C Minus: Subpar Score for Obama Administration on Animal Welfare Issues

by Wayne Pacelle from his Humane Nation Blog

Obama’s Near Flunking Report Card for 2011

Campaign promises to be “animal friendly” have fallen way short of the mark

Executive Summary: The Obama administration had B-level scores for the first two years of the term, but earned only a C-minus from The Humane Society of the United States for its performance on animal welfare issues in 2011. The Obama administration had a wide range of opportunities to advance a constructive animal welfare agenda for the nation in 2011, but it was responsible for only a few noteworthy beneficial actions for animals. It stalled, weakened, or exhibited indifference to some overdue reforms, and it even took some highly adverse actions against animal protection.

There were valuable actions to ban the transport of horses on double-decker trucks, to advocate that Congress increase funding for enforcement of animal welfare laws, to crack down on soring abuses of Tennessee Walking horses, and to block the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies. The administration publicly committed to bringing Internet sellers of puppies under its authority, but there’s been no rule proposed yet.

A rule to ban the import of nine species of large constricting snakes for the pet trade has stalled, apparently as a result of pressure from the pet industry. The administration generally had a status quo approach on the management of wild horses and burros, subsidies to factory farms, lethal predator control by Wildlife Services, and the use of chimps in research—although a scientific report released in December on the value of chimps in laboratories has altered the trajectory on that issue for the better. In actions that could only be characterized as hostile, the administration pushed to de-list wolves from the list of federally protected species in the Northern Rockies and the Upper Great Lakes, worked with the slaughterhouse industry to nullify a California downed animal protection law, and tried to allow the killing of sea lions in the Northwest.

Full Report

With three years completed in his term, President Barack Obama is moving decidedly in the wrong direction on animal welfare issues, earning a grade of “C-minus” for 2011 according to a Report Card produced by The Humane Society of the United States. This performance is a downgrade from last year’s “B” and the President’s first-year score of “B-minus.”

Despite campaign promises that he’d be strong on humane issues, the President has failed to pull together a coherent animal welfare strategy or to deliver any kind of message to our community of 20,000 animal protection organizations and millions of animal-loving Americans throughout the country. His high-level appointees for the agencies that matter most to animal welfare—the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—have made positive moves on a few fronts, but more often they have left important policy matters incomplete or, worse, taken strongly adverse actions.

The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 did recommend significant increases in funding for USDA enforcement of key animal welfare laws, which set the stage for congressional approval of those increases in a tough budget year. Yet there were few completed regulatory actions of substance carried out by the administration in 2011, except perhaps for a USDA rule to close a loophole and ban the transport of horses in double-decker trailers on their way to slaughter plants. Even this rule took years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also made a positive preliminary finding on a petition from The HSUS and several other animal welfare and conservation groups to list all chimpanzees, including captive animals, as “endangered,” but the agency still must make a final decision on the petition and correct an unprecedented 1989 “split listing” for our closest living relative. That decision will have implications for the use of chimpanzees in the pet trade, in commercials and movies, and in biomedical research.

In contrast, the administration has taken a series of high-profile actions hostile to animal protection, including removing gray wolves from the list of protected species in the Northern Rockies and Western Great Lakes regions; actively joining the meatpacking industry’s argument in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California law banning the mistreatment of downed animals; and authorizing state wildlife officials to kill California sea lions in the Pacific Northwest—a position from which the administration withdrew only in response to litigation filed by The HSUS. The administration is currently considering whether to once again authorize lethal removals of sea lions based on a new application.

In November, President Obama signed an agriculture spending bill that cleared the way for horse slaughter plants to open on U.S. soil; as a U.S. senator, Obama cosponsored legislation to ban horse slaughter, but he’s made no definitive pronouncements on the issue as President. Horses are also being harmed by the policies of the Bureau of Land Management, which, while often saying the right things on wild horse and burro management and promising to ramp up the use of an HSUS-developed contraceptive vaccine, nonetheless rounded up more than 10,000 wild horses and burros in 2011. This depleted free-roaming populations and added to swelling populations of captive horses and burros whose care and management consumes nearly three-quarters of the program’s entire budget, putting it on a long-term trajectory of financial ruin.

The administration, after receiving more than 32,000 signatures on an HSUS- and ASPCA-backed petition on the White House website, has pledged to take action to bring Internet sellers of puppies under the regulatory authority of the USDA and to provide for inspections of these facilities. This is a long-awaited policy goal, since so many puppy mills are no longer selling to pet stores, but rather are placing dogs for sale on the Internet and escaping any oversight. Yet, three years into the President’s term, the agency has not released an actual proposed rule or timetable for action to accomplish this regulatory change. The USDA’s Office of Inspector General issued a report in May 2010 that condemned USDA’s inspections programs for large-scale dog breeders and recommended that all large-scale commercial dog breeders, including those that sell over the Internet, should fall under USDA’s regulatory authority. Animal protection advocates in Congress introduced S. 707 and H.R. 835, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, to achieve that reform and to provide for exercise requirements for dogs (these bills have nearly 230 cosponsors, with broad support from lawmakers in both parties), but bringing oversight to Internet sellers of puppies is something the agency already has authority to do without needing Congress to explicitly require it.

