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2015 Accomplishments

See what we achieved for animals in 2015

In 2015, The HSUS achieved major victories for animals. Watch highlights from our fight to protect farm animals, then read about accomplishments from our other campaigns.

Click on the expandable items below for additional information on each of our accomplishments for animals in 2015.

Confronting extreme confinement on factory farms

Proposition 2 took effect in California on January 1. A federal appeals court upheld the measure—which bans the use of battery cages for chickens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs and veal crates for cows—in February, a victory our legal team helped secure.

Walmart, the country’s biggest grocery retailer, announced a comprehensive animal welfare policy designed to eliminate the worst forms of confinement from its supply chain.

The three largest food service companies—Aramark, Sodexo and Compass Group—will transition all of their liquid eggs to cage-free in the U.S. market, which will move 3.5 million laying hens from cages into cage-free housing. And, with our help, a host of other companies have announced cage-free and gestation crate-free commitments, such as Dunkin' Donuts, Hilton and Kellogg Company.

Some of the food industry’s top names---including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Panera Bread, Qdoba Mexican Eats, Jack in the Box, TGI Fridays, Dunkin Donuts, General Mills and Kellogg’s---worked with us to announce timelines for eliminating battery cages from their supply chains by switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs.

Michael Foods---the nation’s largest processed egg provider---announced it will work with clients and suppliers to transition to cage-free housing. Likewise, Rose Acre Farms (the second-largest egg producer) and Rembrandt Foods (the third-largest egg producer) announced they will be converting to 100 percent cage-free production.

We helped gather 133,000 signatures from Massachusetts voters to secure a 2016 vote on a ballot measure to prohibit the confinement of egg-laying hens, pigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in cages and crates. The measure would also require that all eggs, pork and veal sold in Massachusetts meet this standard.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reinstates our challenge to the pork check-off program, threatening tens of millions of dollars in funding to the NPPC.

Arizona’s newly elected Republican governor, Doug Ducey, vetoed a bill to weaken protections for farm animals after we launched a massive ground game asking him to reject the bill.

Breaking the chain on animals in entertainment

Ringling Bros. announced it will retire the elephants from its traveling circus acts. We and our affiliate The Fund for Animals had been battling with Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, for years, and we helped pass local ordinances against the use of bullhooks, which Ringling owner Ken Feld cited as a factor in his decision.

Hawaii pledged to stop stop issuing permits for entertainment acts involving wild animals.

The California Coastal Commission, with our encouragement, ruled that SeaWorld in San Diego could not obtain a permit to expand its captive orca facility unless it agreed to halt breeding or transfer of orcas in or out of the park.

Fighting pet overpopulation

We launched a landmark partnership with the government of Puerto Rico to improve animal welfare on the island.

We honored the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by awarding more than $1 million in grants to Gulf Coast animal shelters and veterinary programs.

In Jamshedpur, India, more than 11,000 dogs have been sterilized as a result of Humane Society International's three-year project to reduce the dog population.

More Pets Plus stores committed to the Puppy-Friendly Pet Stores model, featuring adoptable dogs instead of selling puppies.

Blocking cruel wildlife trade

The Chinese government announced it will suspend the import of carved African elephant ivory, an encouraging sign in the world’s largest ivory market. Humane Society International is pushing to make the ban permanent, while we work in the U.S.—the second largest market—to pass bans at the state and federal level. President Obama announced a proposed rule that will institute a near complete ban on the commercial ivory trade in the U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the trade of four additional species of large, constricting snakes. This now prohibits eight of the nine species originally identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as posing a risk of becoming an invasive species in the southern tier of the U.S.

Petland stopped selling large snakes, including boa constrictors.

The number of seals killed in Canada's 2015 commercial seal hunt dropped to its lowest number in a generation.

Fashion label Hugo Boss pledged to stop using animal fur.

In Washington State, voters passed I-1401, a law we supported that criminalizes the trade in parts of 10 different species and taxa of terrestrial and marine animals, including elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks and rays.

In California, with our urging, lawmakers passed bans on the commercial trade of ivory and rhino horns.

With our help, Texas became the 10th state to prohibit the sale, trade, purchase and transportation of shark fins.

Following the killing of Cecil the lion, we secured pledges from 45 airlines to create or confirm bans on shipping trophies of the “Africa Big Five”---lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo.

