Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws, 2017 Report Released
Posted on January 18, 2018
Illinois holds on to first place, Kentucky bottoms out for eleventh year in a row
SAN FRANCISCO—The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, released the 12th annual year-end report (2017) ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states. For the 10th year in a row, Illinois is in first place—followed by Oregon (2), California (3), Maine (4), and Rhode Island (5). Kentucky holds firmly to last place for the 11th consecutive year. It trails Iowa (49), Wyoming (48), Utah (47), and North Dakota (46) as the state with the weakest animal protection laws.
The patchwork of state and local laws is animals’ primary protection. The strength of these laws varies widely, making the Rankings Report a vital resource for anyone interested in helping animals. The Rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 4,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.
Pennsylvania is the most-improved state this year, jumping 20 places up to number 24. This achievement is thanks to major improvements like a new felony provision for first-time offenders of aggravated animal cruelty (including torture), and granting civil immunity to veterinarians who report suspected animal abuse.
The 2017 Rankings Report also highlights a trend in laws aiming to end the tragedy of animals dying in hot cars. Public awareness campaigns have helped improve the situation, but legislation is also a key component. This year’s Rankings Report is promising, showing more states granting civil immunity for removing animals from hot vehicles. Immunity laws ensure that people who rescue animals from vehicles in emergency situations are not then faced with lawsuits from owners. Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon all enacted these “reckless endangerment” provisions this year. In all, more than 25 states now have some type of “hot cars” law on the books.
More than half of all states significantly improved their animal protection laws in the last five years. Improvements come in many forms including stiffer penalties for offenders, stronger standards of care for animals, animal cruelty reporting by veterinarians, mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders, banning animal ownership following cruelty convictions and including animals in domestic violence protective orders.
“Unfortunately, laws protecting animals can vary widely from state to state,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Our annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings provides a tool for animal advocates, shelters and even legislators to gauge the relative effectiveness of their state’s animal protection laws and provides guidance for making positive changes.”
The full report, including details about each state, is available here for download (PDF). The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium, on which the report is based, is available at aldf.org/compendium.
Lawsuit argues removal of online animal welfare records violates the Freedom of Information Act and the Administrative Procedure Act
SAN FRANSICO – Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. According to the lawsuit, the USDA’s decision to remove the records violates both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The removed documents revealed inhumane treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills across the country.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of a coalition of animal protection organizations, contends that the USDA violated FOIA, which requires federal agencies to affirmatively disclose final orders and frequently requested records. It also argues that the USDA violated the APA, which prohibits agencies from taking actions that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]” If the coalition is successful with its claim under the APA, the USDA would be required to resume posting the records online so they are available to the public.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is joined in the lawsuit by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society and Animal Folks. The USDA’s decision to stop posting records significantly burdens the organizations because they must now manage voluminous FOIA requests to access the same records, potentially pay large fees, and wait for several months or even years to obtain records previously accessible immediately online at no cost.
Public access to these records is especially important in light of the USDA’s chronically lackadaisical enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Office of Inspector General, an oversight division of the USDA, regularly finds that the USDA renders its enforcement of the AWA largely ineffective by not aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against substandard facilities and by significantly discounting penalties even when it does pursue enforcement action.
“The USDA itself needs oversight due to its continual failure to adequately enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The information blackout is a tremendous blow to transparency and undermines advocates who are working to protect hundreds of thousands of animals across the country.”
The plaintiffs filing today’s lawsuit regularly utilized the USDA database and enforcement actions page to obtain records about the conditions of animals at facilities regulated under the AWA, such as research laboratories, puppy mills and zoos around the country. In turn, these organizations use the records to advocate for stronger animal protection policies, confront the USDA over inadequate regulation of substandard facilities, supply evidence for law enforcement action and build legal cases against especially egregious violators. The Animal Legal Defense Fund relied on these records in its groundbreaking Endangered Species Act (ESA) victory against the Cricket Hollow Animal Park (previously Cricket Hollow Zoo), a roadside zoo that cruelly confined endangered animals in inhumane conditions. It was the first victory applying the ESA to protect animals in captivity.
The organizations are represented pro bono by Margaret Kwoka, Associate Professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and Perkins Coie LLP.
For more information visit, aldf.org.
About the Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.
