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  • Equine industry and animal welfare organizations announce collaborative effort to ban horse slaughter
    by kblocher@hslf.org on May 17, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Equine industry and animal welfare organizations announce collaborative effort to ban horse slaughter kblocher@hslf.org Tue, 05/17/2022 - 18:02 Equine industry and animal welfare organizations announce collaborative effort to ban horse slaughter In the midst of Triple Crown season, coalition issues a joint letter to congressional leaders, calling for passage of the SAFE Act to end the slaughter of American horses WASHINGTON (May 17, 2022)—Today, a diverse group of equine industry and animal welfare organizations announced the Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter—a collaborative effort to permanently ban the slaughter of American horses. In an open letter to congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the alliance urged federal lawmakers to pass the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (H.R.3355/S.2732) to permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and end the export of American horses for slaughter in other countries. The supporting members of the Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter coalition include: The Jockey Club, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Stronach Group, the Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, The Jockey’s Guild, the New York Racing Association, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, the Maryland Horse Council, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, and many other industry voices. Despite congressional efforts that have effectively blocked the operation of horse slaughterhouses on U.S. soil since 2007, tens of thousands of American horses continue to be shipped to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses that supply other countries with horsemeat. With the Triple Crown horse racing season underway and public attention on equine sports, equine industry and welfare groups are calling on federal lawmakers to take action during this critical moment by passing the SAFE Act to end this sad chapter in American history. In the open letter, the groups highlight a recent poll indicating that an overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) oppose horse slaughter. The letter explains how, despite robust, innovative partnerships between equine industry and welfare groups to support horses transitioning between careers, the looming threat of the horse slaughter pipeline continues to significantly harm industry, enthusiasts, and adoption organizations: “Racing industry groups have demonstrated real leadership in committing resources for aftercare and career transition programs, instituting and enforcing track policies against sale to slaughter, and spearheading state and federal policies prohibiting horse slaughter. These programs are critical, but until the law shuts down the slaughter pipeline itself, no horse, no matter how beloved or decorated, will be truly safe.” The SAFE Act would close this legal loophole to stop the funneling of American horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad. Introduced by a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers, the SAFE Act is currently sponsored by nearly half of the U.S. House of Representatives. Read the open letter issued by the Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter coalition >> Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States: “We’re pleased to have so many horse racing leaders and organizations join with us to end the slaughter of American horses by pressing Congress to pass the SAFE Act. We’ve never been closer to our goal of ending this repugnant industry. These influential horse racing industry voices, joined with ours, will have a major impact. The sooner we can get this bill across the finish line the better. No person of good conscience can support horse slaughter.” Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund: “Only 10 years ago, 166,000 American horses were exported abroad to be slaughter for human consumption. As a direct result of our collective efforts, those numbers have dropped to 23,431 in 2021, but one horse lost to the slaughter pipeline is still too many. Horse slaughter is a predatory industry that takes advantage of horse owners and enthusiasts, and brings nothing but misery and suffering to horses. Public disapproval of its cruelties has never been higher, and we’re pleased to join with our racing industry partners to call on Congress to take decisive action to end it forever.” Media contact: Erica Heffner, HSLF/HSUS, 202-770-6575; eheffner@humanesociety.org   ## 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 hslf.org, on our blog at hslf.org/blog, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund. 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 humanesociety.org. 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. Federal Legislation Equines Press Release      

  • Time is running out for dogs as testing lab refuses to release them
