Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle. As President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, he leads the nation's largest animal protection organization in the mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. Read more »
known throughout the world as a nation of vegetarians, and vegetarianism is
indeed very common there. In recent years, however, this growing economic
power, even with its strong, animal-friendly religious and cultural traditions,
has seen meat eating on the rise, and the worst elements of factory farming are
taking hold. There are an estimated 140 to 200 million egg-laying hens
living in conventional battery cages in the world’s largest democracy.
I went to India last November to launch our new offices on the subcontinent, I visited nearly a
half dozen battery cage facilities. I saw hens living
in space allotments smaller than a sheet of printer paper. I saw filth and
flies and overcrowding. And I saw animals who would never make it out of their
Erin Van Voorhies
Such confinement violates the
provisions of Section 11(1)(e) of the 1960 national Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act, which requires that animals confined to cages be provided with
reasonable opportunity for movement. Guided by the plain language of this
foresighted statute, the Animal Welfare Board of India issued an advisory a
year ago to all state governments stating that battery cages should not be
used, and that existing battery cages should be phased out by 2017.
Humane Society International India
has been following up with all of the state animal husbandry departments in the
country, convincing them to issue a directive that it is a violation of the PCA Act to confine hens in battery cages.
Accordingly, a majority of them have issued directives to their officers, and
poultry farmers have been instructed to phase out and avoid battery cages, and
not to make any investments in these extreme confinement facilities.
In India, there is a big gap
between what the law says and what happens on the ground, and that’s especially
true when it comes to animals. But in this case, the law is unambiguous,
and we know that there are other ways to raise birds. This correction
may take a while, but the trajectory is clear. Our staff members in India
are determined to see this through. No nation
that values animals, as India does, can indefinitely confine more than 100
million birds in these kinds of conditions.
The HSUS is known as an anti-cruelty organization, and many
assume that our primary concern is domesticated species. But we also work hard
to protect wild animals from a variety of threats, and our work on that front
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the
Endangered Species Act – one of a raft of visionary animal protection and
conservation laws passed in the late 1960s and early 1970s that collectively
signified a new approach and commitment to nature and to wild animals. Today we
celebrate Endangered Species Day, a reminder that we humans have all the power
in our relationship with wildlife and that we must take intentional actions to
protect species from a variety of human-caused threats. The ecologist Aldo
Leopold explained that the first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the
Here are some of the ways that
we fight for rare species:
The HSUS’ Wildlife
Land Trust protects thousands of acres of habitat for endangered and
imperiled wildlife. We now protect lands in 38 states for both abundant and
endangered wildlife. Ultimately, preservation of habitat is the foundation of
all efforts aimed at saving wildlife.
In the last decade, lawsuits filed by The HSUS
have successfully prevented efforts to eliminate Endangered Species Act protections
for gray wolves on seven different occasions. But
recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in the Northern
Rockies and Great Lakes from the list of federally protected species, allowing
states to assume control over management. State
fish and wildlife agencies, pushed by the hunting and ranching lobbies, almost
immediately decided to open up hunting and trapping seasons, with Montana now
seeking to have a wolf season that lasts for more than half the year. We are back in court again fighting
to restore federal protections for wolves. In the broadest sense, we are
fighting for the protection of predators, since these apex species play such
critical roles in balancing ecosystems.
the Department of Interior to list the African lion under the Endangered
Species Act, saving lions from American trophy hunters who kill the cats and
bring them home for bragging rights.
Earlier this year, we successfully defended the
Endangered Species Act listing of polar bears in court, and are working to
prevent Congress from weakening the Endangered Species Act by allowing trophy
hunters to import
parts of threatened polar bears. More broadly, we are working with
the United States and Russia to promote policies to end the international trade
of polar bear hides and parts.
Not long ago, there were only a few dozen
surviving California condors. Today there are a few hundred, and still
dangerously scarce. One of the major threats to the condor is lead
poisoning from ammunition left behind by hunters. We are sponsoring California
AB 711 to require non-lead ammunition for hunting, and that bill passed the
California Assembly just yesterday. We are also working to ban other deadly
toxins, including the use of Compound 1080, used by the USDA in its predator
We are lobbying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to block
imports of five species of large constricting snakes. These species
have been identified as an invasive species risk. Already, in the Everglades,
Burmese pythons have wiped out large numbers of mammals and they threaten the
prey base for the highly endangered Florida panther. The pythons are a direct
threat to other endangered species as well.
