Together, we can make a difference.

Animal Blood Bank

Recently you may have heard about an animal blood bank in Stockbridge that has acquired homeless animals from Michigan shelters to keep in cages and be repeat blood donors for a year or, in some cases, much longer.  Rest assured that HSHV would never knowingly place an animal with a blood bank, laboratory, or Class B dealer.  Our animals deserve loving, caring homes where they can rest comfortably and move freely.

While our companions sometimes need blood for medical reasons, blood can be acquired through family pets who are volunteered to make a donation as you see here. Forcing a companion animal to live in a cage without a home or family so that other companion animals can get needed medical care doesn’t make much sense.  Further, let’s be clear that no for-profit company is helping the animal rescue industry by taking homeless animals, putting them in cages and profiting off of their blood.  If your veterinarian uses a profit-making model that exploits homeless animals, please encourage them to use pets who can be a part of the program while living in a home with their loving family.

The Endangered Species: Nearing Extinction?

The current Administration has out forth a set of proposals designed to weaken protections in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Michigan has 19 animals on the Endangered Species list.  From the noble grey wolves, to beautiful Kirtland Warbler, to the mysterious Canada Lynx, vulnerable animals important to Michigan’s ecosystem will be at much greater risk of harm and extinction under these proposed changes.

The changes would allow for destruction of critical habitat, the last places they are found, by special interests and would make it legal to hurt and kill threatened animals — amounting to a huge reduction in protections for threatened species that slow down recovery and put more animals at risk of permanent extinction.  For 45 years, the ESA has successfully saved vulnerable animals from extinction.

Get Michigan to be the 2nd state (behind lots of countries and cities) to Ban Declawing

Michigan State Representative Nate Shannon introduced legislation that, if it became law, would mean Michigan would lead the nation to outlaw declawing cats, banning a cruel and unnecessary mutilation.

Some mistakenly think declawing is harmless, surgical removal of nails, but declawing actually removes toe bones—resulting in both short-term and chronic pain and other well-documented health issues. We’ve witnessed this in our shelter; declawed cats often have physical and behavioral problems that are a secondary response to pain and to the stress of losing their natural and important need to scent mark. Declawing cats does not protect them from relinquishment; rather, it puts them at greater risk to be turned in to a shelter because of the resulting problems. Furthermore, the CDC and National Institutes of Health agree declawing cats to protect humans is “not advised.” See more about the issues from declawing here.

Based on research showing clear detrimental effects, both the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are against declawing as an elective procedure. It is also illegal in numerous countries and cities, and it is opposed by all major animal welfare organizations.

Please take a second to email your representative letting them know declawing must stop, and the great state of Michigan can lead the way in protecting our companion animals.

Stop the hunt of Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes - Photo by John Duncan on Unsplash

Photo by John Duncan on Unsplash

We need your voice!

The Michigan Senate Natural Resources Committee voted to pass Senate Resolution 0030 (SR 30) urging the Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill cranes as a game species and to open a hunting season on them.

One hundred years ago, Michigan’s Sandhill crane population was near extinction due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. The bird’s population recovered at a very slow pace and still remains vulnerable.

Instead of celebrating a successful conservation effort, SR 30 seeks to destroy it!  The hunting of Sandhill cranes serves no wildlife management purpose, does not prevent crop conflict, and reverses conservation efforts by orphaning still-dependent young.

Please contact your Michigan Senator today and ask him/her to VOTE NO on SR 30 to open a hunting season on Sandhill cranes.

HSHV works with local, state and federal legislators and partner organizations to help better protect animals. Below are some resources helpful in advocacy. Have a suggestion for more resources? Email us!

LEGISLATIVE TRACKER

Legislative Tracker

For the latest information on animal welfare legislation as well as HSHV’s position, please see HSHV’s Legislative Tracker.

ADVOCACY TIPS

Effective Advocacy Tips

Courtesy of Jenifer Martin, adjunct clinical instructor at the UM School of Public Health and HSHV board member

Step 1: Identify the issue you are concerned about

  • Think about the issue at hand and what exactly you want to see changed. Work to gather information on the issue from all sides, including arguments both for and against the change you want to see made.

Step 2: Identify a clear goal for your advocacy

  • Creating a goal that is realistic and will have an impact is one of the most important steps in effective advocacy work. Start off by developing an “ask.” When doing this, consider what it is you want to accomplish. Is it a new law? A regulation? Be as clear as possible about what you are asking lawmakers to do and if appropriate, include the following:
    • Specific legislation involved
    • The lead sponsor of the legislation
    • Timing of any future actions

Sample “ask”: I’m writing to urge you to vote “no” on House bill 5917, sponsored by Rep Vaupe, which would prohibit local governments from enacting rules that regulate pet shops. If this bill passes, any city or county wishing to prohibit pet shops from selling puppy mill puppies would be unable to do so. Ordinances already passed by Michigan cities to prohibit the sale of puppy mills would e revoked. This bill we e considered on the floor of the House next week.

Step 3: Identify the Decision Maker

  • When planning, it is important to think about who is going to be making any decisions regarding the issue you are concerned about. Will it be Congress? Is there a subcommittee? Your local Mayor? Focus all communication and efforts engaging those who will be a part of the decision making process for your particular issue.

Step 4: Affiliate/Build Coalition

  • Strength comes in numbers. Connect with local groups and organizations who share your goal and build and mobilize grass roots efforts. Because elected officials really listen to their constituents, the more stakeholders you can engage in your efforts, the better.

Step 5: Identify Opportunities to Engage

  • One of the most effective ways to bring your issue to an elected officials attention is by engaging with them in a variety of ways. Attending town hall meetings, writing letters, inviting staff to events and conducting in person meetings are all great ways to communicate your goal.

More tips:

  • Be prepared: have information, questions and expertise readily available.
  • Be professional: dress the part! Engage in polite, respectful way and be mindful of body language and your overall approach. Refrain from things like gum chewing and having your cell phone.
  • Be Persistent: offer your assistance, write thank you notes and maintain contact.
ANIMAL WELFARE ARTICLES
FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

Use the links below to find out who represents you. The more your elected officials hear from you, their constituent, on animal welfare issues, the more likely they are to make it a priority for them to address. Your phone call, email or personal visit makes an impact!

Find Your Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti (local) Representatives

Ann Arbor City Government Website: Find your Ann Arbor City Council Representatives

Ypsilanti City Government Website: Find your Ypsilanti City Council Representatives

Other City Contacts: Saline City CouncilPlymouth City Government

Washtenaw County Government Website: Find your Washtenaw County Elected Officials

Find your Michigan (state) Representatives

Michigan House of Representatives Website: Find your State Representative

Michigan Senate Website: Find your State Senator

Find your Federal (national) Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives Website: Find your Congressional Representative

U.S. Senate: Contact Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow

FACTORY FARMING

“The question is not can they reason?  Nor, can they talk?  But can they suffer?”

-Jeremy Bentham, 1789

Despite pictures of happy cows and chickens on milk and egg cartons, animals raised in factory farms endure intense and sustained cruelty. Nearly all animals raised or food come from large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) known as “factory farms,” where cruelty is a core part of a business plan that requires extreme efficiency to maximize profits. Though “farm” is still in the name, these facilities are worse than prisons. According to the EPA, factory farms are defined as facilities with more than 1,000 beef cattle, 2,500 hogs or 100,000 broiler hens. Michigan has over 270 factory farms.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s population doubled, but meat consumption increased five-fold. Industrialized farming took root in the 1970s, replacing small family-run farms by industrialized lots that house thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of animals in intense confinement.

Treating animals as objects of production rather than sentient beings in support of hyper-consumption of cheap meat and dairy not only results in the torture of about 10 billion land animals a year in the US (~25 million/day), but is also destroying human health and our planet.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR ANIMALS

Just like us, farm animals are social, emotional and intelligent beings. They feel pain, and experience complex emotions like grief, joy, fear and contentment.  They have strong family bonds.  Mothers and babies have a natural need and yearning to be together. They have friendships, are playful and can solve problems. As such, they need and deserve our respect and protection.

Factory farming treats these sentient beings as objects of production. Animals are kept in extreme confinement, overcrowded cages or stalls, given little-to-no time outdoors and unable to exhibit natural behaviors. Egg-laying hens living their lives in battery cages are provided space no bigger than a standard size piece of paper. Pigs used for breeding live mostly in gestation crates just two by six feet.  These animals can barely move, may be stacked on top of each other, and may only experience sunlight and fresh air on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Many animals are subjected to routine mutilation (de-beaking, tail docking, dehorning, castration and more — often without anesthesia).