About the Companion Animal Protection Society
Founded in 1992, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy/kitten mills. CAPS addresses animal suffering through investigations, legislation, education, media relations, consumer assistance, and rescue.
About Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!) is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization dedicated to the rights of all animals. Our mission is to end the exploitation of animals imprisoned in laboratories by educating the public with the reality of what is happening inside the vivisection industry and engaging government agencies to enforce laws, issue citations, and levy fines against criminal labs. Through in-depth investigations of laboratories and national media campaigns, SAEN exposes and ends the misery of animals.
About Animal Folks
Animal Folks is a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting the lives of animals by modernizing the animal law enforcement system in Minnesota. Animal Folks is focused on systemic change — finding new, innovative ways to prevent animal cruelty and improve how animal law is enforced throughout Minnesota. To achieve this mission, Animal Folks conducts research on animal cruelty issues and cases, creates training materials and resources, files criminal and civil complaints against abusers, and collaborates with state, local and national authorities and organizations for sustainable reforms. www.animalfolks.org.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings commended as he meets dog rescued from Yulin
(May 25, 2016)—Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced a resolution condemning the annual dog meat festival that takes place in Yulin, China. The festival, scheduled to occur this year on June 21st, involves the capture and cruel killing of thousands of dogs. Hastings’ resolution calls on the Chinese government and Yulin authorities to end the dog meat trade and better enforce food safety and animal transportation laws that should preclude this activity.
More than 10 million dogs are killed for human consumption every year in China. The trade involves animal cruelty, criminal activity including theft of pets, and serious risk to human health, with the World Health Organization linking the trade to cholera and rabies.
The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International applaud Congressman Hastings for bringing attention to the cruel festival. HSI, one of the world’s leading animal protection groups campaigning for an end to China’s dog meat trade, has been on the ground in Yulin and other Chinese regions for the past few years, working with Chinese partner groups to rescue dogs from trucks bound for the dog meat markets, uncover the immense cruelty that takes place at the slaughterhouses, and draw attention to the plight of the animals. To highlight the resolution, Congressman Hastings met Little Ricky, a dog who was rescued from Yulin by HSI and was named in honor of actor and comedian Ricky Gervais for his support of HSI’s #EndYulin campaign. Little Ricky now lives happily in Washington, D.C.
Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for HSI, said: “China’s dog meat trade, and in particular the Yulin dog meat festival during which thousands of dogs are abused and slaughtered for their meat during the summer solstice, are immensely cruel and deserving of global attention. So we applaud Congressman Hastings for shining a congressional spotlight on this atrocity. When HSI found Little Ricky in a Yulin slaughterhouse, he was terrified and moments away from death. He found sanctuary in the United States, and so it is fitting this canine ambassador was present to welcome Congressman Hastings’ resolution. We hope this resolution is heard far and wide, and compels the Yulin authorities and Chinese government to put an end to the cruelty.”
"Animal welfare has remained an issue of great importance to me throughout my time in Congress,” said Congressman Hastings. “The inhumane slaughter of thousands of dogs in China during the summer solstice, and millions more every year, deserves international attention. I hope my resolution will do just that, and make clear that inhumane treatment and indiscriminate slaughter is unequivocally wrong. I will continue to work to ensure that all animals are treated humanitarianly and thank Humane Society International for its work on this important issue.”
The resolution, which has 27 original cosponsors, does the following:
- Condemns the dog meat festival in Yulin;
- Urges the Government of China and the Yulin authorities to enforce the 2011 Agriculture Ministry of China Regulation that requires "one certificate for one dog" on board trucks transporting dogs that cross provincial boundaries;
- Encourages the Government of China and the Yulin authorities to enforce China’s food safety laws regulating the processing and sale of animal products, which should preclude dog meat trade activity;
- Urges the Government of China and the Yulin authorities to impose a ban on the killing and eating of dogs as part of Yulin’s festival;
- Urges the National People's Congress of China to enact an anti-animal cruelty law with provisions banning the dog meat trade; and
- Affirms the commitment of the United States to the protection of animals and to the progress of animal protection around the world.
The congressional resolution will help to raise awareness of U.S. opposition to the cruelty taking place in Yulin and throughout China.
HSI will be at the Yulin festival on June 21 to shine a global spotlight on the suffering. People can join HSI’s global #StopYulin campaign by signing our petition at www.hsi.org/helpstopyulin. The petition will be submitted to Chinese officials in early June.