We work across the country to give full ESA
protections to captive animals where their wild counterparts are listed. Just
this year we helped
pass a ban on the keeping of chimpanzees and other primates as pets in
Arkansas, and work to end the private possession of tigers, chimpanzees,
wolves, and other dangerous wild animals. We also work to end the killing
of endangered antelope who are shot for trophies at
captive hunting facilities right here in the U.S.
Only a few hundred right whales swim off of our
coasts, and The
HSUS leads the fight to stop ship strikes, fatal entanglement and protect
habitat for these sea monarchs.
Our unparalleled anti-poaching
campaign provides several hundred thousand dollars in rewards for tips on
poaching cases, including for ESA-listed Mexican gray wolves, whooping cranes,
Canada lynx and Steller sea lions, and allows us to partner with federal law
enforcement on wildlife trafficking investigations.
Last night, during a marathon round of voting on amendments
to its version of the Farm Bill, the House Agriculture Committee approved a
destructive and constitutionally questionable amendment, offered by Rep. Steve
King, R-Iowa, that threatens to wipe out important state laws banning the
cruelest factory farming practices, and leave a raft of other state laws and
rules regulating agriculture hanging in the balance.
The committee, over the objections of its leadership, did
approve an amendment led by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., by a vote of 28-17,
building on the existing federal law against animal fighting by making it a
crime to knowingly attend or bring a child to an animal fight (the vote tally is pasted below). The Senate
Committee on Agriculture, which took up its version of the Farm Bill on
Tuesday, included a similar provision in its bill, thanks to the efforts of
committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Thad Cochran,
R-Miss. With both versions of the Farm Bill including the same core provisions
on animal fighting, it should be included in any final bill approved by the
Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and
former chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, spoke out against the animal
fighting bill. Goodlatte said he felt the McGovern amendment provides too
severe a penalty for perpetrators, and argued that parents who brought a child
to a dogfight would be separated from their children and that was something he
couldn’t support. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, one of the two veterinarians in
the House, said he worried much more about not interceding when a parent brings
a child to an animal fighting spectacle, with the violence and other forms of
criminality all right out in the open. Ironically, Goodlatte touted his support
for a prior upgrade of the federal animal fighting law in 2007, making
interstate transport of animals for fighting a federal felony. Someone arrested
for that crime has as much a chance of being separated from a child as an
individual arrested for a bringing a child directly to a fight. The argument
made little sense, and appeared to be just another attempt to stand in the way
of any progress for animal welfare.
Goodlatte also joined Rep. King’s gambit to wipe out
numerous state animal protection laws, including those regarding factory farm
confinement, horse slaughter and shark finning, along with others related to
food safety, environmental protection, worker safety and more. King’s measure
passed by a voice vote after a contentious debate. There were forceful
arguments raised against it by Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Jeff Denham,
R-Calif., John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Schrader.
If passed by the full House, King’s amendment could allow
the overturning of every voter-approved animal welfare ballot measure relating
to agriculture, including Proposition 2 in California (banning extreme confinement
crates for pigs, veal calves and laying hens), Proposition 6 in California
(forbidding the sale of horses for slaughter for human consumption),
Proposition 204 in Arizona (banning veal and pig gestation crates) and
Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing pig gestation crates). The amendment could
also nullify six other state bans on gestation crates, horse slaughter bans in
six states, comprehensive animal welfare standards adopted by the Ohio
Livestock Care Standards Board, and a raft of anti-downer laws and other animal
protection laws designed to shield farm animals from abuse and extreme
The Senate version of the Farm Bill does not contain any
language similar to the King amendment. The HSUS and other groups will
work to strip the King amendment from the House Farm Bill on the floor, and
also push for adoption of the landmark agreement between animal welfare groups
and the egg industry in phasing
out the use of conventional battery cages, and creating minimum care
standards for the welfare of laying hens. The battle over the Farm Bill is just
now gearing up and now all members of Congress, and their constituents, can
have input on the process.
