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  • Kentucky’s Churchill Downs horse racing track suspends racing upon recommendation of The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority after 12 horse deaths
    by on June 3, 2023 at 12:56 am

    Kentucky’s Churchill Downs horse racing track suspends racing upon recommendation of The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority after 12 horse deaths Sat, 06/03/2023 - 00:56 Kentucky’s Churchill Downs horse racing track suspends racing upon recommendation of The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority after 12 horse deaths WASHINGTON (June 2, 2023)—In response to Kentucky’s Churchill Downs horse racing track announcement of a halt to racing upon the recommendation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund issued the following statement. Keith Dane, senior director of equine protection at the HSUS, said: “Only ten days into full power, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has taken a monumental step by recommending Churchill Downs halt racing for an extensive safety review. Remarkably, the track has adhered to this call, displaying a commitment to change and prioritizing the animals at the heart of the industry. The 12 deaths at the track this meet have been too much to bear witness to. We can’t help but wonder how many of these deaths and the hundreds of others since the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act could have been prevented had reform come sooner. We stand with HISA and Churchill Downs in declaring that the safety and wellbeing of the horses should be at the forefront of all decisions within the industry. This is a significant step towards reforming horse racing, and a clear message to all that the health and welfare of horses is non-negotiable.” Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, said: “At the Humane Society Legislative Fund, we have been fighting for these vital reforms and strongly advocating for the welfare of racehorses. This is a watershed moment in the history of racing equines. For once the welfare of horses has been prioritized over one more race, one more purse, one more accolade. While we recognize that there is still more work to be done to ensure the well-being of racehorses going forward, this is an absolute gamechanger.” Media contact:    Anna West: 240-751-2669,   ## The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at, on our blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at Subscribe to Kitty Block’s blog, A Humane World. Follow the HSUS Media Relations department on Twitter. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast. Equines Press Release      

  • It’s time to put an end to mink farming
    by on June 1, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    It’s time to put an end to mink farming Thu, 06/01/2023 - 18:21 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY) has just introduced a bill that responds to growing concerns about the public health threat posed by mink fur factory farms. The Mink: Vectors for Infection Risk in the United States Act (‘‘Mink VIRUS Act”), H.R. 3783, seeks to prohibit the farming of mink in the U.S. Every year at U.S. fur farms, more than a million mink are killed—typically by gassing to avoid damage to their pelts— for no purpose other than to provide trim on coats and poms on hats, purses or gloves. They suffer immensely on these factory farms, where they typically live in horrendous conditions, cramped into small wire cages that deny them the ability to express their natural behaviors such as running, digging and swimming. Housing thousands of animals in such close proximity enables disease to spread, and undercover investigations repeatedly find these animals living with infections, injuries and deformities, and even dead animals left to decay in their cages. It’s no wonder then that mink factory farms are breeding grounds for diseases that can be contagious and potentially life-threatening to humans. The cruelty and the threat to public health these operations pose provide ample reason to end the fur trade, and we have been fighting to do so for years through consumer outreach, legislation and corporate campaigns to secure commitments from major fashion brands to end their use of fur. We have seen great success in stopping the sale of new fur products on the local level in the U.S. So far, 12 U.S. municipalities have passed ordinances banning the sale of new fur products, and California implemented a similar ban in early 2023. Currently, six states and the District of Columbia, along with numerous local communities, are considering such legislation. Yet the U.S. still lags behind other countries. Over the last two decades, 19 European countries have passed legislation to ban the farming of animals for fur. In just the last two years, France, Italy, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Malta have introduced legislation to prohibit or phase out fur factory farming. Switzerland and Germany have implemented strict welfare regulations that have effectively brought fur farming to an end, and Denmark, Sweden and Hungary have ended fur farming of certain species. A European Citizens Initiative to ban fur farming and farmed fur products surpassed more than 1.7 million signatures and is currently going through the process of consideration within the European Commission. The Canadian province of British Columbia has also banned mink farming. Unfortunately, as more and more countries take a stand against fur factory farming, the U.S. could potentially become the second-highest fur producing country in the world, surpassed only by China. For that and other reasons, the introduction of the Mink VIRUS Act is timely. Some months ago, mink on a fur farm in Spain tested positive for the deadly, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. Researchers believe it likely that the strain had been spreading between mink on the farm, the first reported instance of mammal-to-mammal transmission of avian flu. Scientists have raised alarm bells that mink factory farms are acting as the perfect petri dish for the virus to mutate, with dangerous implications for public health. Moreover, new outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge on fur factory farms. Mink on more than 480 mink fur farms across 12 countries have been found to be infected with COVID-19, including in the U.S.: outbreaks were reported in Italy in November 2022 and Poland in January 2023. Not only are farmed mink highly susceptible to COVID-19, but they are also capable of transmitting the virus to humans. Farmed mink-to-human transmission of the virus has been reported in at least six countries so far, including the U.S. Moreover, transmission of COVID-19 from fur-farmed mink to humans could introduce new variants, undermining the effectiveness of vaccines. Millions of animals throughout hundreds of mink fur farms have been culled in Europe in response to SARS-CoV-2. Now, more than 50,000 mink have been culled on one fur farm in Spain as a result of avian flu. This level of disease risk for the sake of fur fashion simply cannot be justified. It is time for the U.S. to take meaningful action to send the fur industry to its forever home—the dustbin of history. Given that fashion products can easily be replaced with humane and eco-friendly alternatives, U.S. policymakers should no longer ignore the harms caused by the fur industry. Please reach out to your HSUS state director now to learn how you can get involved to help end the sale of new fur products in your community. And contact your U.S. legislators to ask them to support the Mink VIRUS Act. Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation Wildlife Blog      

