• ‚Äč
    • Share to Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Email
    • Print

The HSUS: Driving Transformational Change for Animals Since 1954

Learn about our recent accomplishments in protecting pets, wild animals, farm animals and animals in research

The HSUS, along with our affiliates, is the global leader in making the world a more humane place for all animals. We are also at the forefront of animal care, through our animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centersAnimal Rescue Team, wildlife response units, veterinary division, international street dog defenders and other hands-on programs. 


We can't do this important work without you. Donate now and help change the world for animals »

Learn about our recent accomplishments in protecting pets, wild animals, farm animals and animals in research.

The HSUS, along with our affiliates, is the global leader in making the world a more humane place for all animals. We are also at the forefront of animal care, through our animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centersAnimal Rescue Team, wildlife response units, veterinary division, international street dog defenders and other hands-on programs. 

Stamping out animal cruelty and fighting »

State laws

In 1985, malicious animal cruelty was a felony in only four states. Dogfighting was a felony in only 15 states and cockfighting was still legal in six states. As a result of our work to reshape the legal landscape, malicious animal cruelty and dogfighting are now felonies in all 50 states, while cockfighting .

Federal laws

We have successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress multiple times to upgrade the federal animal fighting statute. HSUS-shepherded legislation made animal fighting a federal felony and banned the possession and training of fighting animals as well as commerce in cockfighting weapons. Our 2014 victory made it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fight—allowing law enforcement agencies to further protect children and animals from the consequences of vicious bloodsports.

Enforcement and rescues

The HSUS has assisted law enforcement agencies with hundreds of cruelty and hoarding cases and dogfighting and cockfighting rescues (including the second largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history). We've rescued tens of thousands of animals and taught thousands of law enforcement officials how to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty and fighting cases. We operate a tip line and offer rewards to people who help bring animal abusers and fighters to justice. And we are taking our efforts to other parts of the world: In 2014, our affiliate Humane Society International helped secure the first dogfighting conviction in Costa Rica, and in 2016 they launched an anti-dogfighting campaign in Mexico. Together with HSI, we will continue to bring global attention to malicious animal cruelty and fighting.

Confronting extreme confinement on factory farms »

The HSUS is leading the fight to combat factory farming by both reducing the suffering of animals used for food and reducing demand for meat. We’ve worked with many of the world’s largest food companies to adopt animal welfare reforms. And factory farming proponents are taking notice.

Crates and cages

We're driving the campaign to end the intensive confinement of farm animals in crates and cages so small they can’t even turn around. We've helped many of the world's largest food suppliers — including McDonald's, Costco and Walmart — develop plans to eliminate gestation crates, veal crates and battery cages from their supply chains.


We've helped pass a number of state laws banning extreme confinement and other factory farming practices. On the federal level, we stymied a 2014 attempt by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to nullify state and local laws that protect farm animals. We’ve also continued to defend citizens against “ag-gag” efforts by agribusiness interests, which would criminalize anyone who exposes animal cruelty on factory farms. In 2008, California passed Proposition 2, a landmark law supported by The HSUS which required the state’s egg producers to end their use of cruel livestock confinement methods.

International efforts

Our affiliate Humane Society International has persuaded the majority of states in India, the world’s third largest producer of eggs, to declare that confining hens to battery cages violates the nation’s anti-cruelty legislation. HSI also worked with the Retail Council of Canada to ban gestation crates nationwide.


We’re supporting an ever-growing number of school districts, universities and hospitals adopting Meatless Monday and other meat reduction programs. These institutions include the Los Angeles Unified School District (which serves 700,000 meals daily), the Houston Independent School District (270,000 meals daily), the Dallas Independent School District (160,000 meals daily), the San Diego Unified School District (70,000 meals daily) and the largest university in the U.S., Arizona State University.

Fighting pet overpopulation and puppy mills »

Working alongside our colleagues in other groups, we’ve helped drive down the euthanasia rate for healthy, adoptable dogs and cats by 80 percent since we began our work with shelters in the 1970s, allowing millions more healthy animals per year live happy lives. Our outreach program, Pets For Life provides training and wellness care for pets in underserved communities where there is no access to spay/neuter and veterinarians. The program is now active in over 30 cities, with more on the way.

