Sunday, December 20, 2009

ALDF 2009 State Animal Protection Laws Rankings

December 16th, 2009

The Animal Legal Defense Fund announces the release of its fourth annual report ranking the animal protection laws of every state and territory of the U.S.A. based on their relative strength and general comprehensiveness. This report – the only one of its kind – encompasses more than 3,800 pages of statutes, and is based on a detailed comparative analysis of each jurisdiction in which fourteen distinct categories of animal protection laws were researched. The ranking groups each jurisdiction into a top, middle or bottom tier, and includes a listing of the best five and worst five states.

“Many states and territories are continuing to make substantial progress with their animal protection laws. Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country this year, due to a host of statutory improvements. Washington, D.C. and Indiana, among others, also made significant advances. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report.

“Yet even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. While animals certainly do not vote, those who love and care about them do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”

Please contact your elected officials and encourage them to support improvements to the laws that protect animals. For additional information, see our Model Animal Protection Laws collection and Animal Protection Laws of the USA & Canada compendium.

Learn much more on ALDF website at

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Orleans Mandatory Dog Spay-Neuter Scrapped

Ordinance for mandatory spay-neuter surgery was withdrawn the day before vote.

New Orleans City Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell withdrew her mandatory spay-neuter and breeding restrictions proposal Nov. 4, a day before it was to be voted on by the full council.

Hedge-Morrell introduced the ordinance in September stating that the aim was to encourage pet owners to be responsible as well as help fund animal control operations.

The ordinance had been amended since the introduction to allow dog owners to have the choice of whether to keep their dog intact by paying an initial $30 permit application fee plus a $20 annual permit fee.

However, since the proposed fee must first be advertised to the public before the council can vote on it, the ordinance was withdrawn from the agenda, according to Joshua Barnett, director of communications, Office of Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

“We are going to use this time as an opportunity to get more info and input from breeders and veterinarians [to make this the best ordinance it can be],” Barnett said.

The ordinance, if enacted as written, would:

Require all dogs 6 months of age or older to be spayed or neutered. Owners who wish to keep their pets intact would need to purchase a breeder permit. A few exceptions are noted. For example, the dog is used by a government or law enforcement agency or an agent thereof for government, rescue, law enforcement or other government purposes.

Limit female dogs from having more than one litter per year, or having a litter if the female is younger than 18 months.

Permit the Louisiana SPCA, which will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance, to determine whether or not an applicant for a breeder license has “space determined to be suitable … in which to breed dogs and raise puppies.”

Impose fines for those who are found to be in violation of the ordinance.
A time frame as to when the topic would be revisited couldn’t be determined, according to Barnett.

The American Kennel Club has been strongly opposed to the ordinance and sent out a legislative alert on Nov. 2 urging dog breeders and owners to voice their opinion.

“The American Kennel Club opposes mandatory spay-neuter laws,” the AKC said in its alert. “Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.

“Additionally, we strongly support and actively promote a wide range of programs to educate the public about responsible breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership.”

The AKC sent out an updated legislative alert on Nov. 5 stating that although the ordinance has been withdrawn, the AKC “continues to urge the City Council to study in-depth any existing animal population and enforcement funding issues that exist in New Orleans, and to work with all interested stakeholder groups in formulating reasonable and enforceable laws that protect public health and safety without harming those breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.”

Read ordinance:

Senate Approves Funding for Service Dogs for Veterans

Washington, D.C. – By a vote of 57-35, the Senate on December 15th gave its final approval to the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act, funding a key priority of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), which is providing service dogs to veterans with disabilities.

“We can never do too much for the men and women who risk everything to fight for their country,” said Sen. Franken. “I feel a real obligation to them for the courage they show and the sacrifices they make. I’m glad that we’ve been able to take this small step toward improving their lives when they come home.”

The Appropriations Act directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately begin the process of assisting veterans with physical and, for the first time, mental illnesses, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who would benefit from having a service dog.

It also provides $2 million in medical services for the program and additional funds for research and VA Inspector General oversight. VA is also directed to expand its partnership with accredited nonprofit service dog organizations where veterans with PTSD help train service dogs.

“With the support of Sen. Tim Johnson (Chairman of the Military Construction/VA appropriations subcommittee), and his House counterpart Rep. Chet Edwards, the final version of the provision directs VA to include veterans with mental disabilities among those eligible to receive a service dog,” said Sen. Franken.

“I am also grateful to Rep. Steve Israel, who carried this effort in the House.” “I applaud Senator Franken for his efforts to expand VA’s service dog program. These dogs have proven to not only expand our veterans’ ability to live more fully, they also seem to have the ability to increase veterans’ morale and quality of life as well. I was happy to include this funding in the FY10 VA Appropriations bill,” said Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.Dak.), chairman of the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line and too often return home with physical injuries and PTSD. An expanded service dogs program for veterans will bring more of our troops the comfort and rehabilitation they need.

