The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection advocates for an end to extreme confinement of farm animals in Massachusetts
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and other national and local animal welfare leaders have gathered on the front steps of the Massachusetts State House to formally announce their newly developed coalition, Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, and ballot initiative to curb animal abuse on industrial-style factory farms in Massachusetts.
The coalition aims to collect more than 90,000 signatures by Fall 2015 to help secure a spot on the 2016 ballot.
Mary Nee, president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, explains why the ARL is in support of this ballot initiative: “The cruel confinement of farm animals is inhumane and also threatens the health and safety of Massachusetts residents through increased risk of foodborne illness. When there’s an effort to improve the protection and treatment of animals – whether they are companion, working, or farm animals – the Animal Rescue League of Boston is there to help.”
The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection coalition also includes the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Zoo New England, and United Farm Workers.
In many industrial animal farms, hens are forced into battery cages so small that they cannot spread their wings. Their amount of “personal space” is smaller than an iPad!
The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection’s goal is to qualify a measure for the 2016 ballot phasing out the extreme confinement of farm animals — specificallyegg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves — in small crates and cages, requiring that these animals have enough room to turn around, lay down, and stretch their limbs.
Examples of extreme confinement on industrial-style factory farms include:
- Egg-laying hens packed into battery cages so small that they cannot spread their wings
- Breeding female pigs restricted to two-foot wide gestational crates that don’t allow them to take more than one step forward or backward
- Veal calves restrained in crates too narrow to turn around or fully recline
Industrial animal operations put our health at risk: cramming tens of thousands of animals into tiny cages promotes the spread of diseases.
Numerous studies show that egg operations that confine hens in cages have higher rates of Salmonella, the leading cause of food poisoning-related death in America. Animals kept in extreme confinement often live in their own waste and are pumped full of drugs that can taint the food we eat.
If the 2016 ballot becomes law, it will also ensure that shell eggs, and whole, uncooked cuts of pork and veal sold in the Commonwealth are compliant with these modest standards
Ten states in the US have passed similar laws, and farmers in Massachusetts are already required to abide by the non-confinement regulations. Additionally, many local and major food retailers, including Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s and Walmart, are currently working with food suppliers to make similar reforms.
Help protect farm animals! Look out for and sign the petition that will help secure the 2016 ballot to phase out extreme confinement on industrial-style factory farms.
If you see signs of blood sports, you say something – how you can help animals
As part of our “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” public awareness campaign this month, we are focusing on the topic of “blood sports.”
A dog who is a victim of the illegal blood sports known as “dog fighting” and “street fighting” suffers just as much on the inside as he does on the outside.
We sat down with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare, to learn more about the effects of blood sports on the animals involved.
Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare, hosted a talk in January on dog fighting by the ASPCA’s Terry Mills in conjunction with the New England Federation of Humane Societies
ARL Blog: What are some common physically identifying signs of a fighting dog?
Dr. Smith: Fighting dogs end up bearing many scars, usually clustered around the face, neck, front legs and chest. Dogs can also suffer much more severe injuries such as broken bones and disfigurement of their ears, snouts, etc.
The scars that are visible on the outside of a fighting dog are only the tip of the iceberg in what the dog has suffered.
ARL Blog: What generally happens to the “winner” – or worse yet – the “loser” in a dog fight?
Dr S: Dogs who “win” will fight again and again, earning higher stakes with each victory.
Dogs who “lose” have a much sadder fate. They have been discovered on the side of the road, floating in the harbor, and in the garbage. They can die shortly after the fight from trauma, but more commonly they die from a lack of appropriate veterinary attention to their wounds.
Ultimately, all dogs become the “loser” and thus find themselves abused multiple times: by inhumane housing and emotional neglect, by the fights themselves, by the life threatening infections they develop, and by the cruel deaths they suffer at the hands of their owners.
ARL Blog: What are some other “blood sports” that people should be aware of and what are the physical effects on the animals involved?
Dr S: Cockfighting (two roosters) and finch fighting (perching birds) are common in Massachusetts.
During Cockfighting between two gamecocks, owners will inject a toxic form of pesticide to increase their endurance and often attach knives to the bird’s legs. Every fight ends in serious injury or death, often for both of the birds involved.
