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February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Investing in the Animals’ Future, and Our Own

With the current economic downturn and competing national priorities for federal spending, it’s a tough time to request money for animal protection. But we’ve seen time and time again that the animals’ fate is intertwined with our own, and that addressing animal welfare policies helps to safeguard all of us.

Cattle Ensuring the humane handling and slaughter of farm animals helps to improve food safety. Combating dogfighting and cockfighting helps to reduce crime in our communities. Having adequate disaster planning and veterinary training helps to promote the health and safety of our pets and families.

That’s why I’m so pleased that the humane treatment of animals and the adequate enforcement of animal protection laws were again deemed important policy issues in the omnibus spending bill for 2009. Most animal welfare programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and we’re particularly grateful for the leadership of Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee leaders—Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)—who championed the cause while balancing many other needs and priorities. After a House and Senate conference committee presented a final bill to fund the federal agencies, the House passed it yesterday and the Senate is scheduled to act next week.

Last year, The HSUS and HSLF rallied the support of a strong bipartisan group of 46 Senators and 143 Representatives—nearly half the Senate and a third of the House—to request funds needed to improve enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law to combat dogfighting and cockfighting, and other important programs. Here is how the animals fared in the 2009 spending bill:

Humane Methods of Slaughter Act: Congress granted a $2 million increase for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to strengthen its enforcement of humane slaughter laws. This means at least 120 “full time equivalent” inspectors monitoring animal welfare at slaughter plants, up from 83 in 2008. Another $3 million was allocated to maintain the Humane Animal Tracking System as part of the Public Health Data Communication Infrastructure System.

Downed Animals: Importantly, the committee also encouraged the USDA to act quickly to close the loophole that facilitated the abuse of sick and injured cattle at the Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., and led to last year’s beef recall: “The Department is commended for the announcement that it intends to move forward with closing the loophole in the current rule governing non-ambulatory cattle and is strongly urged to expedite the rules process and close this loophole immediately.”

Animal Welfare Act: Congress granted the USDA’s Animal Care Division a total of $21,522,000, which is a $1,024,000 increase above the 2008 levels. Additionally, the agency’s Investigative and Enforcement Services received $13,694,000, an increase of $1,342,000 above 2008. These allocations will allow better enforcement of the animal welfare standards at puppy mills, research laboratories, exotic animal exhibitors, and other facilities that use animals, as well as the new ban on imports from foreign puppy mills.

Dogs-fighting Animal Fighting: The USDA’s Office of Inspector General received $85,766,000, and it’s a $6,274,000 increase above 2008. This enforcement arm of USDA investigates federal dogfighting and cockfighting crimes, and works with the Justice Department to prosecute the offenders. OIG also plays an important role in auditing and investigating humane slaughter rules and implementation of the ban on processing downed cattle.

Veterinary Student Loan Forgiveness: The USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service received $2,950,000 to help veterinarians locating in underserved areas to pay their student loan debt. It’s a $2,081,000 increase above 2008, and this incentive will help to recruit veterinarians and address the shortage of veterinary services in rural and inner-city areas and public health practice.

Disaster Planning for Animals: The USDA's Animal Care Division received $1 million for emergency management programs to help prepare for the needs of animals in disasters. It’s the same level as 2008, and will help implement disaster and evacuation plans for animals and keep people and pets together in a time of crisis.

Horse Protection Act: The USDA’s Animal Care Division also received $499,000 to enforce the prohibition on “soring” of Tennessee walking horses—the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s feet, using caustic chemicals and metal chains, which produces an exaggerated, high stepping gait. It’s only a $5,000 increase above the 2008 level, and much more is needed to adequately enforce this federal law at horse shows around the country.

Agricultural Overuse of Antibiotics: The committee included language expressing concern over the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in factory farms, which allow animals to be overcrowded in inhumane, stressful, and unsanitary conditions and contribute to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria: “Serious concerns have been raised about illnesses and deaths from Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of persons develop serious MRSA infections in the United States each year and thousands die. While both FDA and USDA fund research on this issue, more may need to be done; FDA is encouraged to work with USDA and CDC, through the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System and/or the Antibiotic Resistance Interagency Task Force, to address the issue of the prevalence of MRSA in domestic farm animals.”

