I write A Humane Nation to chronicle mainly what The HSUS and its affiliates are doing and accomplishing, to comment on the major issues and controversies of the day, and to answer the arguments or false claims of our opponents concerning our work. I discuss the wide range of subjects that we work on, and I take special note of the blogs that you like the most and that get the biggest response from readers. Today, in the first of a series of end-of-year blogs, I review the top 10 blogs of the year – blogs that received the most visitors. Readers took particular note of our gains and exposés of puppy mills, and major announcements from global food retailers to limit cruelty to animals on factory farms, but as always, there was a wide range of interest reflected in your top choices, including touches on street dogs and wild horses and the support of the incredible Ellen DeGeneres!
- FBI to Start Tracking Animal Cruelty Cases: The Federal Bureau of Investigation signed off on including animal cruelty crimes within the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) – National Incident Based Reporting System — an action that will advance how law enforcement officials understand and act to prevent these often violent crimes. Just as the FBI tracks hate crimes and other important categories, we will now have critical data on animal cruelty. The HSUS and its affiliates had been pushing for this change in policy for years. This was the year that South Dakota became the 50th state to adopt felony-level penalties for malicious animal cruelty.
United States Moves to End Puppy Mill Imports: In August, The U.S. Department of Agriculture made final a federal rule that we’d long advocated for prohibiting the import of puppies into the United States for resale. As a result, other nations will no longer be able to raise tens of thousands of dogs in puppy mills and flood the U.S. market with them. This action, grounded in a 2008 Farm Bill amendment we secured, is a major victory in our continuing fight against puppy mills across the globe.
- The Tweet Heard Around the World: Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar selfie with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars was retweeted 3 million times, becoming the most retweeted post in history — and it helped the animals. Samsung decided to give a dollar for each retweet to Ellen’s designated charity and she directed $1.5 million to The HSUS, the other half going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her donation went to three of The HSUS’ remarkable programs: Pets for Life, our Shelter Pet Project and our Animal Rescue Team.
- Unilever: There Must be a Better Way for Day-Old Male Chicks: In September, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies announced it will work to prevent the destruction – via maceration and suffocation – of baby male chicks in the egg industry. Maceration, a little known part of egg production, is the mass killing of male chicks of no use to the industry since they don’t lay eggs. Unilever is now working to make a technology commercially and scientifically viable that would determine the sex of embryos in eggs long before they get out of the egg, so that they don’t hatch and create a terrible moral problem. Success in this effort would eliminate a vast amount of suffering for hundreds of millions of animals annually.
Ending “Commercial” Exploitation: This post, just after the Super Bowl and the roll-out of the much-hyped ads during the broadcast, discussed indicators of cultural, corporate, and political change for the good of animals. Increasingly, we are seeing advertisers move away from exploiting wild animals like chimpanzees and promoting heart-warming pet adoption stories and the virtue, care, and goodness associated with the human-animal bond.
- Puppy Mills and 101 Damnations: We released our annual puppy mill report, “101 Puppy Mills,” in May at the start of The HSUS’ eighth annual Puppy Mill Action Week, where we spotlight harsh truths about the abuses of dogs occurring on a widespread scale in puppy mills. Missouri dominated the list, with 22 of the 101 mills identified in the report in Missouri. Kansas was second, followed by Nebraska, Arkansas and Iowa. Prop B in Missouri has helped to shutter more than 600 mills in Missouri alone in the last three years, but there are still thousands of mills operating across the United States.
- Nestlé to Overhaul Farm Animal Treatment Across the Globe: In August, Nestlé, the world’s largest food company – with dozens of widely known brands, such as Dreyer's, Lean Cuisine, and Butterfinger – announced it will eliminate many controversial, yet currently standard, practices within its worldwide food supply chain. Nestlé’s new program will cleanse its supply chain of the following practices: confinement of sows in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying chickens in cages; the forced rapid growth of chickens for meat production; and the harsh mutilation of the horns, tails, and genitals of farm animals without painkillers.
- Virginia Pet Stores: Selling Puppies and a Pack of Lies: We sent an undercover investigator with a hidden camera into every pet store in Virginia we could find that sells puppies. Our researchers also traced the sources of more than 2,000 puppies shipped to Virginia pet stores over seven months in 2014. We uncovered widespread deception and omissions – all seemingly designed to provide false assurances or to dupe the public into buying expensive puppies from mills treating dogs deplorably.
Olympian Tom McMillen Says ‘Nyet’ to Dog Slaughter: Former Olympic athlete Tom McMillen sent a letter to the leader of the International Olympic Committee, urging the body to intervene and stop the killing of street dogs in Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. You also liked my posts about the slaughter of dogs in Sochi and Humane Society International’s work to rescue these dogs and bring them into the United States to be placed for adoption. In his letter McMillen, an HSUS board member, wrote: “Mass dog extermination programs as part of Olympic preparations stand in stark contrast to Olympian values. The socially responsible and ethical way forward is to adopt and implement easily available humane methods rather than hunting down and poisoning these animals as all the world watches.”
- Latest Roundup in Wyoming Exposes Flaws, Failures in BLM’s Wild Horse Management Program: At least 10 animals, including four yearlings, were killed after a poorly conducted and strategically suspect government roundup of approximately 800 wild horses in Wyoming. The HSUS has long argued that the BLM, which conducts these round-ups, should be working with the humane community to manage wild horses using fertility control methods.
There’s no question that our movement is making extraordinary progress, and the blog is a diary of that progress and the change that intentional compassionate action ushers in.