Babies are torn from their mothers right after birth to make dairy products and are either sent straight to slaughter, raised for meat or dairy, or kept in the worst kind of agonizing confinement to make veal.  Mother cows naturally suckle their calves for many months. Some people mistakenly believe that cows just always have milk. But there is only one way to make a dairy cow; by taking away her calves so that the milk can be given to humans instead.  As such, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated yearly, each calve taken immediately away, until she is considered “spent” and sent to slaughter herself.

Animals on factory farms aren’t given time in pasture but are fed cheap diets made up of corn, soy, additives and by-products such as animal waste and arsenic. These unnatural and unhealthy diets cause sickness and painful chronic conditions.

Growth hormones are used to unnaturally boost growth and milk production causing disabling health problems. Antibiotics are also used to increase growth and to curb infection from stress, poor nutrition, sickness and overcrowded living conditions.

Although their lifespans are unnaturally short, it is estimated that about 10% of animals die of sickness and injury before they get to slaughter. This high attrition rate does not outweigh the financial gain from massive rates of production.

Such conditions create high levels of stress, sickness and continuous pain and discomfort until the animals are packed on a truck and taken to slaughter.  The slaughter process is typically a traumatic end to a miserable life.  Similar to other live transport situations, animals are crammed into trucks, travel long distances experiencing poor ventilation, motion sickness, heat stress, and electric prodding and other violence while getting on and off the truck.  It is legal for animals to be forced to travel in extreme temperatures ranging from 100 to 20 degrees without access to food and water for 24 hours.  They arrive at the slaughterhouse injured, dehydrated and highly stressed.  Because of increasing speed kill rates (for example, up to 175 chickens are slaughtered per minute) technology and procedures often fail causing animals to go through processing while still alive.

Because those working at factory farm and slaughter houses are typically poorly trained, low-wage workers under constant pressure to work quickly required to shut off their compassion to do their jobs “well”, defenseless animals are routinely subject to cruel handling.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR HUMANS

Americans now eat more than a half pound of meat and one pound of dairy per day.

Consumption of factory-farmed meat and dairy poses serious health risks to humans. Factory farmed animals, such as beef and dairy cows, unable to graze are much lower in essential health nutrients. Today, diets heavy with animal fat and processed meats are known to cause hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers. According to the CDC, unnatural feeds on factory farms adds to the saturated fat content of meat. Routinely used growth hormones are also linked to an increase in breast, colon and prostate cancer and lead to developmental and reproductive problems, but come with no warning labels.

Over-use of antibiotics also used to spur growth and to dampen disease due to stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D has caused serious concern around deadly infections resistant to antibiotics. It is estimated that 70% of antibiotics used today are administered to animals raised for food for non-therapeutic reasons. The excessive use of antibiotics has caused a steep and deadly rise in antibiotic resistant infections in animals and people. Each year nearly 100,000  people in the U.S. die due to antibiotic resistant infections.

Arsenic is also routinely used in chicken and turkey feed to boost growth and kill parasites. Its use is approved by the FDA despite links to cancer and other human health problems.

Overcrowding, poor sanitation and insufficient waste management and sanitation on commercial farms also causes contamination of the food supply from bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. Each year millions of people are made sick and thousands die from these and other food-borne illnesses.

Zoonotic viruses, diseases that jump from animals to people (such as the novel Coronavirus), are also believed to be on the rise due to factory farming.

Stress, overcrowding and filthy conditions create ideal breeding ground for viruses that spread quickly among animals, farm workers and beyond.

Viruses like the bird flu and the swine flu (H1N1), believed to be caused by overcrowding of pigs on a factory farm, have the potential to become world-wide pandemics.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR WORKERS

There are approximately 700,000 people who work in animal agriculture, the vast majority in factory farms. Today, many factory farm workers are immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America working for low wages often hired temporarily on work visas. The industry also employs a large but unknown number of undocumented workers because they are less likely to complain about pay or working conditions. Workers are typically paid near or below the federal poverty line.

The conditions on factory farms are hazardous for animals and also for the people who work there. Like other applicable regulations, labor regulations protecting the safety and health of the workforce are extremely lax and poorly enforced. Injuries on the job and exposure to disease and noxious air is routine. Workers suffer higher rates of chronic respiratory illnesses, heart disease, repetitive motion injuries, amputation of fingers and limbs, and pre-mature death.  

Studies also show a negative impact on mental and behavioral health.  Factory farm or slaughter house workers (who may be responsible for killing tens of thousands of animals during a single shift) suffer high rates of including depression, anxiety, PTSD, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.  Crime statistics, comparing industries with similar demographics, show that slaughterhouses significantly increase violent crime in communities where they reside.

“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where hogs are killed] for any period of time—that let’s [sic] you kill things but doesn’t let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around in the blood pit with you and think, ‘God, that really isn’t a bad looking animal.’ You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up to nuzzle me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.”

— Gail A. Eisnitz

Despite the many dangers of the job on health and safety, most factory farm and slaughterhouse workers are not covered by health insurance or allowed time off to seek medical care.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Factory farming causes massive environmental damage and plays a significant role in climate change.

Water:  Factory farm industry consumes an unsustainable amount of water. It is estimated that nearly half of all water consumption in the United States goes to the process of raising animals for food. Most of it not used for hydrating animals, but for growing feed and to cleaning factory farm and slaughterhouse floors. A pound of beef requires about 2000 gallons of water – 10 times the amount used for a pound of soybean.

A person can save more water by skipping one hamburger than by skipping daily showers for 2 months. 

Further, factory farming is also one of the largest threats to healthy drinking water. It is estimated that animals raised for food create 130 times the waste that humans create.

A dairy farm with 2500 cows creates more feces and urine than a city the size of Cleveland, Ohio. Yet there are no sewage management systems in place as are required in human communities.

That waste is filled with pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and excessive nutrients harmful to the environment.  Polluted water from waste is stored in large onsite cesspools or is used as fertilizer on crops. Rivers, streams and ground water gets contaminated when these cesspools rupture, leach or leak or through run-off from fertilized crops.  Industrial crop growing for animal feed also creates water filled with huge amounts of pesticides, fertilizer and heavy metals. Contaminated water is a serious threat to both aquatic ecosystems and public health.

Air:  Confining large numbers of animals together causes the release and concentration of emissions that both degrade air quality and add to greenhouse gases.  Factory farms are responsible for releasing particulate matter and dangerous compounds, including ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide.  These emissions can cause foul odors and serious negative health effects on farm workers and the local community.   Studies show residents who live near chicken factories suffer high rates of asthma, lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.  Air pollution of from waste containment cesspools has been shown to also cause headaches, nosebleeds, depression and brain damage.

Land: In addition to pesticides, fertilizers and waste that contaminate and degrade the soil, hurting wildlife and humans, we lose land equal to 27 football fields every minute (18 million acres a year) due to intensive farming.   The beef industry is responsible for 70% of deforestation in the Amazon and nearly half of all cropland is used to grow animal feed.  Forests are home to 80% of all wild land animals and are essential to moderating global warming.  Deforestation adds to climate change, mass species extinction and a critical loss of biodiversity.

Deforestation also creates more opportunities for new and dangerous zoonotic pathogens to spread from animals to people, as it forces stressed animals in closer proximity to people.

Climate Change: 

The United Nations recently declared factory farms to be the leading cause of greenhouse gasses.

Greenhouse gases trap heat from the earth’s surface causing the earth to warm leading to climate change.

Billions of animals confined on factory farms are believed to contribute more to climate change than all cars, trucks, trains and planes put together.

Both methane (expelled from cows and animal waste) and nitrous oxide (from waste and fertilizers used for crops to feed “food animals”) are considered many times more potent and damaging than CO2. 

There are also many indirect ways in which factory farms contribute to climate change, such as the use of fossil fuels and through deforestation. The release of CO2 as a result of clearing forests is believed to be responsible for 10% of greenhouse gases. While there are several industrialized agricultural trends behind deforestation, the raising of cattle for beef has the largest impact.

Environmental Justice:  Many people who live near factory farms live below the poverty line. They experience serious health consequences from air and water pollution. Studies show higher rates of chronic health issues like respiratory and neurological problems, particularly harmful for pregnant women and children. They also suffer quality of life issues, as they can’t spend time outside or even open their windows due to the stench in the air, and reduced property values.  But they often can’t afford to move or fight powerful corporate entities.

Weak Regulation and Weaker Enforcement:   The fact is that neither animals, humans nor the environment is being protected.

Most people are shocked to learn that there is no oversight of animals on factory farms. No government body is ensuring humane treatment or adequate sanitation on industrialized animal feeding lots.