Toxicity Testing: The Environmental Protection Agency received $14,863,000 for computational toxicity programs, an increase of more than $2 million from 2008. With these cutting-edge, non-animal methods, literally tens of thousands of chemicals can be reviewed in weeks, instead of years, and animals are spared being forcibly exposed to pesticides, drugs, and other chemicals––sometimes to the point of death.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moving the Ball Forward for Primates, Polar Bears

The federal government took two major steps today—one congressional and one regulatory—to protect wild animals from cruelty and abuse. It’s an example of how both the legislative and executive branches of government have a meaningful role to play when it comes to animal welfare and conservation.

Travis_chimp First, after about 40 minutes of debate yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 80, the Captive Primate Safety Act, by a vote of 323 to 95. Introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the bill seeks to ban the interstate commerce in primates for the exotic pet trade. The need for this reform became even more urgent and apparent last week when a pet chimpanzee named Travis critically mauled and disfigured a woman in Stamford, Conn., and the bill was moved to the House floor quickly thanks to the work of Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).

The Stamford attack was hardly unique, as there are 15,000 captive primates in the U.S., and these wild animals—some of whom have the strength of several adult men—can bite, scratch, and spread diseases. Just because irresponsible people bring them into their homes, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to place the rest of the community at risk. It’s shocking that several dozen lawmakers would vote against a common-sense public safety measure, since there’s no organized opposition like the NRA or agribusiness—just a few unscrupulous dealers and brokers who sell dangerous primates over the Internet and at auctions to misguided people who want to believe a chimpanzee in a tutu is a hairy child.

Some obstructionist lawmakers did oppose it, however, and Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) even mocked the issue on the House floor. It’s the job of the states, they say, not the federal government, to worry about the safety of citizens and protecting people from “monkey bites.” Chairwoman Bordallo argued in favor of the bill, pointing out that Travis was sold from Missouri to Connecticut and only the federal government can regulate interstate commerce. Rep. Blumenauer forcefully challenged the critics, telling them, “I would respectfully note that having your face ripped off is not the same as an animal bite. We are dealing with animals that have the potential of inflicting serious damage and death.”

Thanks to the House leadership and all the Democratic and Republican lawmakers who voted for the Captive Primate Safety Act, this important policy reform is one step closer to passage. It now goes to the Senate, where Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) are leading the effort to get it over the finish line and sent to President Obama’s desk.

Polar_bear Also today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a decision rejecting the attempt by trophy hunters to import the heads and hides of sport-hunted polar bears—a threatened species—shot in Canada. It was the first major decision on animal protection by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and we thank him and his staff for upholding the ban on trophy imports from this rare and declining species.

When Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, it barred the import of parts from whales, dolphins, seals, polar bears, and other marine mammals, and also prohibited the sport hunting of polar bears—the Alaskan population—within our own borders. The Safari Club International, however, along with former Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and Jack Fields (R-Tex.), punched a loophole right through the law in 1994, and allowed trophy hunters to start bringing home the spoils from their high-priced commercial polar bear hunts in Canada—allowing nearly 1,000 polar bears to be killed to adorn American trophy hunters’ collections over the last 15 years.

It’s been a priority for HSUS and HSLF to close this loophole and restore the polar bear import ban, and during the last Congress, the Senate approved an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill—led by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)—to stop the imports of polar bear trophies. The House rejected a similar amendment by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), and then the language was dropped from the final spending bill. But when the Department of Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species last year, that action closed the door to trophy imports, essentially a de facto restoration of the ban that had been in place for two decades.

In trying to skirt the new rules and apply for import permits, a group of trophy hunters argued—with a straight face, mind you—that shooting polar bears would help save the species. Several of these applicants are listed in Safari Club International’s “Record Book of Trophy Animals”—a grisly chronicle of their bloodlust to shoot the largest and rarest animals around the world. One man alone has at least 195 animals listed, including rare, endangered, and exotic species, such as an African elephant, an African lion, a critically endangered Père David’s deer, an endangered yak, and a scimitar-horned oryx, listed as extinct in the wild. At least 40 of the animals were shot on captive hunting ranches. The Safari Club offers a special “Bears of the World” award that requires a hunter to kill at least five different bear species around the globe, and these gentlemen may have been hoping to get one of the last polar bears before they run out.

