Tag Archives: cruelty

MoveOn, Humane Society launch ‘I’m with Purr’ push for Clinton

 MoveOn.org Political Action and the Humane Society Legislative Fund  teamed up to launch a new online ad highlighting Hillary Clinton’s record of animal protection and her “expansive” pro-animal campaign platform.

The ad was developed after MoveOn members said protecting animals is a key issue for them and the Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsed Clinton for president.

MoveOn.org represents millions of progressive members nationwide, according to a news release, and HSLF is a nonpartisan political advocacy organization that makes endorsements based on a candidate’s support for animal protection policies.

In their announcement for the campaign, the groups said: “During her eight years in the U.S. Senate, Hillary Clinton was a consistent supporter of animal protection policies, earning a 100 percent score in HSLF’s Humane Scorecard for the 108th Congress, a perfect 100 score in the 109th and an 83 in the 110th.”

In Congress, Clinton:

• Led efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, which allow them to be crammed into overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary factory farms;

• Cosponsored legislation to prohibit the transport and receipt of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption;

• Cosponsored the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act  (S. 261) to prohibit the interstate transfer of animals for animal fighting;

• Cosponsored the Downed Animal Protection Act (S. 1779) to stop the processing of “downer” livestock;

• Cosponsored the Puppy Protection Act (S. 1478) to crack down on abusive “puppy mills” where dogs are treated like production machines;

• Signed letters requesting funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the federal animal fighting law

The statement from the groups said as secretary of state, Clinton led international efforts to crack down on wildlife trafficking and, through her work at the Clinton Foundation, she helped launch a major campaign against the illegal ivory trade and poaching of elephants.

Here’s the transcript of “I’m With Purr”: Humans aren’t the only ones with a stake in this election. Hillary has a bold platform to protect animals and wildlife.  She wants to:  Strengthen “puppy mill” regulations.  Reduce the overuse of antibiotics.  Pass the “Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.”  Vote Hillary Clinton.  #ImWithPurr.

American attitudes toward animals are shifting

Ever since WiG added a pet section last year, countless stories have come to our attention demonstrating the surprising lengths that Americans go to care for their furry friends. At a time when senseless violence dominates the news, greed overwhelms our society and hateful, divisive rhetoric guides our political process, these stories remind us that the human heart still beats strong.

The manner in which people treat animals says a lot about them. Psychologists have discovered a strong correlation between cruelty to animals and a predisposition for violence toward people, marking them as a threat to society.

Although most animal abuse cases go unreported, those that do come to public attention face increasingly harsh penalties. Before 1986, only four states had felony animal cruelty laws on their books. Today, all 50 states have such laws, although punishments vary greatly in severity.

In addition to concern about their pets, a growing number of people are also questioning the treatment of the domesticated animals we eat. Scientists have discovered that mammals raised as food, like those bred for human companionship, possess the same levels of self-awareness, intelligence, personalities and emotions that pets do. That’s an uncomfortable thing for people who enjoy a pork chop or a steak to consider.

Until very recently the treatment of “farmed” animals was largely overlooked. A growing number of revelations about the brutal, torturous conditions under which factory farm animals suffer, however, has made it all but impossible to ignore the cruelty any longer.

Paul McCartney once said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians.”  Posing as slaughterhouse workers, members of groups such as Mercy for Animals have made and released numerous videos of the heinous abuse that awaits factory farm animals at the end of their miserable lives. They’ve lifted the curtains.

In response, Big Ag has given money to lawmakers to introduce so-called “ag-gag” bills that make it a crime to video or photograph abuse. Eight states have enacted such laws, but a federal judge struck down a bill in Idaho, raising First Amendment questions about all such laws.

Wisconsin Republicans planned to introduce an ag-gag law in the state last year but apparently decided to put the idea on hold.

The revelations about factory farms are changing how Americans eat. The number of vegetarians and vegans in the United States skyrocketed from 1 percent in 2009 to 5 percent — or 16 million people — last year. Raw Food World reports that roughly 42 percent of people who’ve given up consumption of animal products cite an educational film with prompting their decision. Sixty-nine percent said they chose to eat a vegan diet to support the ethical treatment of animals.

Food producers didn’t object to the cruelty, but they are responding to the shift in consumer behavior. In October, Starbucks joined McDonald’s, Unilever, Burger King, Walmart and other major food providers in setting a specific timeline to switch over to cage-free egg suppliers. Although the term “cage free” doesn’t mean what it sounds like, it’s better than the alternative.

But male chicks continue to be dumped alive into meat grinders.

Aware consumers are also influencing lawmakers. Nine states, including the agricultural behemoth California, have banned battery cages, which pile chickens together in such small quarters that many are crushed to death. States have also banned gestation crates, which confine pregnant pigs to cages so small that they can’t stand or move.