The USDA only oversees the slaughter and meat packing process. The FDA regulates food safety by inspecting food production facilities. The EPA enforces environmental laws. But resources for all are extraordinarily slim. Even where there is regulation, oversight is minimal and penalties, if imposed, are minimal. According to a recent poll more than half of Americans believe there should be tighter regulation on factory farms.

Ag-Gag Laws:  Most people, regardless of whether they consume meat and dairy, want to see animals treated humanely. The food industrial complex is well aware of public sentiment and knows consumers would be outraged by the routine, systemic abuse experienced by animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy.  As such, numerous laws have been passed to silence whistle-blowers and undercover activity meant to expose animal cruelty.  In some areas of the U.S. the industry is so afraid of the public seeing what happens behind closed doors that people can be charged as terrorists just for exposing violent animal abuse. 

WHAT WE CAN DO

Reduce and reform.  Raising food animals is predicted to double over the next 40 years. To curb massive cruelty, and to protect human health and the environment, we need to do everything we can to stop raising animals industrially and stop eating them thoughtlessly.

Real change will come from both reducing consumption and insisting on both humane and sustainable farming practices.

Actions we can take as individuals to help farmed animals:

  • Eliminate or limit the amount of animal products you consume. Factory farming developed in America during the 20th century in order to meet the growing demand for meat and dairy. The less animal products we consume the less demand for them which, in turn, will reduce the necessity for factory farms.
  • For example, if every meat eater in the U.S. ate one meatless meal a week, we could save 450 million animals each year. 

  • Try plant-based alternatives like Impossible Burger or Beyond meat.
  • Buy local. The vast majority of meat, dairy and eggs found in supermarkets come from animals that were raised on factory farms. Buying from local farmers means you’re much more likely to get food from animals that were raised in more natural, humane situations.
  • Be skeptical of labels. While you may think you’re purchasing more humane food options with labels like organic, free-range or grass-fed, oftentimes these labels are devoid of much meaning.  The Henry Ford Health System offers insight into some labels here.
  • Demand humane standards of care from agri-business and regulatory agencies. We need regulation and real enforcement on:
    • Sanitation: Ensure clean living conditions and proper waste handling
    • Housing: Eliminate extreme confinement and overcrowding
    • Care: End routine practices that cause unnecessary pain and suffering
    • Feed: Use only nutritious, species appropriate and nontoxic animal feed
    • Drugs: Ban use of growth hormones and antibiotics beyond therapeutic use

And VOTE! Vote for politicians who have compassion for animals and care about the health of people and our planet.

DECLAWING CATS

The term declaw is misleading –making one think an animal doctor is magically making a cat’s nails disappear, leaving all furniture worries behind. But not only is this elective surgery actually a painful amputation of the last bone in each toe (similar to removing the tip of your fingers), but also has lasting negative effects—as we’ve seen with the thousands of cats who come through our door each year.

Unfortunately, many families aren’t made fully aware of the risks associated with declawing, but we’re hoping to help change that!  Please read on to see the research and many humane and effective alternatives to declawing.

READ MORE

The Risks of Declawing

Chronic pain. Botched surgeries. Bone fragments left behind. Arthritis. We see cats who are inclined to bite and those that don’t want to use the litterbox. We’ve had to do reparative surgeries, and some cats have to be on lifelong pain medication. Also, sadly, many declawed cats are euthanized in shelters because they are deemed aggressive or because of intractable litter box problems. But these behaviors are often secondary responses to pain and stress of not being able to express the natural behavior to scratch.

But you don’t have to take our word for it; studies show declawing leads to not just short-term pain and risk of infection, but a higher risk of chronic pain and behavioral problems such as biting and litter box problems. That’s a big part of why this elective surgery is also opposed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, discouraged by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and outlawed in so many countries, several cities, and now the state of New York. And leading health authorities, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Public Health Services agree that declawing cats to protect humans is “not advised.”

Why do cats scratch? 

By nature, cats have an important need to scratch. Through scratching, they’re scent-marking and expressing emotion. Scratching serves many psychological and physiological needs by providing comfort and expression through kneading and allowing valuable stretching and foot-muscle exercises. Cats scratch to relieve stress and to express happiness and excitement. They also use claws to protect themselves and escape wild predators, dogs, and others who may do them harm. Even indoors, a cat without claws faces dangers, as their balance is impaired, resulting in a gradual weakening of their leg, shoulder and back muscles, and making them more susceptible to injurious falls.

Alternatives to declawing

A variety of alternatives exist to manage natural scratching behavior. Here are some easy and effective strategies:

  • Provide a space for cats to scratch—e.g., scratching pads, posts and other appealing structures for the cat to use. Employ behavior modification techniques such as placing catnip or favorite wet food on top of them to induce the cat to use them. Just as we give our dogs “chew toys” so that they don’t eat our shoes, kitty needs things she can scratch, too!
  • To protect furniture, use deterrents such as double-sided tape (e.g., Sticky Paws®). Covering the claws with soft temporary pads (e.g., Soft Claws®) is another good option.
  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly in order to blunt the tips. To do this safely, owners should be familiar with cat behavior and proper handling techniques to avoid being scratched or causing injury to the cat. When trimming, go slow and be patient. Stressful or painful experiences for the cat will likely lead to even more of a challenge in the future when trying to trim your cat’s nails.
  • Using positive reinforcement, redirect your cat’s attention/scratching to a toy or scratching pad/post when the cat scratches at furniture.
  • Consider using Feliway, which is available as a room plugin or a spray and mimics the scent of a cat’s facial pheromones. It’s useful for getting cats to stop urine marking and, as such, is believed to help with cats who mark with their claws, too.
  • Still set on living with a declawed cat? Sometimes we have cats in the shelter already declawed before they came to the shelter.  Just ask. We are here to help!
Baby deer nuzzing Doe

THE ANN ARBOR DEER CULL

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is supportive of developing an educational and non-lethal method of managing animal/human conflicts in our community. Because our organization works with many instances of such conflicts with wildlife, we know that there are many effective ways to solve these problems without the use of violence. As such a progressive city, it is our hope that Ann Arbor will consider being at the forefront for setting a new standard of solving human/animal conflicts. Similar to the successful plan implemented in Rochester Hills, Michigan, we advocate for education, strategies to alert drives to high deer traffic areas and the development of a committee to assist and educate residents who are struggling with wildlife conflicts in their neighborhood. See our printable Deer Management Position Statement.

READ MORE

Our organization was asked to present at the February 5, 2015 Ann Arbor public meeting regarding a deer management project but were only given the option to present on the topic of “Immunocontraception in deer.” Although we have extensive experience in working with wildlife, we do not currently have any experience in sterlizing deer nor do we, as a nonprofit organization, have the resources to do the necessary research and field work without support from the City of Ann Arbor. Recognizing that we are not experts in the field of deer sterilization, we recommended someone who is an expert and would come to the city for free or very low cost but our offer was declined. We encouraged the city to contact Laura Simon, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Field Director for the Urban Wildlife Department, as she was readily available to help. The Citizens for Safe Deer Management urged the City to meet with someone from HSUS regarding deer sterilization, offered to pay for any cost incurred, and on July 13, 2015, they met with Stephanie Boyles-Griffin, Senior Director at HSUS who presented on “Use of Fertility Control to Manage Urban White-Tailed Deer Populations” and spent days in Ann Arbor assessing the potential for a deer fertility control project here.  She concluded it was feasible and extended an invitation to work with Ann Arbor, as can be seen in this report.

On August 17, 2015, Ann Arbor City Council Members voted 8-1 to start a four-year plan to kill deer in the City of Ann Arbor, starting with 100 deer this winter. Mayor Christopher Taylor opposed this move, saying he was aware there is not a community consensus on this issue.

As an organization dedicated to animal welfare, this concerns us greatly on many levels and for many reasons. We will continue to work on this issue and help educate the community. To oppose the hiring of sharpshooters to kill deer in Ann Arbor, please contact City Council.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley continues to offer to be a resource on this issue and any issue that is a concern to humans and animals in our community.  We look forward to opportunities to partner with the City of Ann Arbor to provide education to our residents and work towards a successful and safe conflict management plan.

To learn more about this issue, please see our website StopTheShoot.org. See our printable Deer Management Position Statement here.

Sandhill Crane, photo by Joan Tisdale

SR 30 - SANDHILL CRANE HUNT

Sandhill Cranes are believed to be our oldest living bird species — over 9 million years. They mate for life, their babies stay with them for a year, and their populations recover slowly, in part because each breeding pair usually has only one chick per year that survives. The Humane Society of Huron Valley opposes Senate Resolution 30 which urges the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill Cranes as a game species, and to seek permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to open a hunting season on them.