Allowing the shooting of scimitar-horned oryx at captive hunting ranches isn't saving that species, and shooting polar bears won’t help those animals either. We’re grateful to the Obama Administration for rejecting the Orwellian argument that we can only save rare and declining polar bear populations by shooting them, which would have been a potentially disastrous misinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act. The lawmakers and law implementers both did their jobs well today, and their actions will have a lasting impact for polar bears, primates, and public safety.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Talk Back: Primates, Palin, Fur Sellers, and Pet Dealers

Today I’d like to post a selection of comments that have come into the blog. Even before Travis the pet chimp critically mauled a Connecticut woman this week, I’d written about the need for Congress to pass the Captive Primate Safety Act, and many of you responded:

It always surprises me when common-sense legislation for animal welfare is shot down. Shame on Westmoreland and Bishop who won’t even stand up to fight our closely related “cousins” who grow more endangered every day. I hope that a more liberal America will allow more animal friendly legislation into Congress.—Sara N.

In addition to the primate legislation, Congress is considering a raft of other wildlife protection bills, including the Shark Conservation Act:

As a surfer I am no fan of sharks, I am actually quite terrified of them after seeing one swimming below my board once in Waikiki. But finning is so cruel and I can’t believe that it has only been illegal since 2000.—T.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been in the news again, defending her state’s unsporting and inhumane program of shooting wolves from helicopters:

Gov. Palin’s agenda is archaic and despicable and you can’t make a wrong become a right until everyone is involved. I am not an American citizen. I am an international citizen and I strongly disagree that “culling” Alaskan wolves so that “sport hunters” have more moose to kill is the weirdest line of thought I’ve ever encountered. Obviously Gov. Palin needs to be stopped and hopefully “we” of the world can stop her. I give her a “thumbs down.”—MicHale K.

We also received comments in response to the new HSUS investigation revealing that major department stores are violating a New York state law on fur labeling:

When one finds out the truth of the suffering of helpless animals for fashion or otherwise, who endure for the sake of fashion or profit, unspeakable pain and torture, it simply sickens one to their core. No fashion is worth the pain and suffering of any creature.

Would anyone allow their dog, cat, bunny, horse, etc. to ever suffer such abuse/torture? I think not. Do we really believe that any animal should??

All living creatures feel pain, fear and helplessness. Can you imagine the pain they are feeling? We only fool ourselves to think that any one of them does not suffer profound intense pain, or that it is not important that they suffer for our vanity!!—Katherine N.

Some blog readers were also interested to learn what they can do to help with the pet overpopulation problem in this country:

How can we coordinate a spay and neuter campaign across the U.S.? We volunteer in shelters and cannot make a dent in the problem, working night and day. Can you please help?—Stacey

Stacey, you’re in luck, because next Tuesday, February 24, is the 15th Annual Spay Day USA. More than 500 events in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are taking place on Spay Day and throughout the month of February, shining a spotlight on spay and neutering as a humane and effective means of reducing pet overpopulation. Click here to find local events in your area.

More animals are entering U.S. shelters than there are people willing to adopt and provide them with loving homes. As a result, nearly 4 million cats and dogs must be euthanized each year. Millions of pet deaths each year is a tragedy—but it can be solved. By spaying or neutering your pet, and encouraging others to participate, you can be an important part of the solution.

And finally, many blog readers were excited about the formation of the new Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and offered their kudos. Here’s a comment and a question from Mary:

Thanks for the news—making it an entry in my blog tonight. On another matter, what’s happening with federal laws regulating the sale of animals from animal care and control agencies to research facilities and Class B dealers? Many thanks.—Mary H.

Mary, we had hoped that the issue of Class B dealers—those who sell “random source” dogs and cats to research, and often scoop up people’s pets and obtain animals fraudulently through flea markets and “free to a good home” ads—would have been addressed in last year’s Farm Bill. There was tremendous support for legislation to phase out these unscrupulous pet dealers, and it was championed by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), and Phil English (R-Pa.) in the last Congress.

The House version of the Farm Bill included an immediate ban and the Senate version included a five-year phase-out, but unfortunately the conference committee scrapped the provision altogether. Instead, they substituted language calling for a study on the use in research of random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers, and we hope that study will ultimately lead to the end of this practice. We will be watching the issue closely, and urging the new leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put an end to this practice of funneling pets to research.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Creatures’ Caucus

Moran_gallegly U.S. Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), announced today that they will co-chair the newly formed Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, working with The HSUS and HSLF to take lawmaking for animals to the next level. Moran and Gallegly have been longtime champions for legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse—advancing a range of measures dealing with animal fighting, bear baiting, “crush” videos, factory farming, fur labeling, and more—and we could not be more excited about their leadership of this new organization of humane lawmakers.

