After a shocking New York Times exposé on the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) unearthed extreme cruelty to animals and an atmosphere devoid of compassion and oversight, the ASPCA has been pressing for congressional reforms.
Our efforts received a huge boost recently from a respected elder statesman. Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), a key architect of federal protections for animals in institutional research, spoke out in favor of the AWARE Act (H.R. 746/S. 388). This legislation, which was introduced in direct response to the USMARC scandal, would require USMARC and similar facilities to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA, which sets minimum standards for other kinds of animal research, currently contains an exemption for “agricultural” research. The AWARE Act would close this gaping loophole for federally run facilities.
Among his many achievements during 35 years in Congress, Senator Dole introduced the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act. A key provision of that legislation, enacted in 1985, mandates that research facilities establish internal animal welfare oversight committees to review research using animals and make suggestions to reduce the number of animals used, to improve welfare for those used, and to avoid duplication. In the USMARC case, the USDA’s own investigation revealed that the facility’s oversight committee was inactive and severely negligent in its duties.
Senator Dole voiced his support for reform at USMARC by writing letters to the two current U.S. senators from Kansas, Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of whom chair committees with jurisdiction over USMARC funding.
The summer forecast at the ASPCA is cats, cats and more cats! Monday, June 1, not only kicks off Adopt a Shelter Cat Month—it also marks the height of kitten season, which is the time of year when felines breed. The ASPCA Animal Hospital and kitten nursery are are preparing for a massive influx of homeless and newborn cats, while the ASPCA Adoption Center is hoping to find more forever homes for felines than ever before. If you’re looking to make a difference for cats during this critical time of year, here are some ways you can get involved:
Adopt. Kitten season creates a tremendous population explosion, and animal shelters around the country will soon be flooded with cats in need of a home. You can make a major difference this season by adopting a new feline friend. At our Adoption Center in New York City, we are waiving adoption fees for cats over three years old, and we will waive one adoption fee for adopters who bring home two kittens. If you’re not in New York, you can use our handy database to find adoptable cats in your area.
Take our Pledge. In honor of Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, we also teamed up with Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell and creator of the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, to promote the awesomeness of rescued kitties. You can help show the world how great rescued cats are by signing our pledge to make adoption your only option and sharing your cat’s most adorable or wacky photo on social media using the hashtag #MyRescueCat.
Make a Gift. Kitten season is one of the most dangerous times of year for homeless cats and kittens. During this season, resources like food, money and space are stretched to the brink and virtually overnight, the number of cats begins to outweigh the number of available homes. The ASPCA is determined to make a difference, but your most generous donation today can support our efforts to curb kitten season and find a home for every animal. To help us save lives during kitten season and all year long, please consider making a gift to the ASPCA today.
We’re excited to announce that A Fair Shake For Youth, a nonprofit group that offers underserved middle schoolers the opportunity to work with therapy and rescue dogs, is expanding its educational program thanks to a $10,000 grant from the ASPCA. The program helps children learn respect for animals, empathy and self-esteem by forming relationships with dogs and practicing positive reinforcement training.
Program participants interact and build relationships with various therapy and rescue dogs on a weekly basis. As the program progresses, the children learn compassion and appreciation for animals while forming the social and emotional skills necessary for building relationships with animals and humans alike. Each week, the children learn to train the dogs with positive reinforcement, starting with basic commands and building up to agility games. The children also learn about animal welfare issues, such as animal homelessness, and tour the ASPCA Adoption Center.
“The connection between some forms of animal cruelty, domestic violence, and child abuse is clear,” says Stacy Wolf, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “Learning to care for animals and treat them with respect reduces the likelihood of cruelty and neglect and also sets the framework for positive relationships with people and the community.”
The ASPCA has donated a total of $30,000 to A Fair Shake for Youth since 2013, helping the program reach over 700 children in 26 public schools throughout the New York City area. The organization has also supplied therapy dog programs for children at domestic violence shelters.