Finch fighting between two male and one female bird has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. During finch fighting the owner will attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure maximum injury to the female finch which ultimately results in their demise.
Learn more about signs of dog-related blood sports
We ALL have a role to play in prevention. Report suspicions of animal cruelty. If you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.Learn more about what you can do at arlboston.org/take-action.
Show your support for improving animal welfare in Massachusetts on Lobby Day
Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Lobby Day will take place on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the State House in Boston.
Turtle, a former bait dog rescued by the ARL, poses with ARL president Mary Nee and volunteer programs manager Deb Vogel at Humane Lobby Day 2014. The ARL will participate in Humane Lobby Day 2015 coming up on May 13.
Citizen animal advocates like you are invited to learn and practice lobbying for animal protection laws at the state level. This full-day event includes a lobbying workshop and an overview of relevant bills in the MA state legislature.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), alongside other local and national animal welfare organizations, will participate in Humane Lobby Day on Wednesday, May 13! This special day is a great way for us to meet with elected officials about legislation that will significantly impact animals.
Read the ARL’s current legislative agenda
The ARL will focus on informing legislators about how they can help increase awareness about important animal welfare, safety, and health issues among their constituents.
We hope to see you there! Follow the ARL on Twitter for photos and live updates from the event.
Your presence matters!
Visit the website for the Humane Society of the United States to get involved. May 8 is the last day to register!
Recognizing National Dog Fighting Awareness Day
The ASPCA designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting. As part of our continuing “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” campaign, we encourage animal-lovers to take action against all blood sports, an extremely brutal form of cruelty.
What are “blood sports”? Blood sports are defined as an illegal sport or contest involving the bloodshed of animals for the purpose of gambling or entertainment, and include:
- Dog fighting is a brutal sport or contest in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit/ring to fight one another for the purposes of entertainment and gambling. The fight ends when one dog can’t continue due to exhaustion, injury, or death. Each year in the US, an estimated 140,000 people and 250,000 dogs are involved in dog fighting despite the fact that it is prosecuted as a felony crime in all 50 states.
- Street fighting is an impromptu altercation between two dogs instigated by their respective owners or gangs in either a private location or common public gathering area, such as school yards, parks, or abandoned buildings. In some cases, the owner encourages their dog to attack a stray.
- Cockfighting is a sport in which two gamecocks (roosters), specifically bred for aggressiveness, are placed in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Owners often will inject doses of stimulant drugs, hormones, or vitamins to increase endurance and attach knives to the gamecocks’ legs.
- Finch fighting is a sport between two male and one female perched birds that has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. Owners typically attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure the female finch’s demise.
Our Law Enforcement team works with animal control officers to identify signs of blood sports. Here are 3 common warning signs:
Whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban neighborhood, animal “blood sports” happens in all types of areas across the country, including Massachusetts. The ARL’s Law Enforcement team, for example, continues to assist the Bridgewater, MA police department in an investigation involving two dogs who had sustained injuries consistent with involvement in blood sports.
Blood sports are a major concern for public safety as it’s often linked with gang activity and other serious crimes such as human assault, homicide, drug possession/distribution, and illegal gambling.
Based on the ARL Law Enforcement team’s experience, building an effective legal case against this type of crime is complicated, due to the multitude of individuals, groups, and gangs that can be involved. Fighting animals – especially dogs – are bred in Massachusetts and transported to other states to fight, making it very difficult to track the activity.
How can communities prevent blood sports from happening?
- Animal control officers and humane investigators focus on breaking up an animal fighting enterprise and immediately remove animals from the situation.
- You can help raise awareness and encourage intervention; both are critical to preventing this type of crime before it occurs!
We ALL have a role to play in prevention. Report suspicions of animal cruelty. If you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.
Learn more about what you can do at arlboston.org/take-action.
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Awareness Month
In support of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April, the ARL is kicking off its Spring “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” campaign.
Animal cruelty comes in many forms, including physical abuse, neglect of basic care, abandonment, dog fighting, and animal hoarding. Because many studies have demonstrated a strong link between cruelty to animals and other forms of domestic and community violence, prevention plays a critical role in improving the safety and welfare of both animals and people in Massachusetts.