READ MORE

SR 30 urges the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill cranes to the game species list and seek U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish annual recreational Sandhill crane hunting seasons in Michigan.

One hundred years ago, the Sandhill crane population was near extinction in Michigan due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. While the bird’s population recovered, it did so at a very slow pace.

Instead of celebrating successful conservation, SR 30 aims to destroy it. We believe Sandhill Crane hunt is cruel and reverses conservation efforts by killing or orphaning dependent young.

Sandhill Cranes are monogamous, mate for life, and stay with their mates year-round as bonded pairs. Both parents work together to raise their offspring. When hatched, chicks can leave the nest within a day under parental supervision; however, chicks are still dependent on both parents well into and past the fall hunting season and before these birds can migrate to their wintering grounds.  Given their slow reproduction, harming an adult or offspring makes the Sandhill crane population extremely vulnerable.

Farmers experiencing conflicts with Sandhill cranes can obtain non-lethal deterrence products to make seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, request a permit for lethal control of the problem birds. Conducting a hunting season in the fall serves no wildlife management purpose.

From the standpoint of a humane organization, we are very concerned that a Sandhill Crane hunt is cruel and could orphan dependent young. Sandhill Cranes are monogamous, and mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and they stay with their mates year-round as bonded pairs. Both Sandhill Crane parents work together to raise their chicks. When the chicks are hatched in late spring, they are able to leave the nest within a day under the supervision of the parents. However, the chicks continue to be dependent upon both parents well into and past the hunting season, which occurs in the fall. If Michigan opens a hunting season before these Sandhill Crane family units migrate to their wintering grounds, either parent, or the still-dependent young, could be killed in that hunt. There is no justification for potentially destroying families of this still-recovering species, simply to sell a few hunting licenses. If farmers encounter conflicts with Sandhill cranes in the spring, they can obtain non-lethal deterrence products to make their seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, they can request a permit for lethal control of the problem birds. Conducting a hunting season in the fall serves no wildlife management purpose.

Please join us in opposing SR 30 by writing the Michigan State Senate. A sample email is below.

I oppose SR 0030 (SR 30) urging the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill cranes as a game species and seeking U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish a Sandhill crane hunting season.

One hundred years ago, Michigan’s Sandhill crane population was near extinction due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. The bird’s population recovered at a very slow pace and still remains vulnerable. 

Instead of celebrating a successful conservation effort, SR 30 seeks to destroy it.

A Sandhill crane hunt reverses conservation efforts by orphaning dependent young. Chicks are hatched in late spring, but dependent on both parents well into and past the fall hunting season. If Michigan hunts Sandhill cranes before they migrate to wintering grounds, either parent could be killed.  There is no justification for destroying families of a still-recovering species.

A Sandhill crane hunt serves no wildlife management purpose.  The recovery of a threatened population is not science-based rationale to open a hunting season.

A Sandhill crane hunt does not prevent conflict with crops.  There is no evidence that hunting Sandhill cranes would reduce damage to crops.  Farmers can already obtain non-lethal, more effective deterrence products to make their seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, request a permit to lethally remove Sandhill cranes when necessary.

Lost dog and cat sign

STRAY HOLD LAW

Approximately 70% of households own one or more pets in Michigan, equaling an estimated 4.7 million dogs and cats.  Most are considered a beloved part of the family.  According to national figures, one in three of these pets will get lost at some point during their lifetime, causing great distress to their human guardians.  As a result, most communities throughout the United States have designated stray hold facilities whose role it is to be a safe haven where families can find their lost pets. Since 1969, licensed shelters in Michigan that take in strays have been required to follow a 4 or 7 day (depending on if the animal has ID) stray hold law (MCL 287.388) for animals found loose without an owner.  We are in favor of the Stray Hold Law, and while we desperately need this bill, HSHV opposes it in its current state based on several flaws.

READ MORE

Since 1969, licensed shelters in Michigan that take in strays have been required to follow a 4 or 7 day (depending on if the animal has ID) stray hold law (MCL 287.388) for animals found loose without an owner.  This law has been strictly enforced by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the department that licenses animal shelters.  However, after being legally challenged by a large, private Michigan shelter, MDARD has recently notified all shelters that it will no longer be enforcing the current stray hold law (based on its being located in a section of the law pertaining to the use of dogs and cats in research).

The stray hold law ensures that owners have a chance to find their lost companion animal.  Without a stray hold law, an animal entering a shelter can be immediately adopted, transferred to another facility/group, or put to death without giving owners even one day to find their lost pet.  And even if owners find their lost pet in a shelter, without a stray hold law, the shelter has no obligation to return them to their rightful owners.

Following MDARD’s announcement, Michigan now stands nearly alone in the absence of a state mandated stray hold.  The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) firmly believes in the importance of stray hold times as a basic and essential protection for pets and their owners, and will continue to follow the policies we already have in place.  So while pets and pet owners in Washtenaw County are safe (as long as the animals don’t cross county lines), many in Michigan are now in a precarious position.

HB 4915 was introduced by Representative Mike McCready to help rectify this issue.  While we desperately need this bill, HSHV opposes it in its current state based on two serious flaws:    

1)    Cats as second-class pets:  The bill reduces stray hold times to “zero days” for cats that are “candidates for adoption or sterilization programs.”  Though we strongly support a bill that promotes Trap, Neuter and Return — where unowned cats are sterilized and returned to their original location — as the only proven effective means of reducing overpopulation, the vague use of the word “candidate” leaves the option to euthanize stray cats at intake, as sadly many Michigan shelters would still prefer to do.  Further, we believe “adoptable” cats, like dogs, should also be held for the minimum hold times of 4 or 7 days to give owners a chance to find them.

  • We recommend the same hold time for both dogs and cats, and support clear provisions for sterilization programs that return cats to their original location.  Even if a lost cat is mistaken for an outdoor/feral cat, returning them to their original location is more likely to help them to get back home.  One study found that cats left mainly to their own devices are 13 times more likely to find their way back home than those that end up at a shelter.

2)    Wide discretion to euthanize before hold times have expired:  The bill also states that “(A) AN ANIMAL THAT WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO UNDUE SUFFERING” can be immediately euthanized.   Though we agree with the essence of this statement, the language gives too much discretion to shelters to define “suffering.”  Many common or treatable conditions such as fear, arthritis, blindness, contagious disease, or old age could be used as justification to immediately put a lost animal (dog or cat) to death, without regard to hold times.

  • We recommend a definition of suffering as suggested by Nathan Winograd, Director of the No-Kill Advocacy Center.Irremediable physical suffering” means an animal who has a poor or grave prognosis for being able to live without severe unremitting pain even with comprehensive, prompt, and necessary veterinary care, as determined by a veterinarian licensed to practice in the state.”     

Respecting and promoting the loving bond between people and their companion animals should be at the core of animal sheltering work.  Basic stray hold times applied consistently to both dogs and cats, and clear definitions around justification for euthanasia provide important protections to both people and animals.  HSHV and our supporters want to see increased adoptions and sterilizations, and the elimination of unnecessary shelter euthanasia across the state—not stripping families of the right to reclaim their lost animals.

Photo by George Potter on Unsplash

PETTING ZOOS

Petting zoos are sold as fun learning experiences for children, but instead are artificial environments designed simply for entertainment that are bad for animals and people. Animals used in entertainment suffer from abuse and neglect, deprived of the care they require to meet their social, behavioral and physical needs.  They are kept in unnatural housing, not fed a proper diet, and suffer from fear, stress and boredom during transport and living in captivity and overcrowded conditions. We are opposed to petting zoos.

READ MORE

There are no required standards nor regulatory oversight for petting zoos. Basic animal welfare standards are not followed related to veterinary care, diet, housing, bedding and expression of natural behaviors.  Animals at petting zoos are often not properly protected from the elements, forced to stand all day long in the sun during the hot summer months without access to shade or adequate water.

Frequently petting zoos breed or buy baby animals so there is always an ample stock of adorable babies to entertain customers, but those young animals are usually taken from their mothers too soon, are not provided with proper care and socialization, and must endure the stress of being transported from place to place.  Like the adult animals, they have no refuge from the stresses of constant human interaction.

Petting zoos are also known to be a health risk to humans, especially children, as a common source of zoonotic disease spread, including dangerous infections caused by exposure to E. Coli.

