Posts tagged HSUS

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Taking Action for Animals

 The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

July 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Last month, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference. Hosted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), this conference brings together community leaders, professionals and locally oriented volunteers from around the country who are working to help animals in every regard.

Most people I meet care deeply for animals because of a relationship with their own pets or through a broader empathy for all animals. And when animals are suffering, most of us suffer in our hearts (sometimes unknowingly) because of our natural love for animals and our aversion to cruelty. Hence, TAFA is meant to inform, inspire and empower us to be better advocates for animals.

As a young adult, no issue disturbed me more than animal testing, and I had been indoctrinated to believe that it is necessary for the good of humankind. When I eventually learned about the treatment of animals in laboratories, I learned that much of the testing is actually unnecessary and fails to benefit humans.

At TAFA, I met folks from the White Coat Waste Project (www.whitecoatwaste.com), a nonprofit organization that exposes government funding of unnecessary animal testing (including testing on beagles, household cats and monkeys.)

The project reports that our government wastes $12 billion per year on animal studies, such as forcing monkeys to smoke cigarettes or feeding them high-fat, sugary foods to create obesity. Yet, the dangers of smoking and obesity are well known and are more appropriately studied in humans who exhibit these behaviors.

Luckily, we can make conscious choices not to support animal testing. Start by switching to cruelty-free household products and cosmetics. Visit www.leapingbunny.org to find a list of companies that do not test their products on animals.

Animal cruelty at farms

It was an eye-opening moment at TAFA to learn that the vast majority of animal cruelty around the world occurs in industrialized factory farms where most of our meat and eggs are produced.

In factory farms, mother pigs are confined to gestation crates that are no larger than their bodies, laying hens are confined to battery cages with no more room than a piece of notebook paper, and baby calves, who are taken from their mothers in the dairy industry, are confined to tiny crates shortly after their birth and later killed for veal. Although billions (not millions) of animals in factory farms suffer cruelty, everyone in our community can make a huge difference to help animals by reducing our meat consumption.

Consider trying Meatless Mondays, a global movement originally started in World War I to ration supplies that continues today to help people consciously reduce their consumption of meat. Amazingly, if all Americans participated in Meatless Monday, it would save 1.4 billion animals per year from factory farms. Visit www.meatlessmonday.com for recipes and ideas for sharing Meatless Mondays in our community.

Animal activism

Another goal of TAFA was to amplify our efforts to protect animals from cruelty by talking with our senators and representatives in Washington state and in Washington, D.C.

Following TAFA, I participated in Humane Lobby Day at our nation’s capital. Along with a delegation from Washington state, I attended meetings with legislative staff of Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott. Our delegation encouraged the senators to co-sponsor a bill to keep horse slaughterhouses from operating in the United States and to prevent the sale and transport of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094) is already cosponsored by McDermott.

We also encouraged support of the Captive Primate Safety Act (S. 1463/H.R. 2856), which prevents monkeys, apes and nonhuman primates from being transported for exotic-pet sales. Sadly, primates in the exotic-pet industry are held captive for breeding, and their babies are taken from them and sold as pets. These wild animals pose considerable danger to humans as they grow into adults and can harbor transmittable diseases.

Finally, our delegation asked for co-sponsorship of the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 4148). Passing this bill would end the use of animals for testing cosmetics. If passed, the United States could join major world powers like the European Union and India, which have already banned the use of animals for cosmetics testing. This bill is currently only in the U.S. House of Representatives, so you can contact our senators to request they introduce this bill in the Senate.

The power to act daily

All of us inadvertently encounter animal cruelty in our everyday lives with just a trip to the supermarket or even paying our taxes, which funds animal testing. Although awareness of such issues is uncomfortable at first, we can take comfort that we have the power to really change the world for animals by the actions we take daily.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” which means we can be more proud to be Americans each day we make progress for animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

 

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Oh Canada! Poised to lead the way to ban gestation crates

Pigs at the Pigs Peace Sanctuary

Pigs at the Pigs Peace Sanctuary

This just in from the HSUS:

Canada Set to Ban Lifelong Confinement of Pigs in Immobilizing Cages

Progress Draws into Question U.S. Pork Industry’s Animal Welfare Policies

(June 1, 2013) —Canadian pigs would no longer be confined perpetually in gestation crates during pregnancy under a proposal released for public comment by Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council. The plan earned applause from The Humane Society of the United States.

The draft proposes eliminating the confinement of breeding pigs in gestation crates—cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies designed to prevent them from even turning around.