Know your state’s animal cruelty laws
In 2014, the ARL’s Center for Animal Protection assisted in over 300 animal law enforcement cases. Unfortunately, this is a small number when you consider the startling statistic that 4 out of 5 animal cruelty cases go unreported.
We all have a role to play in prevention. Be aware and get to know the animals in your neighborhood. If you suspect animal cruelty, call your local authorities right away. Help raise awareness and educate others about this issue.
Learn the 7 most common warning signs of animal cruelty and take action!
While most of us recognize that punching, kicking, burning, choking, or hitting an animal with an object are acts of animal cruelty, there are also several more subtle warning signs of animal cruelty to watch for that could indicate mistreatment, neglect, or abuse:
- Howling or barking for a sustained period of time or hearing an animal cry in pain with higher pitched, more persistent vocal sounds than usual.
- Singed, matted, chronically or excessively dirty hair or fur.
- Wounds, unusual scars, hair loss, frequent limping often on different legs, or signs of improper nutrition such as weight loss or prominent visible ribs.
- Animals kept caged or tied with little room to move for long periods of time or without regular interaction with people
- Lack of protection from the weather or fece- or debris-strewn living areas for animals.
- Collars, leashes, or halters so tight they visibly dig into the animal’s face or neck.
- A large number of animals coming or going from a property.
If you know of or suspect animal cruelty, report concerns to your local authorities. Learn more about how you can prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action
Report suspicions of animal cruelty. If you see something, say something.
Special thanks to lawmakers for passage of Senate Bill 1172
Today, the ARL will join together with other animal welfare organizations, state legislators, and disaster protection agencies on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to celebrate the signing of Senate Bill 1172, “An act ensuring the safety of people with pets in disasters.”
Signed into law in March, the bill requires cities and towns to have a plan in place to address the evacuation and sheltering needs of household pets and service animals before, during, and after an emergency or natural disaster.
The ARL recommends having a sturdy backpack packed with pet feeding and care supplies ready to go in case of an emergency evacuation.
Mary Nee, president of the ARL, will speak at the event, and staff will distribute ARL pet emergency backpacks to legislators.
While having disaster plans in place for people and animals at the municipal level represents a major step forward in Statewide disaster preparedness, individual pet owners should to develop a plan to shelter and care for their animals in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Along with a crate or carrier to transport a pet, the ARL suggests getting a pet emergency backpack ready to go in case of an emergency evacuation. For a list of supplies to include in a pet emergency bag, visit arlboston.org/packing-list.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency also recommends:
- Getting a sturdy and comfy crate or carrier to transport your pet
- Finding a shelter alternative that works for both you and your pet
- Having a picture of you and your pet together in case you get separated during an emergency
Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram for pictures from today’s event!
SPECIAL THANKS to Senator Karen Spilka (D – 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk Districts) for sponsoring Senate Bill 1172 and to all the legislators in the Massachusetts House and Senate for supporting its passage.
Today, the last day of April, concludes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
ARL president, Mary Nee
Bringing greater attention to the issue is, of course, central to what the ARL does all year long, yet if you asked me why should we bring greater attention to the issue of animal cruelty, I’d say the reasons go well beyond the mission of our organization.
Reason #1: Animal cruelty is a big problem.
In 2013, the ARL assisted in the investigation of 567 cases of animal cruelty—that’s more than one case a day and we’re just one of many organizations and law enforcement agencies in the state legally pursuing animal welfare issues.
When you consider that at least 80% of animal cruelty remains undiscovered, the magnitude of the problem truly sinks in.
Reason #2: Animal cruelty can indicate other illegal activity, domestic abuse, and mental illness.
Animal cruelty can take many forms. The intentions behind deliberately inflicting injuries or failing to provide minimum care and nutrition can vary.
Sometimes an animal is physically abused or denied basic care for sport or other financial gain, as in the case of staged dog fighting. Other times, an animal is intentionally harmed to physically or emotionally intimidate a partner or family member. In still others, a hoarding compulsion quickly overwhelms an owner’s ability to provide basic care and nutrition to the animals living in the home or on the property.
In each situation, however, the safety and well-being of animals, people, and our communities are all potentially at risk.
