(Editor's Note: Thanks to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States for submitting this story that also appears on his blog.)
The HSUS works for all animals, and on so many fronts—building public awareness, driving corporate progress, and conducting hands-on care of animals in crisis. We also work to see that laws are enforced and to lobby for stronger animal welfare policies.
There are still a number of state legislatures in active session this year, so I can’t give you any final conclusions yet on our 2012 progress. But to date, we’ve seen 69 new animal protection laws enacted on a host of issues, and we expect to see other important measures pass before the end of the year in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and several other states.
Looking back on the first three quarters of the year, here is my list of the 10 most important animal protection bills to pass at the state level. As you can see, the list encompasses a wide range of topics, and it shows progress for us on so many fronts.
1. California enacted protections for dogs and wildlife by banning the cruel hound hunting of bears and bobcats. This was perhaps the most-discussed bill in the California legislature this year, and hundreds of animal advocates and hound hunters trekked to the Capitol to make their case, while tens of thousands of animal advocates wrote and called in favor of the legislation. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Sept. 26.
2. Rhode Island added to the momentum of our farm animal protection campaign by passing legislation to phase out the use of gestation crates and veal crates, and to outlaw the tail docking of cattle without anesthesia.
3. Ohio restricted the ownership of dangerous exotic animals. This came after the horrible tragedy in Zanesville in October 2011. Ohio became the 44th state to place some restrictions on the ownership of dangerous wild animals as pets.
4. Illinois banned the shark fin trade, building on the laws we’ve helped to pass in California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
5. Idaho established some felony-level penalties for cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty. Idaho became the 48th state to enact felony penalties for egregious acts of animal cruelty. Measure 5 is on the ballot in North Dakota to make that state the 49th to do so.
6. Arizona protected greyhounds by enacting a law that would allow the last remaining greyhound racing track in the state to end live dog racing. This industry has shrunk dramatically in the last decade, as a result of animal protection campaigns and competition from other forms of gambling.
7. Minnesota stopped the sale of shelter pets to laboratories. Only a handful of states still allow pets to be seized from shelters and sold to research labs.
8. New Jersey banned horse slaughter for human consumption and the transport of horsemeat for human consumption. Horse slaughter enthusiasts are trying to open plants in several states, and the Garden State must now be stricken from their target lists. New Jersey joins California, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas in effectively banning slaughter of these creatures for human consumption.
9. Louisiana stopped the sales of pets from the side of the road. This builds on our efforts to protect dogs from reckless breeders, among other problems.
10. New York limited live animal slaughter markets by extending a four-year moratorium forbidding the licensing of any new live animal slaughter markets within 1,500 feet of a residential dwelling in New York City.