August 2010 Blog Home October 2010

21 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Talk Back: On the Ballot

This election cycle, The HSUS has joined with wide-ranging coalitions in campaigning on three important ballot measures—supporting Missouri’s Proposition B to stop puppy mill abuses and establish common-sense standards for the proper care of dogs, opposing Arizona’s Proposition 109 to block any future statutory wildlife protection initiatives and to strip the Arizona Game and Fish Commission of its authority, and backing California’s Proposition 21 to protect parks and wildlife. California voters can learn more about Prop 21, which creates a stable and adequate funding source to maintain state parks and beaches, and to promote wildlife conservation and habitat protection, at

Last week on the blog I laid out the case against Prop 109 in Arizona, an attempted power grab by politicians and extremists within the trophy hunting lobby. This measure would give the legislature exclusive authority over wildlife issues, taking away the rights of Arizona voters, and it could even jeopardize previous measures to protect wildlife, such as a 1994 ban on steel-jawed leghold traps and poisons on public lands. You responded swiftly, and here are some of your comments:

What a despicable blow for democracy and indicative of the underhandedness displayed by the NRA and other special interest groups. I'm glad the HSUS has voters on its side every step of the way and I'm confident that they'll help bring down this ridiculous proposition. —Sara N
This Prop 109 is a truly bad idea. Besides the fact that it’s for practically allowing trophy hunters to wipe out whichever species it desires, it will wipe out Arizonans' rights to have their say heard and considered! I thought this was America! Arizona is a beautiful state with more natural wildlife left than a lot of other states. They fought so hard to keep it that way—please don’t let them put Prop 109 into effect! That would be a huge blow to the American way of life! Before long, it would find its way throughout the U.S. and spread like wildfire. Just say no to Prop 109! —Angela Gonzales
First of all, it is an issue which has no business in the constitution. If, however, such an issue were to be incorporated into the constitution, it must cut both ways, i.e. requiring a supermajority to make any changes to wildlife policy-making issues (yeah, as if that is going to happen!). —Victor Fuller

Also last week I encouraged readers no matter where you live to get involved in the YES! on Prop B campaign in Missouri, because this measure will improve dog welfare all over the nation. Missouri puppy millers churn out approximately 1 million puppies a year, most of them exported from the state to pet stores in major cities across the country, contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis in America, complicating the work of private humane organizations and local governments, and saddling consumers with sick or ill dogs that require more veterinary care. Among your comments:

I have been an Animal Control Officer in the state of Missouri for ten years. The job of protecting the animals is a never ending but rewarding task. Prop B is a long time coming in helping the suffering in puppy mills and the hoarding situations that occur all over the United States. Protect the animals; they don’t deserve the abuse that they have to endure. —Margaret Hicks
When I was about 19 my family was living in central Missouri. Somehow my dad discovered the presence of a puppy mill in the countryside near our town. … Strung out for a couple of acres among the weedy, overgrown vegetation was dismal kennel after kennel with tiny outside unkempt "runs." Puppy after puppy, most disturbingly, alone without mother, pack or human companionship. They were lying panting in the heat or biting at flies or gnawing at some sore or itchy spot on their bodies. The owners seemed proud of their establishment and showed us all their pedigree papers. I will never forget it and I'm thrilled to know something is being done. I now live in Colorado but have always tried to steer people clear of mall pet shops. Very few people actually know about the ugliness of this practice. I'm thrilled that there is some legislation in the works. If I were still living there I'd “show them” what to do with Prop B—vote for it! —Terri Clauss
If the BAD puppy mills were shut down this would be good, but I know many reputable purebred breeders this could affect by lumping them in with puppy mills which commonsense tells us are the bad guys. The breeders I know do not do this for a profit, and love and care for their dogs... —Cindy

A response to Cindy: Small breeders who have ten or fewer female breeding dogs will not be affected by Prop B, nor will sportsmen who keep kennels of dogs for purposes other than breeding them and selling the puppies as family pets. Truly reputable breeders who have more than ten females already provide care that exceeds the proposed standards so they will not be adversely affected. Among Prop B’s supporters are more than 100 Missouri veterinarians and veterinary clinics, more than 100 animal welfare charities and organizations, and responsible dog breeders.