Startling statistics remind us of the strong connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violence and criminal behavior. In a Massachusetts study, for example, 70% of animal abusers had criminal records including crimes involving violence, property, drugs, or disorderly behavior (Arluke & Luke, 1997).
Reason #3: What we do to address animal cruelty reflects our tolerance for other forms of family and community violence.
Heightened awareness of how animals are cared for and treated not only helps reduce the number of tragic cases of animal suffering, but also moves us closer to a more just and humane society where both people and animals are valued.
Whether it’s violence against an animal, child, or an adult, we should all do something to stop it from happening.
Reporting suspicions of animal cruelty to local authorities plays a critical role in prevention. As we have talked about all this month, if when you see something, please say something and call your local police.
You will make a tremendous difference in the lives of people and animals.
- Mary Nee, President of the Animal Rescue League of Boston
Test your knowledge of animal cruelty issues by taking the ARL’s Animal Cruelty Quiz and learn more about what you can do to prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action
Pet Photos with the Easter Bunny!
FIVER is one of the bunnies who’ll be at the event. His adoption fee has been waived thanks to a generous sponsor.
Please join Boston Veterinary Care for a special Easter event celebrating their dedicated clients and welcoming new faces.
Bring the whole family (pets too) today, Saturday, April 12 from noon-3pm for photos with the Easter Bunny, refreshments, and Easter egg hunt and YES live, adoptable bunnies from the ARL!
Learn more at bostonvetcare.com
Special thank you to the Berkeley Perk Cafe for donating refreshments for the event!
Fall Issue of Our Four-Footed Friends Available Online Now
The latest issue of our magazine, Our Four-Footed Friends is now available online.
- Message from the President
- Going Above and Beyond: Michelle Gelnaw, Board of Overseers
- 10 Minutes with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore
- Hope for Food Aggressive Dogs
- A Season for Rescue
- Puppy Doe: Stunning Cruelty that Shocked us All
- Any many more
Read the electronic version of Our Four-Footed Friends and find out how your donations are helping animals in need. issuu.com/arlboston/docs/offf-webfriendly
How We Give A Voice to the Victims of Animal Cruelty
Ollie, one of the original Middleboro Puppies who has already been adopted! (Photo: Amelia Hughes)
The public and media attention to the recent cases of Puppy Doe, Kitty, and the Middleboro puppies has shined a light on the issue of animal cruelty, and many are calling for tougher laws.
We wholeheartedly endorse legislation that helps to protect animals in Massachusetts to the level that they deserve. Heightened awareness of penalties not only helps reduce the number of tragic cases of animal suffering, but also moves us closer to a more just and humane society where both people and animals are valued.
The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys released a strong statement of principles regarding the prosecution of animal cruelty crimes which we applaud.
Now some of our readers might be thinking, that’s all well and good, but what exactly does the ARL do about it?
First, we can tell you that we meet with elected officials and legislators at the local and state level to help them understand and craft animal welfare policies and laws. Members of our staff attend and testify at public hearings as different legislative committees and state agencies review practices, policies, and laws.
We also actively collaborate with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in pursuit of legislation that advances animal welfare and protection.
To further influence positive change for animals in our state, we also work with organizations and agencies such as Massachusetts Animal Coalition, the Department of Agriculture, and the Animal Control Officers of Massachusetts on a variety of animal welfare issues.
Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore
By way of specifics on our legislative and policy work…..
- The ARL’s Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore serves as the chair elect of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. This committee makes policy recommendations for issues related to animals on a national level and influences national animal welfare law and practices by working closely with federal agencies such as the USDA, APHIS, and others.
- We have prepared a friend of the court brief in conjunction with Animal Legal Defense Fund for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court Massachusetts, in support of granting police the ability to enter a property without a search warrant if they believe any animals are in immediate danger. A hearing will be held at the SJC on December 3rd.
- The ARL also participated in the development and passage of the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Act (HAPCA), the tax check off that will help to provide training to Animal Control Officers in Massachusetts to advance the level of humane care of animals. The HAPCA also supports the spaying and neutering of homeless animals and animals owned people of limited economic means in the state.
Learn more by visiting arlboston.org/take-action