The year 2022 turned out to be a remarkable one for the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action, and the Animal Wellness Foundation.
We secured many tangible gains. We put a punctuation mark on our campaign that has ended all legal dogfighting and cockfighting on U.S. soil and also closed out the commercial cub-petting of lions and tigers. We got close to ending mink farming by winning a first-ever vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the rank abuse of wild mink on factory farms, but came up short in the U.S. Senate. We did succeed, however, in providing major protections to apex predators — blocking wolf hunting and other forms of killing them in the Great Lakes region and then working with allies to pass a national ban on the sale of shark fins.
The biggest win, in terms of numbers of animals and degree of difficulty in achieving the win, came with the enactment of two federal laws to reduce animal testing, with the enactment in December of the FDA Modernization Act 2.0. We are encouraged about a proposed rulemaking to establish the first anti-confinement standards in federal law for hens, pigs, and cows raised under the “organic label.” And we continue to be the leading advocacy organization for horses — fighting to halt horse soring and slaughter, end abuses and misconduct in horse racing, and keep wild horses and burros free and safe on the range. This year, we also convinced the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to break its absolute ban on imports of dogs from more than 100 countries, after the agency overreacted to a handful of dogs with rabies who were presented for import but never cleared the screening process for entry into the United States
Please review our Top 10 Gains for animals below that your support has enabled:
Campaign: Modernize Testing
Landmark Measures Enacted to Reduce Animal Testing
In December 2022, federal lawmakers passed the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 — including both the original FDA Modernization Act and also the Reducing Animal Testing Act — to eliminate a federal mandate for animal testing for new drugs and for biosimilars. Given that perhaps 75% of all animals used in testing are conscripted for drug development, enactment of the measure punctuated the biggest policy win on the issue of animal testing in our nation’s history. On a significant parallel track, we succeeded in getting an additional $5 million in new money to support an FDA-wide New Alternative Methods Program to reduce animal testing (total is $12.5 million). The FDA Modernization Act 2.0 promises to reboot a broken drug development paradigm and, if it is vigorously implemented, will deliver safer, more effective, more reliable palliatives and cures to people in need.
Campaign: End Cockfighting
Ban on Animal Fighting in U.S. Territories Affirmed
Federal courts delivered a series of emphatic blows against the U.S.-based cockfighting industry, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming a ruling of the U.S. District Court for the District of Guam that Congress has the authority to bar animal fighting throughout the United States, cementing the ban on cockfighting in five U.S. territories that have been major hotspots for staged fights. In November, a U.S. District Court dismissed a legal maneuver by a former Northern Marianas Islands politician — a self-described lifelong cockfighter — to invalidate the federal ban on cockfighting in the Pacific-island territory. Stateside, we congratulated federal prosecutors for securing federal prison time for one of the nation’s most elaborate cockfighting syndicates, with Brent Easterling and several male relatives based in Alabama going to federal prison for their illegal animal fighting ventures. Animal Wellness Action provided compelling evidence to the federal government that aided the government’s investigation and prosecution, and ultimately led to the conviction of 7 people in Alabama.
Campaign: No Big Cats as Pets or Props
Commercial Tiger and Lion Cub-Petting Industry Shut Down
President Joe Biden signed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, into law after a long, 11-year campaign to end the trade in big cats as pets and to shut down commercial cub-petting operations that treat tiger cubs and kittens as props. This bill closes out the cub-petting industry, which breeds tigers and lions to allow patrons to handle cubs for a fee. There are thousands of big cats kept in private hands, and just a decade ago, there were more than 60 cub-petting menageries.
Campaign: Saving Wolves
Great Lakes Wolves Spared from Trapping, Hounding, Hunting
The biggest population of wolves — in the Great Lakes region encompassing northern Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — was spared any further killing after our successful state lawsuit to halt trophy hunting and trapping in Wisconsin and then a separate federal lawsuit that expanded protections for wolves throughout much of the lower 48 states. Had the three upper Great Lakes states launched wolf-hunting seasons, they could have collectively killed 1,000 wolves a year. The federal court ruling not only prevents sport killing, but it limits damage-control killing in Michigan and Wisconsin to threats to human life (a very rare exception since wolves almost never threaten people).