The bipartisan caucus will work to raise awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress, and pursue common-sense public policies, such as cracking down on abusive puppy mills, stopping the export of horses for slaughter, requiring accurate labels on fur-trimmed jackets, and banning the trade in pet primates. In the last few days alone, a pet chimpanzee critically mauled a Connecticut woman, 300 dogs were rescued from a North Carolina puppy mill, and New York department stores were exposed for fraudulent fur selling—demonstrating that these reforms are urgently needed, and that the caucus could not come at a more opportune time.

There are many caucuses in Congress, allowing members to organize around geography, industries, policy issues, or other common interests. With millions of Americans who care about animal protection, and public opinion squarely on the side of curbing the worst abuses, a caucus that stands up for the humane treatment of animals should be one of the largest and most visible on Capitol Hill. Two-thirds of American households have pets, tens of millions of Americans enjoy wildlife watching, and animals are part of the fabric of our daily lives. It’s an issue that’s relevant to Americans and our quality of life in every single congressional district, from the farms to the suburbs to the inner cities.

We are grateful to the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), who co-founded the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus years ago and helped to put animal protection on the political map. With its new leadership, and more friends of animal protection in the House and Senate than ever, the newly constituted Congressional Animal Protection Caucus has enormous potential to do good for animals, especially with a sympathetic new Obama Administration. Please urge your representative to join the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and be part of the leadership team for animals on Capitol Hill.

I’ve pasted below the press release from the congressional offices announcing the formation of the new caucus.

 

Moran and Gallegly to Co-Chair Congressional Animal Protection Caucus

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2009 – Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) announced today that they will co-chair the newly formed “Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC),” a bipartisan organization committed to raising awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress.  CAPC replaces the Friends of Animals Caucus that existed in previous Congresses.

Through non-partisan forums and briefings, CAPC will seek to highlight important issues affecting animals and upcoming animal welfare legislation.  CAPC will also track the progress of relevant legislation, provide members of Congress with dependable information, and attempt to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense, humane animal welfare laws. 

In the 110th Congress, the caucus was instrumental in the passing tougher animal fighting legislation, and tightening animal welfare regulations in the 2008 Farm Bill.  Priorities for the 111th Congress include legislation banning the slaughter of horses, stronger regulations on Internet sales of puppies, and legislation requiring accurate labels on all fur products.

Rep. Moran stated, “Animals are sensate beings that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  I look forward to building a consensus among my colleagues in support of sensible animal welfare laws that reflect our common values.  Protecting animals from cruel treatment is not a partisan issue.”

“Animal cruelty has no place in a civilized society,” Rep. Gallegly said. “Other crimes often go hand-in-hand with animal fighting, including illegal gambling, drug trafficking and acts of human violence. Virtually every arrest for animal cruelty has also led to additional arrests for at least one of these criminal activities.”

“The American public is united in its belief that all animals deserve humane treatment,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.  “The newly constituted Congressional Animal Protection Caucus will help better align our federal policies with public opinion, and we are excited to work closely with its leaders and with the entire Congress to combat cruelty and abuse.”

 

--30--

 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taking a Bite out of Fur in the Big Apple

This morning, during the height of New York’s Fashion Week, I led a press conference in Bryant Park to announce the results of a new HSUS investigation uncovering more deception in the fur fashion industry. Joined by New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), Pierre Grzybowski of The HSUS’s fur-free campaign, and John Phillips of the New York League of Humane Voters, I told reporters and the public that some of the largest department stores in New York—including Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue—have been selling unlabeled fur-trimmed garments in violation of state law.

281x210_fur_trim_on_jacket New York’s state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law in 2007, backed by HSUS and HSLF and authored by Rosenthal and Senator Frank Padavan (R-Queens), requiring retailers to label all fur garments so that shoppers can have access to important product information. Yet, more than a year after the law took effect, entire racks of unlabeled fur-trimmed jackets are still being sold in New York. HSUS investigators and Assemblymember Rosenthal visited several stores in Manhattan to determine whether they were in compliance with the labeling law, and were even told by sales clerks that unlabeled coats trimmed with animal fur were “fake.”

