As I mentioned yesterday, I welcome your comments and questions. If you would like to share your thoughts on the topics I cover, click "Offer a Comment" at the bottom of any blog entry. Or, if you have a question about The HSUS, email your query and I may post it in a future blog.
Yesterday I responded to two reader questions. Today I am posting another pair, from Dawn and Beckey, respectively.
Q. I am curious… What is The HSUS doing to get more states to pass tougher punishment on people that abuse or neglect animals? My main focus is my state of Maryland.
A. The HSUS has worked methodically state by state to strengthen anti-cruelty laws and animal fighting laws and to upgrade penalties for these crimes. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on the seven remaining states that only punish egregious acts of animal cruelty as a misdemeanor: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. Just last year, the Hawaii legislature enacted felony penalties for cruelty to pet animals, and Utah came close to passing a similar law. We will be working hard to strengthen the animal cruelty laws in these remaining seven states.
In Maryland, we were involved in passing legislation in 2001 to make aggravated cruelty to animals a felony. When the Maryland legislature goes into session In January, we expect legislation to be introduced to increase penalties for being a spectator at a dogfight, and we will be actively supporting this bill. Our top three targets for upgrades to anti-dogfighting laws are Idaho, Georgia and Wyoming. Those states have the three weakest laws in the country.
Q. I think a blog is a great way to update members and keep them informed. I was wondering if The HSUS has the capability/ability to reach beyond the borders of the United States and confront issues that deal with animals in war-torn countries, such as Iraq and Sudan? Just wondering! Keep up the good work and thanks for the updates.
A. The HSUS has an international arm, Humane Society International, and it focuses on a variety of animal issues throughout the world—factory farming, spay and neuter, the trade in dog and cat fur, the international wildlife trade, animal fighting, protection of marine mammals, and much more. We recently investigated the dog meat trade in the Philippines, which I wrote about here. HSI often faces great challenges in directly assisting animals on the ground when conflicts are raging, such as in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq. As an alternative, we work with and support existing local organizations in those countries that have some capacity to help and are often particularly strained when conflicts break out.