Today we’re officially releasing The
HSUS’ 2012 Annual Report, which pulls together the many strands of work of
the world’s largest animal protection organization and bundles them together in
a single place. We’re committed to transparency in the communication of our
results and the management of our affairs. As you’ll see by reading this
report, there really is no organization like The HSUS in the world – with
program departments focused on companion animals, farm animals, equine,
wildlife and marine mammals, and animal research and testing issues. In
addition, via Humane Society International,
there is a far-reaching enterprise extending the impact of our programs
throughout the world. Our staff consists of veterinarians, wildlife biologists,
issue experts, educators, investigators,
lawyers, lobbyists, animal care specialists, and so many others, united in
their passion for halting human-caused cruelty and providing care and
protection to all animals.
In 2012, The HSUS and its affiliates provided direct care
for more than 100,000 animals – making us the largest provider of direct
services to animals in the country. We care for animals through the work of our
Rescue Team, our traveling veterinary teams, our Animal Care
Centers, our Pets for
Life programs, our Humane
Wildlife Services team, and our Wildlife Innovations and Response Team. As
with our advocacy work, it’s the most diverse set of animal care programs
you’ll find anywhere. We run six animal care centers, and we also run dozens of
companion animal shelters, principally temporary shelters we set up after we
raid the sites of large-scale animal cruelty or neglect.
But if we only conducted rescue, we’d be failing in our
mission. Our greatest purpose is to prevent cruelty by challenging legal,
institutionalized forms of animal abuse. It’s this work that leads us into the
domains of factory farming, the fur trade, wildlife cruelties, puppy mills, the
exotic animal trade, horse slaughter and soring, and so many other areas. In 2012, we made historic progress in our
campaign to eliminate the use of gestation crates on factory farms, in getting
chimpanzees out of laboratories and into sanctuaries, and in exposing horse
“soring” abuses that shocked the nation.
I hope you’ll carefully peruse this report in order to
understand the breadth of our work
and, we hope, to be a strong ambassador for
the organization. The Annual Report also provides a roadmap for where we
are taking society on the fundamental question of our relationship with the
other animals who share our world. Thank you.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto
of a proposed “ag-gag” bill yesterday almost overshadowed progress toward a
milestone in our anti-gestation crate campaign: the New Jersey legislature gave
approval to Senate Bill 1921 to bring the Garden
State that much closer to being the 10th
state to ban the extreme confinement of breeding sows. Championed by state Sen.
Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, the bill enjoys broad partisan support – having passed the
Senate 29 to 4 and the Assembly 60 to 5. Now it awaits Gov. Chris
legislative progress comes just two weeks after Canada’s
top eight supermarkets agreed to phase out their purchases of pork from
operations that confine sows in this extreme way. That’s in addition to the
50-plus companies in the U.S. that have made similar pledges – from McDonald’s
to Costco to Cracker Barrel.
a lot of talk by some within the pork industry that these confinement crates
are humane. But how can a housing system be humane if the animals are
immobilized for almost their entire lives? Isn’t it a priori inhumane to deny
an animal the opportunity to engage in the most basic behaviors, including the
opportunity to turn around?
the states and so many North American corporations work to give pigs more space
and better lives, there are some in Congress who are trying to subvert this
elemental progress. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the most anti-animal welfare
politicians in modern history, is
planning to offer an amendment tomorrow during votes in the House Agriculture
Committee to nullify all state and local laws to protect farm animals (the
measure is so radical it would also nullify state rules and laws related to
worker safety, environmental protection, and food safety).
have to laugh when politicians like King throw out their bromides, in their
windy discourses on other issues on the House floor, about “protecting states’
rights.” The fact is, when they don’t like what the states do, they are
quick to become advocates of federal supremacy. That’s not a case of
principle, but of ideological opportunism and deception. Let’s hope that if
members of the House Agriculture Committee do not place sufficient importance
on animal welfare, at least they’ll pay attention to federalism and the other
principles of our American Constitution.
NEWS ALERT: This morning, Governor Bill Haslam of
Tennessee vetoed the legislature’s proposed ag-gag bill, squelching the only
state anti-whistleblower measure that made it to a governor’s desk this year. See
full statement on this major outcome for our cause – preserving our right
to conduct investigations and to document animal cruelty.
