Last year, more than one million ASPCA supporters like you stood up and used your voices for animals by taking action on legislative issues in your state and before Congress. Whether you wrote letters to your legislators to express concern about a federal or state bill, signed up for text messages to keep abreast of important legislative alerts, or simply spread the word about our efforts to friends and family, we appreciate your determination to make our world a better place for all living beings.
2010 will likely be remembered for two things: the demise and subsequent resurrection of the federal Crush Act, and Missouri’s Proposition B (read about both below). While these two victories grabbed a lot of well-deserved headlines, we’re happy to report that they were not the only ones we celebrated last year: Scroll down to see a list of select legislative victories the ASPCA and our awe-inspiring Advocacy Brigade won for both companion and farm animals in 2010.
It’s also important to remember that in the legislative world, victories sometimes come in the form of losses! Not listed below, but of equal importance, are bills that didn’t pass, bills that we actively opposed because they were bad for animals. These include an attempt in Florida to legalize discriminatory, breed-specific dangerous dog legislation, and two measures in Missouri: a bill that would have legalized horse slaughter and a joint resolution, introduced during the Prop B campaign, to curtail citizens' rights to vote on ballot initiatives affecting animals.
In the year 2010…
- The ASPCA Advocacy Brigade welcomed approximately 300,000 new members—we’re now more than 1.8 million advocates strong, and on track to reach 2 million in 2011!
- We sent those Brigade members 77 targeted city, state and federal Advocacy Alerts on a wide range of animal issues, including (but not limited to) horse slaughter, “organic” livestock farming, inhumane tethering, animal fighting, puppy mills and spay/neuter programs.
- Those 77 Advocacy Alerts resulted in approximately 390,000 personalized emails and countless phone calls to legislators and other decision-makers on behalf of animals.
Want to get in on the action? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, an email group of more than 1.8 million “political animals” who help us get the job done! Please read on to learn about some of the best new laws for animals.
2010’s Greatest Hits (some of our favorite new laws)
United States of America/Federal
HR 5566—Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010
Effective: December 9, 2010
In April 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the 11-year-old Crush Act on the grounds that it was too broadly constructed, which made it, in the Court’s view, unconstitutional and thus unenforceable. Thankfully, 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 tightly tailored version of the law was signed into law by President Obama on December 9 and went into effect immediately.
AB 1437—Humane Production of Eggs
Effective: January 1, 2015
In 2009, California passed the landmark Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act to outlaw “battery cages” and mandate that California’s egg-laying hens be housed with enough room to stand up, turn around and spread their wings. The following 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.
SB 274—Cruel Dog Chaining/Tethering
Effective: October 1, 2010
Signed into law by Governor Rell in June, SB 274—now Public Act 10-100—prohibits the cruelest aspects of dog chaining, including short, tangled chains attached to inappropriate collars (such as prong/choke collars) and tethers loaded down with weights or otherwise posing a risk of injury or strangulation. The ASPCA developed the bill in concert with Connecticut Votes for Animals and state animal control officers. We sent nearly 10 urgent alerts to our Connecticut Advocacy Brigade members asking for support of this humane legislation, and we credit their dedication and action for helping to bring it over the finish line in the final hours of the state’s legislative session.
HB 765/SB 1708—Felony Horse Slaughter
Effective: October 1, 2010
Horse slaughter in Florida is now a felony offense with a mandatory minimum sentence for violators of $3,500 and one year confinement. This new law also makes it felony offense to kill, maim or mutilate a horse, and prohibits the transport, sale and distribution of horse meat that is not acquired from a licensed slaughterhouse. Since there are no licensed horse slaughterhouses in Florida (or anywhere in the country, for that matter), passage of these bills effectively ended all slaughter in the state. The ASPCA had significant involvement in both developing HB 765/SB 1708 and promoting it to elected officials and Floridians.
HB 313—Puppy Mill Licensing Fees
Effective: August 15, 2010
With the passage of this bill, now Act No. 92, Louisiana has instituted a minimum license fee of $30 for commercial breeders—previously, $30 was the <i>maximum<i> fee allowed to be charged for a commercial breeder/kennel license. By instituting a minimum fee versus a maximum fee, local governments now have the ability to set more realistic commercial breeder/kennel license fees to help balance out the high costs of kennel regulation, inspections and enforcement. Many thanks to the Louisiana Legislature for strengthening their state’s protection of dogs bred for profit!
HB 344—Prohibits Devocalization of Cats and Dogs
Effective: July 21, 2010
Now known as Chapter 82, this measure, which was introduced way back in January 2009, bans devocalization of dogs and cats except in cases of medical necessity. In those cases, the surgery must be performed by a state-licensed veterinarian and reported to a veterinary medical board. Violators face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Nearly 60 state representatives and senators signed on to HB 344 as cosponsors.
Proposition B—Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act
Effective: November 2, 2011
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 one year from Election Day, the Act will help dogs in the “Puppy Mill Capital of America” by restricting commercial breeders to keeping no more than 50 breeding female dogs, increasing the size of dogs' living spaces and requiring yearly veterinary exams. Although the majority of Missourians voted for Prop B, its future is currently in doubt—several state-level senators and representatives are attempting to weaken or repeal it through legislation.
HB 630—Greyhound Protection Act
Effective: January 1, 2011
In April, after seven years of thwarted attempts, legislation to forever prohibit Greyhound racing in New Hampshire completed its journey through the legislature. Governor John Lynch signed the Greyhound Protection Act into law on July 8, making New Hampshire the tenth state to specifically ban this cruel “sport.”
S 6609-B/ A 9709-C—Preservation of Animal Population Control Program
Effective: October 10, 2010
Since 1996, a statewide program called the Animal Population Control Program (APCP) has helped fund spay/neuter surgery for adopted pets and the pets of low-income New Yorkers. When Governor Paterson initially proposed the elimination of the program, we activated the New York members of our Advocacy Brigade to fight for its preservation—and we succeeded. Furthermore, the final 2010 state budget bill instituted a $1 surcharge on altered dog licenses, which is expected to double program revenue!
HB 238/SB 555—Dog Fighting Penalties Effective: July 1, 2010
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.
Effective: July 1, 2010
In 2010, Virginia increased the penalty for animal cruelty resulting from an owner's failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care from a Class 4 to a Class 2 misdemeanor and increased the penalty for animal cruelty resulting from an owner's failure to provide adequate space, exercise, care, treatment and transportation from a Class 4 to a Class 3 misdemeanor. This anti-cruelty bill also included a cool provision related to curtailing pet overpopulation: it raised the civil penalty for failure to spay/neuter a dog or cat adopted from an agency requiring sterilization from $50 to $250.