Latest News

Animal Blood Bank

Recently you may have heard about an animal blood bank in Stockbridge that has acquired homeless animals from Michigan shelters to keep in cages and be repeat blood donors for a year or, in some cases, much longer.  Rest assured that HSHV would never knowingly place an animal with a blood bank, laboratory, or Class B dealer.  Our animals deserve loving, caring homes where they can rest comfortably and move freely.

While our companions sometimes need blood for medical reasons, blood can be acquired through family pets who are volunteered to make a donation as you see here. Forcing a companion animal to live in a cage without a home or family so that other companion animals can get needed medical care doesn’t make much sense.  Further, let’s be clear that no for-profit company is helping the animal rescue industry by taking homeless animals, putting them in cages and profiting off of their blood.  If your veterinarian uses a profit-making model that exploits homeless animals, please encourage them to use pets who can be a part of the program while living in a home with their loving family.

The Endangered Species: Nearing Extinction?

The current Administration has out forth a set of proposals designed to weaken protections in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Michigan has 19 animals on the Endangered Species list.  From the noble grey wolves, to beautiful Kirtland Warbler, to the mysterious Canada Lynx, vulnerable animals important to Michigan’s ecosystem will be at much greater risk of harm and extinction under these proposed changes.

The changes would allow for destruction of critical habitat, the last places they are found, by special interests and would make it legal to hurt and kill threatened animals — amounting to a huge reduction in protections for threatened species that slow down recovery and put more animals at risk of permanent extinction.  For 45 years, the ESA has successfully saved vulnerable animals from extinction.

Action Alerts

Get Michigan to be the 2nd state (behind lots of countries and cities) to Ban Declawing

Michigan State Representative Nate Shannon introduced legislation that, if it became law, would mean Michigan would lead the nation to outlaw declawing cats, banning a cruel and unnecessary mutilation.

Some mistakenly think declawing is harmless, surgical removal of nails, but declawing actually removes toe bones—resulting in both short-term and chronic pain and other well-documented health issues. We’ve witnessed this in our shelter; declawed cats often have physical and behavioral problems that are a secondary response to pain and to the stress of losing their natural and important need to scent mark. Declawing cats does not protect them from relinquishment; rather, it puts them at greater risk to be turned in to a shelter because of the resulting problems. Furthermore, the CDC and National Institutes of Health agree declawing cats to protect humans is “not advised.” See more about the issues from declawing here.

Based on research showing clear detrimental effects, both the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are against declawing as an elective procedure. It is also illegal in numerous countries and cities, and it is opposed by all major animal welfare organizations.

Please take a second to email your representative letting them know declawing must stop, and the great state of Michigan can lead the way in protecting our companion animals.

Stop the hunt of Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes - Photo by John Duncan on Unsplash

Photo by John Duncan on Unsplash

We need your voice!

The Michigan Senate Natural Resources Committee voted to pass Senate Resolution 0030 (SR 30) urging the Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill cranes as a game species and to open a hunting season on them.

One hundred years ago, Michigan’s Sandhill crane population was near extinction due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. The bird’s population recovered at a very slow pace and still remains vulnerable.

Instead of celebrating a successful conservation effort, SR 30 seeks to destroy it!  The hunting of Sandhill cranes serves no wildlife management purpose, does not prevent crop conflict, and reverses conservation efforts by orphaning still-dependent young.

Please contact your Michigan Senator today and ask him/her to VOTE NO on SR 30 to open a hunting season on Sandhill cranes.

Resources

HSHV works with local, state and federal legislators and partner organizations to help better protect animals. Below are some resources helpful in advocacy. Have a suggestion for more resources? Email us!

LEGISLATIVE TRACKER

Legislative Tracker

For the latest information on animal welfare legislation as well as HSHV’s position, please see HSHV’s Legislative Tracker.

ADVOCACY TIPS

Effective Advocacy Tips

Courtesy of Jenifer Martin, adjunct clinical instructor at the UM School of Public Health and HSHV board member

Step 1: Identify the issue you are concerned about

  • Think about the issue at hand and what exactly you want to see changed. Work to gather information on the issue from all sides, including arguments both for and against the change you want to see made.

Step 2: Identify a clear goal for your advocacy

  • Creating a goal that is realistic and will have an impact is one of the most important steps in effective advocacy work. Start off by developing an “ask.” When doing this, consider what it is you want to accomplish. Is it a new law? A regulation? Be as clear as possible about what you are asking lawmakers to do and if appropriate, include the following:
    • Specific legislation involved
    • The lead sponsor of the legislation
    • Timing of any future actions

Sample “ask”: I’m writing to urge you to vote “no” on House bill 5917, sponsored by Rep Vaupe, which would prohibit local governments from enacting rules that regulate pet shops. If this bill passes, any city or county wishing to prohibit pet shops from selling puppy mill puppies would be unable to do so. Ordinances already passed by Michigan cities to prohibit the sale of puppy mills would e revoked. This bill we e considered on the floor of the House next week.

Step 3: Identify the Decision Maker

  • When planning, it is important to think about who is going to be making any decisions regarding the issue you are concerned about. Will it be Congress? Is there a subcommittee? Your local Mayor? Focus all communication and efforts engaging those who will be a part of the decision making process for your particular issue.

Step 4: Affiliate/Build Coalition

  • Strength comes in numbers. Connect with local groups and organizations who share your goal and build and mobilize grass roots efforts. Because elected officials really listen to their constituents, the more stakeholders you can engage in your efforts, the better.

Step 5: Identify Opportunities to Engage

  • One of the most effective ways to bring your issue to an elected officials attention is by engaging with them in a variety of ways. Attending town hall meetings, writing letters, inviting staff to events and conducting in person meetings are all great ways to communicate your goal.

More tips:

  • Be prepared: have information, questions and expertise readily available.
  • Be professional: dress the part! Engage in polite, respectful way and be mindful of body language and your overall approach. Refrain from things like gum chewing and having your cell phone.
  • Be Persistent: offer your assistance, write thank you notes and maintain contact.
ANIMAL WELFARE ARTICLES
FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

Use the links below to find out who represents you. The more your elected officials hear from you, their constituent, on animal welfare issues, the more likely they are to make it a priority for them to address. Your phone call, email or personal visit makes an impact!

Find Your Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti (local) Representatives

Ann Arbor City Government Website: Find your Ann Arbor City Council Representatives

Ypsilanti City Government Website: Find your Ypsilanti City Council Representatives

Other City Contacts: Saline City CouncilPlymouth City Government

Washtenaw County Government Website: Find your Washtenaw County Elected Officials

Find your Michigan (state) Representatives

Michigan House of Representatives Website: Find your State Representative

Michigan Senate Website: Find your State Senator

Find your Federal (national) Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives Website: Find your Congressional Representative

U.S. Senate: Contact Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow

Our Positions

FACTORY FARMING

“The question is not can they reason?  Nor, can they talk?  But can they suffer?”

-Jeremy Bentham, 1789

Despite pictures of happy cows and chickens on milk and egg cartons, animals raised in factory farms endure intense and sustained cruelty. Nearly all animals raised or food come from large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) known as “factory farms,” where cruelty is a core part of a business plan that requires extreme efficiency to maximize profits. Though “farm” is still in the name, these facilities are worse than prisons. According to the EPA, factory farms are defined as facilities with more than 1,000 beef cattle, 2,500 hogs or 100,000 broiler hens. Michigan has over 270 factory farms.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s population doubled, but meat consumption increased five-fold. Industrialized farming took root in the 1970s, replacing small family-run farms by industrialized lots that house thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of animals in intense confinement.

Treating animals as objects of production rather than sentient beings in support of hyper-consumption of cheap meat and dairy not only results in the torture of about 10 billion land animals a year in the US (~25 million/day), but is also destroying human health and our planet.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR ANIMALS

Just like us, farm animals are social, emotional and intelligent beings. They feel pain, and experience complex emotions like grief, joy, fear and contentment.  They have strong family bonds.  Mothers and babies have a natural need and yearning to be together. They have friendships, are playful and can solve problems. As such, they need and deserve our respect and protection.

Factory farming treats these sentient beings as objects of production. Animals are kept in extreme confinement, overcrowded cages or stalls, given little-to-no time outdoors and unable to exhibit natural behaviors. Egg-laying hens living their lives in battery cages are provided space no bigger than a standard size piece of paper. Pigs used for breeding live mostly in gestation crates just two by six feet.  These animals can barely move, may be stacked on top of each other, and may only experience sunlight and fresh air on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Many animals are subjected to routine mutilation (de-beaking, tail docking, dehorning, castration and more — often without anesthesia).