Now comes another sweeping, menacing attack against our
movement – this time in Congress. An Iowa congressman wants to force a vote to repeal the rights of citizens to regulate how
their food is produced. The traditional responsibilities of state legislators
to establish laws governing food safety, animal husbandry and worker
protections would be eliminated, wiped from the books – in both existing law
and any future law. County and local ordinances? Eliminated.
Shocked? I am.
This is the work of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Typically,
conservative Republicans like King vigorously defend states’ rights. But not,
it seems, when they can serve special interests. In this instance, conservative
values are tossed to the wind so that King and his allies can strong-arm the
states aside. Yes, this is an almost unheard-of power grab, but it’s not a
matter of King wanting the federal government to establish strong, uniform
standards for agriculture. In fact, he’s dead-set against that too, as
evidenced by his opposition to pending legislation establishing space
requirements for laying hens and labeling standards for eggs (the Egg
Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 - S. 820/H.R. 1731). No, in
King’s world, weak or nonexistent standards would take the place of states’
rights – consumers and animals be damned.
You may have heard of the King amendment
last year – when he advanced it as part of the 2012 Farm Bill. Well, the Farm Bill was sidetracked by election-year politics. But this year, Congress is
likely to act and complete work on the bill. That means
the King amendment is no longer a debating point, or a simple sop to the big ag
lobby. It’s a threat to every consumer and to every animal in agriculture. The
House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday. This same
committee voted in favor of a virtually identical King amendment last time
King’s goal is to overturn
every voter-approved animal welfare ballot measure relating to agriculture – Prop
2 in California (banning extreme confinement crates for pigs, veal calves, and
laying hens), Prop 6 in California (forbidding the sale of horses for slaughter
for human consumption), Prop 204 in Arizona (banning veal and gestation
crates), and Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing gestation crates). The
amendment could also nullify six other state bans on gestation crates, horse
slaughter bans in a half-dozen other states, the comprehensive animal welfare
standards adopted by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and a raft of
anti-downer laws and other animal protection laws designed to shield farm
animals from abuse and extreme confinement.
But the reach of his
amendment goes further. It seeks to nullify every state, county, or local law
that creates any standard or condition relating to an agricultural production
activity – so we’d have no state laws for agricultural facilities relating to
worker rights, animal welfare, environmental protection, or public health. It’s
hard to overstate how sweeping and far-reaching the King amendment is.
thinks it’s fine to spend taxpayer money doling out billions to corporate
farmers in the way of direct payments, crop insurance, predator control
programs, and other subsidies. He’s built a reputation on it. But he
doesn’t want the agriculture community to have to abide by any rules related to
food safety, animal welfare, or environmental protection. In his mind, the
federal government is a bank for the farm lobby, and not a protector of
society’s broader interests in a safe, humane, and sustainable food supply.
As we await final action from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on
the fate of the state’s awful and overreaching ag-gag
bill (which the state’s attorney general yesterday called “constitutionally
suspect” in a formal written opinion), Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder late this
week took an extraordinarily hostile action on
another bill we have a great interest in. He signed a bill pushed by state Sen.
Tom Casperson that not only seeks to undercut
the petition drive we and our partners launched to block wolf hunting, but
also gives unilateral authority to the seven-member Natural Resources
Commission to remove just about any species in Michigan from the protected list
and open a trophy hunting or trapping season on them.
In a coordinated one-two punch against wolves and other
wildlife in the state, the NRC approved a fall wolf hunting season just hours
after Snyder signed the bill into law. Trophy hunters and trappers will be
allowed to kill about 43 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and that figure
certainly would have been higher but for our intense scrutiny of the plan to
kill members of this keystone species. There are only about 650 wolves in the
entire state, and they were just removed from the federal list of species
threatened with extinction, after decades of protection.
Our original wolf protection referendum – which we submitted
at the end of March with more than 253,000 signatures – should be certified
for the ballot, and it will indeed appear on the November 2014 ballot. We
believe that if voters decide to favor our position on the ballot measure to reject the original wolf hunting law that the
legislature passed, that the NRC should honor the wishes
of the people and terminate a hunt.
But it’s impossible to know how the NRC will react to our
winning the 2014 ballot fight. The question now is, do we mount a second
referendum campaign to nullify the law that Snyder signed and quash their
attempt to kill perhaps thousands of wolves over the next decade and turn back their larger,
more dangerous plan to consolidate all authority over hunting programs
in the hands of a few bureaucrats appointed by the governor?
