year in Review featured on ASPCA.org. You'll also get to see which animal welfare topics were popular with legislative bodies in multiple states.
Good news—the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed regulations for the care of “organic” dairy cows, which we asked you take action on two weeks ago, have been approved! The new rules, effective June 17, stipulate that organic milk and meat must come from livestock grazing on pasture for at least four months of the year; 30 percent of the cows’ feed must come from grazing; and ranchers must have a plan to protect soil and water quality.
“We are delighted to learn that so many cows will now have access to pasture and an opportunity to graze,” says Robert Baker, ASPCA Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare. “We hope this will be the first of many steps the USDA will take to align organic standards with humane standards. Consumers need to be given an opportunity to make a ‘humane’ choice as well as a healthy choice when they choose organic products. We welcome these initial measures toward this goal.”
We would like to give a big thanks to News Alert readers and members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade who took the time to email the White House from ASPCA.org. Over the span of 15 days, more than 33,000 emails were sent!
“Clear and enforceable standards are essential to the health and success of the market for organic agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a USDA press release issued last Friday. “The final rule published today will give consumers confidence that organic milk or cheese comes from cows raised on pasture, and organic family farmers the assurance that there is one, consistent pasture standard that applies to dairy products.”
For the second time in a week, the ASPCA helped respond to a suspected dog fighting ring in rural Georgia. On February 21, five days after the ASPCA rescued 26 alleged fighting dogs left to die in Sandersville, GA; the Washington County Sheriff’s Department received a second tip.
The anonymous call led deputies to a property in the East Sandersville section of Washington County, GA. When the Washington County Sheriff’s Department arrived, two dogs were in the act of fighting and three men fled the scene. ASPCA Investigators helped secure the scene and found nine other dogs on the property. Eight of the dogs found were severely underweight and some of the dogs were suffering from various skin ailments.
On February 16, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team along with Washington County officials rescued 24 dogs and recovered the remains of 6 others and identified a total of over two dozen grave sites. While the two cases are very similar in nature, authorities believe they are unrelated.
“The second tip came in because the witness had seen the first case on television news reports,” says ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty, Matt Bershadker. “This just proves the importance of reporting cruelty and the fact that it inspires others to take action as well.”
Authorities have two suspects in custody in conjunction with the East Sandersville case. Other arrests and animal cruelty charges are anticipated. The dogs from East Sandersville have since joined the two dozen others at an emergency shelter, where officials from the ASPCA and United Animal Nations are caring for their immediate needs. The dogs from both cases are being provided with all necessary medical care and are in the process of undergoing behavioral assessments.
For the latest information about the rescued dogs or for information on how you can report cruelty, please visit ASPCA.org.