Our animal protection agenda wins big in House Appropriations funding package

By on June 25, 2019 with 0 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

There’s a reason why the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund invest substantial time and effort in seeking to shape funding decisions within the U.S. Congress; it pays off big for animal protection. Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 227-194 to pass a large package of fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills to fund several federal departments, including Agriculture, Interior and Commerce. H.R. 3055 features a number of great provisions for animals. Some of the most important include:

Halting trophy imports—Prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from issuing permits to import elephant or lion trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia or Tanzania (an amendment offered by Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., approved by 239-192 vote).

Saving North Atlantic right whales—Provides $2.5 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research and monitoring of these critically endangered whales (a floor amendment by Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., that increased funding by $1.5 million was approved by voice vote; a harmful amendment by Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine was defeated by 84-345 vote).

Enhancing wildlife trade detection—Encourages USFWS to allocate an additional $200,000 for its Wildlife Detector Dog Program, which uses dogs to sniff out illegal wildlife products at key U.S. ports of entry, curbing wildlife trafficking (an amendment by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., was approved by voice vote).

Restoring purged USDA data—Directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to resume online posting of all inspection reports and enforcement records under the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act; documents must be promptly posted in their entirety without redactions that obscure the identities of puppy mills, roadside zoos and other businesses cited for violations (Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., incorporated this and several other pro-animal items on this list in his base bill).

Providing shelter for people and pets fleeing domestic violence—Allocates $2 million for a new grant program authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, based on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, to help provide emergency and transitional shelter options for domestic violence survivors with companion animals; directs USDA and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development to work together quickly to establish and carry out this grant program (Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., led efforts to secure these provisions).

Stopping horse slaughter—Prohibits USDA spending on horse slaughter inspections, effectively preventing the reopening of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. for FY20.

Punishing horse soring—Provides $294,000 increase (raising the program’s funding to $1 million) for stronger USDA enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to prevent the cruel practice of soring Tennessee walking horses and related show breeds.

Curbing cruelty in swine slaughter—Suspends USDA’s swine slaughter rule that allows slaughterhouses to send pigs down the line as rapidly as possible, with serious negative implications for animal welfare, food safety and worker safety (an amendment by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and David Price, D-N.C., was approved in committee).

Shutting down Class B dealers—Renews the prohibition on USDA’s use of funds to license Class B dealers, notorious for trafficking in dogs and cats obtained through fraudulent means, including pet theft, for research and testing (Rep. Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., championed this measure).

Requiring AWA inspections documentation—Calls on USDA to require that inspectors document every observed violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), to reverse concealment tactics that the agency has promoted during the past few years.

Engaging the USDA Inspector General—Presses this important office to step up efforts against animal fighting and to audit USDA’s enforcement of the AWA, HPA and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA).

Supporting veterinary care and services—Boosts funding by $1 million (to $9 million total) for student loan repayment program for veterinarians who commit to practice in underserved areas.

A number of key provisions on which we reported earlier for wild horses and burros, wolves, marine mammals, other wildlife and alternatives to animal testing are also contained in today’s House-approved package. So are measures calling for greater oversight of animal welfare and transparency at Agricultural Research Service labs, strengthened HMSA enforcement for live animal handling at slaughterhouses and funds for USDA to help state and local governments address the needs of people with pets in their disaster planning.

By any standard, this has been a banner year so far in our work shepherding strong animal welfare initiatives through the federal budgeting process. We are so grateful to the legislators who led the charge on these provisions and to their colleagues who voted for the package. And we’re grateful to the many engaged advocates who have stood strong behind us in our efforts. Now we’ll urge the Senate to follow suit and get these provisions enacted!

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Laughing together, and standing up for animals

By on June 24, 2019 with 0 Comments
Laughing together, and standing up for animals

Almost a week later, many of us are still smiling. That’s how much fun we had at our HSUS Stand Up for Animals event last Wednesday night at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles. It was a memorable night, as host Carol Leifer, along with . . . 