September 29, 2010

Lauding Leadership, Scolding Obstruction in the Senate

There is good news and bad news from Capitol Hill.

Brown rabbit

On the up side, the U.S. Senate last night gave unanimous approval to legislation to crack down on animal crush videos—the vile depictions of staged scenes in which scantily clad women maim and torture animals for the sexual gratification of viewers. I’ve written about it several times before, and the first reaction of any decent person is shock that anyone could possibly be so cruel to participate in making or watching this perversion. All good people are rightly outraged and disgusted by the idea of someone torturing and killing animals just for the sexual titillation of others. The bill, pushed by Sens. Jon Kyl, R. Ariz., Jeff Merkley, D. Ore., and Richard Burr, R. N.C., must now go back to the House, and we hope that chamber approves it in rapid fashion.

The other good news is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., not only allowed the crush video legislation to come up for a vote, but he also personally offered motions to pass five other bills that had already been approved by the House: S. 1748—Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act, S. 850—Shark Conservation Act, S. 859—Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments, S. 529—Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, and H.R. 388—Crane Conservation Act.

The bad news is that Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., blocked all of the bills, denying final congressional action on a series of humane measures that deserve approval. Coburn did so under the pretense of fiscal restraint. But these measures cost very little, and they were all advanced to protect wild creatures from cruelty and in some cases from extinction. It’s worth the very modest investment to prevent such awful outcomes.

One can understand Sen. Coburn’s interest in fiscal restraint. But in his case, it is an obsession, and it borders on a mania. Lawmakers serve the public to balance a variety of interests, and not to see any topic in isolation or to magnify it and distort it. Cautious spending is an important value, but so is the defense of animals from cruelty, the rescue of marine creatures injured by human actions, or the protection of wild species from extinction. Coburn has corrupted a laudable principle of fiscal conservatism, and used it to negate and nullify valuable initiatives designed to protect vulnerable species at serious risk. In that sense, his is a fanatical devotion to a principle, and a misuse of power.

There’s another principle at work, and that’s the subversion of democratic decision-making. The Senate is a body of 100 individuals, elected by the people of all 50 states. Though it generally operates by the principle of majority rule, the Senate has a tradition of allowing individual lawmakers to place “holds” on legislation, allowing a single lawmaker to block consideration even of an enormously popular and bipartisan measure. Sen. Coburn uses the “hold” like most of the rest of us drink water, going to the well time and again. He is abusing this Senate privilege, and in the process he is subverting democratic lawmaking. When 99 senators favor reform and one does not, it is wrong for the one to prevail because of the upside-down procedures of the Senate.

While Sen. Coburn’s action allows real harm of living creatures to continue, there are many other lawmakers of both parties who do care and want to see the responsible treatment of all of God’s creatures. Sens. John Kerry, Maria Cantwell, Jeff Merkley, David Vitter, Richard Burr, Barbara Boxer, and others backed the measures Sen. Reid advanced. They didn’t appreciate Sen. Coburn’s obstructionism, but were powerless to stop the naysaying of one man obsessively focused on one narrow belief.

Today, I am especially grateful to Sen. Reid for his leadership, and we hope he’ll work to get these measures enacted in the lame-duck session to follow the election. I am pasting below the speech he gave on the Senate floor last night.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, one piece of unfinished business we have here in the Senate is to move a series of good, commonsense bills that would benefit wildlife and domestic animals.

These wildlife conservation and animal welfare bills have already passed the House of Representatives, and for a good reason. They also have bipartisan support. Most importantly, all of these measures are supported by the American people. These aren’t Democratic or Republican issues; they are issues of good moral conscience.