Federal law requires most fur apparel to be accurately labeled, but has a gaping loophole for garments that contain $150 or less worth of fur. A series of HSUS investigations has found that fur-trimmed jackets are being falsely advertised as “fake” and mislabeled as the wrong species of animal—when they may contain fur from domestic dogs or raccoon dogs skinned alive in China. While Congress considers legislation to close the federal loophole, several states like Delaware and New York have taken action to give their consumers extra protection, and other states like Maryland and New Jersey are considering similar bills.

Watch this new video to see the latest investigation into fraudulent fur selling. Then speak out and tell your state and federal legislators that animals and consumers need stronger laws on the books, as well as stronger enforcement of those laws. It’s time for retailers to stop pulling the fur over shoppers’ eyes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hoyer Speaks on Our Love of Dogs

One of the most touching moments of last night’s Congressional Canine Awards was when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took the podium to speak about his late dog, Charlotte. The beloved English springer spaniel typically came to work with Hoyer on the Hill and even had her own bed in his office. After many years of loyal companionship, Charlotte passed away in 2007 at the age of 15.

As the Majority Leader said, “God invented dogs for us, to give us the kind of uncompromising love that human beings need, and we in turn give them the same kind of love.” I wanted to share this video of his remarks with you, in celebration of Charlotte and all the dogs who bring so much joy and enrichment to our lives.

Congressmen, Canines Honored on the Hill

I previously told you the heartwarming stories of Reps. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) helping military families remember their loved ones by bringing back dogs from Iraq. At a touching ceremony last night on Capitol Hill, The Humane Society of the United States honored Hodes and Jones for their work in assisting the grieving families of Army Spc. Justin Rollins and Marine Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee by bringing back the dogs—Hero and Lex—whom these two soldiers had loved when they served our country overseas.

The Congressional Canine Honors also included a dog photo contest, and there were 98 wonderful submissions from members of Congress and their staff. It was a celebration of the human-animal bond, and all the joy and companionship that dogs bring to our lives. Our panel of judges—Barbara Harrison, Jay Kopelman, and Holly Petraeus, chose the winners in six categories, and I wanted to share the winning photos with you. Caring for animals is a bipartisan cause, and we have three Democratic dogs and three Republican dogs who were declared the victors last night—although every dog is a winner in our book.

“Best Campaigner”

Georgie – Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)

Connolly-Gerald---Georgie  


“Best Briefed”

Como – Jody Comeaux-Stacoffe, office of Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.)

Melancon-Charlie-(Jody-Come


“Elder Statesdog”

Camembert – Craley Funfgeld, office of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)

Whitfield-Ed-(Craley-Funfge


“Rising Star”

Jake – Christy Hale, office of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)

Whitfield-Ed-(Christy-Hale-


“Barker of the House”

Hoover – Renee Howell, office of Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.)

Souder-Mark-(Renee-Howell-C


“Senate Pawjority Leader”

Lucy – Mary Conley, office of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Wyden-Ron-(Mary-Conley-Pres

Monday, February 09, 2009

Shooting the Bird of Peace into Pieces

I traveled through Iowa today with HSUS state director Carol Griglione, getting the word out in opposition to a bill that would allow the hunting of mourning doves for the first time in 90 years. After meeting with lawmakers at the state capitol in Des Moines, I appeared as a guest on the Jan Mickelson Show on WHO Radio, and visited with other media outlets across the state.

Mourning_Dove The supporters of dove hunting, led by Sen. Dick Dearden (D-Des Moines), trot out the same old tired arguments over and over again: They say doves are plentiful, they’re hunted in other states, they’re not going to become endangered, and there’s no reason not to hunt them. But we say it’s not about whether we can hunt doves—it’s about whether we should.

Since Woodrow Wilson was in the White House, Iowa has safeguarded the gentle and inoffensive mourning dove as a protected songbird. Like the residents of many other Northeastern and Midwestern states, generations of Iowans have grown up enjoying doves at their backyard birdfeeders, listening to their soft cooing, and haven’t viewed them as a game species.

There’s simply no good reason to change this policy that has been in place for nearly a century. Doves are not overpopulated, they don’t damage property or cause nuisance problems, and there’s no management justification. They’re actually helpful to farmers by eating weed seeds on the ground, acting as a natural herbicide. And their tiny bodies yield only a morsel of meat, so they’re not a viable food source.