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Arizona moves to ban wildlife killing contests

By on June 21, 2019 with 0 Comments
Arizona moves to ban wildlife killing contests

Arizona’s Game and Fish Commission has voted to ban wildlife killing contests: gruesome spectacles in which participants vie for cash and prizes for killing the most or heaviest animals within a specific time period. This is a wonderful development because Arizona has been the site . . . 

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Breaking news: Canada bans shark finning and shark fin trade

By on June 20, 2019 with 1 Comment
Breaking news: Canada bans shark finning and shark fin trade

Canada, the largest importer of shark fins outside Asia, has passed a landmark bill that includes measures to prohibit the trade in shark fins nationally as well as finning in Canadian waters. Humane Society International/Canada joined Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and the Canadian Coast Guard . . . 

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Dog meat ‘festival’ begins in Yulin, China; Activists rescue 62 dogs from slaughterhouse

By on June 19, 2019 with 1 Comment
Dog meat ‘festival’ begins in Yulin, China; Activists rescue 62 dogs from slaughterhouse

The dog meat festival in Yulin, China, begins this Friday. However, dogs and cats, either stolen from their owners or plucked from the streets, are already being mercilessly bludgeoned to death or electrocuted before being cooked and served up as food in the city’s restaurants. . . . 

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EPA gives factory farms a free pass on toxic air emissions

By on June 18, 2019 with 1 Comment
EPA gives factory farms a free pass on toxic air emissions

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson In an unlawful move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to exempt massive factory farms from reporting their toxic air emissions — released from animal waste created by these facilities — to state and local authorities. The rule, . . . 

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Horse deaths at Santa Anita underscore need for racing reform nationwide

By on June 17, 2019 with 1 Comment
Horse deaths at Santa Anita underscore need for racing reform nationwide

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The number of horses dying at the Santa Anita racetrack in California since December 2018 has led to widespread concern in the horseracing world and beyond, and prompted California Gov. Gavin Newsom to call for closing the racetrack until . . . 

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HSUS rescues nearly 200 cats, several dogs from alleged neglect situation in Texas

By on June 14, 2019 with 3 Comments
HSUS rescues nearly 200 cats, several dogs from alleged neglect situation in Texas

It was the smell that hit them the hardest as staff members from our Animal Rescue Team entered a house in Killeen, Texas, this morning, to help local law enforcement agents remove nearly 200 cats and kittens and several dogs from a situation of alleged . . . 

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Instead of cleaning house, Petland wages a losing battle against puppy mill reform

By on June 13, 2019 with 1 Comment
Instead of cleaning house, Petland wages a losing battle against puppy mill reform

Our eight-month investigation into six Petland stores has revealed heartbreaking stories of puppy mistreatment and deaths. It has led to hundreds of customers contacting us with personal stories of buying animals from Petland, only to have them fall sick and even die; it has caused . . . 

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Oregon passes controversial plan to set the stage for trophy hunting of wolves

By on June 11, 2019 with 23 Comments
Oregon passes controversial plan to set the stage for trophy hunting of wolves

Oregon has just made it easier for trophy hunters and trappers to go after the state’s small population of wolves. In a move strenuously opposed by scientists, environmentalists and animal protection groups, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday updated its Wolf Conservation and . . . 

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Breaking news: Canada bans captivity of whales and dolphins for entertainment

By on June 10, 2019 with 7 Comments
Breaking news: Canada bans captivity of whales and dolphins for entertainment

In a powerful affirmation of the rising global tide against the use of marine animals in performing acts, Canadian lawmakers today voted to end the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises for entertainment. The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act or the “Free . . . 

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China takes a step toward joining global cruelty-free cosmetics revolution

By on June 7, 2019 with 1 Comment
China takes a step toward joining global cruelty-free cosmetics revolution

China has, for a long time, been on the sidelines of the global campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics. Animal tests have, in fact, been a legal requirement for many types of cosmetics made and imported into China, and authorities have traditionally required pre-market . . . 

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