I have worked over the years on many bills connected to animals and wildlife. Not long ago, Senator Cantwell and I worked with a number of our Republican colleagues to pass a felony level penalty bill for dog fighting and cock fighting. This was a bipartisan rejection of animal cruelty. Today, we have the opportunity to help a great number of species. One bill ready for action, the Shark Conservation Act, will improve Federal enforcement of an existing prohibition on the killing of sharks just for their fins. Because of a loophole in the existing law, animals are still caught, their fins are severed, and the dismembered shark is sent back into the ocean to die. But they don’t just die, they suffer a horrible and protracted death—all of that cruelty for a bowl of soup.

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September 28, 2010

The Care and Feeding of a Kinder World for Animals

This past weekend, I spoke at the second annual conference of the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), and it was a great showing of advocates focused on improving animal welfare policies and practices in the state. They are determined to pass anti-cockfighting and puppy mill legislation in Austin in 2011, and we are equally determined to help them get there. They and all other puppy mill advocates in the country are anxiously watching the major battle playing out on Prop B in Missouri, and The HSUS is in the thick of the fight there.

From the conference in Austin, I drove to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS), outside of Dallas. It is a sanctuary for big cats and bears, and along with Big Cat Rescue in Tampa and the Shambala Preserve run by Tippi Hedren, it is one of the best known and best run big cat sanctuaries in the nation. IEAS has more than 50 big cats and about 15 bears, and most of them are castoffs from individuals who acquired the animals as pets but then got in over their heads. Groups like IEAS now spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year cleaning up the mess of people who made the reckless decision to keep an exotic animal as a pet.

Friesian horse at Louis Dorfman's ranch
Friesian horse at Louis Dorfman's ranch.

The facility and its inhabitants are the special passion of Louis Dorfman, who is something of a carnivore whisperer. He has an incredible feel for the cats and their thoughts. The sanctuary, run on a daily basis by Richard Gilbreth, is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the enclosures for the animals are some of the best I’ve seen.

Louis is also a horseman, and he took The HSUS’s Chastity Rodgers and me on a tour of his horse ranch, too. There, I met one of the most remarkable looking horses—a 2,000-pound Friesian. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more powerful or muscular-looking horse.

It was a weekend that, in its range of activity, reflects the diversity of interests of The HSUS. We work on the big-picture problems—like public policy—but also focus on the needs of individual creatures who need care and feeding. Louis’s ranch is just about two hours from our own primary animal care facility, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. But I also had our Duchess Sanctuary, south of Eugene, Ore., on my mind. There, we have nearly 200 formerly abused, abandoned, neglected and homeless horses. Most are mares who were confined and impregnated for the pregnant mares’ urine (PMU) industry. Others were rescued from public lands or from cases of abuse. The facility, established in 2008 and owned and operated by The Fund for Animals in partnership with The HSUS, was also accredited by GFAS and recognized as an “exemplary haven.”

The HSUS and all the other groups running sanctuaries, like Louis’s, are helping so many tens of thousands of animals in need. While we must help animals in crisis, we must also keep our eyes on the bigger picture—working to prevent animals from getting into these situations in the first place. One greatest hope is to see every animal properly cared for, for life.

The images of the Duchess resident horses grazing, playing and otherwise relaxing are stunning. The photos below capture just a few of these moments.

Horse at the Duchess Sanctuary

Horse at the Duchess Sanctuary

Horse at the Duchess Sanctuary

Horse at the Duchess Sanctuary

Horse at the Duchess Sanctuary

Photos credit Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary.

September 27, 2010

Cruelties Destined for Condemnation

It is indeed remarkable to look back in time and see how abusive, inhumane and morally reprehensible practices not only persisted for decades or even centuries, but flourished and commanded the support of so many people in their day. Why did it take so long to halt practices, such as chattel slavery, that should have been viewed as unacceptable even by the less developed moral standards of the time?

Sow in gestation crate

It is a question that has special relevance for the animal protection movement because so many of us believe that we are now part of the process of making history—challenging the systemic abuses of animals that have themselves persisted for so long and calling for a new and better relationship with other creatures, enforced by the standards of the law.

