No time to be a bystander, as animals are threatened by hard-hearted politicians

By on February 23, 2017 with 0 Comments

Traveling home to their districts, members of Congress are hearing from riled-up constituents like never before – and right on the heels of a tremendously contentious election. On Capitol Hill, telephone lines are being overwhelmed repeatedly by the fresh concerns of Americans roused to action. In cities across the country, citizens are organizing, vowing to maintain vigilance on politics for a range of civic purposes.

These are welcome developments.

Political overreach in Washington, D.C. has come up against growing public insistence on common sense governance and resistance to dangerous ideas. Americans want to be heard.

For me the tipping point has been the scattershot assault on animal protection that seems to be gathering steam in Washington, D.C.

Animals don’t deserve this. Their needs aren’t partisan and shouldn’t be partisan. Dragging animal welfare into the R-vs-D fray is a source of shame – no matter what your political leanings.

I’m speaking of the near-party-line House vote recently to reopen Alaska’s national wildlife refuges to disgraceful practices – a de facto war against grizzly bears and wolves. Scientists and citizens alike stood against this terrible idea, as did so many Democrats in Congress. As I mentioned yesterday on this blog, it was the most disturbing runaway vote I’ve witnessed in a quarter century of advocacy for animal welfare.

And make no mistake, trophy hunters and NRA lobbyists have proven that their ambitions are much larger than just Alaska. They have long had their sights and sites on the wildlife that lives on our shared public lands throughout the United States. Yes, that’s national parks, too.

Election 2016 was not about ending compassion for those without voices. Americans in key swing states did not vote for a radical special interest rule – an unwinding of what 90 percent of Americans think is right. No way.

The victors insist that the election was about making things better. Well, putting animals in greater jeopardy is a thumb in the eye of “better” and takes us rapidly in the other direction.

Again, we are talking about killing wolf pups in their dens, scouting bears from airplanes in order to kill them, permitting the baiting of bears, trapping them with those frightful steel-jawed leghold traps and neck snares. All on land that belongs to all Americans. On places designated by Congress as “refuges.” What a mockery of language. As the president might tweet, “disgraceful.”

Add in the USDA’s purge of inspection reports under the Animal Welfare Act and violation notices under the Horse Protection Act. That’s nothing but a cover-up to benefit flagrant puppy mill operators, horse soring scofflaws, and other violators of the law. Talk about adding algae and silt to the swamp.

And then there’s the freezing of the USDA-approved anti-horse-soring rule. Burning chemicals onto the feet of beautiful animals used in shows. Or putting a sharp object between a metal shoe and the shaved-down front hooves of horses. That’s animal cruelty. Worthy of prosecution. More than 200 members of Congress from both parties called on the USDA to complete that rulemaking. Freezing that rule is like issuing a get-out-of-jail card for lawbreakers.

The HSUS has long advocated citizen advocacy on behalf of animals, and we want to see even more of it now. Now is the best possible time to join with friends, family, and neighbors and make yourself heard.

“Compassion” and “humane,” are words without the letters “R” or “D” in them. They are shared, unifying, and important values. They are recognized by the world’s great religions, and they are taught and practiced by our finest leaders. A great many citizens of both parties believe that how we treat animals is a measure of our own humanity.

And if we look at the issue another way, we know beyond doubt that cruelty to animals begets cruelty to humans.

Yet, special interests are blind to the world of difference between the Right and what’s truly right. On Alaska, a number of anti-animal lawmakers disguised their intentions by claiming their motivation was the protection of states’ rights.

Now, just watch those same shape-shifters argue that state laws to protect farm animals need to be preempted by the federal government – a sure-to-arise rebirth of what animal advocates know as the “King Amendment.” How about this for a tweet: “Outrageously inconsistent.”

There’ll be other important votes in this 115th Congress, of that you can be sure.

Animals cannot speak for themselves. But you can give voice to their interests – whether they are bears or horses or cows or puppies. Take it from me, the public has got the attention of the members of Congress. Whether that translates into wise action by Congress – well, that depends on you.

