The Humane Society of the United States
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Your support helps The HSUS save animal lives whenever disaster strikes

All Animals magazine, January/February 2018

By Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States

  • Wayne Pacelle with his adopted dog, Lily. Photo by Lisa Fletcher.

Whenever and wherever natural disaster place animals in peril, The HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI) respond with an unshakeable commitment to relieve suffering, but also with trained personnel, supplies and transport vehicles. During the past few months, massive weather and geological events have tested our limits and the spirit of those living in these regions. But I am proud to tell you that we stretched as never before to meet urgent needs, in the most difficult and often harrowing environments.

In this issue, we provide an accounting of our rescue and transport work in response to floods, storm surge, wind and earthquakes, in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, the British Virgin Islands, Mexico and other areas. As of press time, in all the places we deployed, we’ve assisted more than 15,000 animals. Working with more than 70 local shelters through our Emergency Placement Partners program, we transported more than 4,000 animals from hurricane-stricken zones to safety. We assisted 1,500 animals and/or households with field services, including food and veterinary care, and have provided free veterinary services and other support to nearly 4,000 animals through our ongoing collaboration with Houston-based nonprofit Emancipet. We also delivered more than 250,000 pounds of human and animal supplies to devastated areas.

With climate change appearing to intensify weather events, and perhaps giving life to a greater number of storms, we have no option but to strengthen our response capabilities and our related volunteer networks in the United States and abroad. We are committed to readiness.

While our disaster response work is a critical component of what we do, we reserve an abundance of tools for combatting human-caused cruelty. Whether in response to puppy mills and the dog meat trade, the fur trade and factory farms, horse slaughter or animal fighting, The HSUS and its affiliates are engineering broad social reforms, affecting the lives not of tens or hundreds of thousands of animals, but billions of them.

In 2017, we secured big gains against the fur trade, with Gucci, Net-a-Porter and other major luxury retailers committing never to sell fur again. We also surged ahead in our campaign to end the use of wild animals in traveling circus acts. After 146 years, Ringling Bros. shuttered its operations. Our teams led efforts to pass bills to ban any use of elephants in circus acts in two of the nation’s most populous states, Illinois and New York. We worked to secure a ban on all wild animal acts in key cities throughout the country, including Los Angeles and New York City. And with our Nine Billion Lives campaign—aimed at easing the suffering of chickens in industrial agriculture—we’ve persuaded more than 30 major food retailers to commit to major reforms.

In the months ahead, we’ll be waging three statewide ballot initiative campaigns—in Arizona to stop the trophy hunting of big cats, in California to close the door on confinement agriculture and in Ohio to crack down on puppy mills. Together, these initiatives promise to affect the lives of millions of animals, and to influence the trajectory of national debates over these issues.

Every day, we work to honor our founders’ vision of an organization that doesn’t shy away from the biggest crises and the most difficult fights. I came to The HSUS some years ago because I felt that, more than anything, animals need a powerful, strategic organization to drive the global discussion about our duties to animals and to secure tangible gains that prevent cruelty. Never has there been a group quite like The HSUS. Our big-tent, mainstream approach is paired with cutting-edge, ambitious campaigns—with an unyielding focus on ending the greatest, most institutionalized forms of animal abuse. When you invest in our work, you invest in the promise of the biggest, boldest, most practical change for the other creatures on our planet.


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