The humane community was heartened by a proposed rule from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in March 2010 to ban the import and interstate trade of nine species of large constrictor snakes presenting high or medium risk to natural resources. More than 1.1 million of these snakes have been captured in their native habitats in Asia, Africa, and South America and imported into the United States for sale as pets from 1977 to 2007. This trade causes injury or death to numerous snakes during collection or transport. Moreover, snakes have been illegally released in the wild here in the U.S. once their owners realized the animals can grow to 15 or 20 feet in length and weigh 250 pounds. The result is that thousands of Burmese pythons now inhabit Everglades National Park and other natural habitats in south Florida and prey on native species, including endangered species. More than a few kept as pets in private homes have killed children and even adults, one of the latest casualties a 2-year-old child in Florida.

Despite these compelling arguments and bipartisan congressional support for the rule-making, the Office of Management and Budget has stymied final action proposed by the DOI. A year and a half has passed since Salazar announced his proposal. The administration may propose listing just four of the nine species, which would address only 30 percent of the trade and allow the commerce in giant snakes to shift to the species exempted from the trade ban, all of which were determined by a U.S. Geological Survey report to present “high” or “medium risk.” This amounts to an unwarranted capitulation to the reptile industry, and specifically to snake dealers who recklessly peddle these animals at flea markets and over the Internet and have caused the very problem that has cost the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars to address.

Here’s a more detailed look at the administration’s record in some key areas of concern:

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Farm Animals, Wildlife, and Horses

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been entirely silent on the July 2011 accord reached by The HSUS and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to jointly seek federal legislation to phase out barren battery cages, to prohibit other inhumane practices at egg farms, and to set up a national egg labeling program to give consumers more information about housing practices. Egg producers throughout the nation support the legislation and view it as essential to their future survival, while a broad coalition of animal protection organizations considers it one of the biggest farm animal welfare advances ever achieved. Congressional lawmakers from both parties plan to introduce legislation consistent with the terms of the HSUS-UEP agreement this month. This is a perfect opportunity for the Obama administration to embrace a consensus-driven, solutions-oriented approach.

f the administration has been slow to embrace industry-backed farm animal welfare proposals that we consider constructive, it has been quick to endorse industry’s various efforts to undermine advances in reforming the sector. In a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, National Meat Association v. Harris, the federal government sided with the slaughter industry in its attempt to overturn a California state law to stop the mishandling of downer animals. The pork industry has for years claimed that downer pigs are simply “fatigued,” and that they will recover and stand on their own if given enough time. The reality is pigs go down because they live in terrible conditions on factory farms, they are weakened because of fast rates of growth and drugs to spur that growth, and they suffer in long-distance transport. The industry’s rationalization for continued mistreatment of downer animals is similar to what we heard from the cattle industry for years, as it blocked action to ban downer cows in the food supply until a series of crises made continued inaction untenable.

The administration’s decision to align with the meatpacking industry to overturn a state law, passed after an HSUS investigation at the Hallmark-Westland slaughter plant that resulted in the largest meat recall in American history, is surely one of the most hostile and sweeping actions taken against animal welfare in 2011. Ironically, the same Department of Justice has been pursuing a False Claims Act legal action with HSUS against the owners of the plant at the very same time it was working, in concert with the National Meat Association, to undermine the California law.

In the meantime, the USDA continues to dole out tens of millions of federal dollars to buy up surplus pork as a direct subsidy to the industry, even though producers have been experiencing record profits. The HSUS has encouraged USDA to tie any buy-ups to a commitment from the industry to an industry-wide phase out of gestation crates and the routine dosing of pigs with antibiotics for non-therapeutic reasons, but that request has been met with silence.

In another case of a pledge without any subsequent action, USDA announced its intention to approve a new rule to protect downed calves, after a separate HSUS investigation of a slaughter plant in Vermont—more than two years ago—documented fully conscious calves being severely abused and even skinned alive. But no final rule has yet been issued.