The Shelter Pet Project, a public service campaign by HSUS, Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council,has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to promote adoption from shelters and rescue groups.

Stopping puppy mills

In a very short time,The HSUS has helped pass or strengthen laws in many of the top puppy mill states. Our direct rescue efforts have saved  thousands of dogs across the U.S. and Canada to date.

In 2013, The HSUS championed a new U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that brought 2,000 Internet dog sellers under federal regulation. We also exposed the American Kennel Club’s ties with the puppy mill industry. In 2014, we campaigned for the USDA rule that prohibited the import of puppies from other countries, cutting off the inhumane trade from foreign puppy mills.

Changing the marketplace

As part of the HSUS Puppy Friendly Pet Store initiative, stores across the country have pledged not to sell puppies. In addition, many cities and counties have passed ordinances steering would-be pet owners to shelters, rescue groups and responsible breeders instead of puppy mills.

Protecting horses and other equines »


The HSUS is committed to eradicating soring: the practice of inflicting pain on Tennessee walking horses to force an unnaturally high step in order to win competition prizes. We’ve been a key player in crafting and campaigning for federal legislation that would finally end soring and restore the integrity of the walking horse industry.


We’ve successfully pushed Congress to keep U.S. horse slaughterhouses shuttered, and we continue to champion federal legislation that would prevent the slaughter of horses for food in the U.S. and stop the export of American horses for slaughter abroad. Humane Society International has been working with the governing bodies of Canada, the EU and Mexico to reduce the number of American horses exported to those countries and slaughtered for human consumption.

Neglect, abuse and homelessness

In 2013, we organized the Responsible Horse Breeders Council to decrease the number of horses in the U.S. at risk of neglect, abuse or slaughter, with members pledging to assist if horses they’ve bred become homeless or at-risk. In 2016, the National Horse Racing Advisory council was established to confront the widespread problem of doping in the horse racing industry.

We also formed the Homes for Horses Coalition—the nation’s largest horse rescue alliance-- with other animal protection organizations in 2007 to end horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse by promoting growth, collaboration and professionalism in the equine rescue community.

Ending Canada’s seal hunt

We have campaigned for over a decade to close markets for seal products in order to end Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt. Despite the opposition of state governments, the international fur trade and a segment of the commercial fishing industry, we’ve helped close most of the world’s key markets for seal products.

Our efforts have caused seal fur prices in Canada to crash, and more and more sealers have chosen not to participate in the hunt, sparing millions of seals from slaughter. The Canadian public is with us too; more than 6,500 businesses and 800,000 people have joined our boycott to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal slaughter is stopped for good.

Fur free

We've worked with major department stores and designers who chose to go fur-free, including JC Penney, Calvin Klein, Talbots, True Religion, TJ Maxx/Marshalls, Sears, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, Overstock.com and the Yoox Group. This has helped to dramatically drive down fur sales and imports into the U.S.

The HSUS takes steps to stop those who mislabel fur to sell to unsuspecting consumers. Our investigations have exposed the sale of animal fur—sometimes from domestic dogs or raccoon dogs—fraudulently mislabeled or advertised as "faux fur." Investigations have also led to passage of the federal Truth in Fur Labeling Act and enforcement actions against major retailers. We continue to monitor companies that have misrepresented fur in the past, and we use all available options—including lawsuits and petitions—to ensure that animals and consumers are protected. We also work with major media outlets to ensure our message reaches those at risk of being duped from false labeling.

Moving away from animal research and testing »


In 2013, the global #BeCrueltyFree campaign led by Humane Society International helped persuade the European Union to ban the sale of cosmetic products and ingredients that were newly tested on animals. In 2014, India heeded HSI’s call to follow suit with its own nationwide cosmetics animal testing and import bans, and the Brazilian state of São Paulo banned animal testing of cosmetics within its borders. The same year, HSI secured similar national-level legislative proposals in Australia and Brazil, and China took its first step toward ending mandatory animal testing for cosmetics.

