House approves COVID relief package with historic funding commitments for animal-related pandemic prevention

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 27, 2021 with 0 Comments

Late Friday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the reconciliation package that incorporates the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. As a result of our efforts, the package includes significant funding commitments for public health surveillance, inspections, investigations and other preventative measures centering on domestic and wild animal species.

The American Rescue Plan Act is designed to provide relief to the American people, protect them from further risks of infection, and prevent additional suffering, death and economic losses stemming from COVID-19. That’s all the more reason for funding key programs to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, and for taking account of the connection between animal welfare and human health and safety.

The measure designates $300 million for USDA monitoring and surveillance of animals susceptible to the virus. We urge Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to allocate a portion of these funds specifically for data collection and monitoring at fur (and especially mink) farms which have emerged as dangerous reservoirs for zoonotic diseases and COVID-19 mutations.

The stimulus package also designates $95 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for inspection, interdiction, and research related to certain species and COVID-19. These funds include:

  • $20 million for wildlife inspections, interdictions, and investigations, as well as related activities to address wildlife trafficking,
  • $30 million for the care of captive species listed under the Endangered Species Act, rescued and confiscated wildlife, and Federal trust species living in facilities that have lost revenue due to COVID-19, and
  • $45 million to strengthen early detection, rapid response, and science-based management for wildlife disease outbreaks before they become pandemics, and expand capacity for early detection of zoonotic diseases that might jump the species barrier in the U.S.

Finally, the House approved an additional $10 million for the USFWS to produce regulations concerning the listing of injurious species on an emergency basis if they transmit a pathogen deemed to pose a risk to human health, which will help track and restrict the movement of zoonotic disease in the U.S. and globally.

We’ve been making the case for the interconnection between human and animal health and safety for many years, but the pandemic has made our national and global responsibilities in this arena much clearer. These funding commitments raise the ante in our nation’s efforts to protect both humans and animals and set the stage for a future in which the interests of animals figure more completely in public policy concerning pandemic and other threats to the well-being of all.

The U.S. Senate is the next stop for this package. Over the next few days, Senators will deliberate on the fate of these animal-related measures. And we’ll be there to make the case again and urge swift passage of this crucial bill.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

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

By on February 26, 2021 with 0 Comments
PREPARED Act would ensure safety of animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos during disasters

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., . . . 

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

By on February 25, 2021 with 3 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 4 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 30 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 4 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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