We blocked an attempt to overturn a California ban on importing kangaroo parts, which are used in shoe leather and other fashion items. The ban has the potential to end the use of kangaroo parts throughout the nation, given the importance of the California market.

Demanding legal protections for wildlife

Australia banned the import of African lion trophies from sport hunting.

In an effort to stop Congress from delisting gray wolves, we worked with 79 members of Congress, as well as scientists and Native American tribes, to earn their support for our proposed compromise to list wolves as threatened.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upheld Hawaii’s ban on shark finning. In California, a federal appeals court upheld the state’s ban on the shark fin trade.

Mouse and rat poison d-Con is no longer available for sale to the general public.

With our help, the California Fish and Game Commission announced regulations to prohibit bobcat trapping across the state, which will spare more than 1,000 of these creatures each year.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission unanimously passed regulations, with our support, to phase out baiting bears with chocolate/ chocolate derivatives by 2016.

We helped to pass regulations for West Virginia’s law against keeping wild animals as pets, leaving only five states with no such laws.

With our support, a court upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s denial of a permit to the Georgia Aquarium to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales.

As part of ongoing deer fertility control projects, we completed our second year of work at The Village of Hastings-on-Hudson to humanely stabilize and reduce the local deer population through immunocontraception.

We stopped a controversial proposal by Colorado Parks and Wildlife that would have killed up to 50 percent of the mountain lions in certain areas, and persuaded the agency to withdraw from consideration a citizen petition that would have allowed trophy hunters to use electronic calls to lure and shoot mountain lions at close range.

We defeated an Indiana bill that would have legalized captive hunting of deer, elk and other cervids trapped behind fences.

Advocating for research without animals

After The New York Times exposed cruel farm animal research at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, we have worked with federal lawmakers to introduce bills designed to stop the abuse. The USDA announced that the agency is implementing reforms to strengthen oversight and prevent a repeat of the appalling cruelty exposed at USMARC.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services lists captive chimps in the United States as endangered, a move that prohibits invasive research on the more than 700 chimps still living in labs.

We supported new legislation that would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act and require alternatives to animal testing for toxicity.

New Zealand banned cosmetics testing on animals, after a campaign led by Humane Society International and other advocacy groups.

In collaboration with HSUS, the National Institutes of Health announced that it will no longer use chimpanzees in harmful research and will retire all government-owned chimpanzees, rolling back a prior pledge that it would keep a colony of 50 chimpanzees for future experimentation in an emergency circumstance.

We compelled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect all chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act, all but closing the door on medical experiments on these intelligent animals that are our closest living relatives.

We led a coalition of organizations to step in and provide continuing care for a colony of 66 chimpanzees abandoned in Liberia by the New York Blood Center, which used them in experiments for decades.

The U.S. House and Senate both included strong language in their appropriations committee reports directing USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) to comply with Animal Welfare Act standards for research on farm animals and subject its facilities to inspections, following a searing New York Times exposé on the ARS/U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and requests we obtained from almost 200 members of Congress.

Due to pressure from HSUS and others, the Environmental Protection Agency published new guidance on reducing the use of animals for pesticide testing The largest remaining Class B dog dealer in the U.S. went out of business, leaving only two remaining dealers that sell dogs from random sources to research laboratories, down from hundreds just two decades ago.

Exposing inhumane treatment of farm animals and captive wildlife

Our undercover investigation at a Costco egg supplier revealed food safety concerns and horrific cruelty, including hens crammed into cages with the decaying bodies of their cagemates. After the investigation, celebrities including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Bill Maher urged Costco to go cage-free.

We released an undercover investigation of the inhumane slaughter of “spent” egg-laying hens in Minnesota and called for poultry to be protected under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

We investigated two roadside zoos, Tiger Safari in Oklahoma and Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia, and exposed cruel treatment of tiger cubs exploited for photographic opportunities, indiscriminate breeding of tigers, rampant trade in cubs for public handling and dumping of the cubs once they were no longer profitable. The USDA inspected both facilities and cited them for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. The state of Virginia revoked Natural Bridge Zoo’s exhibition permit, delaying opening for their spring season.

As a direct result of our 2009 investigation at a calf slaughter plant, the USDA proposed a ban on the slaughter of sick or injured calves.

