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On March 4, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act of 2015 (H.R. 1258), which is a bipartisan bill aimed at helping victims of domestic violence or stalking.

Domestic violence is abhorrent, but what is even more heartbreaking is that many victims delay seeking safe refuge out of concern for what may happen to their pets. Pets are often the voiceless victims of domestic violence abuse or stalking, where abusers target a beloved pet as an attempt to control and terrorize their human victims. Sometimes the pets are brutally harmed or even die as a result of their abusers’ assaults.

paws-act

Human victims often face the difficult decision of leaving the situation without their pets for their own safety or staying put to ensure that their animal companions get the veterinary care they need should they be harmed. Many survivors have reported delaying leaving an abusive situation out of concern for their pets. Due to the fact a very small percentage of domestic violence shelters nationwide can accommodate pets, sometimes victims are forced to surrender their pets since they are unable to evacuate them, which can deepen the pain and suffering they may already be experiencing.

H.R. 1258 will expand federal law to include protections for pets of domestic violence victims and establish a federal grant program that will help ensure that victims have access to safe shelters for their pets. Specifically, the bill aims to assist both female and male victims with pets by:

  • making threats to a pet a stalking-related crime;
  • providing grant funding to increase the availability of housing for victims that accommodates pets;
  • encouraging states to provide coverage for pets under protection orders; and
  • requiring abusers who harm pets to pay veterinary and other expenses incurred as a result.

“The PAWS Act represents tremendous advancement in recognition that the abuse of animals in domestic violence threatens the safety and well-being of animals and people alike,” said Maya Carless, an executive director at the Animals and Society Institute. “I have personally worked with hundreds of victims who escaped abusive situations with little more than the clothes on their backs and their pets in their arms. Not only were they struggling to find safety for both themselves and their pets, the abusers’ control over their finances left them unable to afford necessary veterinary care for their pets who had been harmed by the abuse. While many kind-hearted veterinarians help greatly by discounting or donating their services, the PAWS Act would provide financial restitution for the costs of veterinary care in these situations, lifting the burden from the veterinary profession and greatly increasing access to essential veterinary treatment for animal victims of domestic violence.”

The AVMA Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions, together with the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, recommended that the association support this legislation because it is consistent with veterinary efforts to protect the welfare of animals and promote responsible human-animal relationships, including the philosophy encompassed in the association’s Animal Welfare Principles and its resource publication that provides Practical Guidance for the Effective Response by Veterinarians to Suspected Animal Cruelty, Abuse and Neglect. It is also in alignment with information regarding co-occurrence of animal abuse and domestic violence and state legislative responses in the wake of research studies.

The bill, which has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Agriculture, has 48 original co-sponsors and is supported by numerous local and national domestic violence, animal welfare and professional organizations, including the AVMA. For more information, see Rep. Clark’s press release.

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Last rodeo on Vancouver Island is cancelled

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events (VCARE) are claiming victory after news that the Luxton Rodeo in Langford, near Victoria, has been cancelled.

VHS-Luxton-Rodeo-Cancelled

The animal protection groups had campaigned for three years to end cruel rodeo events, receiving considerable local and regional support. A number of the rodeo’s sponsors had dropped out as a result of the campaign.

“It’s a great victory for animal welfare,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “It’s a tribute to the progressive and compassionate people of Vancouver Island.”

VCARE Organizer Melissa de Meulles said “No matter what the reason for the cancellation, this is one less ‎rodeo stop for the animals and hopefully the first of many rodeos to close down. Our community can be proud it spoke loudly and stood up for animals.”

The cancellation of the Luxton Rodeo is the second blow to the rodeo industry in recent years.  In 2007, after a long campaign by VHS, the Cloverdale Rodeo announced that it would discontinue four key events: calf-roping, steer-wrestling, team-roping and wild cow milking. VHS also convinced the City of Vancouver to ban rodeos in 2006.

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American television icon Bob Barker, best known for hosting CBS’s The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, has teamed up with Cruelty Free International to call for an end to cosmetics testing on animals in the United States.

BB and Federico

Bob Barker said, “Testing cosmetics on animals is a cruel, outdated, and unnecessary practice. Our nations largest trading partner, the European Union, has banned the sale of animal tested cosmetics and proven it is possible to produce safe cosmetics without harming animals. I am proud to join Cruelty Free International in urging the United States to end cosmetics testing on animals.