Princeton philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah examines the broader question of social change in his fast-moving and succinct new book, “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.” Appiah looks at four subjects: dueling, foot-binding, Atlantic slavery and honor killing, which is the only one he examines in depth that persists today.

Appiah argues that there was a psychology to the continued conduct of these activities, and in many cases, it had to do with a certain code of honor. When it became dishonorable to engage in these practices, often with the broader society or even the world looking askance at the activities and the people participating in them, that inversion in the honor code led to their demise. Appiah sees a turn-around occurring with honor killing, which is an extraordinary and horrific abuse of women in some parts of the Islamic world.

I think our children and future generations will look back on our modern-day abuses of animals and wonder how they persisted so long. Appiah himself, in a piece in Sunday’s Washington Post, identified the cruelty of factory farming as one of those issues that future generations will condemn us for. I’d guess that it’s just one of the animal-related items on the list, which also will include seal killing, animal fighting, canned hunts, and other horrific practices.

In Appiah’s account, we see that history did not unfold in some sort of self-executing or passive way. All social change has always required that good people emerge and call cruel things as they are, insisting upon a fair and consistent application of already-established standards in society. That’s still our duty today. None of us should be bystanders as animal cruelty persists. By joining in the fight, we can hasten its demise.

September 24, 2010

Talk Back: Crushing Testimony

Last week The HSUS’s Nancy Perry testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing arguing for the enactment of legislation to crack down on the despicable animal crush video industry. These videos typically show scantily clad women or girls, often in high-heeled shoes, impaling, crushing, stomping or smothering small animals to death for the titillation of viewers. This industry has been revived after two federal courts, most recently the U.S. Supreme Court in April, struck down as unconstitutional the original 1999 federal law criminalizing the sale of these videos.

The Supreme Court decision left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law and, in response, the House swiftly and overwhelmingly passed new legislation (H.R. 5566) to effectively crack down on the sale and distribution of crush videos and hold up against any future court challenge. We expect a companion bill to be introduced in the Senate any day and ask that you please urge your two senators to join as original cosponsors of that bill.

You had much to say about Nancy’s testimony and about those involved in this merciless subculture, and below I print some of your comments.

This is one of the most horrific things I have ever heard of! There is certainly something very wrong with these monsters that do these things to animals. It makes me sick to my stomach. I am urging everyone out there to contact your senators. I have more than once. Our senators need to be bombarded with phone calls on this. —Karen Wagner
I just read Nancy Perry's testimony and I am in tears. I can't believe this is a reality in this day and age. A very sincere thank you to the HSUS researchers who, despite it being horrific to watch, have to preview this horror so that people like Nancy Perry can testify about it on behalf of the animals. —Patricia Feurer
After reading through most of Nancy Perry's testimony before Congress I became physically ill. I looked away from my computer and down at the floor where my four dogs were lying, one at each side of my chair, snoozing away as they do when I'm at the keyboard. I cried... —Arden Allen
How can this horrific act of cruelty be legal? What is this world coming to? Can you imagine the excruciating pain these poor animals feel and to hear their horrific screams? This has got to stop! Please! What if someone did this to your beloved pet? —Dog Lover
When is it time to say no to seeing anything tortured, hurt and killed? If you say yes, this is OK to watch cruelty, then what is next? … There should be no doubt that it is wrong—why is there any debate at all? —Kim Cowans
Thank you for this update Wayne. What I don't understand is why this topic of crush videos should even be debated! It's disgusting, immoral, cruel, and a host of other adjectives. What is so difficult about banning these videos to begin with? There should not be any discussion required, just do it! I don't care about freedom of rights when it comes to abuse or killing innocent animals, children, women or anyone. Those who do these types of "activities" should be prosecuted… No sympathies from me for anyone who gets caught in this web of perversion. —Nancy Ball

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September 23, 2010

Prop B: A Battle Against Puppy Mills That All Can Support

There are tens of thousands of dogs who are lonely and depressed and ill because it is their awful misfortune to pass each day on a puppy mill operation in Missouri—the nation’s top puppy-producing state. The conditions of the puppy mills there as in other top-producing states are deplorable, as we’ve shown again and again in our investigative and animal rescue work.

