The HSUS’ visionary founders did not want to duplicate the work of the local animal shelters. They wanted to complement and augment that work by professionalizing the field and taking on problems beyond the reach of local organizations. In the early years, when it came to companion animals, this included promoting and embedding in our culture the notions of sterilization and adoption, cracking down on animal dealers, and eliminating particularly inhumane methods of euthanasia. Today, The HSUS works on many of the same challenges, but also does so much more in the United States and abroad.
Here are our top 10 accomplishments in 2013 for companion animals.
Animal Fighting on the Run
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
We persuaded the U.S. House and Senate to adopt amendments to the pending Farm Bill to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fight. The HSUS helped lead the nation’s second largest dogfighting raid ever, a four-state operation that resulted in the rescue of some 360 dogs. We also helped to pass legislation to list animal fighting as part of Florida’s organized crime statute, and legislation to strengthen penalties for animal cruelty in Alabama, Hawaii, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oregon. We participated in several dogfighting operations in Central America, through our Costa Rica office.
Punching up the Pressure against Puppy Mills
Under pressure from The HSUS, the USDA closed a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act regulations that had allowed thousands of puppy mills to sell animals sight-unseen, particularly over the Internet, in order to avoid basic regulation and inspections. With the loophole now closed, the number of puppy mills regulated for basic standards of humane care may double. The HSUS also released the results of two undercover investigations of pet sellers that exposed the true sources of puppies sold in pet stores and at flea markets. The Today Show highlighted our report on the AKC’s links to puppy mills, and our report on the “Horrible Hundred” puppy mills received widespread attention. We also helped to secure 14 new state laws to crack down on puppy mills.
Pets for Life Breaking New Ground
The HSUS’ groundbreaking outreach program brought vital pet care services to 12,000 pets, with 8,773 spay/neuter surgeries provided in underserved communities in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. We completed our first year of the Pets for Life training and mentorship program, funded by PetSmart Charities, providing mentorship to 10 new cities. The first-year grants were a huge success – with more than 9,500 pets served and 4,200 spay/neuter surgeries provided, and Pets for Life has been officially implemented in 22 communities, and counting.
Shelter Pet Project and World Spay Day Reach Millions
The Shelter Pet Project, which promotes adoption of shelter animals in partnership with Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council, generated another $50 million in advertising this year, making it the most successful campaign of its kind in our movement’s history with more than $150 million in total advertising since its inception. In 2013, we partnered with Halo Pet Foundation to create a series of YouTube videos featuring adopters and their pets, with more than 35,800 people pledging to adopt their next pet. And this year’s World Spay Day event involved 453 event organizers in 38 countries, who hosted 616 events and reported 58,572 spay/neuter surgeries worldwide. We added Petfinder as a 2013 partner.
Taking a Big Bite out of Carbon Monoxide Euthanasia
Kimberly Alboum/The HSUS
We helped lobby to ban the use of gas chambers in Texas. We also worked to eliminate the last remaining carbon monoxide gas chambers in Mississippi and South Carolina, received commitment from the last shelter using a gas chamber in Illinois to discontinue, and reduced the number of chambers operating in Kansas and North Carolina, while continuing to push for statewide bans in Kansas and Michigan.
Rescue Central Has its Debut
We launched “Rescue Central,” a first-of-its-kind effort to reach, support, and unify the nation’s rescue groups. More than 14,000 rescuers have used the Rescue Central website resources to date, and the Rescue Central forum has nearly 200 active members. The Rescue Central webinar series is bringing best practices education directly to hundreds of rescue group members. And The HSUS made grants of $257,000 to 31 rescue groups through the Lowell Fund. In the meantime, our Animal Rescue Team deployed 18 times and rescued more than 2,500 animals from situations of extreme cruelty. Of the animals rescued, 724 were from puppy mills, 489 from animal fighting operations, and 1,567 from hoarding and neglect.
HSVMA in the Field
Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association provided free spay/neuter and veterinary care valued at more than $1.2 million to more than 7,000 pets in under-served rural communities in the United States and Latin America while training more than 450 veterinary students. Close to 7,000 veterinary professionals have now become HSVMA members, and more than 675 veterinarians worked with HSVMA on legislative initiatives throughout the year.
Ramping up on Cat Protection and Policy
We launched the “Rethinking the Cat” day-long training symposia series to improve outcomes for cats nationwide. We conducted statewide legislative advocacy in 9 states and additional policy-related outreach to more than 50 municipalities across the United States to encourage policies and initiatives relating to cat ordinances, trap/neuter/return programs, eliminating feeding bans, and mitigating disease control issues. In partnership with PetSmart Charities, we developed the “Supporting Community Cats” webinar series, a three-track, 18-session series of trainings designed to save more cat lives through innovative outdoor cat management.
Helping Street Animals All Over the Globe
Humane Society International reached more than 61,000 street dogs, providing spay/neuter services, general veterinary treatment, and humane education in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Whether in India, where we have been working with government agencies and private companies like the Tata Trust; or in Bolivia and Costa Rica, where we are working with governments to control dog populations humanely, we are introducing transformative approaches to a problem that used to result in the horrible killing of animals 100 percent of the time.
Putting a Stop to the International Dog Meat Trade
Humane Society International hit the dog meat trade hard in 2013, with action in Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Our work included a focus on enhancing enforcement of the current ban on the trade in the Philippines, and the seizure of dog transports and other collaborative efforts with government officials in Thailand and Vietnam who are committed to a ban on the illegal, international trade in dog meat.
It’s an extraordinary range of work, unparalleled in impact and reflecting our commitment to protect dogs and cats all over the world, no matter the old ideas or economic interests standing in the way.