BREAKING: HSUS, HSLF, HSI release policy plan on wildlife markets, factory farms, companion animals

BREAKING: HSUS, HSLF, HSI release policy plan on wildlife markets, factory farms, companion animals and more to avoid another global health crisis

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

Intensive confinement of farm animals has substantial links to the origin and spread of diseases because of the sheer numbers of animals that are packed together in unsanitary and pathogenic environments. Photo by Alamy


The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the world to acknowledge the pressing need to change our relationship with animals. From the wildlife markets implicated in the origin of the novel coronavirus to the slaughterhouses that have become clusters for its spread, we now know only too well that our uncaring attitudes and indifferent practices toward animals can have grave consequences for human health.

Health experts already agree that wildlife markets need to close wherever they exist because of the role they have played in this and past pandemics. But fur farms, puppy mills and factory farms are known breeding grounds for viruses and drug resistant bacteria too, because of the terrible conditions in which the animals are kept. If we are to avoid another pandemic, we need to address the inherent problems of these sites of animal use and abuse with urgency as well.

Today, the Humane Society family of organizations is advancing an 11-point policy plan to reduce animal suffering and help prevent future national and global pandemics. These are our recommendations:

Shut down wild animal markets permanently around the world

At these markets, live and dead wild animals are kept in extremely close proximity. Blood, urine, feces and other bodily fluids from the animals mix, creating the perfect environment for pathogens and disease spread.

End the trade of live wild animals

Whether captive-bred or wild-caught, wild animals bought and sold for the exotic pet trade or other commercial purposes can spread a variety of viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections that pose serious health risks to humans.

Ban close encounters with wild animals and their use in traveling shows

Animals stressed by transport, confinement, crowding and handling—conditions common in traveling shows—are more likely to shed pathogens that cause disease.

End fur farming and the fur trade

Animals killed for their fur, like raccoon dogs and foxes, have been known to carry the SARS virus and are often sold and killed on-site at live animal markets like the one in Wuhan, China, tied to the COVID-19 outbreak.

End intensive confinement of farm animals

Intensive confinement of farm animals, including the use of cages for hens and gestation crates for mother pigs, has substantial links to the origin and spread of diseases because of the sheer numbers of animals that are packed together in unsanitary and pathogenic environments.

Shift the global food industry focus to plant-based proteins

Since most zoonotic diseases—diseases that spread from animals to humans—can be traced to farm animals, including chickens, cows, pigs and goats, state and federal governments should fund research to develop more plant-based and cultured meat technologies and global food companies should offer more plant-based options.

End the sale of dogs from puppy mills

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more than once implicated puppy mills, and pet stores that sell them, as sources of disease outbreaks, including recent multistate outbreaks of drug-resistant campylobacter that sickened almost 150 people and sent some of them to the hospital.

End the dog and cat meat trade.

The dog and cat meat trade poses a significant risk of rabies transmission throughout countries where these animals are consumed.

Effectively manage street dog populations

Free roaming dogs are the lead vector of rabies transmission to humans. Fear of rabies often causes humans to mistreat street animals, increasing conflict and bite incidence which can in turn lead to rabies transmission and death.

End cockfighting

The World Health Organization has said cockfighting can be linked to the spread of deadly viruses like the bird flu.

Fund alternatives to animal testing to speed up treatment and vaccines

We are calling for increased investment and a focus on humane, non-animal methods, such as human lung tissue cultures, cell-based models and organ-on-a-chip technologies to help us better understand, prevent and treat diseases, including COVID-19. These methods are quicker, less expensive and more relevant than conventional animal testing.

These are approaches we have long advocated, and we have successfully championed them in many parts of the United States and around the world. Now, even as we continue and expand our work globally to build a stronger animal protection movement, end the cruelest practices and care for animals in crisis, we’ll be pushing policymakers and business leaders to implement our policy recommendations to avoid another pandemic. Working together, we can make our world a safer, and healthier, place for both people and animals.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Read the full report: The animal connection: Policies to prevent another global health crisis


Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 12:00:10 +0000

Breaking news: USDA finalizes reforms for animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos and research labs, but will it enforce them?

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

The reforms announced today are critical first steps toward much-needed regulatory change, but they will be pointless if the agency fails to enforce them. Photo by Michelle Riley/The HSUS

In a long-awaited move, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced important reforms to tighten licensing requirements to prevent those who mistreat animals in their care from carrying on business as usual.

All dealers and exhibitors, including puppy breeders and roadside zoos will now need to apply for a new license every three years and pass a planned pre-license inspection to get one. This is a significant change from the past when the agency automatically renewed licenses annually, allowing even those who have severe and multiple Animal Welfare Act violations to continue operating. The rule also mandates that applicants must disclose any animal cruelty convictions before they can obtain a license.

The reforms announced today have the potential to improve tens of thousands of animal lives, and the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have advocated for them for many years now. The final rule issued today mirrors a few (but not all) of the improvements we requested in a 2015 petition to the agency to improve standards of care for dogs, and in legal comments we submitted in 2018 regarding the licensing scheme.

Here are some other reforms included in the rule:

  1. Enhanced veterinary care standards for animals held by puppy breeders, including annual hands-on veterinary exams and vaccinations for all dogs. The rule would require that all dogs have 24-hour access to fresh, clean water.

  2. Licensees will now have to apply for a new license and go through a new, pre-announced inspection if they make any noteworthy changes to the number or type of animals they have at their facility. This is an important change because the exhibitor may not have the resources or expertise to care for the new animals.

  3. A serious loophole in the regulations allowed individuals who were not bona fide exhibitors, but rather exotic pet owners, to get a USDA license to exhibit in order to circumvent state laws. The new rule would tighten licensing requirements and not give licenses to individuals who merely “intend to” become exhibitors, a step toward keeping exotic animals, including big cats, out of the hands of individuals.

These reforms are critical first steps toward much-needed regulatory change, but we would like to remind citizens and the USDA that they will be pointless if the agency fails to enforce them.

As we’ve been reporting on this blog, the USDA has, under the Trump administration, drastically scaled back on enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. Citations, warnings and fines have plummeted dramatically over the last three years and, in fact, the agency has not taken a single step to fine or revoke a puppy mill license since 2018, even when the mills have repeat, serious violations.

As we revealed in our Horrible Hundred report yesterday, some pet dealers clean up their act every few years, just enough to pass one or two inspections so they can continue to get their licenses. Therefore, it is critical that the USDA bring to justice anyone who violates the law during the three-year licensing period.

To ensure that animals in puppy mills get all the protection they need, we will continue to fight for two important bills in Congress that go even further to protect dogs. One is the Welfare of Our Friends (WOOF) Act, H.R. 1002, led by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., which has huge bipartisan support in Congress with 216 cosponsors. The other is the Puppy Protection Act, H.R. 2442, which is led by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., and has 48 cosponsors.

Both bills would reform the high-volume commercial dog dealer industry. They would include stronger provisions to prevent those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked from getting new licenses and provide more enhanced care requirements.

Passing these bills into law is crucial to ensure that dogs in this industry are adequately protected and we ask that you contact your lawmakers in Congress to ask for their support for the WOOF Act and the Puppy Protection Act. Let’s make sure that everyone is held accountable for animals in their care.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.


Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

Published at Tue, 12 May 2020 16:33:58 +0000

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