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December 17, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: 2008... a winning year for animals

Ohlone Humane Society: 2008... a winning year for animals

By Nancy Lyon

While many of us were losing big time in the financial crash of 2008, the year became a winner for many animals and the human spirit. In 2008, 91 new animal protection laws were enacted across the country surpassing the previous year's record breaking 86 new laws.

California, the passage of Prop 2, the Farm Animal Cruelty Prevention Act, will ban cruel close confinement of veal (baby cow) crates, imprisoning gestation stalls for pregnant pigs, and the use of battery cages where chickens are callously stuffed into cages where they were unable to spread their wings...a lifetime of cruel confinement.

Even though huge amounts of cash poured into fighting Prop 2 by the factory farmer corporations in an effort to stop passage of the bill - they still failed.

Animal welfare advocates held their breath and hoped that the vast majority of California people would live up to their fabled image as independent thinkers with both intellect and compassion...and they didn't let the animals down. They didn't buy the lies and fear tactics of Big Money and passed Prop 2 with a resounding 63% of the vote. While intensive farmers have been given until 2015 to change their method of operation, animals will still be subjected to these cruelties so consider that when you make your food choices.

Other significant animal protection legislation was passed across the country in 2008 -

Louisiana, has a staggering number of Puppy mills that are breeding facilities where dogs are treated like cash crops and house hundreds of dogs in horrific conditions. Louisiana legislators passed precedent-setting legislation that placed an actual limit on the number of dogs kept by breeders, in order to prevent the operation of factory farm type breeding facilities. Breeding operations are now limited to no more than 75 adult dog. This was a significant victory against this industry of shame and a step forward in regulating an industry where the USDA, whose responsibility it is to monitor animal welfare, rarely fulfills its directive.

Citizen activists can help stop the puppy mill trade entirely by choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group.

Colorado with the cooperation of the state animal agriculture industry and law makers became the first state to ban both veal crates and gestation crates.

Delaware became the 4th state in the country that will require the labeling of garments containing animal fur. Many garments labeled as faux or false fur from China were tested by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and proved to be real fur from raccoon dogs and other animals. A horrifying discovery to many who were duped into thinking it was false fur - the lesson being that the wearing of any fur, real or false, sends a message that fur is fun when in truth it is promoting extreme cruelty in the name of "fashion."

Georgia, the state of Michael Vick and his infamous dog fighting activities and ranked as having the worst dog fighting protections in the country, became one of the states with the toughest dog fighting laws. Legislators passed a law which increases the penalties for dog fighting, bans the possession of fighting dogs, and makes it a crime to be a spectator at a dogfight. Welcome to the world of animal protection Georgia!

Idaho signed a bill and became the 49th state to make dog fighting a felony.

Massachusetts, voters approved a bill to phase out the greyhound racing industry. At these tracks, thousands of greyhounds are forced to compete every year and endure lives of terrible confinement, kept in small cages barely large enough to stand up or turn around for 20 or more hours per day.

According to HSUS, since 2002, there have been 841 "reported" injuries at the two Massachusetts tracks, and 80 percent of those injuries were broken legs. They expect that this sweeping victory will speed up the demise of this industry, and will also send a message to other states that dogs deserve better.

Pennsylvania has been notoriously known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of the East," In April, coverage on national television highlighted the horrific conditions at Pennsylvania puppy mills with undercover footage taken at a facility in Lancaster, Penn. But with efforts spearheaded by Governor Ed Rendell, the state legislature passed a law that will significantly improve the lives of thousands of dogs in Pennsylvania, and took a strong stance against this abusive industry.

Utah became the 44th state with felony-level animal cruelty penalties after much pressure from the animal protectionists. They passed into law legislation making the torture of a dog or cat a felony on the first offense. A HSUS psychologist pointed out to them that "Perpetrators of human violence often use beloved family pets as yet another means of intimidation and control, and research shows that people who abuse animals are more likely to commit acts of human violence in the future".

Virginia is one of the nation's hotbeds for illegal cockfighting. The Virginia Gamefowl Breeders Association tried hard to defeat this bill, but legislators saw through their ploys to continue their illegal activities. Virginia now has one of the nation's most effective laws to eradicate cockfighting and dog fighting. Virginia's anti-cockfighting law was rated as the second-worst in the nation-in fact; cockfighting was legal as long as the activity involved no gambling.

Virginia was thought to not be significantly involved in the puppy trade but investigators found that it is home to approximately 1,000 commercial breeders. Virginia addressed this serious problem by passing a law to limit the size of puppy mills by making it illegal to maintain more than 50 dogs over the age of one year.

Even though 2008 was an historical year for animal protection, not all attempts to end animal abuse and cruelty fared well.

Alaska had the opportunity to vote for a third time to ban the aerial killing of wolves. This inhumane and unsporting practice involves shooting wolves from the air or chasing them down to the point of exhaustion and landing to shoot them point blank. HSUS reports that the measure was defeated by a vote of 44 to 56 percent due to deceptive propaganda and an unlawful state-funded campaign.

In North Dakota, animal welfare supporters helped to gather signatures to place a measure on the ballot to halt the captive shooting of wildlife behind escape proof fences. Unfortunately the measure was not approved and the fight to end the cowardly practice of captive hunting continues.

All in all while there is still much to be done, 2008 has been a momentous year for the animals. People across the country came forward and voted a resounding NO to the abuse and cruelty of those who have no voice - and a YES to compassion.

Well done America!

Information source: The Humane Society of the United States

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