Happily, voters in Missouri will have an opportunity to turn the situation around by approving Proposition B on Nov. 2. But this life-saving measure is not just an opportunity for Missouri voters, but for citizens of every state. That’s because the Missouri ballot measure will have tremendous positive implications for dog welfare all over the nation.

Scout, who died days after being shipped from Missouri to New York.

The puppy mill industry in Missouri is an exporter of dogs. For the operators there, it’s not really about filling up pet shop windows in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, or Hannibal. The primary markets for Missouri puppy millers are New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and other major cities around the country. For example, about 68 percent of dogs sold in pet stores in New York City come from dog dealers in Missouri.

At the same time that pet stores in these cities are putting puppy mill dogs up for sale, these same cities are dealing with the burdens associated with the presence of tens of thousands of homeless animals. They are struggling to adopt these needy creatures to loving homes, and to ensure their well-being, even as the mills are flooding the system with purebred dogs. In the most basic way, the mills produce misery for the dogs they hold, but they are also exacerbating the broader pet overpopulation crisis in America.

It is estimated that Missouri has 30 percent of all puppy mills in the country—with a staggering 200,000 breeding animals churning out approximately 1 million puppies a year. Now remember, there are about 2 million healthy dogs killed in shelters every year for lack of suitable homes. Thus, Missouri alone is displacing 1 million potential adopters by funneling these puppies into the supply line.

Prop B will not shut down all puppy mills in Missouri. But it will require that breeders maintain certain humane care standards, and if past patterns hold, a fair number of them won’t be interested in complying. They turn hefty profits by cutting corners—not providing sufficient space for the animals, denying them veterinary care, and starving them of human affection and attention. If they weren’t able to cut so many corners, many of them would no longer be in the business, since they wouldn’t realize the profits they counted on.

The Better Business Bureau and two state auditors have slammed the industry in recent years for its reckless breeding practices. And the USDA’s Office of Inspector General said the federal agency is not doing its job to enforce the minimal standards of the law.

Consumers who unwittingly purchase puppy mill dogs often must deal with enormous veterinary bills because the animals come to them sick or ill. Local governments deal with the effects of pet overpopulation, and the mills contribute to that problem in a major way. And day after day, week after week, year after year, groups like The HSUS, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society of Missouri must step in to deal with the costs of handling and caring for puppy mill dogs when things get really bad and the worst of these operations must be shut down and the animals rescued. In short, while these mill operators generate profits for themselves, they saddle consumers, private humane organizations, and local governments with enormous costs, running into the hundreds of millions each year.

Clearly, we need a change. And Prop B is the leading edge of that change.

We need supporters all across the nation to support the YES! on Prop B campaign with their dollars. We need to put television ads on the air and reach Missouri voters, and the only way we’ll be able to do it at the level needed is if people who care about this issue invest in this campaign. We and our partners in the YES! on Prop B coalition need millions to run ads in the weeks before the election. Please think of making a gift to the campaign today. Never has there been a more important dog protection campaign than this one. 

P.S. Nationwide on Oct. 3, you can host a Party for Pups event to support Prop B. Read details here.

Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer.

September 22, 2010

Impact of Factory Farming, Food Choices Again In Focus

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a hearing on this summer’s massive egg recall, and witnesses included the owners of the factory farms that spawned the Salmonella crisis and a couple of the downstream victims—consumers who ate foods containing eggs contaminated with Salmonella and nearly died. The testimony of some of the victims was chilling, and it even prompted one congressman, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, to declare he’s now switching to cage-free eggs.

