In a pivotal decision, a federal judge in Idaho has ruled that an ag-gag law violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, striking this terrible law from the books. This is the first time a court has ruled on the constitutionality of an ag-gag law, and the ASPCA is hopeful that this decision will mark the beginning of the end of these dangerous laws.
The Idaho statute, which passed in 2014 despite outcry from both humane and food industry voices, criminalizes undercover investigations into animal welfare, food safety, or worker safety at industrial farms. Under the law, workers, investigators or good Samaritans could be convicted for documenting and exposing animal abuse or dangerous public health risks.
Exposés on farms are a critical animal-protection tool, forming the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurring reforms to ensure the safety of our food supply. In the past few years, in an effort to protect their bottom line from the consumer awareness these investigations provoke, the animal agriculture industry has been driving the introduction of ag-gag/anti-whistleblower bills in state legislatures across the country. A broad coalition of groups spanning animal welfare, workers’ rights, food safety, sustainable farming and environmental interests has worked together to block over 30 bills. Despite this collaborative work and broad public opposition to these bills, laws have passed in five states.
It is a great victory for farm animals, their advocates and whistleblowers across the country that the dangerous Idaho law has been deemed unconstitutional. The ASPCA applauds this decision and hopes it sends a clear message to the animal agriculture industry that hiding abuses and punishing whistleblowers is no way to conduct business in this country.
Sign the Open the Barns pledge to be an advocate against ag-gag in your state, and spread the word about these dangerous bills to your friends and family.
This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives became an animal house! The ASPCA, along with the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC), hosted the fourth annual “Paws for Celebration,” a Capitol Hill animal adoption event that brings attention to shelter animals and honors rescue organizations locally and across the country.
CAPC co-chair Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) spoke to the crowd, which included members of Congress, congressional staff, and 50 adoptable dogs and cats. This year’s event included a very special guest, former Senator and Majority Leader Bob Dole. During his service in Congress from 1961 to 1996, he spearheaded passage of several landmark legislative advances in animal protection.
Best of all, several animals found their forever homes today at Paws for Celebration. Huge thanks to the following local animal rescue groups that participated:
•Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
•Animal Welfare League of Arlington
•Fairfax County Animal Shelter
•Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue
•Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
•Last Chance Animal Rescue
•Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
•Pinups for Pitbulls
•Prince George’s County Animal Shelter
•Washington Animal Rescue League
•Washington Humane Society
“I was so pleased to be a part of the Paws for Celebration event–a favorite event on Capitol Hill, featuring dogs and cats from shelters and rescues from the D.C. area," said Representative Blumenauer. "We were also honored to host Senator Bob Dole, a longtime animal welfare champion, demonstrating yet again the incredible bipartisan and unifying nature of doing the right thing by our animals.”
This black-and-white beauty is Teodora, a sweet and playful cat who is ready to be an excellent partner-in-crime to a lucky adopter. Teodora loves her friends and has no problem showing lots of affection, but she’s also independent and enjoys her stints of solitude. Teodora can be a little skeptical of new company, but if strangers approach her slowly and extend a hand for her to sniff, she usually warms up pretty quickly. She loves to play with feather toys, and enjoys a good scratch on her head and chin, but isn’t crazy about back or belly rubs.
Teodora would do best in the home of an experienced cat adopter with kids 14 or older. She would prefer to be the only cat in the home. Adopt Teodora today!
Teodora is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting Teodora, please call our Adoptions Department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120.
When most people think about animal rescues, they probably visualize professional responders and advocates coming to the aid of dogs, cats, and other animals in desperate and sometimes abusive situations. But this equation leaves out a third party that’s absolutely crucial to saving lives: The community.
Participation by local residents is critical to complete the full cycle of animal rescue—from initial intervention to sheltering and care, and finally adoption. We don’t always get to witness this full cycle in a single endeavor, which makes our recent operation in Moulton, Alabama stand out.
The case began in late June, when we assisted the Moulton Police Department in removing more than 300 animals—including dogs and cats of all breeds and ages—living in filthy and overcrowded conditions at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter.
When we arrived, we found several dead animals among live ones throughout the property, including puppies who’d died from untreated parvovirus. We also rushed a number of animals to an emergency clinic. Other animals were emaciated and suffering from medical issues including parvovirus, distemper and untreated wounds. Some were housed in small wire crates, and others in crowded enclosures where animals fought for limited resources and space.
On July 25 and 26, we held a two-day adoption event for the animals, which was attended by well over 900 people from as far away as Tennessee and Georgia.
All adoptable animals were vaccinated and micro-chipped prior to the event, and the ASPCA made provisions for them to be spayed or neutered as well, at no expense to their new owners. The ASPCA is also helping to cover other veterinary expenses, including treatment for heartworm-positive dogs.
For the adoption event, the ASPCA also instituted a formal process, developed by animal behaviorists and shelter experts, to help ensure animals were going to safe new homes. The process included a detailed application form and mandatory meetings with adoption counselors to assess prospective owners’ home environments as well as their capability to care for an animal, especially ones with special needs.
