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June 30, 2014

The HSUS: Driving Transformational Change for Animals Since 1954

The HSUS and its affiliates are the global leader in of animal care, through the work of our animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centersAnimal Rescue Teamwildlife response unitsveterinary division, international street dog defenders, and other hands-on programs. 

The HSUS and its affiliates are the nation's number-one provider of animal care. The HSUS

And while rescue and other direct-care programs are vital to helping animals in crisis, we cannot rescue our way out of so many problems for animals. We must prevent cruelty to millions caught up in factory farms, animal-testing labs, puppy mills, animal fighting rings, the wildlife trade, and so many other settings. These are the greatest crises that animals face worldwide. That's why The HSUS and its affiliate, Humane Society International (HSI), drive transformational change—bringing a wide set of tools to take on the biggest fights, confronting multi-billion dollar industries, and staying the course until reform is realized.

Click the areas of our work below to see how we're changing the world for animals. Then, please join us in the cause.

Stamping out animal cruelty and fighting»

In 1985, only four states had felony penalties for malicious cruelty, 15 states for dogfighting, and seven states for cockfighting (in fact, cockfighting was still legal in six states). The HSUS worked to reshape the legal landscape on animal cruelty and fighting to show a zero-tolerance policy for this conduct in our country. As a result of this strategically-focused effort, malicious cruelty is now a felony in all 50 states (South Dakota, the last remaining state, enacted its law in 2014), dogfighting in all 50, and cockfighting in 41 (we also helped to outlaw cockfighting in the six states where it was legal). We have shepherded legislation through the U.S. Congress to make animal fighting a federal felony and to ban the possession and training of fighting animals and the commerce in cockfighting weapons. And, in a measure enacted in 2014 with HSUS’s leadership, it is now a federal crime to attend or to bring a child to an animal fight—allowing us to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal fighting. We have assisted law enforcement in hundreds of cruelty and hoarding cases and dogfighting and cockfighting raids (including the second largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history), rescued tens of thousands of animals, and trained thousands of law enforcement officials in investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and fighting. We operate a tipline and offer rewards for people who bring animal abusers and fighters to justice. And we are taking our anti-animal fighting efforts to other parts of the world. HSI helped secure the first-ever dogfighting conviction in Costa Rica in 2014.

We also work to secure adequate funding for proper enforcement of laws and rules that protect animals.  Our efforts in the Congress over the past 16 years has helped to increase annual funding for the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by 25 percent—a cumulative total of more than $138 million in new dollars to the program, which ensures basic humane treatment at thousands of facilities with animals under their care.  We will continue our efforts to boost funding for the AWA and other animal welfare programs.

Confronting extreme confinement on factory farms»

The HSUS is driving the campaign to end the confinement of pigs in crates so small the animals can't turn around. We've helped pass nine state laws banning gestation crates, and we've moved more than 60 of the world's largest food companies—McDonald's, Costco, Oscar Mayer and dozens more—to announce plans to eliminate these crates from their supply chains. In 2014, multi-billion dollar meat companies Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, and Cargill urged their contractors to phase out the use of crates, and Canada enacted a national ban on gestation crates. After our 2006 ballot initiative in Arizona to ban veal crates, the industry saw the writing on the wall. It agreed to phase out confinement crates for calves by 2017. Today, approximately three-fourths of the industry has already converted to group housing, and we intend to hold the remaining operations accountable as the 2017 deadline approaches. The HSUS has helped pass bans on the use of veal crates in 8 states. We’ve also led the charge to reform America’s egg industry, resulting in significant progress toward better conditions. In 2008, The HSUS was the primary sponsor of California’s Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which passed by a landslide 63.5% vote, requiring that all California egg producers phase out their use of battery cages (and gestation and veal crates). California then passed a law in 2010, spearheaded by The HSUS, requiring that all shelled (whole) eggs sold statewide—regardless of where they’re produced—to be produced in compliance with Prop 2. Ohio, the nation’s second-largest egg-producing state, placed a moratorium on the construction of new battery cage facilities. Following discussions with The HSUS, leading food companies—including Burger King, Subway, Wolfgang Puck, Unilever (producer of Hellman’s Mayonnaise), Sodexo, and Bon Appétit Management Company—committed to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs. HSI successfully persuaded the majority of Indian states to declare that confining hens to battery cages violates the nation’s anti-cruelty legislation. India is the third largest producer of eggs in the world. And in 2014, we also stymied an effort in Congress, advanced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), that would have nullified state and local laws to protect farm animals.