Unfortunately, USDA has also continued the use of lethal predator control methods by Wildlife Services, an agency program that kills wildlife as a subsidy for private ranchers and other special interests, and has failed to shift the focus of its resources to nonlethal alternatives that can be more effective. The HSUS requested that Wildlife Services eliminate the use of two highly toxic and indiscriminate poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, which kill hundreds of non-target wild and domestic animals every year, including family pets. These poisons are used to kill more than 13,000 animals a year, yet only 0.3 percent of the animals killed by Wildlife Services are killed by these toxicants, indicating how these poisons are of limited value to Wildlife Services’ program. It’s business as usual for Wildlife Services, as the agency has refused to stop using these dangerous and inhumane poisons.

On the positive side, USDA has stepped up enforcement of the Horse Protection Act that bans the practice of “soring” of Tennessee Walking Horses, hiring 15 new inspectors to address the criminal use of caustic chemicals and other substances to harm horses’ hooves and make it painful for the horses to step down in order to cause an artificially high-stepping gait in show competitions. The Department of Justice brought charges against three individuals for illegal soring, in one of the first serious enforcement actions we’ve seen against this industry’s scofflaws in years.

Significantly, too, the administration did request increased funding for enforcement of federal humane laws as part of the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012, and with 159 members of the House and Senate lining up in support, record funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act was secured.

U.S. Department of the Interior: Wolves, Chimps, Wild Horses, and More

The DOI’s delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Western Great Lakes, thereby paving the way for large-scale killing of wolves in six states, has been its highest-profile and most negative wildlife action for the year. This action by the administration opens the door for sport hunting and trapping seasons on wolves in these states, many of which have extremely hostile wolf management plans that call for dramatic reduction in numbers of wolves—undoing the very recovery that occurred under federal protection.

The agency has, however, made a positive preliminary finding to list all chimpanzees, including captive chimps in the U.S., as endangered, which could have an impact on the use of chimps in invasive research, in entertainment, and as exotic pets. It has also announced a work plan to address the backlog of Endangered Species Act listing determinations for 251 species over the next six years. Finally, it has fought efforts by the trophy hunting lobby to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada, consistent with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of polar bears as a threatened species.

The HSUS has been in close communications with DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about the wild horse and burro program, and in February Congress called attention to the program’s serious flaws during a floor debate on the FY 2011 budget. BLM has made a number of reforms in the program and has pledged to reduce annual round-ups to no more than 7,600 and to increase the annual number of contracepted horses to 2,000 during the next two years, which would at least be a start in the right direction.

Unfortunately, while the agency often says the right things about reforming its woefully inadequate wild horse management program, so far, it has failed to translate those words into action in the field. Sadly, FY 2011 was no exception as BLM removed more than 10,000 wild horses and burros from their homes. We hope next year that the agency will live up to its promises and finally put this broken program on a humane, effective, and sustainable track.

DOI has also failed the bison in Yellowstone National Park by relinquishing responsibility to the states when bison leave the park simply to find sufficient food sources in the winter. The agency has not seriously addressed habitat, population control, and ecosystem management options to ensure the survival of this culturally and historically significant animal species.

U.S Department of Commerce: Whales and Other Marine Animals

The U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated a few actions to benefit animals. For example, the agency announced the Pelly Certification (trade sanctions) against Iceland for commercial whaling in defiance of the International Whaling Commission’s ban, and it is helping Hawaiian false killer whales by issuing proposed rules to modify commercial fishing gear and impose fishery closures in substantial areas around Hawaii in order to reduce hooking-related deaths of this species.

But the majority of the agency’s decisions were harmful, especially to marine animals. The agency denied two petitions by The HSUS to protect the dwindling populations of porbeagle sharks (both of which HSUS has had to challenge in court), authorized states in the Pacific Northwest to kill up to 85 sea lions per year at Bonneville Dam for eating salmon in the Columbia River (though sea lions account for only a tiny fraction of salmon killed), and failed to issue regulations for the number of smooth dogfish sharks that can be caught (this is a growing fishery in the Atlantic, and regulations are needed to mitigate the harmful impact of their exemption by Congress from the fins-attached policy mandated in the 2010 Shark Conservation Act).

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Antibiotics in Livestock Feed and Animals in Laboratories

In reviewing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2011 actions, we were not pleased when the agency rejected a petition to ban non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock feed—a common industry practice to compensate for overcrowded, unsanitary, and highly stressful conditions on factory farms. Also, at the end of the year, the agency withdrew its longstanding proposals to remove approvals for two classes of antibiotics, penicillins and tetracyclines, for use in livestock feed. These actions are incredibly frustrating because it is estimated that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to livestock, primarily in order to promote growth, maintain forced production yields, and suppress the spread of disease that accompanies the extreme concentration of animals in factory farms.

