In 2019, we made big strides for companion animals in puppy mills, dog meat trade, research and more

By on December 23, 2019 with 0 Comments

Each year, our campaigns work on a multitude of issues related to improving the lives of companion animals, including dogs, cats and horses. In 2019, we made incredible gains on this front, culminating with the signing of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law in November. The PACT Act severely penalizes criminals who commit the most extreme acts of cruelty against animals.

This was also the year we made huge strides forward against animal testing; in our global battle against dog meat; in our work to end the soring of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds; in ending cruel practices like the declawing of cats.

We continued our work to end the scourge of puppy mills, by investigating more Petland stores and their mistreatment of animals, and by helping pass dozens more ordinances nationwide banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

Here are some of our biggest wins for companion animals in 2019:

We released more undercover investigations of more Petland stores, for a total of eight stores investigated in under two years. Photo by the HSUS

Animals in puppy mills:

  • We reached a milestone of more than 20,147 homeless pets adopted via pet stores that stopped selling breeder puppies. The 24 stores that have converted now offer only shelter puppies as part of our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores program.
  • State laws enhancing or broadening protections for dogs in puppy mills or pet stores passed in several states, including an upgraded commercial breeder law in New Hampshire, and a regulation on increased standards of care provided to breeding dogs in Georgia. A prohibition of dog and cat sales in pet stores in Maine has passed both chambers.
  • We helped defeat pro-puppy-mill preemption bills in every state the pet store industry attempted them, including Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • Dozens of new local ordinances banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores passed in 2019, for a total of 334 ordinances nationwide. Some of the ordinances succeeded in new parts of the country, including several in Alabama and one in South Carolina.
  • We released more undercover investigations of more Petland stores, for a total of eight stores investigated in under two years. In April, the Petland store in Fairfax, Virginia, closed down after our undercover investigation revealed sick puppies and a high death rate in its rabbits. Two former managers of the store were charged with animal cruelty in mid-September. Their trial is scheduled for January 2020.
  • Missouri’s attorney general sued or penalized four of the state’s most problematic puppy mills, in part because of documents we provided. The four puppy mills were all recently exposed in our Horrible Hundred reports. In addition, ten puppy mills from HSUS’s recent reports closed down this year. One of these breeders was a Georgia dealer we highlighted in our 2018 Horrible Hundred report, Reason Craig Gray/ Georgia Puppies. The Georgia Puppies raid resulted in the rescue of more than 700 dogs, and the owner was jailed and convicted of animal cruelty.
  • The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Chelsea Kennel Club in New York City, a pet store that closed down after our undercover investigation in 2017 showed the store was failing to provide proper care to sick dogs. Information our investigators collected helped form the backbone of this and another lawsuit brought by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs against the store.
  • Responding to our lawsuit focusing on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new policy to refuse access to key Animal Welfare Act enforcement data, a federal court ruled that the USDA must release the content of its AWA inspections of puppy breeders, research facilities, and zoos and other exhibitors.

After our investigation shone a spotlight on the suffering of beagles undergoing testing at a Michigan lab, we helped secure the release of 32 dogs who were placed with our shelter partner, the Michigan Humane Society. Pictured above, Millie, one of the beagles who has since been adopted into a loving home. Photo by Kendra Stanley-Mills/AP Images for the HSUS

Animals in research:

  • In March, our investigation shone the spotlight on the suffering endured by beagles undergoing animal testing at a Michigan lab. Following the investigation, we intensified pressure on Dow AgroSciences (Corteva Agriscience) to release beagles who were being held at the lab for a one-year pesticide test required by Brazil. We not only managed to pressure Corteva to end the test and release the 32 animals to our shelter partner, the Michigan Humane Society, but Humane Society International also worked with Brazilian authorities on sweeping changes to the country’s requirements for animal testing of agricultural pesticides.
  • In a landmark announcement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to end all animal testing on dogs, mice, rabbits and other mammals for chemicals and pesticides by 2035.
  • Washington and Oregon became the 10th and 11th states to pass laws requiring dogs and cats used in research be made available for adoption.
  • In Louisiana we supported passage of a unique legal limitation on pound seizure, to prevent the sales of animals at shelters to research facilities.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act was introduced in Congress to end the transport of American horses, burros and other equines abroad to be slaughtered for human consumption, and to ensure that horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil remain shuttered. Photo by Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS


  • In July, thanks to the tenacious efforts of the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the House of Representatives passed, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 333 to 96, the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693. The Senate bill, S. 1007, has 52 cosponsors and awaits action in that chamber.
  • In November, Louisville, Kentucky, adopted a resolution urging the state’s two U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, to co-sponsor and help enact the PAST Act to end the torment of Tennessee walking horses and other related breeds. In August, the city of Nashville, Tennessee, had passed a similar resolution urging its U.S. Senators to support PAST.
  • The Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R.1754/S.1820, was introduced in the Senate for the very first time this Congress and currently has 20 cosponsors. A milestone was reached in the House of Representatives on December 18th when 222 House members agreed to cosponsor the bill—a majority of the House of Representatives. We testified before the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus in support of this bill.
  • The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R 961/S. 2006, was introduced in Congress to end the transport of American horses, burros and other equines abroad to be slaughtered for human consumption, and to ensure that horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil remain shuttered. The bill is cosponsored by 221 Representatives, a majority of the U.S. House.