“While Canada, the European Union, virtually every major global food retailer and many of the largest pork producers are taking steps to ensure that gestation crates are relegated to the dustbin of history, some U.S. pork industry leaders inexplicably continue to defend this cruel confinement,” said

Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “We hope The National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council will shift gears by helping their industry make the transition to higher animal welfare systems that allow pigs to move.”

Gestation crates, currently standard in pork production, have come under fire from veterinarians, family farmers, animal welfare advocates, legislators, scientists, consumers and food retailers. A recent national poll in Canada showed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase out of the gestation crate confinement system. The poll was conducted by Environics Research Group between May 9 and May 18.
Canada’s move follows a European Union ban on continuous gestation crate confinement that went into effect in January 2013, legislation banning gestation crates in nine U.S. states, and public commitments from more than 50 of North America’s largest pork buyers and producers—McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, Oscar Mayer, Kroger, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and dozens more—to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains and operations.

The new draft of the Code of Practice will be up for confirmation by the council in 60 days. As the code is currently written, the construction of new gestation crate operations throughout Canada would be prohibited beginning in 2014, and producers would have to replace existing gestation crates with group housing by 2024.

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A chimpanzee sees the sky for the very first time

Just over a month ago, Kathleen Conlee, Vice President for Animal Research Issues for the HSUS, was on Living Humane Radio to talk about the release of some federally owned chimps from the New Iberia Laboratories.  This is video of some of the chimps arriving at Chimp Haven, our national chimpanzee sanctuary (video courtesy of the HSUS).

Note that Chimp Haven is in need to donation to help release and house more chimps.

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Seattle Veg Fest 2013: Seattle Times honors its veg-curious to vegan community!

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

VEG FEST 2103 SEATTLE, March 24 — First, hats off to Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose and their 1000+ volunteers for putting on the best Veg Fest ever this year!  Second, hats off to the Seattle Times and reporter Carol Ostrom for her VegFest experience article here!

My husband and I had an awesome time at Veg Fest 2013!  Thanks to an understanding boss who allowed me to fly home from a work week in Japan, a whole lot of Advil to get over a cold, and my dedicated husband who not only volunteered to set up for Veg Fest, but got me there to the even to enjoy every minute!

Coreena at Veg Fest

Coreena at Veg Fest

Without a doubt, the vegan cheese presentation with Miyoko Schinner was top-notch!  Her presentation on her personal journey discovering cheese and learning about the dangers of dairy consumption was so well presented that she should have her own show!  Oh wait, we found out that she now does!  Miyoko will be hosting Delicious TV’s Vegan Mashup that airs on KCTS beginning in April on our favorite local PBS station, KCTS!

Folks from Harbor Creek Farms

Folks from Harbor Creek Farms

Eric and I ran into a bunch of friends at Veg Fest who also volunteered.  Our musician friend Coreena, who recently made an appearance on Living Humane Radio, volunteered to help out at the Viana booth.  Apparently this is my first experience with Viana, since it was a new taste, and loved it!

Another fun surprise was the food from Harbor Creek Farm who make a vegan mushroom strudel that will rival any pastry from the boulangerie.    Then we stopped by the Field Roast booth to stock up on hot dogs that we already knew we loved, and made our way to a booth with vegan chili sauce that was knock-your-sock-off good.

Grama's Sweet Chili Sauce

Grama’s Sweet Chili Sauce

Bar-coded man

Bar-coded man

We also met a gentleman from Small Planet Organics with a bar code on his head.   We didn’t have one of those phones that could read his forehead, but I guess it took us to this website.

Folks from Chimp Sanctuary NW

Folks from Chimp Sanctuary NW

Luckily our friends from NARN, Fur Bearer Defenders, HSUS, and  Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest were there to remind us of one of the many reasons we choose to be vegan — the animals! But my favorite part of the whole day was just being at Veg Fest with my husband Eric.

Eric at Veg Fest 2013

Eric at Veg Fest 2013

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Clearing obstructions to humane treatment: Court upholds Prop 2 in California

Happy pigs napping at Pigs Peace Sanctuary

I think the HSUS press release explains this one best, so see below.  But essentially, a US court has upheld the constitutionality of a ballot measure to eventually phase out extreme confinement of certain farm animals in California.   Some information on the proposition is copied below.

“California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.”

 RELEASE from the HSUS:

Federal Court Upholds California Ballot Measure Preventing Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals in Crates and Cages

Proposition 2 Cleared To Take Effect in 2015

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2012)–The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2, the California ballot measure banning the inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves in cages so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, lie down, or turn around. Acting on motions filed by The Humane Society of the United States and the California Attorney General, the Court rejected each and every challenge to the ballot measure, which was filed by a disgruntled California egg producer earlier this year.

