As a supporter of and a financial donor to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), I had the privilege of attending their Leadership Briefing call this past week. The HSUS is one of the largest non-profit animal protection and welfare organizations around the globe. The briefing call was hosted by their leader, the President of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle. Wayne started the call by giving a sincere “Thank You” to all of the supporters – hundreds of people were attending from across the U.S. The purpose of the call was to provide an update on the recent achievements and challenges revolving around their various campaigns, all of which have the objective of making life better for “All Animals” – from domesticated pets, to wildlife, to animals used in farming and agriculture.
8 Initiatives Discussed On The Humane Society Leadership Call
1) Major food retailers like McDonalds, made commitments that they would phase out confinement crates and battery cages which are often used in “factory farming”. Animals who are in factory farms live a dismal life. Chickens are jammed into battery cages and stacked on top of each other, and have only about the space equivalent to the size of a sheet of paper. Many breeding pigs in the U.S. are kept most of their lives in a Gestation Crates – so small that they cannot even turn around. In Canada, 50 food retailers have all signed a pledge to phase out the use of battery cages.
2) North Dakota passed a bill which will make them the 49th state in the US to make malicious animal abuse a felony. Once the governor signs the bill, South Dakota will be the only state where animal abuse is not considered a felony.
3) More states within the US are stepping up and banning shark finning. A cruel practice of removing the shark fin and tossing the shark back in the water, finning leaves the sharks unable to swim, drifting to the bottom for a slow and painful death. The Humane Society International estimates that tens of millions of sharks are killed throughout the world for their fins, thus putting several species’ populations at risk of extinction. The states of NY, MD and DE passed laws against shark finning in their waters.
4) We’re getting closer and closer to ending invasive research on Chimpanzees. One day, maybe soon, we may see no more chimpanzees used in invasive (and ineffective) research. The National Institutes of Health, which owns over 300 chimps, put an aggressive plan in place to phase out the use of the chimps in research. These chimps will retire to a sanctuaries specifically designed so they can live out their remainder years in peace and to enjoy and experience natural chimp behavior.
5) However, there were still some campaigns that despite our best efforts, need more work. The Canadian seal hunt continues. Hundreds of thousands of seals are senselessly killed each year just for their pelts. But the HSUS says it will stay on top this issue relentlessly, until it ends.
6) The European horse slaughter scandal is all through the news. But what many US citizens may not be aware of is that there are a few states within the US who are attempting to open horse slaughter facilities. Forbes reported that the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, overturned the state’s 50 year ban on horse slaughter, despite the fact that two-thirds of the citizens are against horse slaughter. New Mexico is another state that is close to opening a slaughter facility, if Congress does not intervene.
7) The wolf population in the State of Michigan is under fire. CBS reports that Governor Rick Synder of Michigan has a big decision to make – whether or not to allow hunting season to include wolves. About 700 wolves now reside in Michigan. The HSUS is petitioning for the government to question the legitimacy of the hunt.
8) One of the most effective ways of confirming suspected animal abuse and bringing it to public awareness is through undercover investigations. The factory farming industry is introducing the Ag-Gag bill which would make whistleblowing a crime. Recently, Indiana legislature denied the Ag-Gag bill. It’s imperative that whistleblowing be a protected right – to help expose not only animal abuse, but any unethical or illegal activities that careless companies want to hide from the public.
The call was then opened up for supporters to ask their questions and state their comments. Wayne fielded questions from passionate animal welfare supporters on topics like puppy mills, horse soaring and the HSUS Pets for Life program. At the conclusion of the briefing, Wayne stressed that the voices of animal supporters carried a lot of weight and that the progress we’ve seen could not have happened without us.
To learn more about how you can get involved with the Humane Society of the United States, please visit their website at www.hsus.org.
Photo: Courtesy of TEDxManhattan via Flickr (CC by 2.0)