What a year it has been for expanding protection for animals! The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, works tirelessly to expose animal abuse and put legislation in place that transforms the lives of millions of animals. Here are some of the highlights for 2013:
• Animal Testing -- The HSUS and its global arm Humane Society International persuaded government officials from three of the world's biggest economies to take decisive action against animal testing. The European Union implemented a marketing ban on cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere in the world; India has banned animal testing for cosmetics; and China has agreed to stop requiring animal testing of cosmetics manufactured in the country. As the CEO of PRAI Beauty, a global skincare company, I stand firmly against any form of animal testing.
• Laboratory Chimpanzees -- The HSUS played a crucial role in the passage of a bill in the U.S. Congress to continue funding for chimp sanctuaries. It also persuaded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose that all chimpanzees be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act; a final decision is expected in 2014. The HSUS also worked with the National Institutes of Health to plan for nearly 90 percent of government-owned chimpanzees to be retired to sanctuaries and to place significant restrictions on chimpanzee research.
• Canadian Seal Hunt -- A World Trade Organization panel upheld an existing ban on the sale of seal products. Keeping the ban in place is necessary to ending the hunt and validates the idea that animal welfare is a moral issue that can justify trade restrictions.
• Puppy Mills -- Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The HSUS championed a new rule to bring 2,000 Internet dog sellers under federal regulation, finally providing oversight for how these sellers operate. Investigators with The HSUS went undercover to expose how puppy mill dogs were being sold at flea markets and pet stores. The public also became aware of the American Kennel Club's ties with the puppy mill industry. These accomplishments raise awareness about the abuses of puppy mills and the importance of adopting one's new family member from a shelter.
• Horse Slaughter -- When the USDA issued grants of inspection to U.S. horse slaughter plants, The HSUS filed suit and temporarily blocked the opening of plants in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico. The HSUS also successfully advocated for passage of amendments to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills to defund horse slaughter inspections, which if retained in the final FY 2014 spending bill, will restore the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. The ultimate goal is passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (H.R. 1094/ S.541), which would prevent the slaughter of American horses here in the U.S. and across our borders.
• Improving Conditions on Factory Farms - Another successful undercover operation lead to the conviction of seven workers at a Wyoming pig farm for animal cruelty. The HSUS also secured a settlement of more than $155 million against the owners and investors of a dairy cow slaughter plant that was cited for animal abuse. Another important victory for farm animals was the successful defense of California laws phasing out the extreme confinement of farm animals in crates and cages and prohibiting the force-feeding of ducks and geese for foie gras.
• Rejection of Gestation Crates -- Thanks to The HSUS and HSI, sows will live more humane lives as gestation crates are slowly phased out around the world. In the United States, food retailers such as Marriott and General Mills along with McDonald's, Burger King, Costco and Safeway are paving the way for a total end to the use of these cruel crates that severely restricts a sow's movement.
• Animal Fighting -- The HSUS won a big victory in securing an amendment to the farm bill that makes it a federal crime to attend an animal fight. The Congress is expected to pass the farm bill in January and then the animal fighting spectator ban will go into effect. Raids on dogfights and cockfights resulted in the rescue of hundreds of animals, including rescuing dogs from the second-largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history. In Costa Rica, HSI assisted law enforcement in saving close to 100 dogs from lives of suffering and fighting.
The HSUS believes that the best way to protect animals is through strong legislation to protect animals. In 2013 alone, 107 new state laws were put into place, from banning the trade of apes, baboons, and macaque monkeys as pets in Arkansas to defeating anti-whistleblower (ag-gag) legislation in all 11 states where factory farming interests introduced them.
Many powerful lobbies pour money into legislation that harms animals. The HSUS works to defeat harmful legislation while at the same time educating the public about cruelty.
It is my hope that 2014 will be a banner year for the protection of animals. But it will only happen with your help.