Babies are torn from their mothers right after birth to make dairy products and are either sent straight to slaughter, raised for meat or dairy, or kept in the worst kind of agonizing confinement to make veal.  Mother cows naturally suckle their calves for many months. Some people mistakenly believe that cows just always have milk. But there is only one way to make a dairy cow; by taking away her calves so that the milk can be given to humans instead.  As such, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated yearly, each calve taken immediately away, until she is considered “spent” and sent to slaughter herself.

Animals on factory farms aren’t given time in pasture but are fed cheap diets made up of corn, soy, additives and by-products such as animal waste and arsenic. These unnatural and unhealthy diets cause sickness and painful chronic conditions.

Growth hormones are used to unnaturally boost growth and milk production causing disabling health problems. Antibiotics are also used to increase growth and to curb infection from stress, poor nutrition, sickness and overcrowded living conditions.

Although their lifespans are unnaturally short, it is estimated that about 10% of animals die of sickness and injury before they get to slaughter. This high attrition rate does not outweigh the financial gain from massive rates of production.

Such conditions create high levels of stress, sickness and continuous pain and discomfort until the animals are packed on a truck and taken to slaughter.  The slaughter process is typically a traumatic end to a miserable life.  Similar to other live transport situations, animals are crammed into trucks, travel long distances experiencing poor ventilation, motion sickness, heat stress, and electric prodding and other violence while getting on and off the truck.  It is legal for animals to be forced to travel in extreme temperatures ranging from 100 to 20 degrees without access to food and water for 24 hours.  They arrive at the slaughterhouse injured, dehydrated and highly stressed.  Because of increasing speed kill rates (for example, up to 175 chickens are slaughtered per minute) technology and procedures often fail causing animals to go through processing while still alive.

Because those working at factory farm and slaughter houses are typically poorly trained, low-wage workers under constant pressure to work quickly required to shut off their compassion to do their jobs “well”, defenseless animals are routinely subject to cruel handling.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR HUMANS

Americans now eat more than a half pound of meat and one pound of dairy per day.

Consumption of factory-farmed meat and dairy poses serious health risks to humans. Factory farmed animals, such as beef and dairy cows, unable to graze are much lower in essential health nutrients. Today, diets heavy with animal fat and processed meats are known to cause hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers. According to the CDC, unnatural feeds on factory farms adds to the saturated fat content of meat. Routinely used growth hormones are also linked to an increase in breast, colon and prostate cancer and lead to developmental and reproductive problems, but come with no warning labels.

Over-use of antibiotics also used to spur growth and to dampen disease due to stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D has caused serious concern around deadly infections resistant to antibiotics. It is estimated that 70% of antibiotics used today are administered to animals raised for food for non-therapeutic reasons. The excessive use of antibiotics has caused a steep and deadly rise in antibiotic resistant infections in animals and people. Each year nearly 100,000  people in the U.S. die due to antibiotic resistant infections.

Arsenic is also routinely used in chicken and turkey feed to boost growth and kill parasites. Its use is approved by the FDA despite links to cancer and other human health problems.

Overcrowding, poor sanitation and insufficient waste management and sanitation on commercial farms also causes contamination of the food supply from bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. Each year millions of people are made sick and thousands die from these and other food-borne illnesses.

Zoonotic viruses, diseases that jump from animals to people (such as the novel Coronavirus), are also believed to be on the rise due to factory farming.

Stress, overcrowding and filthy conditions create ideal breeding ground for viruses that spread quickly among animals, farm workers and beyond.

Viruses like the bird flu and the swine flu (H1N1), believed to be caused by overcrowding of pigs on a factory farm, have the potential to become world-wide pandemics.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR WORKERS

There are approximately 700,000 people who work in animal agriculture, the vast majority in factory farms. Today, many factory farm workers are immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America working for low wages often hired temporarily on work visas. The industry also employs a large but unknown number of undocumented workers because they are less likely to complain about pay or working conditions. Workers are typically paid near or below the federal poverty line.

The conditions on factory farms are hazardous for animals and also for the people who work there. Like other applicable regulations, labor regulations protecting the safety and health of the workforce are extremely lax and poorly enforced. Injuries on the job and exposure to disease and noxious air is routine. Workers suffer higher rates of chronic respiratory illnesses, heart disease, repetitive motion injuries, amputation of fingers and limbs, and pre-mature death.  

Studies also show a negative impact on mental and behavioral health.  Factory farm or slaughter house workers (who may be responsible for killing tens of thousands of animals during a single shift) suffer high rates of including depression, anxiety, PTSD, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.  Crime statistics, comparing industries with similar demographics, show that slaughterhouses significantly increase violent crime in communities where they reside.

“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where hogs are killed] for any period of time—that let’s [sic] you kill things but doesn’t let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around in the blood pit with you and think, ‘God, that really isn’t a bad looking animal.’ You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up to nuzzle me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.”

— Gail A. Eisnitz

Despite the many dangers of the job on health and safety, most factory farm and slaughterhouse workers are not covered by health insurance or allowed time off to seek medical care.

WHY IT'S BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Factory farming causes massive environmental damage and plays a significant role in climate change.

Water:  Factory farm industry consumes an unsustainable amount of water. It is estimated that nearly half of all water consumption in the United States goes to the process of raising animals for food. Most of it not used for hydrating animals, but for growing feed and to cleaning factory farm and slaughterhouse floors. A pound of beef requires about 2000 gallons of water – 10 times the amount used for a pound of soybean.

A person can save more water by skipping one hamburger than by skipping daily showers for 2 months. 

Further, factory farming is also one of the largest threats to healthy drinking water. It is estimated that animals raised for food create 130 times the waste that humans create.

A dairy farm with 2500 cows creates more feces and urine than a city the size of Cleveland, Ohio. Yet there are no sewage management systems in place as are required in human communities.

That waste is filled with pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and excessive nutrients harmful to the environment.  Polluted water from waste is stored in large onsite cesspools or is used as fertilizer on crops. Rivers, streams and ground water gets contaminated when these cesspools rupture, leach or leak or through run-off from fertilized crops.  Industrial crop growing for animal feed also creates water filled with huge amounts of pesticides, fertilizer and heavy metals. Contaminated water is a serious threat to both aquatic ecosystems and public health.

Air:  Confining large numbers of animals together causes the release and concentration of emissions that both degrade air quality and add to greenhouse gases.  Factory farms are responsible for releasing particulate matter and dangerous compounds, including ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide.  These emissions can cause foul odors and serious negative health effects on farm workers and the local community.   Studies show residents who live near chicken factories suffer high rates of asthma, lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.  Air pollution of from waste containment cesspools has been shown to also cause headaches, nosebleeds, depression and brain damage.

Land: In addition to pesticides, fertilizers and waste that contaminate and degrade the soil, hurting wildlife and humans, we lose land equal to 27 football fields every minute (18 million acres a year) due to intensive farming.   The beef industry is responsible for 70% of deforestation in the Amazon and nearly half of all cropland is used to grow animal feed.  Forests are home to 80% of all wild land animals and are essential to moderating global warming.  Deforestation adds to climate change, mass species extinction and a critical loss of biodiversity.

Deforestation also creates more opportunities for new and dangerous zoonotic pathogens to spread from animals to people, as it forces stressed animals in closer proximity to people.

Climate Change: 

The United Nations recently declared factory farms to be the leading cause of greenhouse gasses.

Greenhouse gases trap heat from the earth’s surface causing the earth to warm leading to climate change.

Billions of animals confined on factory farms are believed to contribute more to climate change than all cars, trucks, trains and planes put together.

Both methane (expelled from cows and animal waste) and nitrous oxide (from waste and fertilizers used for crops to feed “food animals”) are considered many times more potent and damaging than CO2. 

There are also many indirect ways in which factory farms contribute to climate change, such as the use of fossil fuels and through deforestation. The release of CO2 as a result of clearing forests is believed to be responsible for 10% of greenhouse gases. While there are several industrialized agricultural trends behind deforestation, the raising of cattle for beef has the largest impact.

Environmental Justice:  Many people who live near factory farms live below the poverty line. They experience serious health consequences from air and water pollution. Studies show higher rates of chronic health issues like respiratory and neurological problems, particularly harmful for pregnant women and children. They also suffer quality of life issues, as they can’t spend time outside or even open their windows due to the stench in the air, and reduced property values.  But they often can’t afford to move or fight powerful corporate entities.

Weak Regulation and Weaker Enforcement:   The fact is that neither animals, humans nor the environment is being protected.

Most people are shocked to learn that there is no oversight of animals on factory farms. No government body is ensuring humane treatment or adequate sanitation on industrialized animal feeding lots.

