A 50-State Strategy for Animal Protection

By on March 28, 2016 with 4 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Yesterday’s Arizona Republic ran a column from me about Arizona’s leading role on some core animal protection causes: kick-starting the anti-confinement movement for farm animals and the effort to promote adoption of homeless dogs and cats. Enhanced protections for farm animals came through a landmark ballot measure in 2006 that reverberated around the nation, and a head-turning advance for companion animals came through the work of Phoenix-based PetSmart (and also its prime competitor Petco) when they decided two decades ago to forego puppy sales and throw open the doors of their stores to rescue and shelter groups to adopt out animals. Between them, they’ve helped adopt out more than 11 million dogs and cats.

Some years ago, we dismantled our regional office structure and hired a director for every state. Now our state directors work with our state council and district leaders and they are tailoring a reform agenda for every state.

At The HSUS, we have a 50-state strategy, and we are hoping that you’ll be involved with our state-based efforts to continue driving reform.

Last year, we launched Humane Puerto Rico, led by The HSUS’s Tara Loller and Yolanda Alvarez, to reshape the laws of the commonwealth, train law enforcement officials, and upgrade the work of local animal organizations (through training and by helping them with spay-and-neuter and vaccination programs). We’ve just launched a similar campaign in Oklahoma, where, just weeks ago, we trained more than 700 law enforcement personnel in the state and delivered to every one of them a duffel bag full of tools, including an evidence collection kit.

Our work takes so many forms. HSUS Michigan state council member Virginia Holden led an effort to ban the use of the gas chamber in her county and that set us up for success statewide. Our Idaho state director Lisa Kauffman worked diligently with our team on the ground to upgrade its anti-cruelty law, and West Virginia director Heather Severt has a strengthened animal fighting bill awaiting Governor Roy Tomblin’s signature.

Obviously, the news about SeaWorld ending its breeding of orcas means that California Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s bill to codify the ban on orca breeding now stands an excellent chance of enactment.

Just a few months ago, we released our state rankings that show how states are performing on animal protection policies. And one of our key partners, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, just released a comprehensive look at animal welfare in Oklahoma, under the premise that understanding what’s happening there is the precursor to changing things for the better.

While the laws are one measure of how a state is doing, it’s important to consider if private companies are taking a leading role on animal issues. It’s also vital to think about the cohesion of local animal organizations and the level of grassroots participation. Well-trained law enforcers are a critical component. And a robust press, including crusading investigative reporters like KLAS-TV’s George Knapp and KTNV-TV’s Darcy Spears in Las Vegas, allows animal protection ideas to gain traction.

It takes so much to drive reform. We are doing that on a global and national level, but we are also doing it state by state. Come, join us to give all of these efforts even more lift and to be a catalyst for change.

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Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. D Purcell says:


    These are the places that need to be shut down. When there are so many in Ne Mexico eager to stop puppy mills, there are places like this around. It needs to stop! The media is our best ally in the fight against horrid conditions. We also need NATIONWIDE breeder regulations.



  2. Christine (Chris) Bradley says:

    First I want to say I am so proud to know the HSUS works very hard to STOP abuse inflicted on animals. I feel we as the people need to pull together and help those that cannot help themselves. We need to be their voice. I feel trophy hunting , dog fighting and any kind of horse abuse is some of many things I am so strongly against. Any person that maliciously hurts an animal or animals desperately needs a psychological evaluation. They are not right in their mind if these people think it is okay to abuse an animal. It really bothers me to know abuse to animals is going on in the world.

  3. Jennifer Bolinger says:

    I think it’s a good foot in the right direction but to be honest I hadn’t heard a thing about this in Arkansas what’s the status on Arkansas?

  4. M Jasper says:

    It’s good to know that California is progressing, but it’s got a long way to go. We are thankful for all efforts that increase animal welfare, but there are two issues that should keep CA from receiving any “awards”:
    In the U.S., 39 states rightfully ban deer-hound hunting. Yet CA allows it along with only nine states on the mainland (others are all Deep South states–Hawaii is the 11th). The cruelty of dogs chasing deer to exhaustion, along with “deer drives,” before being shot is bad enough in terms of not being “fair chase.” But now, in addition to allowing radio telemetry collars on hounds, CA’s Fish and Game Comm will be voting to allow GPS collars as well. If approved, this will create all kinds of unethical hunting opportunities and a possible loophole to the hard-fought ban on hound hunting of bear and bobcats.
    Another area where CA needs reform is in rodeo events. Abject cruelty is publicly flaunted without shame. Rodeo is widely advertised, promoted, and practiced with little-to-no effective public opposition. Mexican rodeos and/or “backyard” rodeos, sometimes hiding behind the veneer of “religious events,” are even worse—steer tailing, horse tripping (illegal, but when it happens, “accident” and “unintended” excuses are accepted). Also, just as with circuses, horse soring, Sea World, etc., year-round horrendous cruelty occurs in “practice” arenas where no one is watching, and animals are repeatedly abused.
    There are other animal practices crying for reform. CA’s position in comparison to other states is appreciated, but any “victory” laps are premature. “Endless pressure, endlessly applied,” should be the modus operandi for CA.

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