    by kblocher@hslf.org on May 13, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    Time is running out for dogs as testing lab refuses to release them kblocher@hslf.org Fri, 05/13/2022 - 14:49 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block Update 5/16/2022: Over the last few days, 160 legislators from 32 states have co-signed a letter to the CEOs of Inotiv and Crinetics, urging the release of the dogs and pointing out that 14 states have approved legislation to authorize adoption of animals released by laboratories. Weeks after we released the results of our seven-month undercover investigation at Inotiv, an Indiana animal testing laboratory, we continue to press for the release of 82 beagles there as an urgent matter. Eighty of the dogs are being used in toxicity tests conducted by Inotiv and paid for by Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, a company based in San Diego, California. Thirty-two of the dogs are going to be killed next week when the first test ends. But not if we can help it. They’ve suffered enough and they deserve a chance at adoption into loving homes. There is no blanket legal requirement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for dogs to be used as test subjects or to be killed at the end of toxicity tests, and there is no scientific reason for doing so. If Inotiv or Crinetics has been instructed to kill the dogs by any regulatory agency, we would like to see the proof. The companies can acquire and use blood samples, observational data and tissue material that might be of use through non-lethal procedures. There is no need to take the animals’ lives. Over a quarter of a million individuals who support that view have signed our petition calling on Inotiv and Crinetics to spare these dogs and give them a second chance. Our experience in a 2019 case made it clear that there are many people willing to adopt animals spared from unnecessary deaths in a laboratory. In fact, this humane solution is becoming ever more common—it’s being embraced by political, corporate and institutional stakeholders, including the FDA. Some fourteen states have passed legislation to authorize adoptions, too, and this week, in the same spirit, dozens of legislators from 16 states signed a joint letter asking the two companies to release the dogs. In a sense, these 80 dogs—along with millions of other animals used in tests by companies like Inotiv and Crinetics—are victims of ambiguity. Ambiguity continues to surround testing requirements and the value of animal models in testing. We have been arguing for a long time that regulatory agencies such as the FDA and its counterparts in other nations must expand and strengthen their commitment to the implementation of rapid, sophisticated and relevant non-animal tests to assure human safety and detect toxicity. We have also challenged companies and laboratories in the sector to make stronger investments and effort on the research and development side. There’s no room for complacency with millions of animals’ lives at stake. Then there’s moral ambiguity, the feeling on the part of so many that it just is not right to do such wrong to dogs, who are so trusting and dependent on our mercy. One thing that stood out for our investigator was the moral confusion of co-workers in the facility. “One of the things that a lot of my co-workers liked to talk with me about was their animals,” the investigator recently observed. “One tech had a cat, multiple reptiles, and loved rats and pigs. Another tech would often show me videos of his dog at home playing. In our tech office, almost every desk had family pictures, including their dogs.” That moral confusion led to rationalization too, the investigator went on to write, noting that the discrepancy was disconcerting. “I would often be told these dogs are different because they are bred for testing, and they would never be good house pets. I have to think that reasoning is only a self-preservation mechanism for the techs. A way to protect themselves from accepting what they are doing is wrong. Many of the techs came from a vet tech background, leaving vet practices for a higher paying job as a lab animal tech.” On April 29, HSUS staff members brought boxes of petition signatures close enough to Inotiv’s doorstep in Indiana to make the point that we will not give up on these dogs. Over the next several days, at events in other states where Crinetics and Inotiv have footprints, we’ll make the case again. One of the states is Maryland, where Inotiv has reportedly received a pledge of four hundred thousand dollars from state and local governments for expansion. There, we’ll be joined by legislators and labor groups concerned about the dogs’ fate. In a recent Remington Poll, almost three-quarters (74%) of those polled oppose the use of dogs in toxicity tests for products such as pesticides, drugs and food additives. Nearly as many (71%) believe that the government should make stronger investments in developing non-animal methods for biomedical research and product testing. Finally, 79% say they would support a legal mandate to give healthy dogs an opportunity to be adopted as pets after their time in laboratories is over. The writing is on the wall regarding the continuing use of dogs and other animals in laboratories. The landscape has shifted on this issue, and Inotiv and Crinetics should acknowledge as much. We hope that they will seize this opportunity for leadership on this issue by giving these long-suffering animals the gift of new and better lives and tacking swiftly toward the era of testing methods that don’t involve animals. Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Animals in Research Blog      

  • The other Supreme Court case you should be following 
