PREPARED Act would ensure safety of animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos during disasters

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 26, 2021 with 0 Comments

The devastation wrought by the recent deep freeze in Texas is a stark reminder of the urgent need for disaster planning that includes tens of thousands of animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos and other enterprises. Today, to address that need, Representatives Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., joined by more than 115 cosponsors, have reintroduced a bill to mandate preparedness planning by entities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.

The Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act would require entities regulated under the AWA—commercial animal dealers, exhibitors, research laboratories, animal carriers, and other animal-related enterprises—to submit annual contingency plans for the animals in their care during emergencies such as natural disasters, pandemics, power outages and escapes.

With or without a legal requirement, it’s vital that these facilities take on the moral and practical responsibility for their animals in times of risk or danger. They need to think through protocols and practices concerning emergency evacuation, shelter-in-place, alternate food and water sources, sanitation, ventilation and veterinary care in the event of a disaster. The failure to have such a plan in place can not only subject animals to hardship and peril but jeopardize public safety, imposing undue burdens on first responders, local communities and nongovernmental entities called in to assist with rescue efforts.

Many research facilities, zoos and aquariums are already required to submit disaster plans as part of their accreditation process. The PREPARED Act would ensure that unaccredited puppy mills, roadside zoos and other entities also have plans in place and establish a consistent federal requirement for all enterprises subject to the AWA.

A common-sense proposal to require disaster plans for AWA-regulated facilities has been on the table for years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture first proposed a rule in 2008, just two years after passage of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Safety (PETS) Act, which required states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters.

The USDA finalized its rule in 2012, with facilities expected to have their plans ready by mid-2013. Unfortunately, in response to a Washington Post story about a magician and his rabbit, which noted concerns about the application of the rule to small businesses, the agency issued a stay of implementation just two days after facilities were supposed to have plans in place.

We worked with Congress to address this concern, and the conference report for the 2014 Farm Bill directed the USDA to lift its stay “without delay” once the agency set a de minimis exemption for facilities with just a few non-dangerous animals (like the magician and his rabbit). USDA established the exemption in June 2018 but has not yet lifted the stay.

In the omnibus appropriations package signed into law in December 2020, Congress set a timeline for USDA to consider lifting its stay on the 2012 final rule. We’re pressing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to lift the stay without delay, and once the required public comment period opens, we’ll ask your help to urge swift action on the agency’s part.

The PREPARED Act would codify essential elements of the USDA rule, making them permanent law. Its reintroduction with such strong co-sponsorship from Democrats and Republicans sends a clear signal to USDA that it’s time to move this issue forward. We can and should pursue both the rule and passage of the PREPARED Act. The federal government must ensure that regulated enterprises with responsibility for animals take reasonable steps to shield them from danger and harm if and when disaster strikes.

Please take a moment to contact your Representative and ask them to cosponsor the PREPARED Act

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Beauty industry trade group wins Spira Award for championing end to new cosmetics animal testing

By on February 25, 2021 with 0 Comments
Beauty industry trade group wins Spira Award for championing end to new cosmetics animal testing

As we worked toward the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act in the last Congress, one of our most important partners was the Personal Care Products Council, the leading industry trade organization that represents more than 90% of the U.S. beauty industry, including our Be . . . 

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‘Pet’ Tiger rescued from freezing San Antonio gets forever home at Black Beauty Ranch

By on February 24, 2021 with 0 Comments
‘Pet’ Tiger rescued from freezing San Antonio gets forever home at Black Beauty Ranch

The freeze in Texas this month turned up a surprise for authorities in Bexar County as they scrambled to get people and pets out of harm’s way: a tiger cub wearing a harness and living as a “pet” outdoors. A neighbor had reported what sounded . . . 

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Deb Haaland, President Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary, has a track record of fierce advocacy for animals

By on February 23, 2021 with 3 Comments
Deb Haaland, President Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary, has a track record of fierce advocacy for animals

Rep. Deb Haaland, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of the Interior, has a proven track record of working on the side of animals. Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsed her history-making run for the U.S. House in 2018, and she has since worked swiftly . . . 

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Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey among states moving rapidly to end cosmetics testing

By on February 22, 2021 with 3 Comments
Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey among states moving rapidly to end cosmetics testing

Cosmetics animal testing is on its way out the world over and U.S. states are rapidly moving in the direction of that trend. Just this month lawmakers in three states—Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey—have moved decisively to end the sales of cosmetics tested on animals . . . 

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Three Montana lawmakers declare war on wolves, bears and other carnivores with flurry of bad bills

By on February 19, 2021 with 7 Comments
Three Montana lawmakers declare war on wolves, bears and other carnivores with flurry of bad bills

Strangling neck snares are among the cruelest methods of trapping animals. These devices, made of cable wire looped through a locking device, are designed to tighten around the animal’s neck as he thrashes around and struggles to free himself, cutting his mouth and breaking his . . . 

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As fur farms prepare to breed mink, global health bodies issue warning on high coronavirus risk

By on February 18, 2021 with 2 Comments
As fur farms prepare to breed mink, global health bodies issue warning on high coronavirus risk

Mink fur farms have emerged as hotspots for the coronavirus, with 11 nations in Europe, Canada and the United States reporting such infections and, in some cases, transmissions from animals to human workers. The infections have resulted in millions of animals, including pups, on fur . . . 

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Puppy-selling pet stores like Petland have made consumers sick. HSUS/HSLF petition asks feds to require health risk warnings at outlets.

By on February 17, 2021 with 1 Comment
Puppy-selling pet stores like Petland have made consumers sick. HSUS/HSLF petition asks feds to require health risk warnings at outlets.

U.S. health authorities have conclusively linked numerous human cases of campylobacteriosis—a bacterial infection with often severe and debilitating symptoms—to infected puppies sold in several Petland pet stores. Today we filed a petition with the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking it to require that pet stores . . . 

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Investigation finds online wildlife killing contests are thriving during pandemic

By on February 16, 2021 with 29 Comments
Investigation finds online wildlife killing contests are thriving during pandemic

The Humane Society of the United States has helped make significant progress in ending wildlife killing contests, in which contestants massacre large numbers of coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other wild animals for cash prizes. Seven states now ban such contests and we are working with . . . 

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A valentine for our companion animals who teach us so much about love

By on February 12, 2021 with 3 Comments
A valentine for our companion animals who teach us so much about love

Although many years have passed, I can’t help but think of Dolly on Valentine’s Day. She was my first dog, and the very embodiment of unconditional love. I was a toddler when my parents brought her home, a golden retriever puppy with the softest eyes . . . 

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Court grants Kansas trophy hunters’ request to open season on Wisconsin wolves​

By on February 11, 2021 with 12 Comments
Court grants Kansas trophy hunters’ request to open season on Wisconsin wolves​

A ​state court has granted a Kansas-based trophy hunting group’s request for a wolf hunt in Wisconsin for the remaining weeks of February. It’s a terrible decision that could result in the slaughter of hundreds of wolves in a matter of weeks, including by such . . . 

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Undercover investigation lays bare extreme cruelty in Indiana and Texas wildlife killing contests. Foxes, bobcats, coyotes among animals blasted with assault rifles

By on February 10, 2021 with 30 Comments
Undercover investigation lays bare extreme cruelty in Indiana and Texas wildlife killing contests. Foxes, bobcats, coyotes among animals blasted with assault rifles

It is a bloody scene at the Texas weigh-in of the “De Leon Pharmacy and Sporting Goods’ Varmint Hunt #1” on a cold January morning this year. Participants in this wildlife killing contest are unloading the bodies of bobcats, grey foxes, coyotes and raccoons from . . . 

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