Every day, I share on this blog news about the progress we are making for animals. I am grateful to the thousands of readers who like, share, comment on the posts, support us with your donations and take action to make the world a better place for animals.
Today, I want to share with you the blogs that were the most read by you in 2019. Not surprisingly, these reflect some of our top priorities, including wiping out puppy mills, ending the soring of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds, ending the use of fur, protecting wildlife from poachers and trophy hunters, ending the shark fin trade, putting a stop to animal testing and safeguarding our wild horses and burros.
Notably this year, we focused a red-hot spotlight on Petland, the national puppy store chain notorious for sourcing animals from puppy mills, by conducting investigations at several of its stores. Our researchers, and the news media, also uncovered disturbing details about the Trump administration’s moves to reduce enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.
Here are the top 10 blogs of A Humane World in 2019, as decided by you:
In August, the Washington Post, in a stunning exposé, revealed attempts by the Trump administration to force U. S. Department of Agriculture inspectors to abandon efforts to help suffering and dying animals. These revelations came on top of the administration’s ongoing efforts to weaken enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, and to hide inspection reports from public view. Moreover, they cemented concerns that we’ve had – and voiced – that the agency with a mandate to protect animals used by institutions and businesses, including pet breeders, zoos, research laboratories and other entities, has been failing miserably to do its job.
Our blog in May about the investigation of three Petland stores, in Sarasota, Florida, Novi, Michigan, and Tyler, Texas, including hidden camera footage, showed animals at the stores with illnesses ranging from seizures to respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting. At some stores, puppies died without being taken promptly to a veterinary hospital to diagnose and treat their severe illnesses. An investigation in April at a Fairfax, Virginia, store that showed dead rabbits piled up in a freezer and hidden under a table in a back room was also one of the year’s most read blogs. The store closed permanently just days after our investigation. In September, police in Fairfax announced animal cruelty charges against two former managers at the Fairfax store and that blog also made it into the top blogs of the year, showing just how deeply this issue resonates with Americans.
In November, we revealed that the USDA moved to further conceal crucial animal welfare records, including inspection reports and enforcement records of puppy mills, roadside zoos and horse shows where Tennessee walking horses and related breeds are vulnerable to the heinous practice of soring. The agency posted a notice in the Federal Register announcing a regulatory change and cited privacy as the reason for concealing the records — an excuse that doesn’t hold water with us.
A blog in March detailed a heartbreaking undercover investigation showing the suffering of beagles undergoing animal testing at a Michigan laboratory. Following the investigation, we intensified pressure on Dow Agrosciences (Corteva AgriScience) to release beagles 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 us; we also worked with Brazilian authorities on sweeping changes to the country’s requirements for animal testing of agricultural pesticides.
In July, in a remarkable victory for the long-running 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 bill now awaits action in the Senate.
News in February about 35 baby elephants in Zimbabwe, who were ripped from their mothers in November last year and were languishing in captivity awaiting export to Chinese zoos, was met with worldwide outrage. Some of the calves, as young as two years old, were being held in pens in Hwange National Park while travel crates were prepared and documents finalized for their 7,000-mile transport. In October, most of the animals were sent to China, where they are expected to spend the rest of their lives in zoos and circuses. Fortunately, our HSI team successfully pushed for a landmark vote in August at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). There, member countries imposed a near-total ban on the export of wild-caught African elephants from Botswana and Zimbabwe to zoos. That rule just took effect Nov. 26, and will stop this trade that results in so much suffering for these gentle giants.
In March, we released chilling footage of a father and son duo’s infamous – and illegal – black bear trophy hunt in Alaska. The explosive footage, which we obtained under a public records request, offers a preview of what could happen to Alaska’s bears and other wildlife if a rule that allows cruel methods of hunting black bears and other carnivores on National Preserve lands in Alaska, proposed by the Trump administration, goes into effect.
This was a year of major victories for our fur-free campaign, and one of the biggest yet came in October when Macy’s, Inc., the parent company of the iconic American department stores Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, announced it will go fur-free by the end of 2020. This was also the year that California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom made history by signing into law a landmark bill banning the sale and manufacturing of all new fur products in California – the first U.S. state to do so – setting our nation on the path toward a fur-free future.
In March, in a major victory for our campaign to protect wild horses and burros, the United States reinstated important safeguards that will prevent unscrupulous kill buyers from purchasing large numbers of these iconic American animals and funneling them to slaughter abroad.
Last month, the U.S. House voted 310 to 107 to end the terrible shark fin trade, in which fishermen cut the fins off sharks and dump them back into the waters to drown, be eaten alive by other fish, or bleed to death. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 737, would end all commercial trade in the United States, including all imports, exports, trade, distribution and possession for commercial purposes of shark fins and products containing shark fins. The action next moves to the Senate, where more than a third of the members have signed on to a parallel bill, S. 877.