Those actions represent the start of a revolution in the way Americans think about the treatment of animals, and we urge readers to join in. Support animal welfare groups. Contact your elected officials are urge them to vote no on bills such as ag gag. Ask restaurants if they use “cage free” eggs and where they source their meat and dairy products.

As Czech writer Milan Kundera put it, “Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test … consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.”

See also:

Majority of Ashland, Bayfield county residents oppose proposed mega hog farm

Petco drops small-animal supplier amid federal probe

Idaho appeals ruling against state’s ‘ag-gag’ law

The state of Idaho is appealing a federal court’s decision to overturn the state’s “ag-gag” law.

The law makes it a crime to videotape agriculture operations. Idaho lawmakers passed the law in 2014 after the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of weak, dying cows being beaten and stomped on at a southern Idaho dairy unfairly hurt their business.

The vicious brutality caught on video sparked a consumer backlash, as did the images of sickly, terrified cows covered with ulcers and feces being prodded with electrical rods into slaughter tunnels.

The Los Angeles-based animal rights group Mercy For Animals released the videos, shot in 2012 at Bettencourt Dairy.

Similar conditions have been documented in other states, including Wisconsin. Republican “pro-business” legislators in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee and other states have either passed or tried to pass legislation similar to Utah’s in order to protect companies from public exposure of the squalid, brutal conditions under which animals are kept in factory farms/

A federal court invalidated Utah’s law in August, holding that it violates the First Amendment.

The state appealed that ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The picture shown here is known as a “death pile.” After being crammed into spaces so small they can’t move and loaded with steroids, hormones and anibiotics to make them grow, factory farm animals end up in piles like this before their parts are butchered and sold in shiny cellophane-wrapped packages on supermarket shelves. Their short lives are lived amid conditions of unimaginable brutality and squalor.

Fate of hundreds of baboons in research program uncertain

The fate of hundreds of baboons at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center research facility in El Reno remains uncertain after the school announced plans to wind down the program that used the animals.

In September, OU president David Boren said the program would come to an end in three to four years.

The announcement came after animal rights groups raised concerns about findings of non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act by USDA veterinarian medical officers inspecting the facility.

The Norman Transcript reports it’s likely the animals will continue to be sold for research for now.

The university says it is working with the National Institutes of Health to develop a plan for placement of the baboons, including the possibility of putting some of the animals in sanctuaries.

General Mills joins pledge to stop using eggs from caged hens

Within the last six months or so, we’ve worked with many of the biggest names in the food business to announce their commitment to stop selling eggs from caged hens. Aramark, Compass Group, Dunkin Brands, Hilton, Kellogg, Nestle, Sodexo, Starbucks, and Walmart have all made public pledges to shift their egg-purchasing practices away from battery cage confinement systems. Today, we’re pleased to announce that General Mills, one of the nation’s largest food makers, is joining the list.

“We commit to working toward 100 percent cage free eggs for our U.S. operations,” says General Mills — which owns brands like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso Soups, and Hamburger Helper — in its new policy. “We recognize that the current avian influenza outbreak has been deeply disruptive to the U.S. egg supply and producers. As the industry works to rebuild its supply chain, we will work with suppliers to determine a path and reasonable timeline toward this commitment.”

General Mills is grounding its policy on the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, a set of principles that will translate into better outcomes for all of the animals in its supply chain. With the Five Freedoms in mind, the company’s policy pledges continual improvement by also examining solutions to solve other key animal welfare concerns, including subjecting animals to tail docking, de-horning, and, without the administration of pain killers, castration. It’s also translating into an examination of issues related to rapid growth of broiler chickens and turkeys.

Certainly the highlight of this announcement is the commitment to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs. And as the egg industry considers its production strategies in light of the impact of bird flu on cage confinement facilities, there’s an opportunity for the industry to pivot away from caging hens altogether and make the transition to higher-welfare, cage-free systems.

Commodities expert Urner Barry recently reported that cage facilities have been hit much harder by bird flu than cage-free facilities. In many parts of the country, prices for battery-cage eggs doubled at the height of the outbreak. Because the volume of birds in a single cage confinement facility is so large, if even a single bird gets sick, then the entire flock must be killed — a devastating outcome for the birds and the farmers.

Common sense and sound science tell us that warehousing animals in cramped cages is bad for both the animals and for us. The veal industry is eliminating its cruel crates. Many of the largest pork producers are eliminating gestation crates. And now, with many food companies like General Mills pledging to eliminate chicken cages from their egg supplier chains, the egg industry can accelerate its own shift toward cage-free housing. For the sake of animals and consumers, it can’t happen fast enough.

Wayne Pacelle is president and CEO of the Human Society of the United States. This piece appeared in his blog “A Humane Nation.”