In upholding the measure, the Court concluded that “Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.” The Court chastised the plaintiff for filing the case, noting that “the mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”
“We are delighted the Court has sided with the millions of California voters who supported this measure, and chose humane treatment over extreme confinement practices,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States. “Proposition 2 is a simple, basic humane standard that is easy to understand, and well within the State’s broad legal authority to prevent animal cruelty.”

California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Humane Society of the United States, the main backer of the measure, and egg producers in California and nationwide are working together in the U.S. Congress to pass federal legislation— the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, S. 3239 sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and H.R. 3798 sponsored by Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif.—that would extend the humane protections of Proposition 2 to the entire U.S. egg industry and phase out the use of barren battery cages over the next 15 to 18 years. A very limited number of farmers have begun to invest in enriched colony housing systems, which provide each bird with nearly double the amount of space as well as nesting areas and scratch pads so they can engage in more natural behaviors, in hopes that this legislation will pass and provide clarity for what is acceptable hen housing in all states in the future.

“Animal welfare groups and the egg industry had a divisive battle over Prop 2, but have now come together and found a solution that is good for animal welfare, the egg industry, and consumers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “With this lawsuit behind us, it’s now more clear than ever that Congress needs to pass a federal bill supported by all the major stakeholders—which would give protections not only to California’s 20 million laying hens but to all 285 million hens in the nation, and give egg producers a level playing field that provides stability and security for their industry.”

The HSUS was represented in the case pro bono by lawyers in the San Francisco office of Schiff Hardin, LLP, and The HSUS’ animal protection litigation section.

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Is your Oregon cheese green?

I don’t drink milk or eat cheese for a very important reason.  I don’t want to be a party to forcing a mother cow to give up her calves over and over again.  Unfortunately, the production of cheese and dairy products is rarely, if ever, humane since mother cows must give birth every year and those babies are immediately taken away so her milk is harvested.  Those babies are put into crates and later killed as ‘veal’.  Can you imagine if your newborns were taken from you year after year — or even once.

But here’s is the second reason I don’t eat dairy.   The methane, ammonia,  liquid or solid feces and  other toxic byproducts of raising animals on an industrial scale are mind-boggling.  Factory farms continuously release gaseous, liquid and solid wastes known to be toxic to humans and which destroy ecosystems (ref: EPA).

Just last week, the EPA fined two dairies in Oregon for release of waste streams into estuaries and rivers (ref: EPA).  The fines were small, but bring to light how much waste is released into our environment because of dairy or meat production.   An Environmental Health Perspectives report outline research on animal waste and the consequences for human and ecosystem safety.

In a similar effort, The Humane Society of the US reported last week they are planning to sue 51 pork producers for ammonia emissions that were not reported as a toxic release under the EPA’s right-to-know requirement.

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If you’re against cruelty, why aren’t your senators?

Are you against dog and cock fitting?  Are you against hens in battery cages and inhumane factory farms? 

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you are not going to be happy with this news. (The Republic, Seattle PI, SF Chronicle)

Last night the US Senate denied consideration and debate of two amendments to the farm bill that would 1) improve the lives of chickens on factory farms and 2) cracks down on dog fighting and cock-fighting (remember Micheal Vick’s major case).

Both amendments had considerable support in the US Senate and the egg industry reform amendment was sponsored by Democrats, Republicans and Independents including Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Scott Brown, R-Mass., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., David Vitter, R-La. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore and several more. (HSUS)

Note that it was not the egg industry that was against this amendment!  In fact, the United Egg Producers Association was a huge supporter of the amendment and advocated for its passage.

So what went wrong last night?  A group of lobbyists (American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council) are too afraid of their own customers.  Their fear — that they will have to be humane to animals. (HSUS)

“This is a matter of self-determination for the egg industry,” said David Lathem, second-generation egg farmer from Georgia and chairman of UEP in a press release several weeks ago. “No other sector of animal agriculture should prevent our industry from innovating, improving animal welfare, and finding best practices that will protect our farmers and answer major questions posed by consumers.”

So if congress will not or can not act on our behalf, we do it ourselves. 

First it’s our duty to stop buying any meat from producers who are continuing to treat animals inhumanely.  Meat can be obtained from local humane farms or easily from Whole Foods (see post here).

Second, support the Humane Society of the US who will work to include these amendments in the US House version of this bill (See Pacelle blog).

Lastly, write to your local newspaper in response to this news story (Seattle PI).  Let them know how factory farms, dog fighting and cock-fighting causes us personal pain as we feel deeply that animals, regardless of their role in agriculture, should be treated humanely.

Also, you can let you representatives know that you want to see action on humane issues for farm animals.

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