Early in 2012, however, the agency made a positive step toward limiting the overuse of antibiotics by prohibiting some uses of cephalosporin antibiotics in food producing animals. We applaud the agency for this action and encourage FDA to take further urgently needed steps to address the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

n June 2010, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced plans to transfer 186 chimpanzees from a holding facility in New Mexico to a research facility in Texas, where they would be used for invasive research. The HSUS and Animal Protection of New Mexico raised a hue and cry, as did other groups, and the transfer was stopped. In response to a congressional inquiry, the NIH then asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine the question of whether chimpanzees are necessary for research. An IOM panel issued its report on Dec. 15, concluding that chimpanzees are largely unnecessary for research. In a positive move, NIH immediately agreed to halt funding of new chimpanzee studies and will not issue any new awards for research involving chimps until a process is in place to implement the IOM recommendations. Meanwhile, The HSUS is supporting legislation in Congress to phase out the use of these animals in invasive experiments and retire them to sanctuary, which would not only be much more humane but would save taxpayers $30 million annually.

For its part, FDA clarified that there is a policy within the agency not to request data from chimpanzee studies.

In addition, FDA approved a new procedure that avoids using animals for testing batches of Botox. We expect this action to reduce the use of animals in these tests by 95 percent for the popular anti-wrinkle treatment.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Factory Farm Pollution and Animal Testing Alternatives

There are some high and low points with EPA’s record on animal protection in 2011. In respect to water pollution, the agency made a positive step by re-establishing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), agricultural operations where large numbers of animals are intensively confined and fed for industrial production, as a national enforcement priority. This is important to protect human and ecosystem health by preventing animal waste from contaminating surface and ground waters, including harming wildlife, fish, and other aquatic species.

The agency has not, however, responded to a legal petition submitted by The HSUS and a coalition of environmental and public health organizations submitted in 2009 requesting the agency to list CAFOs as sources of air pollution under the Clean Air Act. The agency has also failed to respond to a petition submitted by The HSUS along with the Environmental Integrity Project and a coalition of environmental and public health organizations to list ammonia, a hazardous air pollutant often emitted from CAFOs, as a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

EPA also chose not to respond to a 2010 court-ordered remand of a 2008 exemption issued by the agency to CAFOs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act. In 2012, the agency should withdraw the 2008 rule and re-empower U.S. citizens to know what hazardous chemicals are entering their environment and their communities.

Next, EPA’s efforts to minimize duplicative animal testing in the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program were minimal and will only modestly impact the number of animals used. However, the agency has been working with the NIH on developing a series of rapid, inexpensive non-animal tests for chemical activity, some of which test for endocrine-related activities. In December, EPA released its plan for incorporating these tests into the screening program. Initially, the non-animal tests will be used to prioritize chemicals for further testing and the impact on animal use will be modest—for those chemicals that are of lowest priority, animals may not be tested upon. However, EPA’s eventual plan is to transition to a completely non-animal battery within five years, which would have a substantial impact on the number of animals used in the screening program.

Take Action Today

We are hopeful that the Obama administration will improve upon its record and address many important animal welfare policies in 2012. In fact, some are already in progress, such as the announcement that USDA will work to propose a rule to regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders that sell puppies over the Internet. Please take action today  to urge the White House to make good on its promises and to establish a stronger record on animal welfare.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation asks that you call the White House Comment Line 202-456-1111 and send a FAX 202-456-2461 asking the President to keep his campaign promise and issue an Executive order banning any possibility of horse slaughter in the U.S. and deem transport to slaughter across our borders to be illegal.  It is the very least that he can do!!!

39 comments on “C Minus: Subpar Score for Obama Administration on Animal Welfare Issues

  1. Have not read the whole article,but each time he begs me for $3 I write back and advise him that if he does not address BSL and this Horse debacle he must start packing because he will not see a 2nd term.
    More must write to him advises him this is the the status quo,let him see the animal lobby is big and united.He does not read this blog.

  2. Mr. Pacelle, it seems that your organization received over $97 million dollars in 2009 (and that was just in one year), and it seems that I haven’t seen very much publicity from HSUS to its members about the cruelty of the roundups.

    • Please read from Cindy McDonald, Taboo II; Looking into HSUS’s track record, it turns out there are three main bones of contention repeatedly fired at them over the years, the first being a subtle change in their mission statements in 1980 from an animal welfare organization to an animal rights organization.

      The second bone is accusations of misleading the public through deceptive advertising and fundraising ploys. Despite photos of adorable or tragic animals splashing the pages of their “Donate Now” campaigns, some point out their website has a buried disclaimer affirming it is a completely independent organization not affiliated in any manner with local animal shelters, humane societies or organizations.

      While millions poor into HSUS’s coffers based on the premise that donations are somehow contributing to real life animal welfare, on-the-ground shelters struggle to get by on shoestring budgets. According to one source, “HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.” (4)

      The third bone of contention and perhaps the biggest, is the manner in which they juggle their mega-monetary funding. One of the big concerns is, no single board provides consolidated oversight of the “Humane Nation” empire, thus potentially allowing the networks under their control to hide and misrepresent where and how funds are distributed.

