Lawmakers consider ban on killing dogs or cats for food

House lawmakers will consider an amendment to the farm bill on Wednesday on whether to bar individuals from killing dogs or cats for food. The new provision would make it illegal for all Americans to “knowingly slaughtering a dog or cat for human consumption.”

According to the Bloomberg Politics, the ruling would institute penalties for killing dogs or cats for food as well as being a participant in any commercial activity related to the slaughter of animals considered household pets. Three states currently ban the practice – New Jersey, New York and California.

The bill, introduced by Jeff Denham (R. Calif.) of the House Agriculture Committee, would subject violators to prison time and fines. Florida Representative Alcee Hastings (D) introduced similar legislation and currently has 239 co-sponsors as of March.

The Humane Society of the United States urge animal advocates and American citizens to act:

“Please urge your U.S. Representative to support the inclusion of four animal welfare bills: the PAST Act (H.R. 1847), the PACE Act (H.R. 4202), the PAWS Act (H.R. 909/S. 322) and the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act (H.R. 1406) in the Farm Bill. These four bills already have tremendous bipartisan support and the Farm Bill is an ideal vehicle to get them passed through the House.

Please also urge your Representative to oppose the inclusion of Rep. Steve King’s dangerous anti-states’ rights bills, H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599, that could undercut the will of the people and force state and localities to allow the sale of dangerous and inhumanely-produced products.”

Take Action:

Please take a moment to call your U.S. Representative now.Look up your legislator’s phone number. You can say, “As your constituent, I urge you to ensure three critical animal protection bills—the PAST Act on horse soring, the PACE Act on animal fighting, the PAWS Act on domestic violence against pets and the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act—are included in the Farm Bill. Please also ensure that Rep. Steve King’s legislation—H.R. 4879 and H.R. 3599—is not included. King’s legislation poses a very real threat to animals, consumers, and states’ rights across the country.”


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USDA abandons organic animal welfare standards for meat and egg producers

On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture abandoned stricter animal welfare standards that would have given  farm animals classified as Organic and used for egg production and meat more humane protections.  The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices has been withdrawn with the department citing the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority.

The rule was established by former President Barack Obama, designed to give organically grown livestock enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch. Also prohibited was the removal of chicken beaks and cutting cattle tails; also requiring living conditions to include fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight. Not a lot to ask for chickens and cattle destined to give up their short lives for human consumption don’t you think?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, CEO Matt Bershadker, the walk back of the rule defeats what has been an ongoing task fighting for basic humane treatment for animals for the last 20 years.

“The USDA’s withdrawal of the OLPP is a violation of the public trust that reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers that led to this groundbreaking rule. Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.”

Bershadker agrees that most farmers have been in favor of stronger animal welfare standards, but some large-scale brands have intentionally taken advantage of the loopholes while still referring to themselves as Organic farmers and thus charging higher prices, while misleading consumers who believe they are making more social conscious decisions when they purchase meat, dairy and eggs with the Organic classification.

The DesmoinesRegister reports that some people in the livestock industry complained the rule would has increased their paperwork and driven up the costs for farmers and ranchers.

“America’s organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation,” stated Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts.

Francis Thicke, who runs an organic dairy and grows crops in Iowa, was not surprised at the rule abandonment after finding that farming lobbyists had been camping out and influencing politicians with their stories of woe. A group of organic farmers in the United States have now created their own label – the Real Organic Project and hope to have pilot farms certified this summer which will guarantee humane standards for organic animals.

Be careful what you read in the supermarkets about Organic; on May 13, the rules are effectively all withdrawn. Please shop with your heart.

Read more about the USDA and how animal welfare continues to be put on the back burners. Why?

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Whoa! Senate committee says ‘neigh’ to reopening horse slaughter plants in U.S

The United States Appropriations Committee voted in favor of an amendment to ban any horse slaughter plants from opening in the United States on Thursday. In a news release from the Humane Society of the United States, Senators Tom Udall, (D-NM) and Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) led the bipartisan effort along with committee members Senators Christopher Coons, (D-Del), Susan Collins, (R-Maine), Diane Feinstein, (D-Calif.), Jack Reid, (D-R.I.) and Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.) cosponsoring the amendment as gaining strength in the anti-slaughter campaign.

Last week, the House committee voted to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States. The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 27 to 25 members who support the anti-slaughter bill. All but one Democrat on the committee voted to oppose the amendment to ban horse slaughter while 26 of 30 Republicans favored it. The vote came as the panel approved a Department of Agriculture funding bill. The House and Senate committees are now in disagreement, and key lawmakers will have to settle this item among others is dispute.