I am outraged about the governor’s action, and the actions
of an arrogant legislature, which thumbed its nose at the people, and has tried
to subvert a constitutionally guaranteed right to decide issues
directly. But I’d like your opinions. Write me and let me know if you think
we should mount a second effort to protect the wolves and to protect the right
of the citizens to more directly control decisions related to wildlife
As part of “Puppy Mill Action Week,” The
HSUS today released “A
Horrible Hundred,” a report that documents a litany of deficiencies and
appalling details concerning the mistreatment of dogs at commercial dog
breeding facilities. Don’t read the report if you are not prepared for your
blood to boil. Many of the facilities listed have been cited by federal
inspectors for violations, including dogs found
freezing in the cold or left out in the sweltering heat without protection;
dogs with open wounds, injuries and tumors who had not been treated by a vet;
filthy conditions; and in some cases, operators who even shot and killed their
unwanted breeding dogs. Most of the puppy mills in the report are still
actively selling to pet stores across the country while others sell puppies
online without a federal license.
Meredith Lee/The HSUS
The good news is that we’ve been
calling on lawmakers to crack down on these kinds of puppy mills, and
increasingly, lawmakers are responding. This month alone, Vermont and West Virginia passed bills to protect dogs from irresponsible breeding. The West
Virginia measure was signed into law last week, and the Vermont bill is
awaiting the governor’s signature. And today, a
bill in North Carolina passed the House of
Representatives; it now moves on to the Senate. Bills are moving forward in
other states, too. These states join 24 others that have passed new laws to
crack down on puppy mills over the last five years; more than 30 states
altogether have some laws to regulate puppy mills.
this month, we learned a proposed rule that would help to regulate the hundreds
of puppy mills that sell over the Internet moved forward to the final stage of
the federal approval process. When finalized, the rule will require large-scale
puppy producers who sell online to be federally licensed and inspected.
this year’s Puppy Mill Action Week we also released a number of new features to
help you spread the word about puppy mills:
new phone application that helps pet lovers find nearby pet stores that do not
sell puppies. Text PUPPY to 30644 to find “puppy
friendly” stores that support their local shelters and do not sell puppies
(message & data rates apply).
also released a new video
that explains puppy mills and asks consumers
to do their part by pledging not to buy a
puppy mill dog from a pet store or Internet site, and by always considering
adoption from a shelter or rescue group first.
Humane Society University webinar about stopping puppy mills was offered live
this week, and is now available online for
new comprehensive story, “Anatomy
of a Puppy Mill Raid,” gives readers an inside perspective on a
puppy mill raid from the rescuer’s point of view.
won’t relent until the puppy mills are shuttered and only humane and
responsible breeders remain. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to promote adoption of
dogs from shelters and rescues as the first option – so that people can not
only get a great companion, but also save a life.
I am in Nashville today for the official opening of Animal Care Expo,
which will host 2,000 people from all across the country and from 40 nations.
It’s the animal welfare movement’s leading training, education and inspiration
conference, and I am so pleased that The HSUS brings so many people together to
learn about best practices, innovations in our field, and new strategies for
helping dogs, cats, horses and other animals.
It’s very timely that we’ve assembled in Tennessee, since Governor
Bill Haslam will be deciding in the next few days on whether he will sign
or veto an “ag-gag”
law that just narrowly made it through the state
legislature. Yesterday, he announced that he’s waiting to see the analysis
of the constitutionality of the proposed law by state Attorney General Robert
Cooper, Jr. This is an overbroad, overreaching measure, and there’s no reason
for it to be enacted, and every reason it deserves a veto.
Ag-gag bills are part of a national effort by agribusiness
groups to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible to expose inhumane and
often illegal behavior at animal-use enterprises. But here in Tennessee,
the only major
investigation undertaken by The HSUS was an exposure of a corrupt,
suspended Hall of Fame Tennessee walking horse trainer. His abusive,
barbaric behavior, and that of his stable hands, was widely condemned and
resulted in numerous criminal convictions. No sensible person has excused
what he did.