  • Alternatives to animal experiments are shaping the future of science
    by on May 26, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Alternatives to animal experiments are shaping the future of science Fri, 05/26/2023 - 15:53 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block For years our undercover investigations at U.S. animal research laboratories have helped to raise awareness about the immense animal suffering caused by animal testing and experimentation. Pregnant rabbits are force-fed toxic pesticides. Cats have their spinal cords damaged and are forced to run on treadmills. Rats are placed in small tubes and made to inhale cigarette smoke. It’s estimated that more than 50 million dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and other animals endure painful experiments like these in the U.S. each year. The horrors of animal testing appear to increasingly weigh on popular consciousness: Our short film Save Ralph about a laboratory “tester” rabbit inspired nearly 800 million #SaveRalph posts and homages on TikTok and drove more than 5 million people to sign a petition calling for an end to cosmetics animal testing; animal testing is even a major theme in the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie. We are determined to find ways to spare animals from suffering. Thanks to advances in technologies that test treatments for diseases and the effects of products, we don’t have to choose between saving human lives or animal lives. Animal experiments are not a necessary evil to guarantee human or environmental health and safety; it’s increasingly clear that an unquestioning faith on animal tests may hinder—rather than help—efforts to ensure that products designed to combat human diseases and conditions are effective. This is because applying what works in another species under artificial conditions to what works in a human being in the real world has always been approximate. A drug that may work for mice often won’t work for monkeys, and a drug that works for monkeys often won’t work for humans. About 90% of drugs ultimately fail in human trials following animal tests. And the inverse also occurs: A drug found to be toxic to dogs will likely never advance to human clinical trials, meaning that potentially lifesaving medicines are not pursued. Luckily, we are on the verge of a paradigm shift. The advanced non-animal technologies currently in use and development are based on human biology. Human cells, tissues and organs, 3D bioprinting, robotics, computer models and other cutting-edge technologies are far more sophisticated and, compared to animal experiments, can more accurately and effectively predict how people will respond to drugs, chemicals, and treatments. Some of these modern approaches even use a patient’s own cells to test treatments, or they use drugs based on a person’s unique makeup, known as personalized medicine. Here are just some of the conditions currently benefiting from advanced technologies shaping the future of science and human health, with no animals harmed in the process: Cystic fibrosis: Organoids—which are 3D replicas of human organs—created with intestinal cells from people with cystic fibrosis were used to test various drugs to determine which drug would be most effective in each person. Zika virus: Brain organoids created with human cells proved that the Zika virus was causing microcephaly (small head size) in babies born to mothers who were infected with the virus. This finding would not have been possible in animal experiments due to differences in animal and human brain structure. Scientists then used brain organoids to test potential drugs that could be used to prevent or reduce the damage caused by microcephaly. Cancer: A lung organ-on-a-chip—a tiny 3D chip created from human cells that looks and functions like a miniature human organ—showed that the fluid buildup in the lungs caused by a drug frequently used by cancer patients was triggered by a patient’s lungs expanding and contracting, a finding that would not have been possible in animal experiments because researchers can’t stop and restart an animal’s lungs. The organ-on-a-chip was then used to test for drugs that would reduce the fluid buildup. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy: A nervous system organ-on-a-chip using human cells and blood samples was created to show that muscle weakness in people with CIDP—a rare autoimmune condition—was caused by a component in the blood causing nerve damage, leading to the muscle weakness. The results allowed scientists to get approval for a human clinical trial for a drug to treat the condition in people with CIDP. Rare conditions can’t be studied using animal experiments because scientists can’t recreate the diseases in animals, but scientists are developing organs-on-chips using cells from patients to understand these diseases and test possible treatments. Skin allergies: A series of non-animal tests examining how human cells react to chemicals and how those chemicals interact with other substances is being used to determine if ingredients in everyday products such as laundry detergent, body lotion and drain cleaner will trigger an allergic reaction in human skin. These non-animal approaches have been proven to be more accurate than the outdated tests on guinea pigs and mice that are still used. Heart arrythmias: Computer models using recordings from human heart activity are being used to test the adverse effects of potential drugs. Many drugs that are successfully tested in animals fail in human clinical trials because of dangerous effects on the human heart. This approach allows researchers to screen out drugs before they are tested in humans—without using animals. Autism spectrum disorder: Scientists use non-embryonic stem cells from the discarded baby teeth of children with ASD to create nerve cells, which can be used to study how the brains of children with ASD are different. Pioneering technologies like these are already revolutionizing human health. But inadequate funding, slow processes for validation and regulatory acceptance, and decisions by research funding bodies to continue supporting irrelevant animal models are limiting how quickly they are able to supplant animal experiments. We are urging state and federal governments, regulatory agencies (such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health), companies and universities to drastically increase the use of non-animal methods and investments in the development of new human-based, non-animal approaches. The millions of animals needlessly suffering in laboratories right now cannot wait. Urge the FDA to prioritize a shift toward more accurate non-animal test methods >> Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation In the News Animals in Research Blog      