Countless animals suffer in unnecessary outdated and cruel tests for cosmetics. Despite modern alternatives to animal testing becoming increasingly less expensive, faster, and more accurate at predicting human reactions than the antiquated animal tests they replace, there is no national law in place to limit animal testing for cosmetics in the United States.

Ending cosmetics testing on animals in the United States would match progress made elsewhere; the European Union, NorwayIsrael and India which have testing bans in place. Additionally, BrazilNew Zealand and South Korea recently made significant strides toward ending animal testing via legislation or policy decisions. Prohibiting animal testing for cosmetics would also reflect the interests of US consumers who, multiple polls show, support ending cosmetic testing on animals.

Cruelty Free International Logo

Cruelty Free International, CEO, Michelle Thew, said: We are thrilled to have Bob Barker supporting our efforts to see the United States match the progress we have made around the world in ending the use of animals in cosmetics tests. Mr. Barker clearly understands that when one considers the cost in animal lives for cruel cosmetics tests, the price is wrong.”

Cruelty Free International is the only organization solely campaigning for a global ban on animal cosmetics testing.  With offices in the UK, US, Brazil and Asia, it works with governments, regulators, companies and partner organizations worldwide and has placed the issue of animal testing on the agenda of many governments for the very first time.

Other celebrities to support Cruelty Free International include, Ricky GervaisPeter DinklageNorman Reedus, Sir Paul McCartney, Mayim Bialik, Kunal NayyarLori SingerAlicia SilverstoneVanessa Marano and Ashley Bell.

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By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division

With time running out on the 113th Congress, the U.S. Senate this week made its final attempt to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406) before it adjourns, but unfortunately, that effort has come up short.

TimeIsRunningOutHorse_300

Supported by 60 senators, bill sponsors Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent S. 1406 around for “unanimous consent,” which is a procedural way that the Senate can pass a bill without a full vote by every senator. However, if even one senator objects or decides to hold off on supporting the bill, it stops the bill in its tracks. Unfortunately, that was exactly what happened this week when an anonymous Republican senator placed an indefinite hold on the bill.

This legislation is absolutely necessary to protect the welfare of America’s walking horses and end the inhumane and cruel practice of soring, but it may have just lost its chance to become law this Congress. The PAST Act has overwhelming, bipartisan support in Congress, and it is appalling that the bill, which will do so much to protect horses, will be left unfinished. America’s horses deserve better!

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So far this month, we have seen more than 3,000 letters sent to members of Congress through AVMA’s Congressional Advocacy Network in support of this bill. THANK YOU to all of you who have taken a stand for these beautiful creatures! If you have not signed our alert yet, there is still a little time left. Take action NOW. Tell Congress that America’s horses cannot wait!

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India became the first cruelty-free cosmetics zone in South Asia.

Humane Society International/India’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign is celebrating an historic victory for animals as India bans the import of animal tested cosmetics. Coming just a few months after implementation of a national ban on cruel cosmetics testing in India’s labs, the import ban now makes India the first cruelty-free cosmetics zone in South Asia and an example for other nations to follow.

HSI's BeCrueltyFree India Makes History as India Bans Import of Animal Tested Cosmetics

The ban comes in the form of Rule 135-B that states, “Prohibition of import of cosmetics tested on animals. No cosmetic that has been tested on animals after the commencement of Drugs and Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2014 shall be imported into the country.” The notification will come into effect on 13 November, 2014 (30 days from the date of notification).

Alokparna Sengupta, Humane Society International/India’s #BeCrueltyFree campaigns manager, said; “With today’s historic ban on the import of newly animal-tested cosmetics, India has made history for animals in South Asia. This is a huge achievement that could not have been possible without the compassion of our government, consumers and industry. We feel confident that if this vision is applied to other areas of product testing, this can be a defining moment in the modernization of India’s safety science, with potentially hundreds of thousands more animals spared pain and suffering.”

Gauri Maulekhi, Trustee, People for Animals, a #BeCrueltyFree India partner, said: “India has shown outstanding leadership by so swiftly advancing first a ban on cosmetics animal testing and now a ban on animal-tested cosmetics imported from overseas. By working so diligently with the #BeCrueltyFree India campaign, our policy makers have put India on the map as a country transforming its laboratories and regulation from outdated test methods to state-of-the-art science. Animals, consumers, scientists and companies have everything to gain from such modernization.”