      In an incident involving a court case where a Canadian organization transferred over $1 million dollars to HSUS, claiming it was for fundraising expenses, HSUS was unable to provide the required documentation to prove it. In 1997, a Canadian judge ordered HSUS to give the money back and blasted them by stating, “I cannot imagine a more glaring conflict of interest or a more egregious breach of fiduciary duty. It demonstrates an overwhelming arrogance of a type seldom seen.” (5)

  3. I do not think Obama has any commitment to keeping promises nor does he have the guts required to issue an executive order. I have called and written and I will not be voting for him again. Likes to compare himself to Lincoln but lacks Lincoln’s moral fortitude and desire to do what is right. Good thing Obama was not the president during the Dakota uprising he would have signed the execution order for all the native Americans to be hung that day after Xmas. I wish we could have a president who stood on principles and did what is right because it is right. Justice appears to be on a long holiday in the US. How sad. The innocent always end up being the victims of the injustice. How can these people sleep at night knowing they allow so many to suffer so much simply because they are unable to fight back. We must fight for those who cannot fight for themselves because justice demands it.

  4. I totally agree, Faith. It’s very discouraging that there is no candidate on the horizon willing to work toward a sane and moral policy for treating animals, plants, air, water, or oceans. Martin Luther King said brilliantly that the color of his skin was less important than the content of his character. All that Obama shares with MLK is skin color. His character is sorely lacking in content. I too will not vote for him again.

  5. I will say it again, while I am greatly disappointed in Obama, as a lame duck President he may make the ethical changes and right his moral compass.

    I didn’t vote for him or McCain last time. But I am also a realist.

    Justice is a tough nut to crack; which one is Faith talking about? Is it the current legal system that is fraught with human interpretation, poor enforcement and codes and influence; or is it the one decent humans feel in their hearts and heads?

    Just never give up. The battle between good and evil has been going on since Cain and Abel.

  6. America’s horses are a priority and the ungodly oppression which has escalated, directed and allowed during this administration is inexcusable and despicable!

    We have been ignored, lied to and shown behavior that would not be acceptable in a Speilberg film.

    Unnecessary loss of life and unbelievable inhumane treatment of animals that are protected by our country’s Law. Separated from their families, terrorized, injured and then trucked off and hidden from our scrutiny! or just trucked off ….

    There has been no care portrayed or regulated in their removals… there is no doubt any care offered in their imprisonment.

    These are not actions of integrity! These are not actions of hope and transparency or abidance of the law. These are not actions of morality, intelligence or civilization.

    He received a D- from me. He will not pull the wool over my eyes again!

    He has shown us his makeup.

    • Jill–Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get Pres. Obama out to a stampede of the wild horses. From out here, it seems obvious. From inside Washington, they are fed BS by the BLM and we are dismissed as “fanatics”. I can see in every letter in reply I get from my Republican Rep. and Sens. that they are parroting what the BLM and Salazar have fed to them. Salazar was a Bush appointment who was kept over who should have been dismissed and replaced with a real Sec. of the Interior who is not putting private interests before the welfare of our wild lands and animals which is what was happening under Pres. Bush.

      It is also obvious that those in charge of the BLM and the horses have no understanding of wild horse bands, care nothing of breaking up families in herds and disrupting an established social order. They do not understand horses, period. But let us not forget that before social media was readily available to put the issue front and center for people, these things were going on under Sec. Salazar in the Bush administration. Consider how many years Laura Leigh and others have been documenting the treatment of wild horses and burros. I think we all had much greater hopes with a Democrat in the White House that there would be more compassionate legislation and treatment of the species under the protection of the federal government than has transpired. Weren’t we all appalled when wolves were de-listed as an endangered species when the populations were not fully recovered?

      When there are wars in progress, economic unsoundness that is worldwide, deficits, and a hostile Republican Congress (which is decidedly NOT animal friendly), while we see these as priority issues, the President logically, cannot put “side issues” ahead of the ones that affect the entire nation–I get that.

      I do not hold the President blameless as he has gotten thousands of letters from American citizens, and direct links to posts, videos, etc., though I know an aide or advisor will watch them and report back, we cannot give up and must continue to sound the alarm with respect to the wild horses, endangering National Parks and the wildlife they harbor with proposals for destructive mining, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and to end the slaughter of horses in our nation.

      When it comes to our wild horses and the welfare of horses in general, the part that aggravates me is that in five minutes the Pres. could sit down with Sec. Salazar and direct a moratorium on the stampedes until real and complete assessments of the wild horse populations are completed and at the same time direct that the spirit and intent of the 1971 designation of the lands our wild horses occupy be upheld–that is, that cattle grazing leases be revoked to give the horses more land if it is truly needed. There is a larger herd of wild horses being held in Kansas (about 2,000) on far fewer acres of prairie land than any of the remaining wild herds have on which to roam.

