According to the USDA National Agricultural Library, The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966 and amended in 1976. It is the only U.S. Federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. While other laws, policies, and guidelines may include other species, the AWA is the reference source to the minimum of care allowed by law, and is enforced by the USDA and APHIS Center for Animal Welfare.
A petition started by Jean Harrison of Nashville, Tennessee is being circulated with the hope of adding private or government-run animal shelters or other rescue facilities/organizations to this list. The goal of 8,445 signatures has been reached and doubled at the time of this article.
Currently no one is watching over the cats and dogs who are starving, sick and neglected in animal shelters across the country. One case that recently made the news was the shelter in Magnolia, Arkansas. Not to go into this case due to length, you can read about it here.
Jean’s petition is directed toward Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture and President Barack Obama and states
“Without the application of this law, those who abuse domestic animals in their care are rarely subjected to punishment because there are no state laws that make them comply with any standards of care for domestic pets and animals.”
While this article doesn’t provide any video footage of shelters caught abusing the animal in their care, these are easy enough to find by going to YouTube and searching under ‘animal shelter abuse.’ Dozens of news videos will pop up to show just how bad this problem has become.
What’s scary is this is only the tip of the iceberg. As a reporter, I hear of abuse by different shelters around the United States. I’m emailed or messaged on an almost daily basis about animals being mistreated. Without concrete evidence against a shelter, I’m powerless to make the public aware of these shelters.
I can share this petition, because it would make animal shelters accountable for how animals are cared for. Or NOT cared for, as the case may be in most of the messages I’ve received personally. Of course, it will take the Department of Agriculture doing their job by following up on complaints instead of looking the other way.
It’s discouraging to know there are outbreaks of one disease or another, and being unable to report it to anyone who can legally do anything about it. Veterinarians in the area where the neglect and illness are treated post-rescue are afraid to speak out against their local shelter. So are employees and supporters. Reporters can’t write without hard evidence, and local news stations don’t want to get involved. This leaves us, the animal loving public, who should do everything possible to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture knows the importance of this petition.
The animals in our nations shelters have no voice, other than the voice we give them. We fight to give them more time at the shelter. We fight to get them out before they’re routinely killed (the word euthanasia doesn’t apply in most shelter deaths, because these animals are not being relieved of a terminal or painful medical condition). Shouldn’t we do our best to ensure they have the best of treatment while a home is being sought?
Please sign this petition, and pass this article along to your animal loving friends. This is about doing what’s right. Because right now, animals are dying in our nations shelters, and this has to be stopped. Doing so at a national level, as opposed to state, would be a major victory for our shelter cats and dogs.