The USDA only oversees the slaughter and meat packing process. The FDA regulates food safety by inspecting food production facilities. The EPA enforces environmental laws. But resources for all are extraordinarily slim. Even where there is regulation, oversight is minimal and penalties, if imposed, are minimal. According to a recent poll more than half of Americans believe there should be tighter regulation on factory farms.

Ag-Gag Laws:  Most people, regardless of whether they consume meat and dairy, want to see animals treated humanely. The food industrial complex is well aware of public sentiment and knows consumers would be outraged by the routine, systemic abuse experienced by animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy.  As such, numerous laws have been passed to silence whistle-blowers and undercover activity meant to expose animal cruelty.  In some areas of the U.S. the industry is so afraid of the public seeing what happens behind closed doors that people can be charged as terrorists just for exposing violent animal abuse. 

WHAT WE CAN DO

Reduce and reform.  Raising food animals is predicted to double over the next 40 years. To curb massive cruelty, and to protect human health and the environment, we need to do everything we can to stop raising animals industrially and stop eating them thoughtlessly.

Real change will come from both reducing consumption and insisting on both humane and sustainable farming practices.

Actions we can take as individuals to help farmed animals:

  • Eliminate or limit the amount of animal products you consume. Factory farming developed in America during the 20th century in order to meet the growing demand for meat and dairy. The less animal products we consume the less demand for them which, in turn, will reduce the necessity for factory farms.
  • For example, if every meat eater in the U.S. ate one meatless meal a week, we could save 450 million animals each year. 

  • Try plant-based alternatives like Impossible Burger or Beyond meat.
  • Buy local. The vast majority of meat, dairy and eggs found in supermarkets come from animals that were raised on factory farms. Buying from local farmers means you’re much more likely to get food from animals that were raised in more natural, humane situations.
  • Be skeptical of labels. While you may think you’re purchasing more humane food options with labels like organic, free-range or grass-fed, oftentimes these labels are devoid of much meaning.  The Henry Ford Health System offers insight into some labels here.
  • Demand humane standards of care from agri-business and regulatory agencies. We need regulation and real enforcement on:
    • Sanitation: Ensure clean living conditions and proper waste handling
    • Housing: Eliminate extreme confinement and overcrowding
    • Care: End routine practices that cause unnecessary pain and suffering
    • Feed: Use only nutritious, species appropriate and nontoxic animal feed
    • Drugs: Ban use of growth hormones and antibiotics beyond therapeutic use

And VOTE! Vote for politicians who have compassion for animals and care about the health of people and our planet.

DECLAWING CATS

The term declaw is misleading –making one think an animal doctor is magically making a cat’s nails disappear, leaving all furniture worries behind. But not only is this elective surgery actually a painful amputation of the last bone in each toe (similar to removing the tip of your fingers), but also has lasting negative effects—as we’ve seen with the thousands of cats who come through our door each year.

Unfortunately, many families aren’t made fully aware of the risks associated with declawing, but we’re hoping to help change that!  Please read on to see the research and many humane and effective alternatives to declawing.

READ MORE

The Risks of Declawing

Chronic pain. Botched surgeries. Bone fragments left behind. Arthritis. We see cats who are inclined to bite and those that don’t want to use the litterbox. We’ve had to do reparative surgeries, and some cats have to be on lifelong pain medication. Also, sadly, many declawed cats are euthanized in shelters because they are deemed aggressive or because of intractable litter box problems. But these behaviors are often secondary responses to pain and stress of not being able to express the natural behavior to scratch.

But you don’t have to take our word for it; studies show declawing leads to not just short-term pain and risk of infection, but a higher risk of chronic pain and behavioral problems such as biting and litter box problems. That’s a big part of why this elective surgery is also opposed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, discouraged by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and outlawed in so many countries, several cities, and now the state of New York. And leading health authorities, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Public Health Services agree that declawing cats to protect humans is “not advised.”

Why do cats scratch? 

By nature, cats have an important need to scratch. Through scratching, they’re scent-marking and expressing emotion. Scratching serves many psychological and physiological needs by providing comfort and expression through kneading and allowing valuable stretching and foot-muscle exercises. Cats scratch to relieve stress and to express happiness and excitement. They also use claws to protect themselves and escape wild predators, dogs, and others who may do them harm. Even indoors, a cat without claws faces dangers, as their balance is impaired, resulting in a gradual weakening of their leg, shoulder and back muscles, and making them more susceptible to injurious falls.

Alternatives to declawing

A variety of alternatives exist to manage natural scratching behavior. Here are some easy and effective strategies:

  • Provide a space for cats to scratch—e.g., scratching pads, posts and other appealing structures for the cat to use. Employ behavior modification techniques such as placing catnip or favorite wet food on top of them to induce the cat to use them. Just as we give our dogs “chew toys” so that they don’t eat our shoes, kitty needs things she can scratch, too!
  • To protect furniture, use deterrents such as double-sided tape (e.g., Sticky Paws®). Covering the claws with soft temporary pads (e.g., Soft Claws®) is another good option.
  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly in order to blunt the tips. To do this safely, owners should be familiar with cat behavior and proper handling techniques to avoid being scratched or causing injury to the cat. When trimming, go slow and be patient. Stressful or painful experiences for the cat will likely lead to even more of a challenge in the future when trying to trim your cat’s nails.
  • Using positive reinforcement, redirect your cat’s attention/scratching to a toy or scratching pad/post when the cat scratches at furniture.
  • Consider using Feliway, which is available as a room plugin or a spray and mimics the scent of a cat’s facial pheromones. It’s useful for getting cats to stop urine marking and, as such, is believed to help with cats who mark with their claws, too.
  • Still set on living with a declawed cat? Sometimes we have cats in the shelter already declawed before they came to the shelter.  Just ask. We are here to help!
Baby deer nuzzing Doe

THE ANN ARBOR DEER CULL

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is supportive of developing an educational and non-lethal method of managing animal/human conflicts in our community. Because our organization works with many instances of such conflicts with wildlife, we know that there are many effective ways to solve these problems without the use of violence. As such a progressive city, it is our hope that Ann Arbor will consider being at the forefront for setting a new standard of solving human/animal conflicts. Similar to the successful plan implemented in Rochester Hills, Michigan, we advocate for education, strategies to alert drives to high deer traffic areas and the development of a committee to assist and educate residents who are struggling with wildlife conflicts in their neighborhood. See our printable Deer Management Position Statement.

READ MORE

Our organization was asked to present at the February 5, 2015 Ann Arbor public meeting regarding a deer management project but were only given the option to present on the topic of “Immunocontraception in deer.” Although we have extensive experience in working with wildlife, we do not currently have any experience in sterlizing deer nor do we, as a nonprofit organization, have the resources to do the necessary research and field work without support from the City of Ann Arbor. Recognizing that we are not experts in the field of deer sterilization, we recommended someone who is an expert and would come to the city for free or very low cost but our offer was declined. We encouraged the city to contact Laura Simon, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Field Director for the Urban Wildlife Department, as she was readily available to help. The Citizens for Safe Deer Management urged the City to meet with someone from HSUS regarding deer sterilization, offered to pay for any cost incurred, and on July 13, 2015, they met with Stephanie Boyles-Griffin, Senior Director at HSUS who presented on “Use of Fertility Control to Manage Urban White-Tailed Deer Populations” and spent days in Ann Arbor assessing the potential for a deer fertility control project here.  She concluded it was feasible and extended an invitation to work with Ann Arbor, as can be seen in this report.

On August 17, 2015, Ann Arbor City Council Members voted 8-1 to start a four-year plan to kill deer in the City of Ann Arbor, starting with 100 deer this winter. Mayor Christopher Taylor opposed this move, saying he was aware there is not a community consensus on this issue.

As an organization dedicated to animal welfare, this concerns us greatly on many levels and for many reasons. We will continue to work on this issue and help educate the community. To oppose the hiring of sharpshooters to kill deer in Ann Arbor, please contact City Council.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley continues to offer to be a resource on this issue and any issue that is a concern to humans and animals in our community.  We look forward to opportunities to partner with the City of Ann Arbor to provide education to our residents and work towards a successful and safe conflict management plan.

To learn more about this issue, please see our website StopTheShoot.org. See our printable Deer Management Position Statement here.

Sandhill Crane, photo by Joan Tisdale

SR 30 - SANDHILL CRANE HUNT

Sandhill Cranes are believed to be our oldest living bird species — over 9 million years. They mate for life, their babies stay with them for a year, and their populations recover slowly, in part because each breeding pair usually has only one chick per year that survives. The Humane Society of Huron Valley opposes Senate Resolution 30 which urges the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill Cranes as a game species, and to seek permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to open a hunting season on them.