We can’t wait hear about the children and animals who will benefit as a result of this exciting program expansion.
The news just broke that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has vetoed H.B. 405, a dangerous ag-gag bill that would have prevented whistleblowers from exposing animal cruelty and food safety issues on factory farms. This bill was so far-reaching that it also threatened to prevent nurses from revealing elder abuse in hospitals or nursing homes, teachers from exposing child abuse at day cares, and workers from documenting workplace discrimination or mistreatment.
“H.B. 405 was an insidious attempt to silence whistleblowers and keep North Carolina residents in the dark about horrific animal abuse on industrial farms, but Governor McCrory sent a powerful message by vetoing this dangerous bill,” says Chloe Waterman, Senior Manager of State Legislative Strategy for the ASPCA. “Ag-gag has no place in North Carolina, and the ASPCA thanks Governor McCrory for standing up for the 74 percent of North Carolinians that support undercover investigations and the responsible farmers and businesses whose reputations would have been tarnished by this deplorable measure.”
Despite strong public opposition and the release of an undercover video that showed shocking cruelty at a North Carolina chicken slaughterhouse, state lawmakers voted in favor of this bill. Recognizing the dangers of a food system without transparency, North Carolina residents quickly appealed to the Governor for a veto alongside a broad coalition of dozens of interest groups and farmers who voiced their opposition to the bill. In addition, newspapers from around the state editorialized against the bill and celebrities including Martha Stewart, Kesha, Nikki Reed, Eric McCormack, Amy Acker, Katherine Schwarzenegger and Andie MacDowell also called for a veto on social media.
“North Carolina is one of the leading producers of poultry and pork in the U.S., so their animal products could end up on anyone’s dinner plate,” says Daisy Freund, Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare for the ASPCA. “Ag-gag bills affect everyone, no matter where they live. Those concerned with animal abuse on factory farms and food safety issues need to remain vigilant in letting their state legislators know that they do not support the passage of dangerous ag-gag bills.”
If you live in North Carolina, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center now to thank your governor for vetoing this bill and to urge your state legislators to let the veto stand.
Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
New Studies Show Dogs and Humans Bonded At Least 27,000 Years Ago: DNA evidence suggests that ancestors of domestic dogs separated from the ancestors of wolves and bonded with humans at least 27,000 years ago—earlier than previously established by geneticists. Husky-type dogs share a significant number of genes with a breed of wolf that lived 35,000 years ago. [Discovery News]
Feline Burn Victim Befriends Fellow Patients at Animal Hospital: After suffering severe injuries during a house fire that destroyed his family’s home, a North Carolina cat named Russell has spent the past year and a half recovering at a local animal hospital. As his condition improves, Russell has formed special bonds with many other patients with special needs—including an abandoned baby deer and an injured Chihuahua. [The Huffington Post]
Pending Legislation Would Allow Military Dogs to Return to U.S. with Handlers Following Service: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for a provision that would allow military dogs to go home with their handlers at the conclusion of their service. Under current law, these dogs are not guaranteed the ability to return to the U.S. upon retirement, and some wait years to be released from military ownership. [WABC-TV New York]
Bear That Inspired the “Teddy Bear” May Be Removed from Threatened Species List: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that Louisiana black bears, which are known as the visual inspiration for teddy bear toys, be removed from the threatened species list. While the population of Louisiana black bears once dwindled below 100, government officials estimate that as many as 1,000 of the bears reside in Louisiana. [The Washington Post]
Special Reunion in the Works for Pet Parent and Stolen Cats Discovered 1,000 Miles from Home: It’s not clear how two cats stolen from their home in Indiana wound up more than 1,000 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a man surrendered them to an Albuquerque shelter, shelter workers checked for microchips and found contact information for the cats, named Leroy and Shya. The shelter is still working to arrange a reunion for Leroy, Shya and their pet parent. [KRQE.com]