Upending pet overpopulation and puppy mills»

We've worked, in cooperation with countless other organizations, to drive down euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats by 80 percent (from 15 million to fewer than 3 million when we launched our campaigns to popularize the practices of spay/neuter and pet adoption from shelters and rescues in the mid-1970s). Our current pet adoption public service campaign, with Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council, has generated more than $150 million in advertising to promote the adoption of dogs and cats from shelters and rescue groups. Our Pets for Life program represents an innovative way to turn around problems for companion animals through a targeted approach in underserved communities where animals are not spayed or neutered and not often taken to veterinarians because people don't have the resources. The program is now in 22 cities and counting.

In just a few years, The HSUS has successfully helped to strengthen or pass laws in nine of the top ten puppy mill states, and 35 states now have laws that regulate commercial dog breeders. The HSUS has also rescued more than 10,000 dogs from more than 50 different puppy mills across the U.S. and Canada since 2006. The combination of our aggressive messaging about puppy mills, effective pet adoption marketing, undercover investigations, and more stringent enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (the federal law overseeing puppy mill operators) has reduced the number of USDA-licensed commercial dog breeders by almost half, from 3,486 in 2009 to 2,205 in 2011. In 2013, The HSUS championed a new U.S. Department of Agriculture rule bringing 2,000 Internet dog sellers under federal regulation. We also exposed the American Kennel Club’s ties with the puppy mill industry on national television. The anti-puppy mill movement is also gaining momentum at the local level—with more than 50 cities, municipalities, and counties in recent years helping to drive the market toward shelters, rescue groups, and responsible breeders. The HSUS Puppy Friendly Pet Store initiative has signed up more than 2,200 stores in every state in the country and the District of Columbia.

Closing out the seal hunt trade and the fur trade»

The HSUS has campaigned to close markets for seal products to end the hunt for harp and hooded seals in Atlantic Canada. In 2009, the European Union joined the United States in banning the trade in commercial seal products. RussiaKazakhstan and Belarus followed suit in 2011, prohibiting trade in harp seal fur, the primary product of Canada's commercial seal slaughter. In 2013, Taiwan banned its trade in all products of commercial marine mammal hunts, including seal products.  In 2014, the World Trade Organization issued a final ruling upholding the EU ban on the import of seal pelts—a pivotal decision establishing that moral concerns related to animal welfare are a sufficient reason to restrict trade. Trade bans have caused prices for seal fur in Canada to crash, and most sealers have chosen not to participate in the seal hunt in recent years. More than 1.4 million seals have been spared the slaughter in the past five years alone. At the same time, our Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood has gained tremendous support. More than 6,500 businesses and 800,000 people have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal slaughter is stopped for good.

Our investigations have exposed the fraudulent sale of animal fur—sometimes fur from domestic dogs or raccoon dogs—mislabeled or advertised as "faux fur" and led to the passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act in Congress and enforcement actions against major retailers. We've worked with major department stores and designers—including JC Penney, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, and Overstock.com—to go fur-free, which has helped to drive down the sales and imports of animal fur in the U.S. by more than one-third in the last decade.
Moving away from animal research and testing»

Following our 2009 undercover investigation of the largest government lab using chimpanzees and numerous other efforts, we persuaded the National Institutes of Health in 2013 to agree to release the vast majority of government-owned chimpanzees from laboratories and to transfer them to accredited sanctuaries—and we worked to pass legislation in Congress to help finance the transfer and care of the animals. Our petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in a proposed action to list all chimpanzees—both wild and captive—as endangered. And Merck, a top pharmaceutical manufacturer, announced its plan to end the use of chimps in experiments.