HSI/India’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign has been instrumental in achieving the final import ban. In June, HSI met with the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, to present a petition of more than 70,000 signatures supporting an import ban. Support from more than 30 legislators also has been critical, with special thanks to Mrs Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Shri Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, Shri L.K.Advani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi andSupriya Sule.

India’s dual test and import ban mirrors that of the European Union and is the latest victory in a string of achievements for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign globally. Earlier this year #BeCrueltyFree campaigners inAustraliaBrazilNew ZealandTaiwan and the United States have all celebrated the introduction of bills proposing national cosmetic animal test bans. Efforts by #BeCrueltyFree China also resulted in China removing mandatory animal testing for many domestically produced cosmetics.

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Whole Foods Market’s sale of bunny meat (same breed as pet rabbits) is drawing widespread criticism. In a statement from SaveABunny and the House Rabbit Society, over 70 businesses, humane societies, animal rescue groups, and over 10,000 people, have already petitioned Whole Foods Market to immediately stop the sale of rabbit meat. On August 17th, protests will be held outside 40+ Whole Foods Markets nationwide. (http://rabbit.org/day-of-action-focused-on-whole-foods-august-17/). According to the 2012 American Pet Products Association (APPA), 2.5 million households now live with pet rabbits.

save-a-bunny

Margo DeMello, co-author of Stories Rabbits Tell (Lantern 2003) and President of House Rabbit Society, an international rabbit advocacy group, says, “Other stores look to Whole Foods Market to emulate their success. Millions of rabbits will be killed annually for an artificial demand created by Whole Foods. While their animal welfare standards are minimal at best, Whole Foods Market is sourcing rabbits in states with Ag-gag laws that restrict outside inspection and verification of standards. The company has not allowed animal welfare advocates to confirm their claims and standards. This should greatly concern their customers.”

Marcy Schaaf, Founder of SaveABunny, Inc. a nonprofit rescue organization and recipient of the prestigious ASPCA “Angels In Top Hats” award, questions Whole Foods’ claims of “customer demand.” Says Ms. Schaaf, “Whole Foods has jeopardized its brand image and betrayed the trust of their loyal customers with PR ‘green-washing’ and a lack of transparency to customers and employees about the type of rabbit meat being butchered. Whole Foods is killing and selling the meat of 8 week old baby bunnies that are barely weaned. They are still deeply connected to their mothers and siblings. There is nothing humane about this.”

A survey conducted of 39 California Whole Foods Stores revealed that only one of 39 store managers interviewed knew they were selling domestic rabbit meat.  Most believed the meat came from either wild rabbits or from the country of New Zealand.

Whole Foods declined to explain the contradiction in their decision to kill rabbits while promoting products not tested on the same type of rabbits. Whole Foods Executives response to consumer complaints is a form letter claiming “sensitivity to the issue”, while touting the “highest standards” for large scale rabbit meat production with “the goal of creating standards for other companies to follow.”

For further information, please see http://www.saveabunny.org/stop-whole-foods-rabbit-meat and http://rabbit.org/tell-whole-foods-to-stop-killing-bunnies/.

SaveABunny is a volunteer-based nonprofit rabbit rescue organization headquartered in Northern California. The organization specializes in the rescue and re-homing of abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits. For more information, visit www.saveabunny.org.

House Rabbit Society is an international, volunteer-based nonprofit organization that rescues abandoned rabbits, finds permanent homes for them and leads educational and research efforts on proper rabbit care. For more information, visit www.rabbit.org

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Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement regarding a bill passed on Friday, June, 20 by the New York state legislature which bans the sale and purchase of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn:

“A big victory for endangered elephants and rhinos today, as New York enacts a landmark law to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.

These bans are important tools for regulating, and, we hope, eventually ending the ivory and rhino horn trade. Every 15 minutes on average, an African elephant is slaughtered for its ivory tusks to support a mass consumer demand. Rhinos, which are also poached for their horns, are similarly threatened. The U.S. ranks as one of the largest ivory consumers in the world and New York serves as one its biggest entry points and markets.

Promising regulations are gathering momentum at the federal level. As one of the first states to pass such legislation, New York is carving a path for others to follow.

We love New York’s actions and congratulate and thank our coalition partners in encouraging the passage of these bills.”

To learn more about IFAW’s work to crush the ivory trade, please visit http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/our-work/elephants/ending-ivory-trade.