New guidelines will recommend increased jail time and enhanced penalties for the worst offenses
NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) for voting today to strengthen federal sentencing guidelines for animal fighting, including enhancements that specify tougher penalties for extreme offenses.
The new guidelines raise the recommended sentencing range for animal fighting from 6-12 months to 21-27 months jail time—that’s a 250 percent increase in the minimum recommended sentence. The Commission also created a recommended sentencing range of 6-12 months for the new federal crime of bringing a child to an animal fight. Lastly, the revised guidelines explicitly state that causing harm to a large number of animals and performing acts of extraordinary cruelty to animals are grounds for imposing longer sentences.
“Until now the guidelines didn’t reflect the seriousness with which Congress, law enforcement, and the public view this barbaric activity,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We are grateful to the U.S. Sentencing Commission for voting to give judges the tools they need to ensure the punishment fits the crime.”
These guidelines better represent changes prescribed by Congress in 2008, when it acknowledged the depravity of dog fighting by increasing the maximum penalty for participating in animal fighting from three to five years. Congress strengthened animal fighting statutes again a few years later when they made attending an animal fight a federal offense and added additional penalties for bringing a child. However, federal sentencing guidelines have not been updated to include these increased penalties, creating a discrepancy between what is allowed under federal law and what is expressed in sentencing guidelines. As a result, typical prison sentences for convicted dog fighters averages about six months and most offenders receive probation.
The USSC proposed changes to the guidelines in January, and accepted comments from the public through March. To raise awareness about the need for stronger sentences for convicted dog fighters, the ASPCA launched a public awareness campaign, collecting a record-breaking 50,000 comments – the most ever received by the USSC on a single issue – from members of the public urging the USSC to #GetTough on animal fighting.
Even though dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it still occurs in every part of the country and in every type of community. In the past 10 days alone, the ASPCA has assisted local, state and federal agencies in four dog fighting cases spanning five states and 17 crime scenes, resulting in the seizure of more than 150 dogs, including the most recent federal case yesterday in Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA where 64 dogs were seized.
“These new guidelines will go a long way to protect hundreds of thousands of dogs in the United States who are forced to fight and suffer each year purely for the entertainment and financial gain of their owners,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.
In February, U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced the Helping Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act (H.R. 4613), federal legislation that will enable judges to require owners of animals seized in federal dog fighting cases to be responsible for the costs of their care, which will speed up court processes to allow these animals to be rehabilitated and adopted into loving homes more quickly.
For more information on the ASPCA or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, and celebrating its 150th birthday this year, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
TUCSON, Ariz., March 8, 2016 – Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way people view and treat snakes, today kicked off a formal campaign against the capture and slaughter of rattlesnakes for roundups held in the U.S. South and Southwest.
At these annual festivals, wild rattlesnakes are rounded up by the thousands to be displayed and slaughtered in public spectacles, then rendered into novelty meat, trinkets and folk medicine. ASP and photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur documented the animal cruelty, suffering, and fear underneath these events promoted as folksy, family-friendly fun. To battle fearmongering and pseudoscience, ASP is leading a group of biologists and conservationists in opposition to roundups.
For photos and videos please see www.rattlesnakeroundups.com.
“At these events it’s common to see snakes swollen and bloody from being restrained or thrown by handlers, dead and dying snakes, snakes too weak or stressed to defend themselves, unsanitary conditions, cruelty, and dangers to the public,” said Melissa Amarello, cofounder and director of education for ASP and an expert in rattlesnake social behavior. “Rattlesnakes rattle when they are terrified, not angry or preparing to attack as many think. The sound of rattling at these roundups is in fact a thousand snakes screaming.”
Roundups primarily target western diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox) and eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus). Professional hunters, not bound by ‘bag’ or ‘take’ limits, remove snakes from their native habitats and are awarded with cash prizes for bringing in the most and biggest snakes. Most snakes are caught by pouring gasoline into their winter dens, which pollutes surrounding land and water and may impact up to 350 other wildlife species. After capture, snakes are crowded together without food or water for weeks or even months.
