Collaborating Against Cruelty

By on April 7, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Last Friday’s "Oprah Winfrey Show" on the mistreatment of dogs at puppy mills and the related issues of pet overpopulation, euthanasia, and spay and neuter has people of conscience throughout the nation hankering for reform. The intensive confinement and other forms of mistreatment of dogs, particularly the breeding males and females conscripted to mass-produce puppies for the pet trade, is an embarrassment and a moral failure. The HSUS has done three major investigations into the mills in the last year—with footage from these investigations broadcast on "Oprah"—and we are committed to using the full resources of the organization to achieve reform. Thanks to the efforts on Friday of Oprah and her team, our campaign has been turbocharged.

Meanwhile, the machinery of The HSUS continues to advance our cause on other fronts. Today, good news out of Colorado.

Calf in veal crate
© Farm Sanctuary
Veal crates will be phased out as part
of Colorado’s historic measure.

Just six months ago, I started discussions with leaders in the agriculture community in Colorado about farm animal confinement practices, specifically veal and gestation crates and battery cages. I told them we intended to file a ballot initiative for the November 2008 election, but would prefer to reach an accommodation in the legislature to avoid an initiative fight that would be costly to both sides.

Much to their credit, the leaders in the world of agriculture in Colorado embarked with me and my colleagues in a series of discussions without quite knowing where we’d end up. We had a series of honest and productive meetings, and did our best to put aside stereotypes and bias. We ran across our share of bumps in the road, but we were able to keep on track, thanks due in large part to Gov. Bill Ritter and his aides and also Agriculture Commissioner John Stulp. The Governor and Commissioner Stulp were committed to a positive outcome for all parties. Dr. Bernard Rollin of Colorado State University—an academic with credibility in both the animal protection and agriculture communities—was also indispensable in these discussions.

Today, we saw the culmination of these efforts. The Colorado House of Representatives, following the lead of the Senate, passed legislation to phase out veal crates in four years and sow gestation crates over 10 years. Gov. Ritter has agreed to sign the legislation, and we’ve agreed to withdraw our ballot initiative.

The public has an expectation of agricultural producers, and intensive confinement of animals for their entire lives is at odds with their commonsense understanding of how animals should be treated. If The HSUS and agriculture interests can work cooperatively to rid agriculture of these particularly inhumane systems, then we are all that much better off. We are grateful to all of the legislators, executive officials, and industry officials who exhibited such good faith. I send them my thanks and appreciation, and hope that what we’ve jointly accomplished in Colorado can be a model for the nation.

Companion Animals

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