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February 12, 2009

Citizen Advocates Rally at Nevada Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Protect Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Citizens from across Nevada are assembling at the state capitol and meeting with their lawmakers Thursday to urge them to support legislation to protect animals. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day, which is organized by The Humane Society of the United States.

"Nevada lawmakers will have the opportunity to pass a strong slate of animal protection laws this session," said Kelley Dupps, The HSUS' deputy director of grassroots campaigns. "We urge the legislature to support these important reforms to crack down on animal fighting, the slaughter of sick or injured cows and the inhumane confinement of dogs."

Animal Fighting

Advocates are urging introduction of a bill to make it illegal to train, sell or possess animals for the purpose of fighting. The crime would be a misdemeanor on the first offense. In a recent ranking of state dogfighting laws, Nevada ranked dead last because it is the only state that does not prohibit possession of dogs with the intent to fight them. Lax laws against owning animals for fighting make it more difficult for law enforcement to crack down on this cruel activity.

Animal fighting contests are abhorrent spectacles in which animals are pitted in bloody duels — often to the death — for human entertainment. These cruel and illicit encounters are spawning grounds for other criminal activities, including drugs and violence, dragging down entire communities.

Downer Cows

Citizen lobbyists are also asking lawmakers to introduce legislation to ensure that downed cows are not slaughtered for human consumption in the state. This legislation would ban the trade of meat from cows who are unable to stand or walk on their own. It would also make it illegal to transport, sell or slaughter such cows.

Downed cows are more likely to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow disease," as well as Salmonella and other bacteria. The HSUS' Hallmark/Westland investigation showed workers at a California plant using cruel methods to force sick or injured cows to stand and walk to slaughter, leading to a massive beef recall last year.

Dog Tethering

Another bill animal advocates are supporting would prohibit constant chaining or tethering of dogs. The law would limit how many hours a day a person can chain a dog outside, as well as set minimum size requirements for outdoor dog enclosures.

Since dogs are social animals, keeping them chained continuously can cause serious psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. In many cases, the necks of tethered dogs become raw and covered with sores.

Trends Favor Animal Protection Laws

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more. Forty-one states are hosting Humane Lobby Days in February, March and April 2009.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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