At HSI’s urging, the European Union has not only banned the testing of cosmetics on animals, but the sale of any cosmetics tested on animals after March 2013, no matter where they originate. The ban also extends to the import of newly animal-tested products. India recently outlawed animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients throughout the country—the first in south Asia to do so. Vietnam announced a ban the cruel Draize rabbit eye test for cosmetics, Brazil has outlawed most cosmetics animal testing, and China is set to remove mandatory animal testing for domestically-produced cosmetics this year. The Humane Cosmetics Act, federal legislation that would end cosmetics testing on animals and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, has been introduced and is pending in the Congress. These are major gains in our campaign to end animal testing on a global basis.

Some recent and noteworthy successes include the creation of several new international non-animal test guidelines (e.g. for skin and eye irritation, endocrine) via our work at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The availability of these new methods resulted in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accepting them and issuing guidance on their use. The HSUS spearheads the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, influencing a fundamental move away from animal testing toward a completely different approach to chemical assessment based on biological mechanisms such as pathway-based approaches, with a recent focus on liver toxicity pathways.

Confronting wildlife abuses»

We've worked to ban or restrict captive hunts of mammals trapped in fenced pens in about half the states. We've led successful ballot initiatives, bills, and regulatory work to outlaw steel-jawed leghold traps and other cruel devices in about a dozen states, including California and Hawaii in 2013. We've outlawed bear baiting and the use of packs of dogs in bear and cougar hunting in a half dozen states, and spring hunting of bears in Colorado and Oregon. In 2013, California became the first state in the nation to pass a law to phase out the use of lead ammunition in sport hunting, which kills tens of millions of animals every year in the United States. Following a 2010 HSUS undercover investigation that exposed the cruel practice of bear “baying,” South Carolina became the last state in the nation to bring an end to the blood sport. We blocked the opening of mourning dove hunting in Michigan. We're working to make poaching and other forms of cruelty to wildlife a felony in every state—just as we've done with general cruelty to animals.

We’re leading the fight to halt trophy hunting and wildlife trafficking around the globe. An HSUS undercover investigation exposed a massive trophy hunting tax scam, in which wealthy trophy hunters were bilking American tax payers for the cost of their hunting trips overseas by donating their trophies to fake museums—and we drove legislation in Congress in 2006 to shut down this loophole and put the tax back in taxidermy. We helped to ban imports of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada. We’re assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in busting major Internet wildlife crimes. We worked with FWS to finalize the listing of the southern white rhino as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act—making it easier to bring rhino horn poachers to justice—and to temporarily stop imports of sport-hunted trophies of African elephants from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We’re seeing newfound international resolve to crack down on elephant poaching, with the U.S., France, Hong Kong, and China destroying their confiscated ivory stockpiles, and the Obama administration launching a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. We are working with the government of Vietnam to reduce demand for rhino horn there, and in China to reduce demand for elephant ivory.  We will continue our efforts to crack down on the poaching of elephants, rhinos, and other charismatic species and to close the blood ivory trade.
Banning dangerous wild animals as pets»

The HSUS is the leading national animal protection organization fighting to end the ownership and possession of dangerous wild animals by private citizens. Since 2000, we have worked to pass strong laws and assisted with the passage of 18 state laws and/or regulations to either prohibit or severely restrict private ownership. In 2012, we helped to pass a law in Ohio to prohibit private possession of dangerous wild animals; persuaded the Fish and Wildlife Service to add four large constrictor snakes to the Lacey Act; and filed a petition to prohibit public contact with captive big catsbears, and primates. In 2013, we helped to pass a law in Arkansas to ban private possession of great apes, baboons and macaques. And the West Virginia legislature passed a bill in 2014 to restrict the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals—leaving only 5 states with virtually no restrictions on the issue.