In early 2015, #BeCrueltyFree New Zealand celebrated the passage of a national animal testing ban. South Korea passed a cosmetics law partially banning sale and manufacture of animal tested products which can be produced with the use of alternatives, and Taiwan has introduced a bill to ban both testing and trade in cruelly tested cosmetics. In the United States, the bipartisan Humane Cosmetics Act is ready to be introduced in Congress.

Alternatives to animal testing

We've helped secure many millions of dollars in new funding for alternative test method development in Europe, Brazil and the U.S.

We took a major step against U.S. animal testing in June of 2016, when President Obama signed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) into law. The TSCA upgraded a 40-year-old federal law regulating the use of chemicals, and contained – for the first time in any broader environmental and health protection statute – an explicit decree from Congress to minimize animal testing in favor of alternative strategies.

We spearhead the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, which promotes a fundamental move away from animal testing. We’ve also worked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which aims to bring consistency to global testing standards and incorporate proven alternatives that could finally replace animal testing for skin and eye irritation.

Ending invasive research on chimpanzees

September 2015 marked the end of a century of unrestricted cruel invasive experiments on chimpanzees in the United States. This victory is the culmination of a decade-long campaign by The HSUS, which exposed the abuse of chimps at the nation’s largest chimpanzee laboratory, pushed the National Institute of Health to retire federally-owned chimpanzees and secured congressional provisions for the shift. On August 11, 2016, NIH announced a structured plan to retire all 360 chimpanzees to Chimp Haven, the national chimp sanctuary.

Animals in Entertainment »

The HSUS has remained involved and committed to protecting animals used in entertainment. We continue to pressure companies that exploit animals for profit, and assist them in making meaningful change to become more humane businesses. Our active partnership with SeaWorld helped them bring controversial “theatrical” orca shows to an end in 2015. In June 2016, SeaWorld announced that it will be ending its captive orca breeding program. The HSUS also worked with Ringling Brothers to shutter its elephant shows, the last of which took place in April 2016.

The HSUS provided its first Filmaker Award to Darren Aronofsky for choosing to use CG animals in his film Noah in place of captive animals. We will continue to work with filmmakers and push for more humane ways of putting animals on the big screen in the motion picture industry.

Confronting wildlife abuses »


Trophy hunting

The brutal 2015 killing of Cecil the lion caused many people to become painfully aware of the horrors of trophy hunting. In the wake of this senseless act, The HSUS and HSI lead a push against the transport of hunting trophies, resulting in over 40 top airlines banning or clarifying existing bans on the shipment of trophy kills.

Captive hunts

As of 2013, we secured bans or restrictions on captive ("canned") hunts of mammals trapped in pens in about half the states. Following a 2010 HSUS undercover investigation that exposed the cruel practice of bear “baying” (in which dogs attack captive bears), South Carolina became the last state to bring an end to the blood sport. We've also ended fox penning in Florida, and in 2014 Virginia passed a law that will both phase out existing fox pens and also prohibit any new pens from opening.


In 2014, we led two successful ballot initiatives to stop the Michigan wolf hunt. That year, two of our court victories reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming. We’re pushing to have wolves relisted as an endangered species in Oregon, and we continue to defend wolves against delisting attempts in other areas.

Toxic lead ammunition

In 2013, The HSUS helped California become the first state to phase out the use of lead hunting ammunition, which kills tens of millions of nontarget animals every year in the United States.

Traps and other cruel devices

Through ballot initiatives, bills and regulatory efforts, we have promoted bans on steel-jawed leghold traps and other cruel devices in about a dozen states, including California and Hawaii in 2013.

Wildlife Poisons

After much pressure from The HSUS, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., the manufacturer of d-Con brand mouse and rat poisons, stopped the distribution and sale of products containing particularly potent rodenticides. The company had been the sole holdout against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to stop the sale of such "super poisons," which threaten the health of children and kill pets and wildlife.

Wildlife crimes

We’ve been assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in busting major Internet wildlife crimes. The HSUS is also a major force in ensuring that all states join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which prevents poachers who have lost their hunting, fishing and/or trapping privileges in one state from carrying out those activities in other states. We're working to make poaching and other forms of wildlife cruelty felonies in every state—just as we've done with other kinds of animal cruelty.

The trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory

We continue to provide input into the development and implementation of the Obama administration's National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. In 2014, we championed efforts that led to New York’s and New Jersey’s historic laws prohibiting the sale of ivory and rhino horn. We also championed a similarly strong law in California, making it the first West Coast state to enact such a law. Humane Society International helped persuade the U.S., France, Hong Kong and China to destroy their confiscated elephant ivory stockpiles. HSI is also collaborating with the Vietnamese government to reduce the demand for rhino horn and the Chinese government to diminish the demand for elephant ivory.

Safeguarding the public and wild animals »

Dangerous public contact with wild animals

The HSUS leads national animal protection groups in the fight to keep private citizens from possessing or owning a dangerous wild animals. In 2012, we helped to pass a law in Ohio prohibiting private possession of dangerous wild animals. And in 2013, we successfully championed Arkansas' ban on private possession of great apes, baboons and macaques. The next victory was West Virginia's 2014 bill restricting the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals. Now only five states have virtually no restrictions on owning dangerous wild animals.

In 2015, our two undercover investigations into the tiger cub petting trade exposed the horrible cruelty associated with this abusive business.

Human-wildlife conflicts

The HSUS continues to be the leader in resolving urban wildlife conflicts, saving thousands of wild animals, among prairie dogs, gopher tortoises, burros, deer, coyotes, ducks, snakes and other orphaned young. To educate the public, we’ve launched a Humane Wildlife Services program at our South Florida Wildlife Center. We’ve demonstrated our humane conflict resolution techniques in hundreds of communities nationwide, showcasing how to resolve conflicts and coexist with our wild neighbors.

Protecting whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles »


In 2014, the UN International Court of Justice ruled on a landmark case, finding that Japan’s program of killing of whales in the Southern Ocean for “scientific purposes” was illegal and determined that Japan should stop.

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 prompted a legal petition submitted jointly by The HSUS and other groups.We also convinced the National Marine Fisheries Service to begin restricting fisheries in New England, attempting to reduce the risk of right whales becoming entangled in and killed by commercial fishing gear.


We've been committed to maintaining the integrity of the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna label for over two decades.The Obama administration recently passed a law complying 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. However, Mexico disputes whether the U.S. is truly complying with the WTO, and a WTO panel recently ruled that the dolphin-safe measure still violates WTO provisions. The United States will challenge that ruling. In 2013, Humane Society International's work in India lead to the passing of  a national ban on the captive display of dolphins.

Shark finning

We helped pass the U.S. Shark Conservation Act in 2011 to ban the removal of shark fins at sea in all U.S. waters. Many of the major coastal states have banned possessing or selling shark fins.

Humane Society International has succeeded in closing a loophole in the European Union's shark finning ban, and India, the second largest shark catching country in the world, recently enacted a national ban on shark finning. HSI has also been part of a campaign that has convinced more than a dozen airlines and several shipping companies to stop shipping shark fins.

Sea turtles

HSI is protecting sea turtles by strengthening international laws to protect them from trafficking and being killed by the fishing industry as bycatch. It has also launched field projects in Central America, India and other parts of Asia.

Undercover investigations »

Downers and veal calves

In 2008, The HSUS conducted perhaps the most famous animal cruelty investigation in the nation's history. We exposed the abuse of "downer" cows—too sick or injured to walk—at a slaughter plant supplying ground beef to the National School Lunch Program. The government banned the slaughter of downer cows for human consumption and spurred a multi-million dollar judgment against the company responsible.

A series of other investigations has led to convictions and provided consumers a window into the operations of the industrial veal industry.  In 2016, due in large part to pressure from The HSUS, the Obama administration closed a loophole which allowed downer calves to be slaughtered for human consumption.


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 new plants from opening since then.

Tennessee walking horses

Our 2012 investigation of a prominent Tennessee walking horse trainer documented unspeakable abuses and led not only to the federal indictment and arrest of the trainer, but triggered a national movement to eradicate soring abuses within the industry.

Animals in laboratories

Our 2009 investigation of chimps at a Louisiana laboratory set in motion our successful effort to get chimps out of labs and headed for sanctuary. In 2014, 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.