  • There is simply no way to make horse slaughter humane
    by on May 17, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    There is simply no way to make horse slaughter humane Wed, 05/17/2023 - 20:28 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block Horses are celebrated in America for their beauty and athleticism, yet they are also sometimes viewed as expendable commodities. Even though horse slaughter has not occurred on U.S. soil since 2007, horses across the U.S. are still being sold and sent to slaughter abroad when no longer deemed useful or profitable by their owners who fail to seek out humane rehoming alternatives. Act now to save America’s forgotten equines help save America’s forgotten equines >> We have been on the front lines fighting horse slaughter for years. Most horses slaughtered for meat come from lives shared with people, whether as beloved companions, faithful steeds at horseback riding stables, competitors in equine sports or working horses on a farm. Killing them for meat is the final betrayal of that connection. While all farmed animals killed in industrial slaughter facilities can have a flight response that would make slaughter traumatic, horses are particularly skittish which means there is simply no way to kill them humanely in a slaughterhouse. Moreover, horse slaughter poses significant food safety concerns. Many horses are treated with medications not intended for human consumption, which makes eating horse meat a bad bet for those who choose to eat it. Now there is a chance to end the slaughter of American horses in a new Congress. This week, the Save America's Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. The SAFE Act would permanently ban the domestic slaughter of American horses and their export for that purpose. We worked with anti-slaughter coalition partners to encourage and support the sponsors’ introduction of the SAFE Act and will campaign hard for its passage. This ongoing campaign is part of our decades-long fight for at-risk horses, a methodical, strategic and determined effort to bring the curtain down on a shameful practice. Before horse slaughter plants closed in the U.S., our investigations team documented the horrors of such plants in Ohio and Texas, even tracking the fate of a former racehorse who ended up as meat. We have persistently advocated for federal legislation in successive sessions of the Congress to ensure no U.S. horse suffers that fate. And every year for more than a decade, we have worked to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are made available to re-open horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. The slaughter pipeline that now takes horses across our borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter routinely subjects them to suffering and cruelty before their painful and terrifying deaths. At auctions, feedlots and export pens, horses are often crowded together without shelter and frequently suffer from injuries and inhumane treatment. The grueling and merciless process continues during long transports until they reach the kill box. There, equipment and practices unsuitable for rendering horses unconscious result in even more pain and suffering. The entire horse slaughter system is convoluted and exploitative. At some horse auctions in the U.S., “kill buyers” contracted by slaughterhouses outbid legitimate horse owners and rescue organizations, robbing horses of a second chance at life. Kill buyers have even been known to pose as horse dealers and rescue advocates, tricking responsible horse owners into doing the very thing they’d hoped to avoid —consigning horses to the worst of fates. Increased public desire for humane treatment has contributed to the growth of horse rescue charities in recent years that have greatly expanded our nation’s capacity to rehome horses, including industry-supported groups such as the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. As a result, there has been a dramatic, 83% decline in the number of horses exported for slaughter in the last 10 years. But even one horse sent into the pipeline of death is too many. That’s why we need to end this practice once and for all. Until then, horses who deserve a chance to be rehomed will still end up in the slaughter pipeline. You can help save America’s forgotten equines by contacting your legislators and urging them to cosponsor the SAFE Act. Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation Equines Blog      

  • Revealed: 100 reprehensible U.S. puppy mills in Horrible Hundred report
    by on May 17, 2023 at 7:10 am