With each appropriate and successful match, an “adoption bell” was rung to share the good news.
By the end of the weekend, 202 animals—including all of the cats—were adopted. The remaining dogs will be transported and placed with rescue organizations across the country to be made available for adoption. Some will be transferred to the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, located in Madison, New Jersey, to treat the extreme psychological damage they endured.
This adoption event was a vital part of the overall effort in Moulton, and its success clearly hinged on the participation of community residents ready to demonstrate their capacity for compassion.
We were not surprised by the enthusiastic turnout. In fact, there are compassionate people like this across the country, and it’s critical to connect their compassion to causes that save and protect animal lives. Some people are already inspired and active; others are just waiting for a local event like this to capture their concern.
So what does such an active community look like? On Saturday we saw plenty of outstanding examples:
Moulton residents Brandon and Lindsey Myers, alongside their daughter Rayleigh, 14, and seven-month-old son Crimson, adopted two kittens—one orange-and-white, the other black. “We wanted to rescue an animal from this situation,” Brandon told us. “I reckon my wife and daughter each picked one out… I guess we’ve got big hearts.”
Baxter, a gray Lab mix puppy, was found in critical condition during the rescue and was rushed to the Moulton Veterinary Hospital. There he was treated for canine distemper, a contagious and dangerous viral disease. Baxter was adopted by Dan Mobley and Kristie Oldaker from Huntsville, Alabama, along with their sons Matthew, 11, and Noah, 10.
Sloan Kirby, a nurse and mother from Trinity, Alabama adopted Chloe, a tabby kitten. Chloe was one of more than 40 cats and kittens found in a filthy outdoor pen filled with overflowing litter boxes and surrounded by chicken wire.
Bambi, a lab/hound mix, was adopted by Anna and Stephen McCollum and their daughter, Maddie, 3, of Trinity, Alabama. “We saw the news story and it touched our hearts,” said Anna. “We wanted to do something to help these innocent animals.” After Maddie rang the adoption bell, she gave Bambi this welcoming hug.
This was a busy month in Moulton. But we were constantly motivated not only by the humane work we were committed to doing, but by the many hundreds of average people who showed up—and stepped up—to help us do it.
Many of you may remember Dash: The four-year-old Cane Corso was a staff favorite who spent over a year at the ASPCA. In April, he was featured in our Adoption Spotlight, and soon after that, he found a forever home. We recently checked in with Dash’s adopter to see how this “gentle giant” is enjoying his new life, and we are thrilled to bring you an update today. Here is Dash’s Happy Tail.
In April 2014, the NYPD rescued Dash and three other dogs from extreme cruelty in Queens, New York. He was brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he arrived with severe skin disease, stomach issues and a timid but kind personality. Dash spent the next eight months in the hospital, where he received weekly baths to soothe his skin and melatonin to calm his nerves. It was clear that this special boy needed some extra TLC, so ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Jasmine Bruno offered to take him in as a foster pet.
In Dr. Bruno’s home, the big brindle pup continued to come out of his shell. “Dash is an incredible dog who I would say is the perfect definition of a ‘gentle giant,’” Dr. Bruno reported. “He can be a little shy at first…But all he wants is a companion that will give him the same amount of affection that he gives non-stop.”
In April 2015, Dash’s time under our care passed the one-year mark. We wanted so badly to find him a forever home, and fortunately, Angelika P. of Newton, Pennsylvania, came to his rescue. “I wanted to give a less fortunate animal a home where patience and love were a given,” says Angelika, who had previous experience fostering dogs rescued from abuse. She was also looking for a large-breed dog because she wanted to help fight misconceptions and educate people about their potential. “When I saw Dash on the website, I immediately knew he was perfect,” she says.
Already a pet-parent to a mixed-breed pooch named Lushbrick, Angelika was eager to meet Dash in person. She and “Lush” met him at a park, and he instantly felt like part of the family. “Everything about his personality was awesome, and Lush instantly picked up with him, wanting to protect him from other dogs. Not to mention, he’s such a handsome boy!”
Angelika adopted Dash on April 28, and since then, he has proven to be everything she had hoped for and more. “It amazes me how Dash evolves more and more every day. My family and I seem to be constantly saying, ‘Wow! Did you see what Dash did today? He never does that, or he’s normally scared of that!’” she says with pride. And he has definitely found comfort in his new home—Lushbrick won’t leave his side (and he won’t have it any other way)! Angelika says, “Dash is a real-life BFG (Big Friendly Giant).”
Reflecting on Dash’s difficult past, Angelika says, “It breaks my heart that people who cannot be responsible for their pets break that trust with abuse, neglect or abandonment. I wanted a rescue dog to know commitment, and above commitment, to know unconditional love.” We think she’s given that to Dash in spades, and for that we are so grateful. Congrats, Dash!