Egg-laying hens confined in battery cages at Iowa egg factory farm

He’s got the right instinct. The central problem is not that there were a couple of reckless factory farm operators, though it’s certainly true that Jack DeCoster, owner of one of the two farms linked to the Salmonella outbreak, has had a history of cutting corners at his egg farms across the country. It’s really a systemic problem—with the industry as a whole adopting battery cage confinement systems that victimize every creature confined in these cages and create an overcrowded, unhealthy environment that is high-risk for the spread of pathogens like Salmonella.

We don’t just need to wash eggs better, or only make sure rodents haven’t colonized these places or that dead birds are removed from cages. We need to get rid of the cages and give animals more space. By giving them more space, we are better to the animals and reduce excessively high stocking densities that are among the root causes of the food safety problems, too.

And the evidence linking cages to unsanitary and inhumane conditions is hardly new. In fact, The HSUS’s investigation of Iowa egg factories earlier this year found nearly identical conditions to those found during the FDA’s inspection of the companies responsible for the current recall.

Our diet matters. We vote for or against cruelty, and for or against food safety, with our own food choices every day. That’s why I was also struck by the comments of former President Bill Clinton, who has adopted a nearly vegan diet. He told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that he’s now eating a plant-based diet, that he’s lost 24 pounds since he started it, and that’s he’s studied the issue very carefully, reading the works of Drs. Dean Ornish, Colin Campbell, and others. He’s said he feels like he’s now part of the experiment to prove that eating a plant-based diet is a way to improve the functioning of arteries and to deal with problems of cholesterol and fat.

When we are conscious eaters, we can help animals, protect the environment, enhance food safety, and protect our own health. We have an opportunity to live a healthy life and create the society we want through our actions, and one of the best opportunities is with our food choices every day.

September 21, 2010

Special Attention for Special Shelter Pets

There’s nothing wrong with dogs and cats in shelters, and they make fabulous pets. That’s the message of The Shelter Pet Project, the public awareness project launched last fall by The HSUS, the Ad Council, and Maddie's Fund, in partnership with the entire animal welfare community.

Penny Bella, featured in Petfinder's Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week gallery
BARK (Baby Animal Rescue Koalition)/
Penny Bella, featured in the Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week gallery.

This national advertising campaign is aimed at attacking the stigma associated with animals in shelters and urging would-be pet parents to make shelters the first stop when adding a pet to the family.

But even when we succeed in getting potential adopters into animal shelters, some animals are still overlooked, often because they are senior or shy, special needs, or simply the “wrong” color or breed.

This week, is spotlighting some of these pets who are the hardest to find homes for by hosting Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week, teaming up with animal shelters and rescues and concerned bloggers all across the country and the world.

You can join in this effort by promoting a “less adoptable” pet from your area on your Facebook page, other social networking sites, your blog or website, or simply by urging friends and family to give these animals a second chance when looking to adopt. Petfinder has made it easy for you—you can browse a gallery of shelter-nominated less-adoptable pets or use Petfinder’s search tool. You might also ask adoption groups near you which pets in their care are especially in need of homes at the moment.

Each of us can be a voice for shelter pets—and this week and beyond, let’s speak up in an especially loud voice for the seniors and the less-than-perfect animals. They may give us back more love than any other dog or cat we could find anywhere else.

September 20, 2010

New, Loving Homes for Previously Neglected Horses

One of the great outcomes of The HSUS’s animal rescue and emergency response work is the chance to deliver previously traumatized animals into new and better lives, and to watch their transformation in their new, better surroundings. This video just posted to shows the change you help make possible.

In the video, our West Virginia state director Summer Wyatt visits three families who adopted seven of the 49 horses, donkeys and mules The HSUS helped to remove from severe neglect on a Prichard, W.Va. farm in May in coordination with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter. Custody of all 49 equines was granted to The HSUS after the animals’ previous owner pled guilty and was convicted of animal cruelty.

Before the rescue, many of the horses had been denied food, water, and companionship, and they were in bad shape. As you’ll see in the video, the scars from the horrors these horses endured are now starting to fade, and the bones of the animals don’t poke through their skin. There’s fat and muscle below the skin.

