Humane Hurricane Hits Puerto Rico

By on April 17, 2015 with 37 Comments

If you knew that there were tens of thousands of street dogs roaming a jurisdiction in the United States and a 95 percent euthanasia rate for the dogs and cats entering the shelters in the area, what would you do?

Well, that is the reality in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States and a huge trouble spot for animal welfare. And now, we have a plan to attack the problem.

This week, in an extraordinary series of events – including press conferences, shelter visits, and training programs – The HSUS and the government of Puerto Rico said “no more” to neglect and cruelty. We have launched a Humane Puerto Rico initiative that offers the prospect of turning around decades of problems for animals in this commonwealth of the United States.

“Our children see how we treat these beings. They can learn to love and care for them or to mistreat them,” César A. Miranda Rodríguez, Puerto Rico’s secretary of justice, told assembled police trainees, reporters, and government representatives at a press conference on Wednesday with Secretary of State David Bernier and me. “So if we want a better society tomorrow, we need to build it today.”

At the press conference, we announced an initiative on the island to train hundreds of prosecutors and law enforcement personnel on animal cruelty crimes, a crackdown on puppy mills, a humane education program that we’d lead to reach every K-12 public school student, and new technology and tools for shelters across the island. The HSUS is donating evidence-gathering kits to law enforcement, and this week trained more than 800 prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, animal control workers, and shelter leaders. Our global affiliate, Humane Society International, will be helping with its already initiated low-cost spay-and-neuter programs.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice Cesar A. Miranda was among the speakers at the press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice César A. Miranda Rodríguez was among the speakers at our press conference. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/AP Images for The HSUS

A highlight of the press conference was the announcement of Executive Order 2015-8, signed by Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, memorializing many of the terms of the agreement and pledging cooperation from the government to crack down on animal cruelty and to address the street dog and euthanasia problems.

The HSUS will invest $600,000 initially in these programs, and I expect that will just be the start of our investment in the island.

In traveling to Puerto Rico this week, I was struck by the incredible enthusiasm for this program. The people of Puerto Rico want to do better when it comes to animals, and there are so many caring people there. With the resolve of the government and the resources and training programs of The HSUS, I see a pathway for a far brighter future for animals in the commonwealth, which is about three times the size of the state of Rhode Island, has nearly four million people, and is estimated to have 300,000 street dogs and one million cats, according to local officials.

We are also tremendously excited about meetings with the leadership of the Puerto Rico Veterinary Medical Association and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. The tourism industry has received countless letters from pained visitors who’ve felt helpless in seeing injured or mange-covered street dogs. These experiences have taken a toll on visitation to the islands, and everyone acknowledges it’s in the economic interest of the island to get control of the problem and deliver better outcomes for animals.

Indeed, the seeds of the program were sown when HSUS hired its first-ever Puerto Rico director, Yolanda Alvarez, after a generous HSUS member visited Puerto Rico and was deeply troubled by what he saw. He donated tens of thousands of dollars to allow us to hire Yolanda. Yolanda then partnered with Tara Loller, our puppy mill policy implementation director, and they worked with Attorney General Miranda to build the elements of the program.

In my many years of humane work, I’ve never seen so many strands pulled together at one time, with every agency and private player contributing to a comprehensive plan to turn around the problems that have plagued the animals and the people of a state or a community. The HSUS will be in Puerto Rico for the long haul, and if this week’s launch was an indicator of the quality of the program, change is coming in a dramatic way.

Time for FTC to Crack Down on Retailers Peddling Real Fur as Faux

By on April 16, 2015 with 4 Comments
Time for FTC to Crack Down on Retailers Peddling Real Fur as Faux

Following prior investigations by The HSUS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered Neiman Marcus in 2013 to stop falsely advertising animal fur as “faux”, or be subject to serious civil penalties. And yet, as recently as Tuesday, Neiman Marcus was still at it. We have now submitted another legal petition to the FTC seeking enforcement . . . 

Read More »

Major Seal Buyer Says No Mas to More Seal Pelts

By on April 15, 2015 with 16 Comments
Major Seal Buyer Says No Mas to More Seal Pelts

Yesterday Carino Processing Ltd – Canada’s oldest and largest seal fur buyer – stated that the company has turned down $1 million in government funding for seal pelt purchases, noting that it already has pelts in storage that it cannot sell. This is a very significant and forbidding development for the sealers, in the wake . . . 

Read More »

Ex-d-Con: Getting Poisons Off the Market

By on April 14, 2015 with 1 Comment
Ex-d-Con: Getting Poisons Off the Market

Today, I want to celebrate the removal from the marketplace of one of the most toxic, indiscriminate, and dangerous rat and mouse poisons. On April 1, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., the manufacturer of d-Con brand mouse and rat poisons – and the sole holdout against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements to forbid the most harmful of poisons widely . . . 

Read More »

Reynolds Rap  

By on April 13, 2015 with 7 Comments
Reynolds Rap   

Come meet a remarkable woman: Holly Reynolds, a 96-year-young resident of Baton Rouge, La.  Holly has so much to commend her as a stalwart animal advocate, but there’s one part of her biography that is absolutely startling: she attended the first HSUS annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1955. She’s probably the only surviving . . . 

Read More »

In Oklahoma, A Right to Harm?

By on April 10, 2015 with 5 Comments
In Oklahoma, A Right to Harm?

We all know about the effort by some agribusiness interests to make it a crime for whistleblowers to take photographs or videos that document the suffering animals on a factory farm, or for an animal advocate to apply for a job at one of these facilities. These “ag-gag” laws have been widely condemned in the media . . . 

Read More »

Fortune-Teller: Big Gains on Animal Welfare

By on April 9, 2015 with 7 Comments
Fortune-Teller: Big Gains on Animal Welfare

Fortune has just published a pretty extraordinary round-up of our high-impact work with the world’s largest food retail corporations. The piece details the work of Josh Balk, Matt Prescott, and other members of  the HSUS Farm Animal Protection team who have worked so expertly with more than 100 of the biggest names in food retail . . . 

Read More »

California Not Dreamin’ as It Moves to Ban Bullhooks

By on April 8, 2015 with 4 Comments
California Not Dreamin’ as It Moves to Ban Bullhooks

In a move closely related to the epochal March 5th announcement from Ringling Bros. that it plans to phase out the use of elephants in its traveling shows, California state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has introduced SB 716, a bill to prohibit the use of bullhooks on elephants in California. The cities of Los Angeles . . . 

Read More »

Hilton: No Room at the Inn for Cages

By on April 7, 2015 with 5 Comments
Hilton: No Room at the Inn for Cages

I’m excited to announce today that Hilton Worldwide is going to switch to buying exclusively cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork after working with The HSUS. This is another major step forward in our efforts to eliminate cage confinement for laying hens and mother pigs. And it’s the latest in a cascade of major announcements . . . 

Read More »

The Correct(ional) Approach to Animal Sheltering

By on April 6, 2015 with 5 Comments
The Correct(ional) Approach to Animal Sheltering

In East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana, just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi border, there’s a one-of-a-kind animal shelter, run by a prison warden and his team and staffed by some of the men incarcerated there. The shelter, at the medium security Dixon Correctional Institute, came into being 10 years ago when we needed more space . . . 

Read More »

Top