      The other thing we have to recognize is that our legislators rarely read legislation themselves. It’s why they can employ up to 14 aides (for a Senator) at up to $150,000 each and House members get up to 7 aides at $50,000 a year each (this in materials sent to me by Kansas Sen. Pat Robers), who do the research for them and provide reports. The lobbyists have their ear, and there are many more corporate lobbyists than those speaking for the animals.While I know my letters fall on deaf ears with my Rep. representation in Congress, I continue to write to them and counter their replies. Kansas Republican House and Senate members will not vote for the Equine Protection Act because of “implications it would have for other livestock,” i.e., food animals, failing to recognize the obvious–that horses are NOT a food animal in the U.S. just as dogs and cats are not food animals.

      They have been fed enough BS that they support what the BLM is doing to the wild horse herds without even thinking about how this conflicts with their loudly touted claims to want to cut the budget. The cost to maintain a horse in captivity is many times that of one in its natural habitat and with more wild horses in captivity than in the wild, obviously Congress hasn’t done the math on the budget implications of this imbalance.

      Our BEST hope for change with respect to the wild horses and the Equine Protection Act are before the 2012 election and then to hope a Republican doesn’t return to the White House as those who have the power in the party are decidedly NOT animal friendly nor are they interested in protecting our natural wild lands or our National Parks from energy interests.

      • First, rethink or correct your first sentence in your post.

        Secondly….you want my attention? Find a way to shorten the length of your post with precise points and here and there, footnotes or reference..

  7. Sure, don’t vote for Obama in 2012 because our horses would be so much better off with a Republican president, right? Wake up! Place your blame at the feet of Sue Wallis and company and the other Rs that slipped in the over turn of the slaughter ban like thieves in the night. The only hope we have to save our horses is that Obama remains in office. I too am very disappointed in the auto sign of the bill but again, we have zero chance to stop slaughter if a greed driven Republican gets elected. Zero chance!

    • Wallis isn’t the problem. The orgs and big money that support her are. She couldn’t think her way out of a corner.

      As to Obama v.Romney(probably)….this is a strategic and tactical battle. Both are on going.

      We can shame Obama into the right policies. And remember, if he gets them….Congress will maneuver to nullify the effort…just like they did with the 1971 Act.

      Vigilant and proactive…always.

      • The President is a Democrat. The Secretary of Interior is a Democrat. The Speaker of the Senate is a Democrat. Let’s see. Senator Reid co-authored the Burns Amendment according to the interview that Senator Burns gave Steven Long. Secretary Salazar is a member of the five generations of ranching families that are to our wild horses and burros what the SS was to the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and members of the Jewish race in Germany, Holland, and Austria was during WWII. The President wants to be President of the New World Order, and if he needs to feed U. S. horse meat to the Chinese to get to his next job, he will do it.

        It would take a radical reversal for Obama to have a prayer of being re-elected in 2012. He won North Carolina in 2008, but I would be extremely surprised if he is even close this year. Just because the Democrats are having their convention in Charlotte. Southerner’s are great at offering someone a glass of iced tea while they mutter something about wishing the person would just go to rhymes with well. To young people he is a bigger disappointment than even John Edwards.

        He’d have to do something big to redeem himself.

    • Yes,there is no more if not less compassion towards animal issues coming from the candidates on the other side,so it’s an uphill battle cry either way. Most certainly, spending slashes and less government aid for the common people who are hurting (the poor,the disabled,the sick) should be the hint as to how animal welfare might be regarded when it comes to priorities. Pray for someone who cares for the voiceless,the innocent, the helpless.

    • It is not Republican nor Democrat,Find an Independant who is a DECENT HUMAN BEING and both these Moronic Parties will see a few splits in the votes then these Bastards panic .
      I nominate RT.
      Do not forget BSL.
      In Israel they have a Religious group that gets around 5-10% of the Vote and they control the outcome of most elections,seems like the US is having a similiar problem as they are trying to pick the least WORST Candidates.

  8. swh…I agree. I am having a hard time with the new format…it’s stark. However, I’m open to change and can deal with it. It is not warm and inviting. I defer to Mr Fitch. If I can handle dumped equines, dogs and cats or cruelty to animals, this (new format) becomes an interior design issue; not a content issue.

