The HSUS and its affiliates drive transformational change for animals. We don’t measure our success based on how many press releases we issue, bills we sponsor, or policy papers we write. We measure our success based on animals rescued from distress, corporations that change their policies for the better, laws enforced and bills enacted, and awareness generated by our communications efforts. We know you expect us to achieve concrete results for animals, and that’s what we aim to deliver every day. Today, I provide a few highlights of some of the biggest changes that The HSUS has achieved so far this year with your support.
We secured commitments from three of the nation’s largest pork producers – Cargill, Clemens and Tyson Foods – to phase out cruel gestation crates. We persuaded Smithfield Foods to extend its commitment for a crate-free future to all of its contract farms. We worked with Unilever on its historic commitment to stop the killing of male chicks by the egg industry, and with Heinz to switch a fifth of its North American egg purchases away from cage operations. We worked with Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, to announce a new policy to cleanse its supply chain of pork, veal, and eggs from operations that confine animals in cages or crates. We helped persuade the Canadian government to phase out gestation crates, and convinced the courts in India to hear a case against battery cages.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a rule to prohibit the import of puppy mill dogs from foreign countries. (Last year, the USDA closed the loophole that allowed breeders who sell online or directly to the public, sight-unseen, to operate without federal licenses or inspections.) We also helped to pass anti-puppy mill measures in Connecticut and Minnesota, a very big mill state.
- With many partners, The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund have had the second best year, in numerical terms, for enacting state animal welfare laws – a total of 117 and counting. This includes South Dakota becoming the 50th state to enact felony-level penalties for animal cruelty and fighting, West Virginia becoming one of the last to restrict the ownership of wild animals as pets, and California banning many classes of rodenticides. We also helped defeat 47 bills that would have been bad for animals, including several “ag-gag” bills. We led the effort to pass federal bills to make it a crime to be a spectator at an animal fight and to facilitate the transfer of the vast majority of government-owned chimps from labs to sanctuaries.
- Our litigators and our program departments helped secure a landmark court ruling dismissing a challenge to California's farm animal welfare laws against extreme confinement of farm animals. They helped uphold a regulation that bans the imports of seal skins to the European Union against a challenge at the World Trade Organization; engineered a ruling from the International Court of Justice against Japan’s commercial killing of whales in the Southern Ocean; won a federal appeals court ruling upholding the federal law against the sale of videos depicting malicious cruelty; and banned wolf hunting in Wyoming. (We also blocked the trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan by qualifying two referendums to stay measures enacted by lawmakers in Michigan.)
- We persuaded India to ban animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients—the first country in South Asia to do so. We also helped China repeal its requirement that domestically-produced cosmetics be tested on animals, and scored another victory in January when Merck pledged to stop testing on chimpanzees.
We helped reinstate a ban on domestic horse slaughter in January when Congress approved the FY 2014 omnibus spending bill, which included language that prohibits the USDA from spending taxpayer dollars to inspect prospective horse slaughter plants. This prevented three horse slaughter plants, in Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico, from opening – and we got an assist in blocking the openings of kill plants from our legal staff. Two Congressional committees voted to retain this defund language in the FY 2015 spending bill, so chances are good that the no-slaughter policy will be extended at least through next September 30th.
- We helped enact a ban on the sale of shark fins in Massachusetts, while our litigators helped secure a U.S. District Court ruling upholding California's ban on the possession or sale of shark fins, which we helped pass in 2011. Both New Jersey and New York enacted HSUS-led bans on ivory and rhino horn, the first such comprehensive state-based restrictions in the United States. We partnered with the Vietnamese government to reduce demand for rhino horns through a public education campaign. Because of our successful efforts to close global markets for seal products, most sealers chose not to participate in the seal hunt again this year, with the sealers falling 340,000 seals short of their kill quota.
- We conducted deployments of our Animal Rescue team in states across the nation, saving animals from puppy mills, animal fighting rings and hoarding operations. We operate our Pets for Life program, or conducting mentoring for it, in more than 20 cities. Our Rural Area Veterinary Services program provides free veterinary services in rural communities. Our wildlife team rehomed more than 4,100 wild animals this year – from gopher tortoises to tigers to prairie dogs.
- We opened our new Big Cat Habitat at the Fund for Animals’ Black Beauty Ranch in Texas and also opened a new Wildlife Clinic at The Fund for Animals center in California, and continued to expand and improve our affiliated animal care facilities across the nation. Together with our affiliates, we provided direct care to more than 100,000 animals.
In the coming months, I’ll blog with more details about each of these victories, and the many others that you’ve helped us to achieve this year. Today, though, I just want to thank you for all you do to make this incredible progress for animals possible. I hope you take pride in it, reflecting on all the good that you help us to do for animals – and the progress we can achieve together in the year ahead.