By Wayne Pacelle
During President Obama’s tenure, The HSUS has worked to secure stronger policies from federal agencies to help animals – from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the National Marine Fisheries Service to the National Institutes of Health. Every one of those agencies – and there are at least a dozen at the federal level relevant to our work – makes life and death decisions for animals.
During the president’s first term, the administration was slow to respond to animal protection concerns. But the pace has picked up in a good way, although the results haven’t been uniformly positive. In last year’s 2012 Animal Protection Record, we noted that the administration made some strong moves to protect animals, but came up short in a number of areas.
This year, 2013, has been the administration’s best year by a long shot, and we are giving out our best grade yet: B+. There are some gems in here, with the administration bucking powerful industries and siding with animal protection sensibilities in a few instances. There are still some adverse actions, such as national de-listing of wolves, a free pass for wind energy companies to kill protected eagles, and massive subsidies for the pork industry. But the list below is impressive and it’s something that administration officials should be proud of, and animal advocates should be pleased to see, as a collective set of actions.
The 13 most notable agency actions in 2013 that significantly affected animals were:
Chimpanzees – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared that it will retire the vast majority of the approximately 400 government-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to sanctuary. The NIH supported removing a spending barrier imposed by the CHIMP Act in order to sustain funding for the retirement of chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuary, a fix signed into law by President Obama just before Thanksgiving. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing all chimpanzees as endangered, regardless of whether they are in the wild or in captivity.
Puppy Mills – In a long-awaited action that animal welfare advocates have been pushing for a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a rule that closed a loophole in Animal Welfare Act regulations, now requiring that dealers who sell puppies and other warm-blooded animals as pets sight unseen, including over the Internet, be regulated. More....