  9. Though most of the comments here are regarding Obama, remember, the report card was issued from the HSUS—this huge “animal welfare organization”, wealthy beyond words, is inextricably tied to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro destruction program through its holding of the INAD certificate for PZP usage. (INAD is the exclusive right to determine when and where horses (investigative new animal drug) is used, and was facilitated by a 1.7 million dollar grant from the Annenberg Foundation in 2006) You will notice, HSUS says NOTHING about the deaths, degradation and filth in holding facilities, stampedes in all sorts of extreme weather, separation of herd families, hot shotting, hogtie practices, slamming into trailers and driving at wild speeds over rough roads, helicopter pilot hazing of exhausted horses and hitting with skids, obstruction of viewing by advocates—all the things we know and see happening. Mr Pacelle has received dozens of letters from me regarding the Humane Society’s failure to SIMPLY EXPOSE these photos and videos to his huge membership listserve. I attended his book tour presentation and asked for the same exposure and questioned the blanket of secrecy. He has replied that “we can’t overwhelm the members, we work on lots of issues” but the letter from Holly Hazard I received last summer is much more honest and illuminating. To wit

    “-The BLM has in fact, changed significantly from the organization it was three years ago. It is not perfect. It is not what we wish it to be and it is not good enough. But your rhetoric about the BLM failing to try to change is simply wrong. It is a long, difficult process to change an organizational culture. And it cannot come from the outside, or even Washington DC. Due to the efforts of HSUS and others, the BLM began two years ago requiring that for any gather, any mare turned back on the range must be treated with birth control to begin to slow (and hopefully one day stop) helicopter gathers. The HSUS has been to several gather sites in the past two years and has plans to attend several more in the next few months. While it might feel good to attend these gathers, find fault, and then publicly attack the BLM on its failings, we have found this helps feed anger and self-righteousness of humans but it really does little to nothing to help the horses. Over and over we have found that by quietly talking to field officials and BLM managers, with the threat that if they do not correct a cruelty or oversight we will notify our members, that they have made significant progress in changing the culture of their employees and contractors.”

    My comment to Humane Society in regard to the current Calico gather was to remind them of this communication from Hazard and ask AGAIN—

    Was HSUS “attending this gather”? Most likely you were not. Were you “quietly talking to field officials and BLM managers, with the threat….” Obviously not. Mr Pacelle, I think your members would be appalled to discover this is happening on your watch, in contrast to all the feel good copy we get through our in boxes. YOU ARE DERELICT IN YOUR DUTY TO EQUINES, in spite of your book, touring, and rhetoric to the contrary

    When HSUS deigns to show up at a “gather”, they are treated to the kid glove treatment that only groups with constant access are afforded. As Stephanie Boyles, one of the wild horse policy employees told me on the phone 2 yrs ago—”…we speak with BLM almost daily”. With this kind of entree’ to the agency, they are supremely positioned to push harder on the issues to protect the WH&B—but they do not. They do not because they have a policy of appeasement and insider dealing, and they view the advocates work as quoted above—”While it might feel good to attend these gathers, find fault, and then publicly attack the BLM…..this helps feed anger and self-righteousness of humans but it realyy does little to nothing to help the horses” !!!!

    ( I wonder how Laura Leigh appears to be “self-righteous” to Humane Society?) Ironically, Hazard undermines her own assertion about exposure “not helping” as she goes on to detail the soft pedaled threat to expose BLM behavior being the pressure they bring to bear on the agency. If it doesn’t work, why do THEY use it?

    Advocates should know the founder’s mission for Humane Society was articulated thus—and, note the date!—-

    Robert Chenoweth, then chairman of the board, said at The HSUS’s first annual meeting in 1955, the humane movement “needed a national society that would stand, absolutely, on humane moral principles—an organization that would unequivocally, vigorously, adamantly oppose any and every kind of cruelty, no matter by whom committed and without concern for who might be offended or alienated.”

    I think this pretty well shows the corruption of principle that is going on with regard to the BLM and HSUS and why the member ship knows or sees none of it.

    • HSUS is certainly NOT my “burning bush” regarding animal welfare. In fact, I have a problem with their “report card”. But I will not spit in their eye….for now.

  10. The new look is great..I am very disappointed in Obama’s performance especially with our wild horses, burros and policies with our domestic horses. The issue of horse slaughter to my knowledge had a great many supporters both by Americans and their Legislators. The lies and untruths that keep circulating are very distrubing to me. I live in Illinois and we had a slaughterhouse here. It was disgustingly inhumane and caused sever damage to the environment. I would save the heartless b——— supporting this other than Slaughterhouse Sue have never had the opportunity to be present in and have never witnessed the slaughtering of horses which includes pregnant mares, foals and yearlings as they are sent to their death. They have never witnessed the horses as the trucks pull up and the horses are unloaded. The horses have no idea where or why they are there. It is not humane now and has never been humane. Our society has moved from a compassionate people to some in society where compansion means absolutely nothing. Those of us in Illinois need to group together and meet President Obama on one of his campaign stops with protest signs regarding the slaughter of our horses as well as the roundup of all our wild horses and burros. None of R candidates feel that this issue deserves any attention either. I will fight forever to end the slaughter of all equines in the United States and the transportation of any of our equines to foreign countries. I am terribly disappointed with some of the HSUS’s position on some animal rights. The poor hens, baby caves and the factory farms which continue to push to open or expand. Do we elect unethical people by accident or do Americans just not care? We had a family in our club who fell on hard times. One lost their job and both became ill, A neighbor called and reported them to one of the humane socieities who did anything but follow the law. They cared for their neighbors horses while they were away at shows and yet did not feel the compansion to give them help because of a feud. I can only say that I will keep up the fight for our horses and try to help anyone in my area if they need help. This is what it should be about and not who will benefit by the slaughter of our equine friends.