    Revealed: 100 reprehensible U.S. puppy mills in Horrible Hundred report Wed, 05/17/2023 - 07:10 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block In a photo taken by a state inspector, a dog stands looking away from the camera, her tail pointing down. At first glance, this image may seem like a sweet photo because of the boxer’s soft brown eyes and emotional expression. But farther up in the frame, the dog’s body tells a different story. Her ribs jut out; her hip bones and spinal column are starkly visible. And just beside her emaciated body is a pile of five tiny puppies sleeping next to an empty bowl. Protect dogs from cruel puppy mills >> A Missouri Department of Agriculture inspector documented this boxer, whose name is Lindy Lou, at a breeding facility that is still licensed, not only by the state, but by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The owner, Ellen Roberts (Rocky Top K-9s), is listed in our Horrible Hundred report for the eighth time. Lindy Lou was not confiscated; the inspectors required the owner to have her treated by a veterinarian within two days of the inspection. Despite inspectors finding many ailing dogs in her kennel over the span of a decade, it appears Roberts has faced no serious repercussions, and her “business” is still operating. Something must be done. Every year in our Horrible Hundred report, we expose 100 problem puppy mills across the U.S. The cruelty is never easy to witness or read about. But sharing the plight of dogs like that mother boxer and her puppies is essential to correcting a broken enforcement system that fails to prevent animal suffering. Although Roberts’ kennel continues, at least 240 puppy mills that have appeared in prior Horrible Hundred reports have finally closed. We publish the report in the hopes of raising that number every year. Among other things, the Horrible Hundred report concentrates pressure on government agencies to prioritize the enforcement of humane laws, to confiscate animals who are suffering and, where charges are warranted, to apply strong penalties. The report also serves as a powerful reminder for the public, educating them about common problems at puppy mills and urging people to do their due diligence when searching for a new puppy to bring home. Everyone can take a stand against cruel puppy mills by sharing this information with friends and family members about the shameful industry so often behind cute puppies in pet shop windows or pictured in ads online. We recently released a 15 year summary of puppy buyer complaints that connects the dots between poor conditions at puppy mills and the industry’s terrible disservice to the public: Thousands of consumers have purchased unhealthy animals, leading to high veterinary expenses and sometimes disability or even death for the puppies involved. We want to raise awareness of these problems and spare families from going through this painful and expensive experience. Takeaways from the new Horrible Hundred report show systemic problems with mass-scale breeders: Many of the puppy mills in this report have been featured in five, six or even eight previous years. For the 11th year in a row, Missouri had the most dealers in the report, with 31 dealers on the list, followed by Iowa and Ohio (13 each) Pennsylvania (eight) and Kansas and New York (six each). At least 12 of the puppy mills in the report have sold to Petland, the only national chain of puppy-selling pet stores still operating. Horrible Hundred highlights prove that dogs cannot wait for stricter enforcement: At the Rocky Top K-9s property in Missouri, an operation that appears in our report for the eighth time, state inspectors found cockroaches, piles of feces, and many other issues, in addition to the emaciated mother boxer. Yet a USDA inspection in January 2023 did not document any violations. Since 2015, at the property of a breeder in Iowa (Steve Kruse/Stonehenge Kennel), USDA inspectors have found more than 125 ailing dogs, including dogs with bleeding wounds, crusty eyes, lameness and hair loss. But the USDA recently relicensed Stonehenge Kennel through 2025. At a self-described American Kennel Club breeder in Nebraska (Brenda Carroll/Carroll Sell Farms), inspectors found a bleeding dog and another matted with feces. This adds to the many violations that have been found at the property over the past decade. At a facility in Missouri (Mary Smith/Smith’s Kennel) that has sold puppies to Petland stores, inspectors found dead mice and rodent feces. Some dogs didn’t even have drinking water. Even though a breeder in Missouri (Sandra Kozlowski/Sho-Me Labradors) surrendered more than 80 dogs to the state a few years ago, she was found keeping dogs in deplorable conditions in 2022 and 2023. Large dogs were confined in tiny airline crates and did not have access to water. At a breeding operation in Nebraska (Clem Disterhaupt Jr./Ponca Creek Kennels), inspectors cited more than 100 state violations between 2022 and 2023, calling it “unacceptable,” but our undercover footage from March 2023 shows the kennel remains in operation with many dogs on the property. To underscore the urgency of helping dogs at these facilities, we are releasing undercover footage of some of the dealers listed in the report. You can advocate for better treatment of dogs currently languishing in puppy mills by asking your lawmakers to support the Puppy Protection Act of 2023, which would require greater standards of care at commercial dog breeding operations licensed by the USDA. If you’re thinking of adding a furry family member to your home, please consider adoption first. Animal shelters are full of dogs and cats who would make wonderful companions. And sign this pledge to never buy a puppy from a pet store or online, as you could be supporting puppy mills with your purchase.  Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation Pets & Cruelty Blog      

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