Thursday, January 16, 2014

Legislation Briefs January 15, 2014

SAOVA Friends,

Another year is beginning and promises to see ever increasing pressure and legislative action by animal activist groups.   HSUS sent a missive this month announcing they had big plans for the year ahead and listed some of their top priorities for 2014.  Their list included:

1. Passing legislation in all 50 states to set so-called “humane” breeding standards;
2. Banning use of lead ammo for hunting;
3. Fighting the King amendment which would prevent states like California from imposing their own animal welfare standards on farm goods brought in from other states;
4. Stopping (ag-gag) bills that prohibit unauthorized video-taping or delayed cruelty reporting;
5. Securing a ballot initiative to end wolf hunting in Michigan; and a ballot initiative in Maine to ban bear hunting over bait and with hounds.

Remain alert for activist legislation introduced in your area. SAOVA monitors a limited number of bills on our website. Working together we can protect our traditions, avocations and livelihoods from anti-hunting and anti-animal breeding radicals.  The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.

Thanks for reading.  Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators
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APHIS received a petition from PETA requesting an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act regulations to add specific standards for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of all species of bears held in captivity except polar bears, for which there are already standards. The petition states that the generic standards in subpart F of 9 CFR Part 3 are inadequate and do not address the complex and unique behavioral, dietary, and physiological needs of bears. APHIS is soliciting comments on a list of questions, such as requirements for environmental enrichment and prohibition of public contact, which are posted in the Proposed Rule Docket.  Comments may be mailed to: to Docket No. APHIS-2012-0106, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238 or submitted on line  Comment period closes January 27 2014 at 11:59 PM ET.

APHIS created a new, online form in December for the public to submit their concerns about animals that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), submit complaints against pet breeders, and report pet breeders they think should be licensed.  Anonymous complaints are accepted and all complaints are investigated.

On December 16 Associated Dog Clubs of New York State (ADCNYS), an AKC Federation of Dog Clubs with 56 member clubs in New York State, filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Washington DC. The lawsuit asks the Court to declare that the Retail Pet Store Rule is “arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent" with law, and to remand the Rule back to the USDA. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction that would bar the USDA from enforcing the Retail Pet Store Rule. The complaint in the lawsuit was filed on behalf of 42 Plaintiffs that consisted of dog and cat clubs, associations and a registry representing approximately 19,000 breeders who potentially would be adversely affected by the Rule. Those 42 Plaintiffs represent less than 1% of the more than 5,500 Dog and Cat Clubs in the U.S., which supports the assertion that the Rule potentially affects far more than the 4,640 breeders that APHIS stated was the maximum number of breeders who potentially would be affected by the Rule.  One of the cornerstone assertions in the complaint is the fact that APHIS failed to document how it arrived at its figure of 4,640 breeders, which figure is exponentially below the number of hobby breeders who potentially could be affect by the Rule. The complaint is posted and can be viewed here:

On December 30, 2013, HSUS formally filed a Motion to Intervene in the case, and its Motion and accompanying exhibits totaled over 100 pages. The HSUS complaint can be viewed here:  In the motion, HSUS states, "The Final Rule is the culmination of years of effort on the part of The HSUS to bring about meaningful change to existing law. If Plaintiffs are successful in their efforts to set aside the Final Rule, The HSUS will suffer immediate and concrete harm."

On January 7 HSUS posted notice of a complaint filed with USDA requesting that the agency take enforcement action against more than 50 commercial dog breeders who appear to be operating in violation of federal law. The breeders appear to have illegally sold puppies to middleman Purebred Breeders, LLC, without a USDA license. The complaint filed by HSUS also urges the USDA to take enforcement action against Purebred Breeders for failing to obtain a license in light of recent changes to federal regulations that require retailers who sell puppies to consumers sight-unseen to obtain a federal license.  HSUS is wasting no time reporting breeders even though APHIS has not had time to answer all questions or issue new licenses.

On January 13 the Justice Department filed a response to the HSUS Motion to Intervene stating, "Defendants take no position regarding the Motion to Intervene of the Humane Society of the United States."  Also on January 13, ADCYNS filed a Response to the HSUS Motion to Intervene as a Defendant in the Lawsuit.  The ADCYNS response is posted at

Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) posts that they reviewed inspection records of commercial breeders in the state of New Jersey and singled out what they have determined are the worst breeders.  ALDF then sent a formal letter this week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) demanding the agency enforce the law against violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  In the letter ALDF urged APHIS to move the animals to reputable shelters where they can receive veterinary attention, apply civil penalties, and revoke the licenses of the commercial dealers that have violated the AWA on multiple occasions. ALDF announced a similar review of inspection reports from licensed dealers in Nebraska, claiming their review shows that animal cruelty routinely goes unpunished. “We call upon the USDA to act now on these ongoing violations, which have been thoroughly documented in their own records,” posted Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF.  Source: ALDF website

The horse-drawn carriage business is an iconic part of New York City, employing hundreds of dedicated, hard-working men and women, caring for well-bred, well-trained horses and attracting tourists to New York City. Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio said that one of his first acts after taking office will be to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park.  His plan is to replace the historic horse-drawn carriages with electric cars and redevelop the prime real estate that currently accommodates the stables. Supporting de Blasio’s mission to ban carriage horses is the ASPCA who told press, “The ASPCA believes that the use of carriage horses in 21st-century New York City is unnatural, unnecessary and an undeniable strain on the horses’ quality of life.”

The ban would end jobs for the 300 carriage drivers and force owners to retire their horses.  Steve Malone, spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, told reporters “It’s unconstitutional to take my private property unless I’ve done something wrong.”

NY State Horse Council Statement of Support is posted below. Letters in support of the carriage industry are urgently needed.  Send your letters to:

Stephen Malone, President
Horse & Carriage Association of New York
618 West 52nd Street, New York NY 10019

It is not a question of whether the carriage trade is necessary to New York City or not. The carriage horses are an iconic symbol of NYC; they are part of the cultural heritage not only of NYC but also of America. They provide economic benefits to the City through tourism and tax revenues. Today’s carriage horses provide a presence and exposure to rural animals not available to many anywhere else.

Some people have labelled the carriage horse industry as “inhumane.” It is not. While the word “inhumane” is not mentioned in the law, cruelty is. NYS Agriculture & Markets Law, Article 26 and more specifically, Section 353, defines cruelty as “failure to provide proper sustenance, such as food, water, shelter and veterinary care.

All the NYC carriage horses are well taken care of and have better than average stabling available to them. Each horse is provided food and water (each carriage carries food and water for the horses so they may eat/drink during working hours); the stables are warm, well-ventilated and have spacious stalls for resting during non-working hours; veterinary care is required and provided annually and on-call; each horse also has a mandatory 5 week vacation break. The NYC carriage horses are probably the most regulated horses in the country, if not the world. They are covered by approximately 144 pages of regulations; they are watched over very closely by several organizations, including the ASPCA.

It is the opinion of the Board of Directors of the New York State Horse Council that the NYC carriage horses and their owners should be allowed to continue to operate their small businesses without fear of reprisal or loss of livelihood. The horses are a great tourist attraction because they ARE horses - not cold, impersonal pieces of metal.

The NYS Horse Council calls on all other State Horse Councils and all concerned horse groups and horsepersons throughout the country to come to the support of the New York City carriage horses and the carriage industry. The world is watching what happens here; the outcome could affect YOU!
Marsha S. Himler, President, NYS Horse Council