Judge orders largest restitution ever in dog-fighting case

A federal judge in Alabama ordered participants in a high-stakes dogfighting operation to pay a record $2 million in restitution for their animals’ care.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins imposed the payments in mid-January on people who pleaded guilty in the multi-state case.

Officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States said it was the largest restitution amount ever ordered by federal judge in a dogfighting case. It came after the judge earlier imposed the longest sentence ever in a federal dogfighting case.

“I hope it sends a message that not only will you be punished, you will have to pay,” federal prosecutor Clark Morris said.

The restitution will go to the two animal welfare organizations, which provided care for the 451 dogs seized in the case. But even if all the money is paid, which they doubt, it won’t come close to covering the $5.5 million they reported spending on the dogs’ care, including veterinary treatments, housing, food, and retraining to try to make them adoptable pets. The operation involved more than 700 people who set up temporary rescue centers at the National Peanut Festival fairgrounds in Dothan, Alabama, and a warehouse in Gainesville, Florida.

Tim Rickey, vice president of field operations for the ASPCA, said some of the defendants are on payment plans that would require them to be 300 years old to pay the full amount, but he said holding them financially responsible is important to people who donated money to pay for the care of malnourished, injured dogs.

Federal agents raided locations in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi in August 2013 and seized 367 dogs, nearly all pit bulls. Many were found underfed and attached to heavy chains. Several of the dogs were pregnant, and animal welfare groups ended up with 451 dogs by the time the puppies arrived. Officials said more than half the dogs have been adopted or being prepared for adoption, but the remainder died from health problems or had to be euthanized because they were too aggressive toward humans.

Cooperating witnesses said Donnie Anderson staged fights near Auburn, Alabama, that usually attracted 100 to 300 people who paid $100 to $150 each to attend. They brought large sums of cash and $100,000 or more was often bet on a single fight.

Anderson, described by the judge as “the kingpin of this conspiracy,’ was sentenced in November to eight years in prison. That’s four times longer than the sentence NFL quarterback Michael Vick got in his 2007 dogfighting case.

Anderson worked out an agreement with federal prosecutors to pay $580,000 in restitution for the care of his 147 dogs, and the judge approved it. The judge said in an earlier hearing that 78 of Anderson’s dogs either died from injuries or had to be euthanized.

The judge ordered Ricky Van Lee of Biloxi, Miss., to pay $627,389 for the care of his 68 dogs. Lee is serving four years in prison.

Michael Martin of Auburn must pay $458,752 for the care of his 55 dogs. He has a five-year sentence.

The judge ordered four others to pay smaller amounts that pushed the total to $1,987,411. One defendant, who had two dogs seized, became ill in court and his restitution case had to be postponed. Prosecutors are recommending $17,840 in his case.

The amounts vary because some defendants’ dogs were in care longer than others.

Van Hollen’s heartless choice pits him against history

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen vigorously sought — and obtained — a stay of U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision finding the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. A joyous week in Wisconsin that saw more than 550 same-sex couples marry came to an abrupt halt, and Van Hollen asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Crabb’s decision.

Van Hollen said he was compelled to act in order to comply with his sworn constitutional duty to uphold state law — in this case a 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution barring same-sex marriage or anything “substantially similar.”

But Van Hollen has discretion over which laws to defend. He refused to defend the 2009 law that created a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples in Wisconsin. His communications director told WiG that’s because he believes the partner registry law violates the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning any status “substantially similar” to marriage, just as he believes Crabb’s ruling violates the amendment’s injunction against same-sex marriage itself.

The tide of history, which invariably flows toward freedom, should have led him to a different conclusion, as the editorial pages of newspapers around the state have pointed out. At the Attorneys General Winter Meeting in February, Van Hollen heard U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stress that state attorneys general are not obliged to defend discriminatory laws. Attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon have declined to defend their state’s gay marriage bans, and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has challenged laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in his state. 

Van Hollen might also have taken a clue from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor and the fact that since June 2013, marriage-equality supporters have racked up 21 consecutive legal victories — and zero losses — in federal and state courthouses. The first federal appeal court decision on the issue, which came out on June 25, also found against the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

Although Wisconsinites voted eight years ago to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, there’s been a sea change in public opinion on the issue: Fifty-nine percent of Wisconsinites voted against marriage equality in 2006; by contrast, a Marquette University poll in May found only 37 percent of the state’s voters now oppose it, while 55 percent favor same-sex marriage. Even the most zealous same-sex marriage opponents now agree that its acceptance is inevitable.

When Van Hollen appealed Crabb’s decision, there were already several cases far ahead of his in the federal appeals court pipeline. There are so many, in fact, that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear cases from four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee — in a single session on Aug. 6.