Veterans have told me they benefit greatly from having access to service dogs, so I’m proud to join Senator Franken in increasing the scope of the service dogs for veterans program,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D – N.Y.), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs who requested increased funding for the program. Visit

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Quality of Mercy

by Bianca Rothschild

Animals have always been part of my life. I love them with a passion. But one special "angel animal" will remain in my heart forever.

I am a lady in my mid-seventies who has an amazing story to tell. It's recorded in my testimony for Steven Spielberg's collection of Holocaust stories. He's recorded testimonies of survivors and liberators and righteous gentiles who, at great risk to themselves, helped people in need during those terrible times.

These stories come from all over the world and bear witness to man's inhumanity to man as well as the capacity for great courage and honor. Another collection of these stories can be found at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. which has exhibits, including a boat from Denmark used by Danes to smuggle people to Sweden from Poland and a cattle wagon like the one which transported me with fellow prisoners to Germany.

Born in Poland, I was a teenager when World War II began. My family always had pets. All of us loved them dearly. When the Nazis forced us to leave our home to be put into prison, we entrusted the animals to friends for safekeeping.

By 1945 I was separated from my family and imprisoned in the Ravensbruck, Germany concentration camp. Starving, dressed in only a flimsy uniform, I had to work in the bitter cold. Every day prisoners at the camp congregated in early morning and waited outside to be counted. One day exhaustion and cold overwhelmed me and I fainted. Although my two friends stood in the long row on either side, they couldn't help me.

When the Nazi soldiers saw me lying on the ground, they took one of their large German shepherd dogs off of his leash, removed the dog's muzzle, and commanded him to attack. As the dog ran toward me, the prisoners looked in horror, fully expecting the animal to rip me apart.

But something miraculous happened in that moment.

When the huge dog reached me, he stopped in his tracks. Then he smelled me. To everyone's amazement, the dog, instead of attacking me, licked my face until I revived.

Everyone in the line stood frozen with fear. The soldier who had sent the dog to kill me looked incredibly puzzled. After a minute, I staggered to my feet. Shocked that the dog had allowed me to live, the soldier called the vicious-looking animal back to him.

Those many years ago, an animal befriended me in an insane world of human hatred. I am alive today because a dog disobeyed the command to destroy me and instead showed compassion. Was it fate? Was he an angel? I will never know. But till today I have never forgotten the dog's act of mercy. For the rest of my life I have done whatever I could to save all living creatures.

Visit Allen and Linda's wonderful website, Angel Animal Network, for inspiring stories. Thanks to them for sharing this one!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sea Turtles in Costa Rica Are Victims of Global Warming

Sea turtle is the first marine species affected by global warming.

(December 14,2009) Playa Grande, a holiday resort in Costa Rica, has been well-known for its leatherback turtle national park, turtle’s beach and turtle’s museum. That is why Steven Johnson, a Sweden tourist, has very high expectation for this place. He said, “We certainly want to see sea turtle. This is a part of charm of the place.”The disorderly development of cities and increase of temperature and sea level have greatly reduced the number of sea turtle in the Pacific.

In last year, on the beach where there were numberless sea turtles that have made their nests, scientists have observed just 32 leatherback turtles for the whole year. Because leatherback turtle is at the brink of extinction, the sea turtle museum has been abandoned for three years. Now, the museum and around areas have become a sea covered with weeds. And the ticket office for turtle-tour on the beach was washed into the sea in September.

“Because turtle’s amount is too few, we haven’t promoted this place as the destination of turtle-tour anymore”, said the administrator of national park. Even in the decades before scientist found that the temperature was rising slowly, sea turtles were facing many threats like beach construction, fishing nets and people’s capture. But for such creature that have lived in Pacific area for about 150,000,000 years, global warming has become their last straw.

Sea turtles are very sensitive about the side effect caused by climate warming. They look for food on coral reefs which are now dying due to increasingly warm and sour seawater. They cover their eggs with sand on the beach. But the beach was destroyed due to rising sea level and storms.

Besides, the sex of a sea turtle is not determined by gene, but it’s determined by the temperature around the egg when it is hatched. Slight rise in temperature can make all of the hatched turtles become female ones, which is a big problem for the existence of the species.

An expert of World Wildlife Foundation said, “Sea turtle is the first marine species affected by global warming. The speed of climate change is much faster than ever before. But the existence of this species is much dependent on temperature.”
If the temperature of the sand around a turtle’s egg reaches 30 degrees centigrade, its sex balance will lean to female. The expert said, “If the temperature reaches 32 degrees centigrade, the hatched turtles are all female ones. If the temperature is 34 degrees centigrade, all that you can get are boiled turtle’s eggs.”

On the beaches where sea turtle made their nests, scientists can cool these turtle’s eggs only by some artificial ways like setting up tents or watering them. They also tried to make wider beach areas become ones that isn’t for real estate’s development, so that sea turtles can find some places to hatch eggs even after the sea level has risen.