So the effort to pass an ag-gag law strikes a particularly
false note here in The Volunteer State, since that HSUS investigation provided
such an important public service by exposing an abusive trainer in the walking
It’s also triggered a national effort to bolster the federal
Horse Protection Act. The Prevent
All Soring Tactics Act, HR 1518, would strengthen the federal law against
soring and make it a crime to use stacks and chains on the feet of competition
walking horses and horses of other related breeds that have been victims of
We’ll be hosting a press conference tomorrow at the Opryland
Hotel to announce the outcome of an analysis of last year’s federal inspections
of show horses. The results are deeply distressing, and that’s why we not
only need the PAST Act, but also a new attitude within the industry to obey the
We’ll have an army of folks cheering on our efforts to treat
animals with more kindness and decency.
When private citizens keep wildlife as pets, especially
big cats and other large, powerful animals – it almost never turns out
well. It’s also a potentially deadly situation for the owner or other
people who must live or work around these animals. That’s why we’ve been
leading the charge nationwide to prohibit the private possession of dangerous
wild animals as pets.
This weekend, we helped
rescue almost a dozen captive wild animals that were abandoned on a rural
Kansas property. The Atchison County Sheriff’s Office seized a tiger, two
cougars, three bobcats, two lynx, a serval and two skunks. The owner
surrendered the animals and has been cited with 10 offenses, including animal
cruelty and violations of the Dangerous Regulated Animals Act.
The HSUS’ director of animal cruelty response for our
Animal Rescue Team, Adam Parascandola, was on the ground at the rescue and
reported back on his experience:
We were originally contacted by the Atchison County
Sheriff’s Office, which had been calling around for help after the undersheriff
discovered the animals had been left without food and clean drinking water, and
several animals, including a serval, were dead on the property. The Kansas City
Zoo graciously agreed to provide an emergency food supply and The HSUS rushed
additional food to the sheriff. The Sheriff’s Office went above and beyond the
call of duty in feeding and caring for the animals while we located permanent
placement for them and arranged transport.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS Big cats were left in their cages without food or water.
When we first pulled up to the property we could see a long
row of chain link pens up on a hill.
Anyone driving by would probably assume
these pens contained dogs, so it was hard to believe that they actually held an
assortment of large cats. I noticed immediately when I approached the
enclosures that they were made of the same flimsy type of chain link I have
often seen dogs escape from, and the only thing securing the doors of the pens
were small, thin chains. When the tiger jumped on the wall of his cage, the
whole side would bow out. This was truly a looming disaster, until the Atchison
County Sheriff’s Office intervened. The conditions inside the pens were even
worse; the cats were living in mud and filth. They shook their paws in an
effort to remove the mud that caked their feet. Some of the shelters were much
too small for the cats and they lacked any real source of enrichment or the
ability to claw, climb, or exhibit other natural behaviors. One bobcat huddled
in his house the whole time, and the serval hid under a plastic dome.
Thankfully we had a great team of responders, including the
Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association’s own Dr. Roberto Aguilar, DVM,
medical director of our animal care centers. Dr. Aguilar has many years of
experience treating wild and exotic animals. He jumped right in with a veterinarian
from the Kansas City Zoo, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and
Aquariums, and a veterinarian from Big Cat Rescue, which is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. The cats were sedated,
examined, had blood drawn to assess their health, were vaccinated and had
microchips inserted for identification. The HSUS staff then assisted in
transferring the cats and skunks into transport trucks to begin their journey
to a better life. Dr. Aguilar rode along with the cougars and tiger on the trip
to Texas to monitor them along the way.
Responding to any situation where animals are suffering is
heartbreaking, but to see these majestic large cats, who do not belong as pets,
living in such filth and frustration was especially painful. To know these
animals will now have the care and enrichment they deserve makes this one of
the most thrilling and uplifting rescues I have participated in.
This rescue is also a reminder that states must take a
strong stand on the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets. Alabama, Nevada,
North Carolina, South Carolina, West
Virginia, and Wisconsin are the
only remaining states that have no rules on keeping dangerous animals. Many
other states, including Kansas, have loopholes that allow private citizens to
keep dangerous wild animals for a variety of purposes. We need your help to
ensure that wild animals are kept out of the hands of people who do not have
the experience, knowledge, or resources to provide proper, humane, long-term
We are grateful that the Atchison County Sheriff’s Office
took decisive action in this case and for the expertise and assistance from the
organizations that helped rescue these animals.