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By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division

U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) recently introduced legislation that places a federal ban on the use of double-decker trailers for the transport of horses.  The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2014 (H.R. 4440) is the companion bill to S. 1459, introduced in the Senate last year by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and will ensure horses have the proper headroom they need to safely and humanely travel along America’s highways.

The AVMA has been supportive of similar legislation in previous Congresses because it is consistent with its policy on the Humane Transport of Equines, which says, among other things, that the conveyances transporting horses must “be designed, constructed and maintained to protect the health and welfare of the equines being transported at all times.”

Scientific data shows that it is impossible to construct a multi-level trailer that provides horses with the adequate headroom they need on both levels, while also meeting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s height restrictions to safely pass under bridges on the nation’s highways.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees with this assessment stating:

“[T]here is a significant body of evidence indicating that many more equines are injured during transport in double-deck trailers than in single-deck trailers. The overpasses on most U.S. interstate highways are between 14- to 16-feet high.  A tall equine can be 8 feet tall to the top of its head when standing on all four legs and close to 12 feet tall when rearing. Therefore, we believe that no conveyance is capable, under normal circumstances, of traversing most U.S. highways while carrying equines standing in a normal postural position on two or more stacked levels.”

It is absolutely critical that horses be given the opportunity to stand up straight while traveling so they can hold their heads in a normal, comfortable position and balance their high centers of gravity.

In addition, the AVMA believes the Horse Transportation Safety Act is necessary to clear up a disparity in transportation safety rules which currently exists. In 2011, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service finalized a rule that bans the double-decker transport of horses bound for slaughter.  All horses should be given the same opportunity to stand at a normal height during transport, not just those going to slaughter.

The association will be working to get this bill passed once again this Congress.  You can help!  Contact your congressmen and senators today and ask them to cosponsor the Horse Transportation Safety Act.

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During this year’s “Be Kind to Animals Week®” (May 4-10), the American Humane Association, the organization that helped found America’s original “Compassion Movement” in the 1870s, is putting out an urgent plea to reach and enlist one million new advocates to help billions of animals facing the daunting challenges of the 21st Century.

“The need has never been greater,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the country’s first national humane organization. “We have made gigantic strides in the past century, pioneering many of the key advances in protecting our nation’s children and animals, but there are still huge numbers in critical need of lifesaving care and we need more allies and advocates to give voice to the voiceless.”

American Humane Association Be Kind to Animals

During this 99th year of its “Be Kind to Animals Week,” the charity is seeking to reach and enlist one million new advocates to help ensure the welfare and proper treatment of billions of animals who live in our homes, on our nation’s farms and ranches, and in our wild spaces.

Anyone can help, join the cause and spread the word just by visiting www.americanhumane.org/bekind and taking the pledge to help animals, spreading the word by sharing one of the many fun and colorful “Be Kind to Animals” Facebook graphics posted there, and becoming a member of America’s first national humane organization.

Major Figures in Animal World Join Effort
Major figures joining the effort include well-known animal advocates such as Dr. Marty Becker, who has agreed to be this year’s Celebrity Ambassador for Be Kind to Animals Week.

“We are putting out a call to every American to get involved and make a difference during Be Kind to Animals Week,” said Dr. Becker, who is well-known as “America’s Veterinarian” from The Dr. Oz Show and Good Morning America, and is an American Humane Association board member. “By becoming a part of a new 21st Century Compassion Movement you can help millions of vulnerable animals to be kept safe, protected, and loved – something this veterinarian prescribes for all animals. And you’ll be joining an effort that rescues thousands of animals every year from disasters, hoarding and cruelty cases, protects 100,000 animal actors on TV and film sets every year, works to save more of the 7-8 million pets who enter shelters each year, and ensures the humane treatment of nearly 1 billion farm animals. Don’t keep America’s animals waiting – join us today!”

Other major celebrities, charities, and organizations are posting, tweeting, and otherwise spreading the word, encouraging Americans to get off the sidelines and actively become a voice for the voiceless.