Campaign: Keeping Wildlife In Once Piece
Shark Fin Sales Outlawed in the United States
Shark fins are off all menus in the United States, with Congress passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in December. This bill was seven years in the works and addresses the global mass killing of as many as 70 million sharks for their fins. Like the ban on the sale of dog and cat meat in the United States, U.S. leadership will be attention-getting throughout the world, including in nations where there is still an appetite for shark fin soup.
Campaign: No Doping in Racing
National Race-Day Ban on Performance-Enhancing Drugs Restored
Animal Wellness Action, along with The Jockey Club, worked with key lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to amend the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020, amending a provision in the original law that a federal appellate court declared unconstitutional in November and that put the national ban on race-day doping of Thoroughbreds in jeopardy. Performance-enhancing drugs put the animals at risk of breakdowns and other injuries and make the entire industry suspect. We launched our new site, www.HISAWatchdog.org, to help facilitate communication and keep a watchful eye on regulators.
Campaign: Ending Soring in Showing
Record Funding Achieved to Enforce Federal Anti-Horse Soring Law
The latest Congressional spending bill, funding government operations in 2023, includes a record level of $4.1 million to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 — that’s $1 million more than the prior year’s record funding level of $3 million. This is consequential because a segment of horse trainers tortures horses to get them to exaggerate their gait and win ribbons at horse shows. With more inspections, we should be able to crack down on some level of lawlessness until we can upgrade the 52-year-old law next year. Until AWA started pressing for more funding in 2018 when the organization opened shop, the HPA never saw more than $705,000 in funding per year since the HPA was enacted in 1970.
Campaign: Keeping Wild Horses Wild
Other Positive News for Horses On the Range and At Risk of Slaughter
Congress, in its end-of-year spending bill, continued a ban on funding any horse-slaughter inspections in the United States, thereby extending the de facto end of horse slaughter in our nation. That same end-of-year funding bill also included funding and directives for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to pursue more forward-facing, humane on-the-range management of wild horses and burros and renewing an Animal Wellness Action-led effort in prior years to secure $11 million in annual funding for fertility control. This is just one step in a long march needed to keep wild horses and burros safe and free in their native habitats. The BLM must move from persecutor to protector, as it is charged to be doing for these equids.
Campaign: Putting Animals in Politics
We Played a Major Role in Defeating Animal-Testing Practitioner in Senate Race
Animal issues never had a more prominent role in a major political race in America than in a U.S. Senate race seat in Pennsylvania. Animal Wellness Action, the Senate Majority PAC, and the Lincoln Project spent more than $3 million on TV and digital ads to elevate the issue of animal testing and defeat Dr. Mehmet Oz because of his startling record of inhumane animal testing and his failure to provide assurances that he would support policy efforts to reduce animal testing. The Washington Examiner reported that Dr. Oz’s experiment on dogs may have doomed his campaign, with Oz and his research team conducting tests on more than 1,000 animals, including 330 beagles, between 1989 and 2010 at the University of Columbia. The mistreatment was severe enough to prompt USDA to issue citations for Animal Welfare Act violations and fine Columbia University for the abuses.
Campaign: Crate-Free Future
USDA Proposes First-Ever Farm Animal Welfare Standards
At our urging, and that of other groups long-engaged on this topic, the USDA released its proposed Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards rule, which calls for elevated animal welfare standards in organic animal agriculture. The new rule stipulates animals raised under the “organic” label gain very specific protections when it comes to housing and other husbandry standards, including the prohibition of certain painful practices, such as tail-docking of pigs and cattle and debeaking of birds. Importantly, the rule sets minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for egg-laying chickens and requires that producers provide a sufficient number of exits and outdoor enrichment opportunities to entice birds to go outside on a daily basis. It also specifies that covered porches and similar structures do not qualify as outdoor space. Now we need to see a final rulemaking action that provides only a short phase-in period and then vigorous oversight.