    by kblocher@hslf.org on May 9, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    The other Supreme Court case you should be following  kblocher@hslf.org Mon, 05/09/2022 - 17:35 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block Update 5/11/2022: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has taken out a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post, urging the Biden administration to support Proposition 12 before the United States Supreme Court. We hope you'll join us and take a moment to tweet President Biden asking him to protect Proposition 12! The norm on factory farms is to lock egg-laying hens, mother pigs and calves used for veal in cages so small they’re virtually immobilized. In 2018, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 12, a historic ballot measure that banned the extreme confinement of these animals within the state. Proposition 12 also ensures that eggs, pork, and veal sold in California come from facilities where the animals were not confined in tiny cages where they can’t turn around and otherwise engage in natural behaviors. Rather than choosing to comply with this reasonable measure, some members of the pork industry filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn Proposition 12, which the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear. The Trump administration supported the pork industry’s suit by filing an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in favor of striking down this important law. We believe that filing reflected a misunderstanding of the purpose of Proposition 12, as it relied on the industry’s mischaracterization of the ballot measure. The Biden administration has an opportunity to correct this misunderstanding, and we’re urging the administration to support California’s authority and Proposition 12 before the Supreme Court. We are not alone in this view. We are grateful to Congresswoman Kim Schrier, D-Wash., for leading a sign-on letter urging the Biden administration to support Proposition 12. In just a short time, her letter garnered signatures from 100 members of the House Democratic caucus spanning 24 states—from Arizona to Kansas to North Carolina—demonstrating that the Proposition 12 case is a matter of broad concern across the country. The signatories included 17 members of the House Judiciary Committee, who joined in this request for a firm federal stance before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of states’ rights to legislate to protect their citizens.  Just last month, Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., sent their own letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack urging the Biden administration to support Proposition 12 before the Supreme Court. The pork industry’s challenge to Proposition 12 has serious implications for all states’ ability to promote animal welfare, protect public health and take action on climate change, among other concerns. While this case may appear to be only about pork, the Supreme Court’s decision could dictate how states are able to protect their people and environments from dangerous practices by large, multistate conglomerates. Pork industry representatives claim the United States Constitution is violated any time in-state regulation of a business indirectly causes that business to adjust its out-of-state operations. They’re essentially trying to create a “big business” exemption from regulations that protect animals, the environment and public health. This theory is particularly dangerous and threatening to state climate change laws, which oil industry trade groups and others have so far unsuccessfully challenged, making the same sort of arguments the pork industry is making in this case before the Supreme Court. Climate change not only creates more severe weather, posing serious risk and harm to humans, but it will have devastating consequences for animals. Just last month, the Washington Post reported that ocean animals face mass extinction from climate change. The National Park Service has warned that climate change can cause animal starvation since rising temperatures can reduce food sources. And of course, animals ranging from pets to those at zoos and farms are in jeopardy from increasingly intense and frequent storms. The case against Proposition 12 doesn’t just threaten states’ ability to protect the environment. A ruling in favor of the pork industry could also allow giant corporations to dodge state laws that prohibit, for example, wildlife trafficking, unsafe worker conditions, and child labor. We hope the Biden administration will heed the appeal by Congresswoman Schrier and other legislators and support California’s ability to protect animals, the environment and public health via Proposition 12. Proposition 12 is crucial for what it does in the interests of animals raised for food. And it is crucial for many other concerns, too. For all these reasons, we’re doing our best to persuade the federal government to adopt a better position in the case before the Supreme Court.  Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. In the News Farm Animals Blog      

  • Tenth annual Horrible Hundred report shows progress, continuing problems with puppy mills
    by kblocher@hslf.org on May 9, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    Tenth annual Horrible Hundred report shows progress, continuing problems with puppy mills kblocher@hslf.org Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:23 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block Duchess is a Havanese with a wardrobe of tiny, colorful dresses. Cooper is a senior golden retriever who still has a lot of spunk and likes to go on vacations with his family. Alis is a Weimaraner who jogs with her owner and loves to catch a ball. These dogs are finally enjoying  life, and the puppy mills from which they were rescued are no longer in operation. Before they closed, each one of those mills appeared in our annual Horrible Hundred reports identifying known problem breeders in the United States. Stephanie Davolt-King, who adopted Duchess from Havaheart Rescue after the closing of a mill, said Duchess was in poor condition at first. The former breeding dog had ear and eye infections and needed to have 19 teeth pulled. It was also clear she had never walked on grass. Three years after her rescue, Duchess is still fearful of some people, but otherwise doing well. “She now does zoomies, demands