American Humane Associations is also offering a few ways we can all celebrate the importance of our beloved animals during Be Kind to Animal Week – and all year round:

  • Join the cause and become a part of the Compassion Movement at www.americanhumane.org/bekind and sign up for breaking news, alerts, and activities children and adults can do together to help animals in need. Take the pledge, find shareable Facebook graphics here and spread the word!
  • Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue.  Every year 3-4 million animals are euthanized because they could not be adopted into loving, forever homes.
  • Always treat your pets with love and affection, make sure they are in safe environments at all times and have plenty of fresh water and exercise daily.
  • Spay or neuter your pets and encourage friends and family to do the same.  Many local shelters offer assistance for low-income families.
  • Keep your pets current on vaccinations and make sure they are wearing up-to-date identification tags and are micro-chipped.  Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly and know what it takes to be a responsible pet owner.
  • Report any suspected animal abuse or neglect to local authorities. Animal cruelty is not only tragic for animals, but also an indicator of other forms of abuse such as domestic violence.  If you see something that looks suspicious – a dog chained in your neighbor’s yard that looks underfed, a child putting a cat in a box and kicking it – don’t hesitate. Let someone know.
  • Teach your children that all animals are important and show them how to be kind and respectful to animals both in the home and to those they encounter in parks, zoos or in their neighborhood.
  • Appreciate wildlife.  Plant flowers in your yard that will attract butterflies or hummingbirds.  Drive cautiously through areas populated by wild animals such as deer.
  • Some 10 billion animals are raised each year on our nation’s farms and ranches and some 90 percent of them live without the benefit of audited, science-based welfare standards to ensure their humane treatment. If your family chooses to eat dairy, eggs, or meat, look for products that have humanely raised and certified by independent, third-party programs such as the American Humane Certified™ program.
  • Look for the No Animals Were Harmed® end-credit when you see a movie or television show featuring animals and know that your favorite animal actor’s welfare and safety was ensured by Certified Animal Safety Representatives who protect more than 100,000 animal actors on more than 2,000 film and television productions every year with a 99.98% safety rate!
  • Promote ways to treat animals humanely in your community by speaking out about the importance of respecting animals.

“American Humane Association helped found our nation’s Compassion Movement 137 years ago and we made a huge difference,” said Dr. Ganzert. “Today, we need every American to join in an ambitious new effort to bring hope, help and comfort to millions in need.  What better time to consider joining American Humane Association to help those in need during Be Kind to Animals Week? Please take just a moment and visit us at www.americanhumane.org/bekind.  Thank you!”

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Canon Europe, leader in imaging solutions, is sponsoring a WWF and Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) expedition to the islands of Svalbard above the Arctic Circle, as part of its role as Conservation Imaging Partner of WWF International. Setting off tomorrow, the NPI and WWF-Canon expedition aims to collect critical data about Europe’s most westerly polar bear population.

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© Brutus Ostling, Canon Ambassador

During the Svalbard expedition, the team of researchers will undertake two specific missions: to place satellite collars on polar bears so that their routes can be tracked over the next year and to scout for new denning areas on islands in the Svalbard peninsula. Completion of these tasks will help the scientists to assess the response of polar bears to climate change, and to understand if there will be anywhere for the bears to den in the future, following a recent report that the area could be completely free of summer sea ice by 2050[1].

Canon imaging equipment will be used by the expedition team to capture the experience and record events. Swedish wildlife photographer and Canon Ambassador Brutus Östling will also accompany the scientists to capture images of the wildlife they encounter along the way and document the expedition.

“Canon has a longstanding partnership with WWF, supporting a number of important Arctic expeditions and helping WWF to record the state of the environment,” commented Cyprian da Costa, Brand Communications Director, Canon Europe. “The images captured in Svalbard will play a fundamental role in the research undertaken on this expedition and help promote the vital work being carried out by WWF to raise awareness of the challenges that polar bears are facing in a world ever-more affected by climate change.”

Geoff York, Polar Bear Lead, WWF International Lead, commented: “Canon’s support for these expeditions is invaluable; we are delighted to be working together to highlight how the changing ice conditions are impacting the polar bear populations and how they breed. The photographs and video footage truly bring our work to life and help us to highlight these changes to a global audience.”

The Svalbard trip is the third Arctic research expedition that Canon has supported. In 2012, the expedition travelling from Greenland through Canada’s High Arctic to the Last Ice Area was designed to assess the future management options for that area. In 2013, researchers travelled to the Taimyr Peninsula in the Laptev Sea to collect genetic material to confirm the theory of existence of unique subspecies of the Laptev walrus population.

Canon Europe has been a conservation partner of WWF International since 1998. The continued partnership demonstrates Canon Europe’s dedication to a sustainable future in which humans live in harmony with the natural world. The partnership includes support for a range of initiatives, including continued sponsorship of the WWF-Canon Global Photo Network and photography training for WWF employees.

Visit the expedition web site for updates.

1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rog.20017/abstract

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