Greyhound racing has ended in Florida. 49 states say animal torture is a felony. In 2021, we will continue to win more battles for animals on the state and local levels
On Dec. 31, Florida’s greyhound racetracks closed for good as a result of a ballot measure we helped pass with our partner groups in 2018. That win brought down what was once the stronghold of this “sport” and effectively sounded the death knell for greyhound racing in the United States.
The work that we do each year in states, to pass laws and get ballot measures on the books that result in a better world for animals, is some of our most important and impactful. In 2020 we continued to push forward despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, helping to pass a total of 184 new animal protection laws, including 80 at the state level and 104 at the local level.
Some of the key wins we accomplished last year, which are already helping make a difference for animals in states, included:
- A law in Mississippi making animal torture a first offense felony. The law went into effect in July and in October a woman who held her dogs in terrible conditions, in metal sheds and metal cages with no respite from the harsh Mississippi sun or even water, was sentenced to a harsher punishment than would have been possible before. “This statute has got a lot of teeth in it,” the judge told a news reporter after the sentencing.
- Laws in Alabama, Virginia, Louisiana and New York that address captive wildlife ownership.
- Laws in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Vermont and New Mexico that ban the trafficking of imperiled wildlife body parts.
- Laws in Washington, D.C., Vermont and South Carolina that ban the trafficking of endangered wildlife body parts.
- A law in Colorado that bans cages for egg-laying chickens and requires that eggs produced and sold in the state be cage-free.
- A law in California to close a legal loophole that pet stores were using to sell breeder puppies as rescued dogs. California was the first state to end the sales of puppies in pet stores in 2017.
- A rule in Colorado banning wildlife killing contests for species like coyotes, bobcats, foxes, prairie dogs, minks, pine martens, badgers, skunks, beavers, muskrats, weasels, opossums, ring-tailed cats, raccoons and squirrels. Washington state also passed a rule ending killing contests for animals like coyotes, bobcats, crows, foxes and raccoons, becoming the seventh state to ban them.
- Laws in every state that enacted shelter-in-place restrictions during the pandemic to designate animal shelters and veterinary services as essential.
As legislatures and regulatory commissions around the country open for the new year, our campaigns and state directors are already active. As always we will approach our work in a strategic fashion to ensure that we are getting the most effective results on our priority initiatives. These include:
- Ending the sales of cosmetics tested on animals. Three U.S. states – California, Nevada and Illinois – already prohibit such sales, and we are working in a number of states to pass similar laws.
- Ending the sales of puppies in pet stores. Three states — California, Maryland and Maine — and more than 370 localities now prohibit such sales, and we are working to get similar legislation introduced in a variety of other states.
- Ending the sales of fur products. California led the way in 2019 by becoming the first state to ban fur sales after several of its cities passed similar legislation. We’re dedicated to working with advocates to pass fur sales bans in more cities and states.
- Ending wildlife killing contests. Seven states have laws banning wildlife killing contests on the books and we will focus our efforts in more states to put an end to these gruesome events.
- Ending trophy hunting of native American carnivores like black bears, wolves, mountain lions, etc. We will continue to work toward stopping any efforts to open trophy hunts by states.
- Ending cruel cage confinement of farm animals. Seven states–Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island–now have cage-free laws, and we are working in more states to pass similar bills.
If you are interested in doing more to advance our 2021 public poicy goals, you can become an animal protection advocate in your state and in your community by volunteering in our State Council program. State Council leaders help HSUS state directors advance priority legislation and educate the public on critical animal protection issues, among other responsibilities. You can apply here to join the fight to protect all animals.