belly rubs, and loves her clothes. We are very grateful she was saved and finally healthy,” Davolt-King said in an email. In addition to Duchess, Cooper and Alis, more than 1,400 dogs and puppies have been rescued from puppy mills that appeared in our Horrible Hundred reports and were later permanently closed by local authorities. As we release our 10th annual report, we again draw back the curtain and reveal the true cruelty of puppy mills that the pet industry doesn’t want you to see. Breeders in the Horrible Hundred report have been found with injured and emaciated dogs, dogs and puppies exposed to extreme weather with only frozen water or moldy food, and/or dogs consigned to cramped, filthy and unsafe living conditions. For the 10th year in a row, Missouri has the largest number of puppy sellers on the Horrible Hundred list, with 26 puppy mills in this year’s report. It is followed by Iowa (17), New York (12) and Kansas and Wisconsin (seven each). Some states, such as Ohio and Oklahoma, ranked low this year, but only because they failed to fulfill our public records requests in a timely manner, ignoring their states’ public right-to-know laws and leaving the public in the dark about whether they are making any progress to protect dogs. Some of the most disturbing findings in this year’s report include: An Iowa breeder, Henry Sommers, who has now appeared six times in the Horrible Hundred reports, admitted to his U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector that he killed some unwanted dogs by injecting them in the stomach and leaving them alone in their cages to die. His veterinarian denied providing the drug Sommers used or giving approval for the procedure. Months later, it appears USDA has not fined Sommers or suspended or revoked his license. The Humane Society of the United States has urged USDA to work with local authorities on potential animal cruelty charges. Another Iowa breeder, Menno Gingerich (Skyline Puppies), admitted to performing a do-it-yourself procedure on a badly injured puppy with a neck wound. He admitted that he stitched the wound himself with “sewing string” and did not use anesthesia, according to the USDA report. It appears USDA has not fined him or suspended or revoked his license. Kansas investigators looking into a complaint found a breeder (Mary Moore/D and M Kennel) with a dead puppy on her property. The puppy was being carried in the mouth of an adult dog; when asked, Moore admitted she had tossed some dead puppies into a field that morning because she was “in a hurry.” State inspectors did not cite Moore with any violations, and USDA did not document any violations in its most recent inspection report on her facility, choosing instead to register their concerns in a “teachable moments” document. A self-described American Kennel Club dog breeder in Missouri, Cory Mincey (Puppy Love Kennel), sued by the Missouri attorney general in 2019 for failing to provide proper care for numerous filthy, emaciated and dying dogs, was found to be still accumulating severe violations within the past year; the state only fined her $4,500. After a decade of publishing, it is disheartening to see that many breeders who have appeared five, six or seven times in the Horrible Hundred report due to recurring violations are still licensed and in business. But over the same period, we’ve also seen significant progress. More than 200 dealers featured in past reports appear to have shut down, and a few dozen have been criminally charged, fined or jailed. In addition, USDA has made some improvements to its animal care rules, such as requiring annual veterinary examinations and vaccinations for breeding dogs. Finally, since the first Horrible Hundred report appeared in 2013, at least 11 states and hundreds of localities have upgraded their dog breeder regulations and/or pet store laws. Dog lovers can do their part to end cruelty at puppy mills by refusing to buy a dog from a pet store or online. Dozens of pet stores across the country purchased puppies from dealers in this year’s report. At least 11 of this year’s Horrible Hundred puppy mills were found to have recently sold animals to Petland, the only national chain in the U.S. that still sells puppies. Petland has vigorously fought laws across the country that would end the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores, falsely claiming it only purchases from high-quality breeders. In addition, many of the dealers in this report are affiliated with the American Kennel Club, which purports to be “the dog’s champion” but in fact regularly fights against laws that would protect dogs. You can do your part by considering shelter adoption when you’re looking to add a pet to your family. If you choose not to adopt from a shelter or rescue, please follow our tips for finding a responsible source for your puppy and visit and carefully screen a breeder in person. You can also help by asking your lawmakers to support the Puppy Protection Act, which will improve conditions at federally licensed puppy breeding operations by requiring more space for dogs, better protection from the weather, and better housing, socialization, and veterinary care. The full Horrible Hundred report is available online at humanesociety.org/100puppymills.  Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation Pets & Cruelty Blog      

  • Pushing the federal law to end cruel slaughter of horses to the finish line