Nowadays, collecting turtle’s egg in Costarica is an illegality, but poaching in some towns is still prevailing. In Playa Junquillal, people have paid more attention to those poaching actions. There, five boys are patrolling on the beach, prevent poachers from stealing turtle’s eggs. These boys’ action has made them become idols of many children. Dr. Francia, who is a biologist, also invited some local families to see the release of sea turtles. He said, “Many people who have eaten turtle’s egg have never seen real sea turtle in their life time.”

Sea turtle is a kind of lovely marine creature. If you want to learn more about sea turtle, you can visit Sea Turtle Protection. On this website, you can learn what measures we can take to save sea turtles. You can even be signed up as a volunteer to protect this endangered animal. The protection area is located in Sanya city, which is China’s southernmost coastal city. If you come here, you can not only see those lovely sea turtle, but also learn Chinese. If we work together, sea turtles will go on surviving on this planet. (Thank you Douglas for this important article. Please visit

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nurse Mare Foals: Thoroughbred Horseracing's Invisible Victims

by Mat Thomas -

For decades, the thoroughbred racehorse industry has practiced a shockingly cruel breeding method that activists have only recently brought to light. The result of this compulsory procreative procedure are nurse mare foals — the unwanted offspring of female horses used as nursing surrogates for thoroughbred ponies. Every year, tens of thousands of these horses are killed or orphaned simply because they are useless to a multi-million dollar enterprise that thrives on equine exploitation.

Here's how it works: in order to get thoroughbred mares to produce as many potential racehorse champions as possible, breeders push their biological limits to extremes by forcing them to reproduce once a year. Maximizing productivity requires breeders to have the mares reimpregnated right after giving birth, which precludes them from nursing their own babies. The newborns are therefore taken away from their mothers within days of delivery, and nursed by surrogate mares (of “inferior” breeds) who have just given birth to their own offspring — the “by-products” of this process are known as nurse mare foals.

Permanently separating thoroughbred babies from their mothers is tragic enough, but nurse mare foals usually face a far worse fate. While some are killed soon after being born or starved to death, others are sold (as young as one day old) to the tanning industry which slaughters them and turns their skin into handbags, belts, and other high-grade leather products. The lucky ones are rescued by horse advocacy groups, which, just like the tanners, must pay the going rate of $250 to $350 apiece — and then spend several hundred more dollars feeding and raising each horse until they are ready for adoption.

Rescuers nourish nurse mare foals by bottle-feeding them milk replacer, which could theoretically be used to feed thoroughbred foals as well, thus eliminating this exceedingly inhumane breeding practice altogether. There are two main reasons that they don't do this: formula is expensive, and horse breeders maintain that thoroughbreds need to drink real (albeit surrogate) mother's milk from the source to achieve peak performance. Plus, the larger nurse mare farms (concentrated in New York, Kentucky and Tennesee) produce 50 to 100 foals a year, and it is more operationally efficient to make the surrogate mothers do all the work rather than paying human caretakers to feed the foals by hand.

Another possible solution to producing unwanted foals is a new domperidone-based drug protocol that induces non-pregnant mares who have given birth before to lactate. Though chemically manipulating horses' hormones poses ethical dilemmas, in practical terms it would prevent tens of thousands of unwanted foals from being born into a life of suffering and untimely death. It could also dramatically reduce the number of surrogate nurse mares by enabling thoroughbreds who are too old for breeding to nurse foals.

There are many ways to help relieve the suffering of nurse mares and their orphaned foals, from urging elected legislators to pass humane laws to financially supporting horse advocacy organizations or adopting a rescued foal. Learn more about how to take action by visiting

Mat Thomas is a contributing columnist for Animal World USA. Visit his website and read more of his wonderful work for animals: The Animal Righter at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Visit Detroit Zoo and Save a Dog or Cat

By Patricia Janeway

(Royal Oak, MI ) The Detroit Zoo in collaboration with more than 20 local shelters and animal welfare organizations, hosted the annual fall Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo this past fall. The event is the nation’s largest off-site companion animal adoption program.

The weekend's event was held outdoors under tents in the Detroit Zoo’s front parking lot beneath the landmark water tower. There is no charge for admission or parking for adoption event guests; however, regular admission and parking fees as always apply for those visiting the Zoo.

Hundreds of adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens were available for immediate adoption to loving homes both days. A “get-acquainted” area will be available to provide guests an opportunity to spend time with an animal before adopting. Adoption fees and policies are set by each participating group. Adopters must present a valid driver’s license or state ID card. All animals will have received a medical check-up and age-appropriate vaccinations. For health and safety reasons, all current companion animals should be left at home.

Last year, the fall Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event found homes for 648 animals. Since the event’s inception in 1993, nearly 14,000 dogs, cats and rabbits have been placed into new homes at the spring and fall events.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a non-profit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits, the Detroit Zoo is in Royal Oak. Visit The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open year-round and provides educational programming with interpretive staff support from the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Admission is free. To view Detroit Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to: