Companion animals are a great source of joy in our lives, in this and every season, and their welfare is a core priority for The HSUS. We celebrate the human-animal bond, and we work to uphold it in every possible way, for our pets as for other animals. Here’s an account of key achievements for companion animals during 2016, both here and abroad.
Cracking down on puppy mills: Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Portland, Maine, and dozens of other localities enacted ordinances to ban or restrict the sale of puppy mill dogs. In 2016, we drove the number of local jurisdictions with these laws to more than 200. We’re pushing at the statewide level, too. An HSUS report linked New Jersey pet stores to a number of awful puppy mills. Maryland banned the sale of puppies at flea markets and other outdoor areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture shuttered six notorious puppy mills after we provided information and applied pressure. We raided mills throughout the nation, saving dogs and exposing this dirty underside of the pet trade. Through our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores Conversion Program – where we work to change the business models of pet stores to forgo puppy mill sales and instead work with shelters and rescues on in-store adoptions – we’ve helped adopt out more than 9,000 dogs.
Cracking down on the dog meat market: We rescued and cared for 175 dogs and cats bound for slaughter at the annual Yulin festival in China, and we assisted our local Chinese partners in the rescue of more than 3,000 dogs and 3,000 cats from the dog and cat meat trade. We permanently closed down our largest dog meat farm to date in South Korea, rescuing and rehoming 250 dogs, and helping our fifth farmer transition out of the trade into a humane livelihood. In December, thanks to the atmosphere we are creating, the largest dog meat trading center, and 22 dog meat traders, pledged to cease selling and trading dogs at the market by mid-2017.
Street dog welfare: We helped achieve a temporary ban on dog culling and animal fighting in Bangladesh. We helped spay or neuter approximately 52,000 animals in Asia, and approximately 225,000 dogs were vaccinated in Asia as part of HSI’s street dog program. We spayed or neutered an additional 15,000 dogs and cats in Latin American countries, including Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador. India’s Supreme Court banned vigilante groups from the indiscriminate culling of street dogs in the state of Kerala.
Rescuing animals from natural and human-caused disasters: Our Animal Rescue Team delivered the full scope of services in a dozen deployments around the country, and offered financial or expert assistance in support of over a dozen more. The team deployed to rescue animals in areas ravaged by Hurricane Matthew, including South Carolina and Haiti, and also assisted animals in Costa Rica affected by Hurricane Otto. Team members responded to a wide range of human-caused crises for animals, like those associated with puppy mills. During one puppy mill rescue in March, the team freed about 300 dogs living among their dead and decomposing kin. In June, our Animal Rescue Team assisted federal law enforcement agents in rescuing 66 dogs from a suspected dogfighting ring, confined at properties in five states as far afield as New Jersey and New Mexico.
Keeping horse slaughter plants shuttered on U.S. soil: Appropriations committees in the U.S. House and Senate adopted amendments to prevent the slaughter of horses for human consumption on U.S. soil. Our dedicated team worked to shut down the last three slaughter plants in the United States in 2007, and has worked with resolve to ensure that no new plants start up. Still though, despite enormous support in Congress and from the general public for our position, opponents in the agriculture industry have managed to block passage of federal legislation to ban the shipment of live horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. We’re committed to pushing for this ban until Congress votes on the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act.
Pets for Life and RAVS: We provided direct care to more than 13,000 pets living in underserved areas through our Pets for Life program which operates in four core cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The program has served more than 125,000 pets nationwide so far and is a thought and action leader in animal welfare, solidifying in our field the need to connect with and support people and pets living in poverty across the country. PFL has brought mainstream discussions of larger societal issues like socioeconomic and spatial inequality into the realm of animal advocacy. Our veterinary program, Rural Area Veterinary Services, provided veterinary care to 8,000 animals who were in desperate need of care in 2016, mainly on Indian reservations but also in other rural parts of the country. RAVS staff spent more than 150 days in the field and trained over 300 veterinary professionals, amplifying the value of this program in creating the next generation of humane-minded vets.
Key state legislative gains for animals: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law to require publicly-funded institutions of higher education to give dogs and cats used in biomedical research and testing a second chance at adoption into forever homes—a lifeline for hundreds of dogs and cats in state-funded institutions. We helped defeat legislation in Hawaii that would have banned cat feeding on all state lands and prohibited any cats being returned to colonies on those lands as part of a trap-neuter-return program. In Hawaii and Washington D.C., we influenced legislation on invasive species management to ensure that cats were not part of those regulations. We have also guided more than 65 municipalities toward trap-neuter-return, and many have successfully adopted community cat management programs. We helped defeat a bill in Kansas that would have reopened multiple greyhound racing tracks in the state, and saw Arizona finally pass legislation to end the practice there.
Closing down gas chambers: We helped pass legislation to prohibit gas chambers for euthanasia in California and South Carolina, and we won regulations prohibiting the use of carbon monoxide for euthanasia in Kansas. We facilitated voluntary closures of the last known chambers in Michigan, Nevada, and Oklahoma.
Rooting out animal cruelty on military bases: President Obama issued an Executive Order amending the Uniform Code of Military Justice so that it now includes the specific crime of animal cruelty. There have been some reports of companion animal abuses on military bases in recent years, and although such abuse is thankfully rare, accounting for it explicitly, rather than lumping it in with the general classification of “disorders and neglects,” as was previously the case, will create a stronger deterrent. This reform is applicable to acts of animal cruelty by military personnel stationed anywhere in the world.
Wild horse management: We began a three- to five-year fertility control project to stabilize and reduce the wild horse population through immunocontraception in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The island’s population is estimated to be nearly 2,000 horses. We were successful in fighting back the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s recommendation to euthanize 45,000 horses currently in holding facilities, and helped secure assurances from the Bureau of Land Management that no healthy horses are to be euthanized.