Hunters have dozens of other game species in the state—deer, pheasants, turkeys, ducks, and more—and don’t need to add the dove to that list. In fact, when neighboring Minnesota opened a dove season for the first time after decades of protection, only 1 percent of licensed hunters even bothered to show up. State officials wildly overestimated the number of hunters who would be interested in a new dove season, and described it as a “non-event” that began with a “dose of disinterest.”

In nearby Michigan, one of the biggest hunting states in the country, the question of dove hunting was put on the statewide ballot in 2006. An overwhelming majority of voters in all 83 counties—from the most urban to the most rural—said no to dove hunting, rejecting the new season with a statewide vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. The Michigan and Minnesota experiences demonstrate just where real people, including responsible sportsmen, stand on this issue.

It has come up before in Iowa, and it will come up again. When the legislature narrowly passed a dove hunting bill in 2001, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack vetoed the measure, citing the overwhelming opposition of Iowa citizens. It was the right policy then, and it’s the right policy now.

We are throwing everything we can at this fight, and with your help, we can once again defeat this wrong-headed proposal. If you live in Iowa, please join our Humane Lobby Day on February 18, and contact your state legislators to let them know it’s the dove hunting bill, not the doves, that should be shot down.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Be the Change You Seek for Animals

If you are a reader of this blog, or a subscriber to the HSUS or HSLF email lists, you are already someone who takes action on urgent animal protection issues. But if you want to get even more involved, there’s no substitute for joining your fellow animal advocates in person to celebrate the victories and work together to confront the challenges ahead.

I wrote last week about our Humane Lobby Day events coming up in 41 states, and I hope you will travel to your own state capitol to participate. There are also several national conferences and events that occur just once a year, and represent the premier gatherings for animal protection advocates and professionals around the country. I hope you will mark your calendars and not miss out on these unique opportunities to join thousands of animal lovers in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—as you brush up on the basics, learn the latest in cutting-edge strategies to take back to your community, and are inspired to make a difference.

TAFA_HSUS_Logo_4C_sm Taking Action for Animals: To be held July 24-27 in the Washington, D.C. area, TAFA is the largest national conference for the animal advocacy movement. Last year, more than 1,000 people attended our training workshops, plenary sessions, large exhibit hall, Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, cooking demonstration, rally to stop puppy mills, and much more. This year’s theme is “The Art of the Possible: Change Animals Can Believe In.” You’ll learn how to plan effective campaigns, walk the halls of Congress to lobby your federal legislators on animal protection issues, and hear from speakers such as HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, comedian and author Carol Leifer, and Colorado State University professor and bioethicist Dr. Bernard Rollin. Registration opens today for TAFA 2009, so you can plan now and take advantage of the early discount rate. Unlike other conferences that charge you extra for every meal, the TAFA registration cost of $140 includes two lunches, a banquet dinner, food and drinks at a welcome reception, and other snacks between workshops.

Animal Care Expo: The world’s largest educational conference for the animal care, control, rescue, and emergency services fields will be held April 6-9 at Bally’s in Las Vegas. Animal Care Expo is the must-attend event for animal sheltering professionals and anyone in the hands-on animal care community, offering 48 professional development workshops, eight intensive daylong certificate courses, a huge exhibit hall with more than 175 booths, and endless networking opportunities. This year’s Expo features an inspiring welcome address from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, international bestselling author of When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, and The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats—launching his newly released book, The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food. At just $175, you won’t find better value for your money than Animal Care Expo 2009. 

Genesis Awards: The HSUS’s 23rd Annual Genesis Awards, to be held on March 28 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, pays tribute to the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works in television, film, print, and the arts which raise public understanding of animal issues. The awards are bestowed by a host of celebrity presenters, and the star-studded ceremony draws representatives from the media, entertainment, social, business, and humane communities.  Ticket prices start at $350 each for general seats, and table prices start at $3,500 for a table of 10.

Georgetown Animal Law Conference: For the first time this year, The HSUS and Georgetown University Law Center are presenting a conference on animal law—“From the Horse’s Mouth: Firsthand Perspectives on Animals, Law, and Policy in the United States.” Join experts in the field of animal law for a series of discussions among key elected officials, law enforcement officers, agency officials, veterinarians, economists, and state and federal judges to explore how professionals outside the field of animal law address legal issues affecting animals in everyday practice. The daylong conference will be held on March 27 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

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