The money Van Hollen is spending to deny same-sex couples in Wisconsin the right to marry could have been saved pending the outcome of those cases or a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, taxpaying Wisconsin gays and lesbians are paying legal fees for their own persecution.

Van Hollen is often mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office. It’s impossible to win a GOP primary race in Wisconsin without the religious right’s support. Given the undeniable trajectory toward marriage equality, his choices on this issue seem based on ambition or bias rather than a sense of duty.

Reward offered for information in falcon shooting in West Allis

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting an endangered peregrine falcon in West Allis.

The falcon was found in the early afternoon on Feb. 27 in the back yard of a bar at the 2200 block of 55th Street in West Allis, according to the Wisconsin Humane Society. X-rays revealed multiple pellets embedded in the bird, suggesting she had been wounded with a shotgun. The collar bone was fractured.

Peregrine falcons are protected under state and federal law.

“We are appalled at this kind of cruel disregard for an endangered species in our state,” said Melissa Tedrowe, Wisconsin state director for the HSUS, in a news release. “We are so thankful for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ diligent work to investigate this crime and bring the offenders to justice.”

The Wisconsin Humane Society’s wildlife rehabilitation staff members are caring for the bird.  

The investigation is being handled by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Anyone with information is asked to call the West Allis Crime Stoppers at 414-476-2274. Callers may remain anonymous.

The Humane Society says:

• Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are poached annually.

• It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.

• Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.

• The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

On the Web …


Humane Society: 900 piglets died in 2 days at Kentucky hog farm

Sows confined in cramped cages known as gestation crates were fed ground up intestines from piglets who had recently succumbed to a highly contagious diarrheal disease, an undercover expose of Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Owensboro, Ky., revealed.

The Humane Society of the United States conducted the investigation and released the undercover video.

The organization said more than 900 piglets died from the diarrheal disease in a two-day period.

The animals’ intestines were ground up and fed back to their mothers and other sows, a practice prohibited by state law.

The HSUS, in releasing its evidence, called on the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission, created to “establish, maintain, or revise standards governing the care and well-being” of farm animals, to end gestation crate confinement of pigs and to examine the practice of feeding diseased piglets to surviving pigs on the factory farm.

The HSUS also called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine the practice of feeding dead piglets to mother pigs.

The investigation at Iron Maiden Hog Farm found:

• Animals locked in cages so small, they couldn’t even turn around for essentially their entire lives.

• Intestines of piglets who died from severe diarrhea — a highly contagious disease plaguing pig facilities nationwide — were routinely fed back to their mothers and other breeding females.

• Piglets left to die — often suffering for days. Over a 2-3 day period more than 900 piglets died of the highly contagious diarrheal disease.

• Sick and injured sows left without care, including one sow who suffered from an extreme uterine prolapse for nearly two days before finally dying.

• Lame sows — whose hind legs became too weak from strict confinement to support their weight — “hobbled” to keep their legs from splaying. Their legs are bound together so they could stand in their crates.

“The entire atmosphere at this facility is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, diarrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society.

The organization’s president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle, added, “Routine practices at many hog factories—immobilizing sows for their entire lives, feeding dead pigs to live pigs, denying medical treatment to injured or ailing animals — just don’t sit well with American consumers. This industry is long overdue for a major course correction, and we hope this investigation triggers an examination at what’s happening behind closed doors on factory farms.”

Beagle bound for Rose Parade after surviving gas chamber

Things are coming up roses for a scrappy New Jersey beagle who survived a dog pound gas chamber.

Daniel will be among eight shelter dogs riding on a float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.

The 2-year-old beagle mix was 6 months old on Oct. 3, 2011, when he was scheduled to be put down at the animal control facility in Florence, Ala. He was placed with 17 other dogs in a stainless-steel box roughly the size of a pickup truck bed that was filled with carbon monoxide.

Workers at the facility were surprised when he emerged, scared but unscathed, from the chamber. They named him Daniel after the biblical figure who survived the lion’s den.

He was adopted by Joe Dwyer of Nutley, N.J., and has been living happily with Dwyer’s family and other rescue dogs at their home about 10 miles west of New York City.

Dwyer, a motivational speaker, said Daniel’s story of surviving and thriving has prompted laws in 31 states that protect shelter animals against inhumane forms of euthanasia.

Daniel will perform his “high five to keep pets alive” trick and perform with other animal shelter survivors on a parade float sponsored by the Lucy Pet Foundation, which runs mobile spay, neuter and adoption clinics across the country. Daniel has been chosen as the “spokesdog” for the California-based organization, Dwyer added.

“He’s definitely one of the most joyous, happy dogs I’ve ever met in my life,” Dwyer said. “I think his positive attitude is why he’s survived.”

The Rose Parade takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.