In October, our Animal Rescue Team members helped pull out more than 200 cats and other animals from a large-scale alleged neglect situation in Pennsylvania. Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Animal rescue:

  • In June, our Animal Rescue Team helped remove nearly 200 cats and kittens and several dogs from a situation of alleged large-scale neglect.
  • Just days later, we assisted again in Texas, this time with the rescue of 159 horses from a Texas property, and helped all the horses find their way to new homes.
  • In October, our team members helped pull out more than 200 cats and other animals from a large-scale alleged neglect situation in Pennsylvania.
  • Our teams dispatched to the ground in Louisiana ahead of Tropical Storm Barry to remove animals from shelters in the path of the storm and move them to safety.
  • We deployed in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian to rescue animals and reunite them with their families.
  • Stateside, we transported animals from shelters affected by Hurricane Dorian out of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina before Hurricane Dorian hit, and out of Beaumont, Texas, following flooding there.
  • We deployed to Mozambique and Malawi after Cyclone Idai and provided assistance to animals in India, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico.
  • As part of the Shelter Ally Project, we helped transport more than 2,700 cats and dogs from overwhelmed areas to shelters that could adopt them out to loving homes.

Our Spayathon for Puerto Rico™ initiative spayed/neutered and vaccinated nearly 24,266 dogs and cats on the island this year Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Images for the HSUS

Veterinary services:

  • Our Spayathon for Puerto Rico™ initiative spayed/neutered and vaccinated 24,266 dogs and cats on the island this year, taking our grand total of dogs and cats helped to 43,265.
  • Our Rural Area Veterinary Services program, which brings free veterinary services to under-served rural communities, spayed and neutered 8,000 dogs and cats stateside.
  • Our Pets for Life program, which addresses the lack of accessible, affordable pet care in underserved communities, served more than 8,000 pets in our two core markets of Philadelphia and Los Angeles and 25,000 more pets through our mentorship partners in 2019.
  • In Cebu City, Philippines, we vaccinated 80,000 dogs over a five-month period, in what was Humane Society International’s largest vaccination drive.

We closed two more dog meat farms in South Korea, and, with our local partners, led the shutdown of an illegal slaughterhouse in China. Photo by Peter Li/HSI

Dog and cat meat trade and other global successes:

  • HSI closed down the 14th and 15th dog meat farms in South Korea, rescuing nearly 300 dogs.
  • Authorities in South Korea shut down the Gupo dog meat market, notorious for being one of the country’s largest such markets. HSI along with local partner groups rescued nearly 100 dogs from the market during the shutdown.
  • Seoul’s last three dog meat shops agreed to end dog slaughter on-site, following more than a year of campaigning from Seoul’s Mayor Park Won-soon and the South Metropolitan Government. Authorities in the capital city have now declared their city is free of dog slaughter.
  • Working with our partner groups in China, CAWA and Vshine, we led the shutdown of an illegal slaughterhouse, saving 31 dogs on site, and assisted activists who had halted a shipment of 620 cats being trucked to a slaughterhouse. All animals were moved to care under Vshine.
  • We garnered 276,075 signatures on our petition to end the infamous Yulin dog meat festival in China, and rescued 31 dogs from an active slaughterhouse just before the festival began.

New York passed a ban on the declawing of cats, and St. Louis banned the practice just last week. Photo by PhenomArtlover/

State and local legislative successes:

  • Washington became the 22nd state in the nation to prohibit its towns from passing breed-specific legislation.
  • New York passed a ban on the declawing of cats, and St. Louis banned the practice just last week.
  • Arkansas is all set to end greyhound racing, taking this “sport” closer to its demise. Only four more states now have greyhound racing, including Alabama, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia, where we are supporting efforts to ban it in 2020.
  • We fought off bans on feeding unowned cats in three localities.
  • Laws prohibiting animal sexual abuse in Maryland and animal fighting in Tennessee passed.
  • We assisted several law enforcement agencies across the country, including assistance relating to the seizure and rescue of 125 farm animals in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Last month, the state’s attorney filed 51 criminal cruelty charges, including felony and misdemeanors, against the owner.

In 2020 we look forward to breaking new paths forward for companion animal protection, and building upon this year’s successes. With your support, we’ll be hard at work to make the world a better place for the animals who enrich our lives every day, with their presence and with their unconditional love.

Be a hero for animals

Animal Rescue and Care, Animal Research and Testing, Companion Animals, Equine, Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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