    by kblocher@hslf.org on May 6, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Pushing the federal law to end cruel slaughter of horses to the finish line kblocher@hslf.org Fri, 05/06/2022 - 14:18 By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block It is a long way from the stable, paddock and winner’s circle at Churchill Downs to the dark, dank and bloody slaughterhouses in which tens of thousands of American horses meet their sad and pitiable end each year. Yet some former racehorses do make that terrible journey, and it’s hard not to think of them on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, the most celebrated of races. The most dispiriting story of all might be that of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner who retired as horse racing’s fifth-leading earner of all time and was sold to a stud farm in Japan in 1989. A few years later, with no notice to his former owners, Ferdinand was sent to slaughter, for use in pet food or for human consumption. More recently, in 2020, Private Vow, a 2006 Derby runner, met his end the same way in Korea. The stories of these and other horses lead to one awful conclusion. Of all modern threats to the horse in the United States, horse slaughter stands out for its sheer callousness and deceitfulness. It’s a problem rooted in wrong and outdated views of horses and how we should treat them, and it’s a problem of our own making here in the United States. For that reason, we have to solve it here, too. The international export trade that allows horse slaughter to continue can be summed up in a sentence. Year after year, after lives of trusting companionship and—in so many cases—loyal service, tens of thousands of American horses are cast off and condemned to an arduous cross-border journey into Mexico or Canada that ends with their death. We’re trying to bring this horse slaughter pipeline to an end, and we’re getting closer to that goal than ever. The federal Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act has 216 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, and we’re pressing leaders in Congress to advance the measure for passage in the remaining months of the session. Animal advocates have been fighting to end the slaughter of American horses since the 1990s and have made steady progress. In 2007, three federal courts upheld state legislation that effectively prohibited the sale of horsemeat for human consumption, which in turn effectively shut down the operation of horse slaughter plants on American soil. Since then, we have kept the industry here on ice by ensuring, year after year, that no federal funds can be used for USDA inspection of such plants. This de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter did not end the trade, however, and stopping the export market has proven to be a difficult challenge. The killing shifted to Canada and Mexico, where there is an existing slaughter industry satisfying the appetite for horsemeat in Europe and Asia. Today, a network of bottom-feeding “kill buyers” in our own country continues to outbid potential caring owners and export American horses across our borders for slaughter. In 2021, 23,431 horses were exported for slaughter, down 13,454 from the previous year—a 36.5% decrease. Yet it’s still a shocking number, and a great betrayal of horses. Passage of the SAFE Act would take the United States out of the circuit of cruelty as a supplier of horses to a grisly global trade in horse flesh. It’s a simple bill that permanently bans domestic horse slaughter as well as the export of American horses for slaughter elsewhere, something that 83% of citizens support. With the issue receiving a hearing in the Health Subcommittee in January 2020 and with nearly half the members of the House and six members of the Senate currently on as cosponsors, we are in the final stretch of getting this bill passed into law. There are many in the racing industry who agree with us that horse slaughter is way out of step with American values. The Jockey Club, The Breeders’ Cup, the New York Racing Association and The Stronach Group (owner of five prominent racetracks) are all active in the campaign. Hall of Fame jockey and founding member of the HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council Chris McCarron has also stood tall in the fight, authoring editorials in two Kentucky newspapers, one in Lexington and one in Louisville, just days before this year’s Derby contestants line up at the starting gate. Another one of the strongest voices in this struggle is that of Joe De Francis, onetime CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club and the chair of the HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council. De Francis has been a principled and consistent critic of horse slaughter and played a leadership role in spurring the industry to confront the problem directly. He has also been a stalwart in the broader campaign for horse racing reforms, testifying and advocating on behalf of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA, which we worked to enact in 2020) and playing a lead role in its implementation. As a Director of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, the national oversight body created by the Act, De Francis strongly supports and endorses the Authority’s decision to select Drug Free Sport International to create the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit that will serve as the enforcement agency for the drug and medication portion of HISA's mandate. There are no easy victories in the animal protection universe. They are all hard-won, and the fight to end horse slaughter has been one of the most demanding and difficult ones we have ever had to wage. Now, during this Triple Crown season, we urge you to join us in a critical push for passage of the SAFE Act. The slaughter pipeline is no place for our horses, and once the bill becomes law, they won’t ever have to face that horror.   Speak out to end horse slaughter >> Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Federal Legislation In the News Equines Blog      

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