Protecting whales, dolphins, and sharks»

We’ve made remarkable progress in the fight to protect the world’s most magnificent marine animals. In a case set into motion by HSI in 1999, the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan’s killing of whales in the Southern Ocean for “scientific purposes” is a breach of the global whaling moratorium—and Japan has announced that it will suspend whaling in the southern hemisphere. The Obama administration announced that it is permanently requiring certain ships to slow down in designated areas to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales—a move that comes in response to a legal petition submitted by The HSUS and other groups. We’ve also reached a settlement in an HSUS case requiring the National Marine Fisheries Service to review the impact of commercial fishing operations on endangered whales and to issue new rules to protect the species from entanglement in fishing gear.

The HSUS and HSI have worked for more than two decades to control the import of dolphin-deadly tuna, which comes from fishing fleets in the Eastern Pacific Ocean that encircle and harm dolphins as a catching strategy, and to maintain the integrity of the dolphin-safe tuna label. We recently prevailed and secured a final rule from the Obama administration to comply with a 2012 World Trade Organization ruling by strengthening the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna label and expanding the no-encirclement policy for all dolphins to all oceans and countries seeking to export their tuna to the U.S. In 2013, India passed a national ban on the captive display of these intelligent, social creatures.

The HSUS has been campaigning to end the barbaric killing of sharks for their fins, which are used as an ingredient in soup—the estimated annual toll is as high as 73 million animals. We worked to help pass the federal Shark Conservation Act in 2011 to ban removal of shark fins at sea in all U.S. waters.  Many of the major coastal states—including CaliforniaHawaiiOregon and Washington on the west coast, and DelawareMaryland, and New York on the East coast—have banned possessing or selling shark fins. The Obama Administration announced in 2014 that the laws in California, Maryland and Washington are consistent with federal law, and we’re urging the Administration to make the same finding with the remaining states.  We succeeded in closing a loophole in the European Union's finning ban. India, which is the second largest shark catching country in the world, recently enacted a national ban on shark finning, and we’re working in other parts of the world to save these apex predators.

Exposing animal cruelty through undercover investigations»

The HSUS conducted what is perhaps the most famous animal cruelty investigation in the nation's history, exposing the abuse of "downer" cows—too sick or injured to walk—at a slaughter plant supplying ground beef to the National School Lunch Program. That investigation led to a federal policy to stop slaughtering downer cows for human consumption and a multi-million dollar judgment against the company by the U.S. Department of Justice. Our undercover investigation of a "bob veal" slaughter plant shined a bright light onto the abuses that male dairy calves can endure, and the USDA announced another policy to extend the protections to downer calves. A series of other factory farm and slaughter house investigations has produced animal cruelty convictions and provided a window into the operations of industrial agriculture for the American public to see. Our 2012 investigation of a hall-of-fame trainer documented unspeakable abuses to Tennessee walking horses, injured to induce a high stepping gait to win ribbons at horse shows. That investigation not only led to the arrest of the trainer but triggered a national movement to eradicate soring abuses within the industry. It was our months-long investigation of chimps out of a Louisiana laboratory that set in motion our successful effort to get chimps out of labs, and Georgia Regents University announced that it would stop procuring dogs from Class B dealers after a 2013 HSUS undercover investigation revealed the suffering and death of dogs used in dental experiments. Our investigation of Texas horse-slaughter plants, combined with our courtroom activities, led to those plants being shuttered. We helped close the last horse slaughter plants operating in the U.S. in 2007, and have blocked any opening of new plants since that time. And in 2013 and 2014, we blocked efforts by agribusiness interests to criminalize anyone who exposes animal cruelty on factory farms in 19 of 20 states where the so-called “ag-gag” measures were introduced.


Or, view HSUS accomplishments by year: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

The HSUS has been approved by the Better Business Bureau for all 20 standards for charity accountability, voted by Guidestar's Philanthropedia experts as the #1 high-impact animal protection group, and named by Worth Magazine as one of the 10 most fiscally responsible charities.

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