Confronting animal cruelty and fighting

Our Animal Rescue Team assisted local groups and law enforcement in saving 65 dogs from a hog-dog fighting operation in Alabama; 46 dogs and 11 other animals from frozen squalor at an Arkansas puppy mill; 150 animals, including cats, dogs and livestock, from unsafe and unsanitary conditions in North Carolina; more than 20 dogs from a West Virginia dogfighting operation; 24 animals, including horses, goats, dogs, cats, birds and a pig, from inhumane conditions in West Virginia; and more than 250 birds from a cockfighting operation in Maryland.

Humane Society International closed two South Korean dog meat farms and placed the rescued animals with our shelter partners. HSI helped the farmers transition to growing crops, such as blueberries.

We worked with a local district attorney and sheriff’s office in North Carolina to close a multiday live pigeon shooting contest, where 8,000 live birds were to be released for target practice, and we helped the sheriff’s office in South Carolina shut down a cockfight in progress, resulting in the arrest of 27 suspected cockfighters and the rescue of 122 birds and 11 dogs.

Tennessee increased penalties for attending an animal fight or bringing a child to an animal fight, and Utah made repeat offenses of cockfighting a felony.

After Humane Society International and other advocacy groups fought to stop the mass animal sacrifice at Nepal’s Gadhimai Festival, organizers announced the sacrifice will not take place again.

Utah became the 42nd state with felony cockfighting, Tennessee significantly increased the penalties for cockfighting, and Pennsylvania banned cockfighting paraphernalia.

In South Carolina, we took down one of the largest dogfights ever recorded with hundreds of spectators present.

With our help, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kansas and Michigan ended or committed to end their use of carbon monoxide gas chambers for the purposes of animal euthanasia.

We launched a massive training and animal protection program in Puerto Rico – with an executive order from the governor, humane education in every elementary school and training of law enforcement, animal control officers, shelters and judges.

Cracking down on puppy mills

Federal courts upheld bans on the retail sale of puppy mill dogs in Rhode Island, Cook County and Phoenix.

We worked in Montgomery County, Maryland, to ban the retail sale of puppy mill dogs.

Virginia became the third state in the nation to restrict where pet stores can acquire puppies and the fifth state to restrict public sale of cats and dogs.

Direct care and responding to natural disasters

Humane Society International came to the aid of people and animals affected by devastating earthquakes in Nepal.

Together with our affiliates, we provided direct care to more than 100,000 animals.

Our affiliated five animal care centers provided permanent sanctuary to more than 1,100 animals and rehabilitation care to another 13,000 animals.

The Pets for Life Program hit a milestone of 100,000 pets helped with veterinary care and services in underserved communities.

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association/Rural Area Veterinary Services also hit a milestone of providing medical care to over 100,000 animals, providing more than 60 days of clinics with more 300 veterinary professionals at a value of $1.5 million of free vet care just this year.

We rescued animals from cruelty up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest, including animal-fighting rescues in Maryland, West Virginia and South Carolina, as well as multi-species hoarding cases in Chatham County, North Carolina, where we rescued nearly 200 dogs, cats, horses, birds, cows, a pig and geese, and Adams County, Ohio, where we rescued more than 160 dogs and cats.

We transported animals from a shelter flooded by Hurricane Joaquin in South Carolina and helped treat animals injured by the wildfires that engulfed parts of Northern California.

We relocated 219 prairie dogs to protected homes, persuaded seven communities to use non-lethal management, protected 121,800 prairie dogs from sylvatic plague, educated almost 700 students on the importance of prairie dogs in the community and expanded 55 acres of protected habitat for prairie dogs in key conservation areas.

Protecting pets and other animals at the federal level

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pets on Trains Act for Amtrak, making it easier for people to travel with their cats and dogs.

The U.S. Supreme Court elected not to hear an appeal of a federal anti-cruelty law that we supported and protected in the courts.

The FBI, with our encouragement, announced it will begin tracking incidents of animal cruelty.

With our support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule that requires strict new safety standards and good manufacturing practices for companies that make pet food.

Also with our support, Congress enacted legislation to facilitate the adoption of retired military working dogs by their former handlers and their families, law enforcement agencies or other individuals who will humanely care for them. This provision honors the special bond between service members and their trusted dogs.

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