“Unimaginable because American horses deserve a better fate than to be gathered up by a disreputable ‘kill buyer’ who outbids a rescuer at an auction, loaded onto an overcrowded truck, and then stunned, hoisted up by one leg, and pulled apart piece by piece – which is exactly  what the 27 lawmakers who voted against the Roybal-Allard/Dent amendment are trying to sanction,” wrote Wayner Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

Horse slaughter has been banned for more than a decade. The ban is enforced by blocking the Department of Agriculture from paying for inspectors at horse meat plants that slaughter horses and is in place through September 30.

Pacelle states the negotiations in today’s vote in the Senate signifies the country’s feelings against horse slaughter for human consumption. According to U.S. Senator Tom Udall, Americans find the thought of horse slaughter for their meat repulsive, stating,

“…there is no reason the federal government should contribute in an way. This amendment is a strong step forward, and I will keep fighting to prohibit horse slaughter in the United States.”

The slaughter of American horses continues to disgust most people. Horses not only serve as pets and companions, they have also served in the development and building of the West, heroes in war and still serve in police and other national and federal positions. As to the few people who want to benefit by slaughtering horses, investing is such an endeavor is little different than opening a restaurant which sells dog meat. Whereas there are homeless horses – much as there are homeless dogs and cats yet we don’t mix our dogs into the meat stew. It again becomes a moral responsibility for horse owners to care for their horses  and promote proper breeding as well as adequate rescue and retirement.

Animal advocates must continue the fight.

(Photo of Dakota by Liz Lamont)

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Reward of $6,000 for information on dog dragged, chained and set on fire while alive

In another disturbing case of animal cruelty in Charleston, South Carolina, two humane organizations have joined together to offer a $6,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for chaining a live dog to set on fire in Awendaw. According to Live5News, Pet Helpers Adoption Shelter announced on Wednesday adding a $1,000 to the reward along with the Humane Society of the United States’ reward of $5,000.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and the Awendaw Fire Department were called to the front gate of the Center for Birds of Prey after the body of a burning dog was discovered. The dog was already dead.

“Somebody has burned a dog… it’s still burning,” Jim Elliot, Director of the Center for Birds of Prey reported in an emergency 911 call. “I know it’s got a chain on its neck from what I can tell, and I saw some kids walking away when I drove up. I don’t think it’s something we look like we should ignore.”

According to authorities, Elliot stated he saw four boys and two girls between the ages of 12 and 15 walking across the field where the dog was left to burn to death. Authorities suspect the children might have been involved in the egregious animal cruelty crime.  The dog was apparently dragged down the road tied tightly will chains wrapped around his muzzle, torso and legs. A necrospy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of the dog’s death.

The photo of the area blackened by the fire where the dog was set on fire courtesy of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111 or the Charleston County Animal Control Office at 843-529-5319.

Read about the man sentenced to prison for taping a dog’s mouth shut with electrical tape.

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Political pressure? USDA reposting animal welfare data

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today has been reposting some of the tens of thousands of animal welfare documents previously removed from its website.  In an official announcement from APHIS they were,

“posting the first batch of annual reports of research institutions and inspection reports for certain Federal research facilities that the Agency regulates under the Animal Welfare Act.  The reports posted are part of a comprehensive review of the documents the Agency removed from its website in early February and are in the same redacted form as before.”

The agency claimed the entire search tool database had been removed on February 3, 2017 as part of a review to decide which information would be appropriate for reposting. At that time, thousands of publicly searchable records for zoos, research laboratories, commercial breeders including puppy mill facilities and circuses with the agency were deleted citing “privacy concerns.”

In the past, the data base had been a resource for journalists and animal advocates groups including animal rescue organizations in uncovering animal cruelty. Animal advocacy groups including the Humane Society of the United States accompanied by 101 United States representatives, 18 senators and animal advocates across the nation have publicly condemned the agency’s decision.

As to the “first batch” of records restored on Friday, annual reports and inspection records have been restored. Wayne Pacelle, the CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States calls the reposting of the records a “step in the right direction,” but has no intention of backing down until all the data is restored. Records still missing include information about research laboratories that use animals, puppy mills, zoos, horse soring and those activities relevant to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sued the agency and states it will not drop the suit until the USDA complies. In a statement Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement at the PETA Foundation in Washington, D.C. released the following statement:

“Under duress, the USDA is now attempting to get away with reposting only a tiny fraction of the animal welfare records it suddenly and indefensibly deleted … and that does not satisfy PETA [People for the Ethical Treatmeant of Animals] or the other plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit against it.