In Sweetwater, Texas, home of the Sweetwater Jaycee's World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up, audiences watch myth-riddled presentations that demonstrate unsafe handling techniques. Snakes are shot in the head with a bolt gun, decapitated by machete, skinned, and gutted. Their disembodied heads continue gasping, hearts beating, and skinless bodies writhing, long afterward — decapitation is neither a rapid nor humane method of killing reptiles.
Proponents of roundups say they prevent overpopulation and protect people and cattle from death by snakebite. However, there are fewer than five deaths in the U.S. from snakebites annually, including people who refuse treatment, and the USDA’s Cattle Death Loss report has logged no cattle deaths from snakes. Paradoxically, proponents maintain roundups have no effect on local snake populations, making it something of a mystery how they can also alleviate overpopulation.
Science does not support claims that roundups are required to prevent rattlesnake overpopulation. Like other wild animals with natural predators, snake populations are maintained by prey abundance (rodents) and levels of predation and disease. Unlike traditional game hunting, there is no monitoring or reporting to regulate the slaughter of snakes. Biologists and conservationists believe that roundups have contributed to the current decline in eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, which have been proposed for listing under the endangered species act.
“Rattlesnake roundups thrive on an anti-snake brainwashed public all too eager to gloat at the demise of sensitive and sentient animals that peacefully reside in North American dens and brushlands,” said Clifford Warwick, reptile biologist and medical scientist. biologist and medical scientist. “No aspect of snake collection, handling, transport, or storage is considerate or humane.”
“These roundups offer a grotesque social commentary about our disconnect from nature,” said McArthur, an award-winning photojournalist, author and activist. “The festive atmosphere at these events conceals obvious and heinous animal cruelty, and emphasizes the peculiar ways we humans accept it as part of our culture.”
Unlike traditional roundups, some have evolved into festivals that celebrate, rather than harm, rattlesnakes, such as the Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival in Claxton, Georgia.
“Growing up in the rural south, I recognize the importance of community festivals to our culture and economy,” said Amarello. “But I believe, and Claxton’s festival demonstrates, that giving up snake slaughter does not mean losing our festivals or the income they generate. New traditions celebrating our natural heritage without slaughter are more successful than ever.”
To learn more visit www.rattlesnakeroundups.com.
About Advocates for Snake Preservation
ASP promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence with snakes through science, education, and advocacy. ASP identifies and addresses threats to snakes, conducts research, and dispels myths and misinformation about snakes. Snakes are threatened by many of the same issues that affect all wildlife, including habitat loss, climate change, and disease, but negative attitudes toward snakes may be the biggest barrier to their conservation because it often impedes efforts to address other threats. ASP was founded in 2014 and is based in Tucson, Arizona. For more information visit www.snakes.ngo.
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New campaign and online video encourage the public to support stronger federal animal fighting sentencing guidelines
To view the ASPCA’s video, please visit: [http://www.aspca.org/GetTough]
NEW YORK— Following today’s commendable decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) to consider revising the federal sentencing guidelines for animal fighting, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is launching a campaign -- including a compelling new video -- urging the public to actively support stronger sentencing guidelines.
The current sentencing guidelines do not reflect the maximum penalty allowed under federal law, which can discourage federal prosecutors from pursuing animal fighting charges that may only yield a sentence as paltry as six months in jail.
“The current guidelines for dog fighting are woefully inadequate, and don’t come close to matching the heightened seriousness with which Congress, law enforcement, and the public view this barbaric activity,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. “By proposing to amend the animal fighting guidelines, the U.S. Sentencing Commission moves us one step closer to giving judges the tools they need to punish these criminals more appropriately, as well as to deter potential criminals.”
In 2008, Congress acknowledged the depravity of dog fighting by increasing the maximum penalty for participating in animal fighting from 3 to 5 years. They again strengthened animal fighting statutes a few years later when they made attending an animal fight a federal offense and added additional penalties for bringing a child. However, federal sentencing guidelines have not been updated to include these increased penalties, creating a discrepancy between what is allowed under federal law and what is expressed in sentencing guidelines. As a result, convicted dog fighters are receiving unacceptably weak sentences.
To help raise awareness about the need for stronger sentences, the ASPCA has released a video as part of their #GetTough campaign to crack down on animal fighting. Featuring interviews with the public, the video reveals the surprise and disappointment of average Americans once they become aware of the terrible disparity between horrific animal crimes and their inadequate penalties.