Congressional effort to allow killing hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens moves to U.S. Senate

By on February 22, 2017 with 0 Comments
Congressional effort to allow killing hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens moves to U.S. Senate

Last week’s vote on H.J. Res. 69 was one of the most disturbing actions by Congress I’ve witnessed during more than a quarter century of political advocacy for animals. By a 225 to 195 vote, a narrow majority of the U.S. House voted to rescind a rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) . . . 

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Stateside shelters help attack mass euthanasia, other animal problems in Puerto Rico

By on February 21, 2017 with 3 Comments
Stateside shelters help attack mass euthanasia, other animal problems in Puerto Rico

We launched our Humane Puerto Rico program two years ago because animals are in crisis in this long-neglected, populous part of the United States. One fact, among all others, stared us in the face: some shelters in the Commonwealth had a euthanasia rate of 95 percent. There was a broad recognition that if an animal . . . 

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USDA bends to massive national campaign to restore animal care inspection reports

By on February 17, 2017 with 14 Comments
USDA bends to massive national campaign to restore animal care inspection reports

Nobody much likes what the U.S. Department of Agriculture did two weeks ago in purging thousands of inspection reports for the animal facilities and horse shows under its authority, and pledging not to post new reports on a go-forward basis. USA Today panned the action hard yesterday. Today, the Des Moines Register said it was . . . 

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U.S. House sanctions killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in their dens on federal refuges in Alaska

By on February 16, 2017 with 435 Comments
U.S. House sanctions killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in their dens on federal refuges in Alaska

What the U.S. House of Representatives did today – actually a very narrow majority of the House – was shameful. Cruel. Callous. Venal. The vote in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, was 225 to 193. Those 225 members voted to overturn a federal rule – years in the works, . . . 

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Urgent alert: Your help needed to stop Congress from sanctioning cruelty to wolves and grizzly bears on refuges in Alaska

By on February 15, 2017 with 84 Comments
Urgent alert: Your help needed to stop Congress from sanctioning cruelty to wolves and grizzly bears on refuges in Alaska

Today, The HSUS launched a television advertising campaign to expose a hard-to-stomach and hard-to-comprehend effort in Congress to overturn a federal ban on the most inhumane and unsporting practices seen in the recent history of American wildlife management. This gambit involves the sanctioning, among other deplorable practices, of private citizens going into dens and killing . . . 

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More than 150 Republican and Democratic lawmakers urge president to stop cruelty to horses

By on February 14, 2017 with 8 Comments
More than 150 Republican and Democratic lawmakers urge president to stop cruelty to horses

Late last week, a bipartisan group of 154 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to President Trump, asking him to give final approval to a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that got sidetracked during the last days of the Obama administration. The rule was designed to fix serious deficiencies in the USDA’s existing . . . 

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Horse soring crowd conspires with USDA to bury vast trove of inspection reports

By on February 10, 2017 with 7 Comments
Horse soring crowd conspires with USDA to bury vast trove of inspection reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jarring removal of thousands of Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act inspection reports from its website has caused anger among animal advocates, concern among many in the regulated industries who want to be able to show their clean records, and condemnation from opinion-leaders, lawmakers, and a wide range of . . . 

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Time to end the era of aerial gunning of grizzlies, other wildlife

By on February 9, 2017 with 21 Comments
Time to end the era of aerial gunning of grizzlies, other wildlife

One of the most despicable acts against animals in contemporary times is the aerial gunning of wildlife – chasing down these animals in aircraft and then strafing them with bullets, mainly as a way to wipe out local populations and artificially boost populations of moose and caribou for hunters to shoot at a later time. . . . 

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Movie producer speaks out on controversy over ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ and on American Humane Association

By on February 8, 2017 with 8 Comments
Movie producer speaks out on controversy over ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ and on American Humane Association

Gavin Polone is a big name in Hollywood, even if he’s not known to the average film-goer and television watcher. He’s an Emmy-nominated film and television producer behind such hits as “Panic Room,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Zombieland,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But those of us who fight for animals know him as a dedicated, principled advocate . . . 

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