And then there are bipartisan politicians speaking out in defense of the animals:

“While I’m glad the USDA is starting the process of restoring some information online, there is no excuse for the agency’s abrupt actions to reduce transparency and prevent Americans from knowing about animal abuse,” stated Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

In addition, Representative Vern Buchanan (R. Fla) states this still isn’t enough and posted in a statement:

“…This website protects animals and the database should be fully restored. At the end of the day, putting a few document back online is not good enough.”

It would appear this barrage of criticism isn’t going to stop until all records are restored. What do you think? Please weigh in. The previous articles are this very important issue can be found below.

Read prior stories here:

USDA removes inspection reports and information from website

Trump USDA pick has animal-rights activists worried

Humane Society challenges USDA for hiding animal welfare data

Humane Society challenges USDA for hiding animal welfare data

The Humane Society of the United States announced on Monday that it is taking legal action after the removal of years of records by the United States Department of Agriculture from their public website this past week.

According to the organization, the HSUS took the first step to initiate legal action  challenging the action claimed by multiple animal advocacy groups as the undermining of a longstanding consensus about public access to information concerning laws, in turn frustrating state, local, and industry efforts to help enforce them. Records removed included reports for thousands of facilities including zoos, laboratories and commercial breeders – especially worrisome are puppy mill businesses. These records had previously been accessible through the public database website of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection. In the Humane Society’s president’s blog,  Wayne Pacelle questioned why the USDA wouldn’t want their work to be part of the public’s database; stating the government agency’s  “action suggests a deliberate effort to bury its work and impede efforts to ensure the well-being of animals in numerous sectors.”

The HSUS does have a particular advantage in this fight however. In 2005, the HSUS sued the USDA, alleging the department violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing records relating to animal experiments at research facilities. In 2009, a settlement was reached with the USDA who agreed to post records online including information referencing pain and distress in laboratory animals. And on Monday, the HSUS stated the USDA has violated their agreement:

“The agency’s precipitous decision to purge virtually all AWA and HPA enforcement documentation – just two weeks after President Trump assumed office — violates the plain terms of the settlement and a federal court order. It also runs contrary to Congressional provisions in 1996 and 2016 designed to increase transparency and electronic access to information,” Pacelle wrote in his blog .”Like every federal agency, the USDA operates thanks to the generosity of taxpayers, and it must be accountable to them. The USDA is changing the equation for the worse for animals and the public with this action.

The USDA has since cited privacy concerns for removing the records from its website, stating that anyone wanting information still has the right to receive information via a FOIA request. Those requests can take months to request and are often very costly. The public records have been used for animal shelters, rescues and advocacy groups as well as journalists covering animal welfare issues.

The following specific areas have been addressed:

  • Animal Research – The public will no longer have access to information about hundreds of animal research institutions, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, and federal laboratories using animals regulated under the AWA. This includes information on the number and type of animals (such as dogs, cats, primates, and other species) used as well as how many are subjected to unrelieved pain and distress.
  • Horse Soring – Advocates fighting the criminal behavior of the pain-based Big Lick segment of the walking horse industry has been canned. The new administration earlier froze a near-finalized USDA rule to crack down on the abusers (there’s a major movement in Congress to turn that around).
  • Exotic Animals and Roadside Zoos – The HSUS has tracked violations from inspections of roadside zoos, and has put that information in a form that gives state and federal lawmakers and regulators a broad picture of how this industry is complying with the AWA. On Monday, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a zoo accrediting organization, stated the move only erodes the public trust in high quality facilities while hiding those who mistreat animals.
  • Puppy Mills – Last year, the USDA revoked the licenses of nine horrific puppy mills, most of which The HSUS had identified repeatedly in their annual Horrible Hundred reports. Without the availability of public inspection records, The HSUS will have great difficulty obtaining the information  needed to press the agency on the egregious puppy mills being investigated. The USDA’s decision now leaves regulated dog sellers in those states with no practical way to comply with those laws, and state and local law enforcement with almost no ability to enforce them. Without ready access to information, it will be nearly impossible for consumers, law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and pet stores to know which breeders had violations.

In response the U.S Department of Agriculture released a statement referencing the removal of animal welfare reports from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service stating the following:

“The review of APHIS’ website has been ongoing, and the agency is striving to balance the need for transparency with rules protecting individual privacy. In 2106, well before the change of Administration, APHIS decided to make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records. In addition, APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency’s website. While the agency is vigorously defending this litigation, in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy. These decisions are not final. Adjustments may be made regarding information appropriate for release and posting.”

(Photo of Humane Society of the United States puppy mill victim.)

Read previous article here:

Read more about the USDA removing all records from their website.

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