Weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, and the intense rescue of stranded or abandoned dogs, cats, and other animals had slowed, we at The HSUS turned some of our attention to reshaping the laws in the country with respect to animals in disasters—so that our nation would never be so unprepared to help animals in subsequent cataclysms. We helped pass the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act and about 20 state laws to include animals in disaster planning.
After our investigation of the Hallmark slaughter plant, we focused on banning the slaughter of all downer cows—not just in California, but throughout the nation. We achieved a major marker in our campaign when President Obama himself announced the closure of the loophole.
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
HSUS Pit Bull Training Team participants.
And ever since the awful cruelties of the Michael Vick case came to the public’s attention, we’ve redoubled our efforts to change the landscape on animal fighting in this country—passing a raft of new state and federal laws, amping up raids and busts of illegal animal fighters, training more law enforcement agents, bolstering our rewards program and creating a national tip line, and also growing our community-based programs to reach at-risk kids and young men, particularly in urban communities.
Yesterday, I joined leaders of local humane organizations from southeastern Pennsylvania for a meeting with executives of the Philadelphia Eagles, including Joe Banner, the president of the organization. I was heartened to hear the Eagles say—now that they’ve hired Michael Vick—that the organization is going to invest in anti-cruelty and anti-fighting programs in the region. We are anxious to help them shape and implement these programs. My conclusion: By enlisting the Eagles organization our movement has added a new, powerful member to the cause—and the team’s help is desperately needed in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Some three-quarters of the region’s 8 million people are self-identified fans of the team, and the Eagles organization is already a powerful force for good in Philadelphia and surrounding communities.
We should be angry whenever animals are abused. But, at some point in the process, we’ve got to turn anger into constructive action. Just being angry about Michael Vick—now more than two years after his horrible crimes came to light—isn’t going to help one dog. But finding new allies like the Eagles, dedicating ourselves to the campaign to eradicate animal fighting, and fortifying these programs is the constructive pathway forward. It’s when passion and strategy are combined that we’ll see the greatest advances for animals.
That’s what we did with Katrina, with Hallmark, and all of the major animal problems that catch fire and penetrate the nation’s consciousness. We work to turn a bad situation into lasting change for animals.