We’ve also posted an update on two other horses and a mule from the case who have found sanctuary at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, operated by The Fund for Animals in partnership with The HSUS. These three equines are being housed in a special-needs paddock where they receive extra care and nutrition to help build back muscles that were depleted by starvation. Though previously thought to be unadoptable because of behavioral issues, they are now bonding and blossoming and, if all goes well, might eventually be candidates for adoption and find new homes after we open the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center early next year.

If you’re interested in assisting The HSUS and local horse rescue organizations by providing a permanent or foster home for a rescued horse, please add your name to our Equine Adoption Network.

September 17, 2010

Talk Back: Fur-Free Talbots, Florida Fox Penning Ban

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, speaking at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service
Jacob Slaton
Speaking at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

I was pleased yesterday to be a guest speaker at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. Addressing a diverse and enthusiastic crowd, I encouraged attendees to consider animal protection as one element of their broader commitment to public service and as one critical thread in the tapestry of what makes a truly humane society. I pointed to the state’s enactment of legislation to impose felony-level penalties for malicious acts of animal cruelty—in a campaign led by the state’s dynamic, young Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel—as an important beginning step in the process.

Indeed, progress is occurring on so many fronts, and in so many places, as we as a society become more alert to our responsibilities to other creatures.

Crowd listens to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, speak at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service
Jacob Slaton
At yesterday's event in Little Rock, Ark.

Earlier this month, reacting to a rush of feedback from customers, the apparel retailer Talbots backed away from a decision to sell fur, pulling its animal fur items and reaffirming its original fur-free policy. In Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) outlawed fox and coyote pens after a more than year-long campaign by The HSUS and advocates throughout the state. Penning involves the release of trapped coyotes or foxes in a fenced area, where dogs are released to chase down the captive animals—often tearing them apart. Today I share a sample of your comments in response.

About Talbots pledging to remain fur-free:

Hooray for Talbots and all of us who fight the fur industry. —Penelope Ryan
This is fantastic news! I was poised to boycott Talbots (my number-one source for well-made pants), and now I won't have to. Thank you, HSUS, for giving ordinary people like me a voice and chance to make a real difference on behalf of animals. It feels so good to know that I played a part, however small, in turning Talbot's around. —Devon
I am glad Talbots had a change of heart. Proves there is power in numbers! —Linda
Thanks Talbots, for respecting your customers and taking a humane path! —Urbancritter
This is so awesome! It is always incredibly inspiring to see success stories like this one. Thank you to Talbots for acknowledging its mistake and correcting it immediately. —Andrea L.
So impressed with Talbots, so impressed! Thanks to Talbots for remaining fur-free and keeping animal fur where it belongs: on live animals! —Alanna
Well, now I can start buying at Talbots again, so everyone benefits from cruelty free products. Talbots will be making money and I can shop with a clear conscience. You have to stand up for what you believe in. —Pam
Now that is exactly the kind of thing that would get me to actually go shop at a store I had never shopped at before! Way to go Talbots and as always thanks Wayne and all who worked to make this happen. —Doc Chery
I applaud Talbots for deciding to not sell fur anymore. I only wish that so many other stores would stop. —Peggy "Kay" Ranson

And in response to Florida’s ban against the gruesome practice of fox and coyote penning and the tireless work of the Maines family, who spent more than a year documenting what went on in the fox pen next door to their house, took their story to Florida Fish and Wildlife commissioners, and organized a grassroots movement:

Thank you FWC for doing the right thing, and to HSUS for working so hard to get the word out. The world is now a little bit better place, a little bit kinder, a little bit more compassionate. Or at least our little corner of it is here in Florida. And that's something to celebrate! —Kathleen Laufenberg

I live in South Florida and I thank you so much for all that you do. —Sharon L. Cohen

How wonderful and brave of the Maines family and, as always, our tremendous HSUS. So glad the FWC stepped up so well! Another long overdue victory for the precious animals! —Bonnie

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