READ MORE

SR 30 urges the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill cranes to the game species list and seek U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish annual recreational Sandhill crane hunting seasons in Michigan.

One hundred years ago, the Sandhill crane population was near extinction in Michigan due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. While the bird’s population recovered, it did so at a very slow pace.

Instead of celebrating successful conservation, SR 30 aims to destroy it. We believe Sandhill Crane hunt is cruel and reverses conservation efforts by killing or orphaning dependent young.

Sandhill Cranes are monogamous, mate for life, and stay with their mates year-round as bonded pairs. Both parents work together to raise their offspring. When hatched, chicks can leave the nest within a day under parental supervision; however, chicks are still dependent on both parents well into and past the fall hunting season and before these birds can migrate to their wintering grounds.  Given their slow reproduction, harming an adult or offspring makes the Sandhill crane population extremely vulnerable.

Farmers experiencing conflicts with Sandhill cranes can obtain non-lethal deterrence products to make seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, request a permit for lethal control of the problem birds. Conducting a hunting season in the fall serves no wildlife management purpose.

From the standpoint of a humane organization, we are very concerned that a Sandhill Crane hunt is cruel and could orphan dependent young. Sandhill Cranes are monogamous, and mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and they stay with their mates year-round as bonded pairs. Both Sandhill Crane parents work together to raise their chicks. When the chicks are hatched in late spring, they are able to leave the nest within a day under the supervision of the parents. However, the chicks continue to be dependent upon both parents well into and past the hunting season, which occurs in the fall. If Michigan opens a hunting season before these Sandhill Crane family units migrate to their wintering grounds, either parent, or the still-dependent young, could be killed in that hunt. There is no justification for potentially destroying families of this still-recovering species, simply to sell a few hunting licenses. If farmers encounter conflicts with Sandhill cranes in the spring, they can obtain non-lethal deterrence products to make their seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, they can request a permit for lethal control of the problem birds. Conducting a hunting season in the fall serves no wildlife management purpose.

Please join us in opposing SR 30 by writing the Michigan State Senate. A sample email is below.

I oppose SR 0030 (SR 30) urging the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to designate Sandhill cranes as a game species and seeking U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish a Sandhill crane hunting season.

One hundred years ago, Michigan’s Sandhill crane population was near extinction due to hunting and diminishing wetland habitats. The bird’s population recovered at a very slow pace and still remains vulnerable. 

Instead of celebrating a successful conservation effort, SR 30 seeks to destroy it.

A Sandhill crane hunt reverses conservation efforts by orphaning dependent young. Chicks are hatched in late spring, but dependent on both parents well into and past the fall hunting season. If Michigan hunts Sandhill cranes before they migrate to wintering grounds, either parent could be killed.  There is no justification for destroying families of a still-recovering species.

A Sandhill crane hunt serves no wildlife management purpose.  The recovery of a threatened population is not science-based rationale to open a hunting season.

A Sandhill crane hunt does not prevent conflict with crops.  There is no evidence that hunting Sandhill cranes would reduce damage to crops.  Farmers can already obtain non-lethal, more effective deterrence products to make their seeds unpalatable to birds, or as a last resort, request a permit to lethally remove Sandhill cranes when necessary.

Lost dog and cat sign

STRAY HOLD LAW

Approximately 70% of households own one or more pets in Michigan, equaling an estimated 4.7 million dogs and cats.  Most are considered a beloved part of the family.  According to national figures, one in three of these pets will get lost at some point during their lifetime, causing great distress to their human guardians.  As a result, most communities throughout the United States have designated stray hold facilities whose role it is to be a safe haven where families can find their lost pets. Since 1969, licensed shelters in Michigan that take in strays have been required to follow a 4 or 7 day (depending on if the animal has ID) stray hold law (MCL 287.388) for animals found loose without an owner.  We are in favor of the Stray Hold Law, and while we desperately need this bill, HSHV opposes it in its current state based on several flaws.

READ MORE

Since 1969, licensed shelters in Michigan that take in strays have been required to follow a 4 or 7 day (depending on if the animal has ID) stray hold law (MCL 287.388) for animals found loose without an owner.  This law has been strictly enforced by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the department that licenses animal shelters.  However, after being legally challenged by a large, private Michigan shelter, MDARD has recently notified all shelters that it will no longer be enforcing the current stray hold law (based on its being located in a section of the law pertaining to the use of dogs and cats in research).

The stray hold law ensures that owners have a chance to find their lost companion animal.  Without a stray hold law, an animal entering a shelter can be immediately adopted, transferred to another facility/group, or put to death without giving owners even one day to find their lost pet.  And even if owners find their lost pet in a shelter, without a stray hold law, the shelter has no obligation to return them to their rightful owners.

Following MDARD’s announcement, Michigan now stands nearly alone in the absence of a state mandated stray hold.  The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) firmly believes in the importance of stray hold times as a basic and essential protection for pets and their owners, and will continue to follow the policies we already have in place.  So while pets and pet owners in Washtenaw County are safe (as long as the animals don’t cross county lines), many in Michigan are now in a precarious position.

HB 4915 was introduced by Representative Mike McCready to help rectify this issue.  While we desperately need this bill, HSHV opposes it in its current state based on two serious flaws:    

1)    Cats as second-class pets:  The bill reduces stray hold times to “zero days” for cats that are “candidates for adoption or sterilization programs.”  Though we strongly support a bill that promotes Trap, Neuter and Return — where unowned cats are sterilized and returned to their original location — as the only proven effective means of reducing overpopulation, the vague use of the word “candidate” leaves the option to euthanize stray cats at intake, as sadly many Michigan shelters would still prefer to do.  Further, we believe “adoptable” cats, like dogs, should also be held for the minimum hold times of 4 or 7 days to give owners a chance to find them.

  • We recommend the same hold time for both dogs and cats, and support clear provisions for sterilization programs that return cats to their original location.  Even if a lost cat is mistaken for an outdoor/feral cat, returning them to their original location is more likely to help them to get back home.  One study found that cats left mainly to their own devices are 13 times more likely to find their way back home than those that end up at a shelter.

2)    Wide discretion to euthanize before hold times have expired:  The bill also states that “(A) AN ANIMAL THAT WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO UNDUE SUFFERING” can be immediately euthanized.   Though we agree with the essence of this statement, the language gives too much discretion to shelters to define “suffering.”  Many common or treatable conditions such as fear, arthritis, blindness, contagious disease, or old age could be used as justification to immediately put a lost animal (dog or cat) to death, without regard to hold times.

  • We recommend a definition of suffering as suggested by Nathan Winograd, Director of the No-Kill Advocacy Center.Irremediable physical suffering” means an animal who has a poor or grave prognosis for being able to live without severe unremitting pain even with comprehensive, prompt, and necessary veterinary care, as determined by a veterinarian licensed to practice in the state.”     

Respecting and promoting the loving bond between people and their companion animals should be at the core of animal sheltering work.  Basic stray hold times applied consistently to both dogs and cats, and clear definitions around justification for euthanasia provide important protections to both people and animals.  HSHV and our supporters want to see increased adoptions and sterilizations, and the elimination of unnecessary shelter euthanasia across the state—not stripping families of the right to reclaim their lost animals.

Photo by George Potter on Unsplash

PETTING ZOOS

Petting zoos are sold as fun learning experiences for children, but instead are artificial environments designed simply for entertainment that are bad for animals and people. Animals used in entertainment suffer from abuse and neglect, deprived of the care they require to meet their social, behavioral and physical needs.  They are kept in unnatural housing, not fed a proper diet, and suffer from fear, stress and boredom during transport and living in captivity and overcrowded conditions. We are opposed to petting zoos.

READ MORE

There are no required standards nor regulatory oversight for petting zoos. Basic animal welfare standards are not followed related to veterinary care, diet, housing, bedding and expression of natural behaviors.  Animals at petting zoos are often not properly protected from the elements, forced to stand all day long in the sun during the hot summer months without access to shade or adequate water.

Frequently petting zoos breed or buy baby animals so there is always an ample stock of adorable babies to entertain customers, but those young animals are usually taken from their mothers too soon, are not provided with proper care and socialization, and must endure the stress of being transported from place to place.  Like the adult animals, they have no refuge from the stresses of constant human interaction.

Petting zoos are also known to be a health risk to humans, especially children, as a common source of zoonotic disease spread, including dangerous infections caused by exposure to E. Coli.

Be an Animal Defender.

Animal Defenders - Thank you for speaking on behalf of those who have no voice