“This video clearly illustrates the strong public sentiment that dog fighting is a vicious blood sport that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Congress already spoke up on behalf of animals when they strengthened the federal laws on animal fighting, and we hope the U.S. Sentencing Commission will follow their lead.”
Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although illegal everywhere in the U.S., dog fighting still occurs in every part of the country and in every type of community. For more information on the ASPCA’s #GetTough campaign and their work to end dog fighting, please visit http://www.aspca.org/GetTough.
About the ASPCA® Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
H.R. 2016/S.1081would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges
Washington, DC, April 27, 2015 – Today, leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations -- Born Free USA, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S.1081) in both the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and the U.S. Senate by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). This bill would ban the use or possession of all body-gripping animal traps -- including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps -- on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).
Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW commend Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Booker for backing the bill and urge swift passage of the legislation to ensure that all National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for wildlife.
“Indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land affect the welfare of wild animals and humans alike,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “That’s why I reintroduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act to prohibit the use of inhumane steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear kill traps, and snares within our National Wildlife Refuge System. We need to address this inherent cruelty and restore the true meaning of ‘refuge.’”
"The use of body-gripping animal traps in federal wildlife refuges is contrary to the very mission and purpose of these protected areas. These cruel traps don't distinguish between targeted animals and protected animals, endangered species or pets, and are a safety hazard to people. It's past time to remove this antiquated and inhumane practice from federal wildlife refuges," said Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J).
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Animals and people should have the freedom to enjoy these Refuges without the threat of stepping into a body-gripping trap. The brutality of these traps is shocking; they can crush limbs and organs, and animals often remain trapped for days, in massive pain, before dying. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”
The NWRS encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 240 endangered species. Overall, the NWRS harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 200 fish. Despite the NWRS’ mission “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” a staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the system allow trapping on refuge grounds.
"Body-gripping traps slam closed with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device, while strangling snares tighten around the neck or body of their victims until death finally ends the torture. This cruelty should not be permitted in any place that is called a ‘refuge,’” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Passage of this legislation would be a crucial step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife.”
IFAW Campaigns Officer Carson Barylak added, “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act will put a stop to the use of cruel and ecologically destructive traps on wildlife refuges, allowing these public lands to serve their intended purpose--preserving wildlife and ensuring that all Americans can enjoy our shared natural heritage on refuges.”
Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW assert that animals and people should have freedom to enjoy National Wildlife Refuges without that danger present, and urge other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey and Sen. Booker in support of H.R. 2016/S.1081.
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information on AWI, visit www.awionline.org.
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
S.B. 177 will allow domestic violence victims to keep their pets safe during crises
NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds Ohio lawmakers for passing S.B. 177, which will help Ohio’s families and companion animals by giving judges the clear legal authority to include pets in protective orders for victims of domestic violence. The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich to be signed into law.
“Too often, victims will not flee an abusive situation if they have to leave a pet behind, unprotected,” said Vicki Deisner, Midwest legislative director for the ASPCA. “No one should have to make the impossible choice between escaping an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety. The ASPCA urges Governor Kasich to quickly sign this bill into law to address this pervasive problem and protect Ohio families and their pets.”
Research shows that 71 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. Even more concerning, as many as 50 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations for fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. Despite the frequency and severity of this problem, only a small percentage of domestic violence shelters across the country accommodate pets.
“The inability to flee an abusive relationship places domestic violence victims, their children and pets at a much greater risk of emotional and physical trauma, and even death,” said Deisner. “The ASPCA thanks Senators Michael Skindell (D-Cleveland) and Jim Hughes (R-Columbus), and Representatives Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Marilyn Slaby (R-Copley) for their diligent efforts to pass this legislation as it will encourage victims to seek help and give them the security they need to escape a dangerous environment.”
Twenty-seven U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have enacted laws that include provisions for pets in orders of protection, and earlier this year, the U.S. Congress introduced federal legislation to expand existing federal domestic violence protections to include pets of domestic violence victims. The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act amends the Violence Against Women Act’s interstate stalking provisions to make crossing state lines to injure pets a punishable offense. It also adds veterinary care to the list of restitution costs that can be recovered by victims, establishes a federal grant program designed to help domestic violence victims safely house their pets, and expresses a recommendation by Congress that states should include pets in protective orders.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.
About the ASPCA® Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.