    • Thank you very much, Susan Rudnicki, for your informative post and very interesting link. I had not realized all of the problems with HSUS and especially with their involvement in wild equines problems. And thanks too to Denise for a realistic and useful post. I also agree with Gail. Factory farms are unquestionably evil. I have to believe that training Americans to abuse and kill animals so robotically, as happens to baby chicks, turkeys, calves, etc. has got to change if we are to retain our national right to consider ourselves minimally civilized and moral.

  11. HSUS supplies the PZP for the contraception-experimentation plan. They did issue a text of recommendations for BLM because people were reporting BLM for horse abuse and wondering why HSUS didn’t do anything. Well gee– what changed? Nothing.

    I think a C- is too high a score for Obama. He has failed the horses, he has failed the 70,000 citizens who wrote to him, he has failed to respond to calls and letters, he has failed to keep his campaign promise to ban horse slaughter,he has failed to speak on this issue. I think you know what grade I’d give him.

  12. Seems a lot of people have missed the irony of this – Wayne Pacelle of HSUS gives Obama a C-? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

    HSUS seems to rate a D- for lack of publicity to their membership on the cruelty of the wild horse roundups, and for not digging into their deep pockets to help with legal actions. Did they chip in 1 cent towards the upcoming inhumane treatment of the wild horses legal case with Judge McKibben?

    Mr. Pacelle, you talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

    • When they changed horses in mid stream and became an animal rights group and left animal welfare hanging, few people noticed a difference. We need to see HSUS for what it is; corporate animal rights and misrepresenting itself to the majority of its donors.

      We can do our own version of this, right? We are big enough and have made a dent with our presence over Anti-Slaughter and Saving Wild Horses!?

      If you were to see a time line of the past two years and see where and when HSUS came out with anything about these issues you might also see how inadequate they have been… There presence with BLM on PZP is a Monstrous Betrayal to a protected species!

      Somehow we must do without a clear and strong voice from a huge, monied organization that coud have made a difference!

  13. Mitt Romney and his wife are the only family running for President that I am aware of who have raised a family with animals as part of it. Governor Romney could have easily paid for a dog sitter and left Seamus at home, but the children must have wanted the dog to go on the trip. So Governor Romney put plexi-glass in the front of the crate. I really think we miss the critical point here. Most presidents wait until after they are elected to get the perfunctory First Dog.

    Mitt Romney doesn’t need money nor does he need what money can buy. He doesn’t need the trappings of wealth. I do not doubt that he has long nurtured the ambition to be President, and that he wants badly to be elected.

    Heck, his wife love horses. She owns horses, and while they are not wild horses—they are horses. When she came out of a coma after her initial bout with MS, she decided that the one thing she always wanted was a horse, so that was what she decided she wanted to focus her energies on. She has had additional health struggles in the mean time, but she is the first potential first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy to love horses and participate in equestrian sports.

    I do not think Obama could be shamed into anything, but I am certainly willing to listen to why you think he is capable of feeling shame. I fear if he is re-elected we will be on the edge of tyranny. His administration wants to control everything we do, and the only reason I think he is holding back is because he has to run for re-election.

    However, I will say this, after to learning more about the Public Lands Council, Charlie Stenholm, Sue Wallis, Cynthis Lummis, and other Wyoming luminaries who tell their followers to vote Republican, I understand much better why those of you who live in the Western states have serious reservations about anyone running as a Republican.

    In the South there are often not significant differences between blue dog Democrats and Republican moderates, so maybe that is why it has been a little difficult for me to understand how people are judged solely by the party they belong to.

  14. This one sentence pretty well sums it up, in more ways than one:

    …..trade and allow the commerce in giant snakes to shift to the species exempted from the trade ban, all of which were determined by a U.S. Geological Survey report to present “high” or “medium risk.” This amounts to an unwarranted capitulation to the REPTILE INDUSTRY, and specifically to snake dealers who recklessly peddle these animals at flea markets

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