It was a big year in state legislatures and at our nation’s capital, especially for our furry friends. The ASPCA, along with our team of animal advocates, played a large role in helping secure a number of important legislative wins for animals from coast to coast in 2016.
Check out the list below to learn more about our top 10 hard-fought victories—and what they mean for animals in the year to come.
1. The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) strengthened sentencing guidelines for federal animal fighting cases.
2. A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would restore integrity to the “organic” food label by specifying minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry, requiring farm animal enrichment and prohibiting certain kinds of physical alterations, among many other welfare improvements.
3. The U.S. Congress approved a funding-limitation amendment to prevent the USDA from using taxpayer dollars to conduct horse slaughter inspections.
4. Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, implementing some of the country’s most comprehensive legal protections for farm animals by requiring that hens, pigs, and calves raised in the state have room to turn around and extend their limbs or wings. It also requires that pork, egg and veal products sold in the state come only from farms that meet this welfare standard.
5. The New York City Mayor’s Office, in conjunction with the City Council, advanced funding for construction of full-service animal shelters in Queens and the Bronx to ensure residents of every borough have access to animal care services.
6. Voters in Oklahoma decisively rejected Question 777, a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have prevented lawmakers from passing broad farming and ranching regulations. It would have left Oklahoma farm animals—and potentially, puppy mill dogs—shockingly vulnerable to abuse, neglect and suffering from both domestic and foreign factory farm interests.
7. Former victims of dog fighting will now have second chances to find happy, loving homes as California lawmakers voted to remove the mandated “vicious” label given to these dogs.
8. Desmond’s Law passed in Connecticut, enabling courts to appoint independent volunteers to help ensure that animal cruelty cases are decided justly.
9. The Maryland General Assembly voted to improve shelter transparency by creating a veterinary protocol and proactively providing the public with shelter hours, procedures for retrieving lost pets, and an annual summary of intake and disposition data.
10. A new Florida law requires Greyhound tracks to report injuries to racing dogs, bringing us one step closer to eliminating Greyhound racing altogether.
The ASPCA strives to make our country safer for animals, but there’s still so much work to be done—and we can’t do it without you! Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to stay up-to-date on animal-protection legislation and learn how you can make a difference for animals in your state.
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