AWI Quarterly » 2013 Fall

Fall 2013 Quarterly Cover - Photo by Mike Suarez
Fall 2013 Volume 62 Number 4
Congratulations to the organizers of the Symposium on Social Housing of Laboratory Animals for an extremely informative meeting dedicated to improving the welfare of animals in research. 
Former random source Class B dealers Floyd and Susan Martin—owners of Chestnut Grove Kennel in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania—were back in court on August 26 for formal sentencing on charges of mail fraud (Floyd) and conspiracy (Susan) stemming from their illegal acquisition of hundreds of dogs and cats for sale to laboratories over a five-year period. 
Fact: Petting an animal helps to reduce stress. We don’t really need science to tell us this, but there are studies documenting very real physiological and psychological benefits to being around animals.
San Diego is now the second-largest city in the United States (behind Los Angeles) to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits originating from puppy mills and other commercial breeding facilities. 
Two new developments spell good news for sharks. The first: India, a major shark fishing nation, has banned shark finning at sea, the practice of slicing off a shark’s fins—often while still alive—and throwing the mutilated shark back into the ocean. 
AWI is very pleased to report that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has denied a permit application by Georgia Aquarium and partners (including SeaWorld and Shedd Aquarium) to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales from Russia for the purposes of public display. 
Uruguay’s national legislature has voted to establish a protected sanctuary for migrating right whales and other cetaceans. The final approval of the bill came via a unanimous (62–0) vote in the Chamber of Representatives on September 3.
The past three years have seen considerable progress on the campaign to end the display of captive cetaceans. The change appears to date from the tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by the orca Tilikum. Sadly, it is just such a calamity that too often serves as the catalyst for reform.
Long-finned pilot whales have been hunted for human consumption in the Faroe Islands (a small Danish territory located between Scotland and Iceland in the North Atlantic) since the first human settlement of the islands. 
Although more than 85 countries have banned or heavily restricted the use of steel-jaw leghold traps, the United States—one of the world’s largest fur producing and consuming nations—continues to defend these inhumane devices.
In July, a scathing New York Times editorial entitled “Agriculture’s Misnamed Agency” highlighted the myriad problems plaguing USDA’s rogue Wildlife Services program, including its outdated and nonselective killing practices, lack of transparency and accountability, and ecologically destructive approach to wildlife management. 
Humanitarians have been waiting for more than a year for action on two egregious situations—both reported previously in the Winter 2013 AWI Quarterly—pending before the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Congress tasked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with implementing the country’s National Organic Program (NOP). For more than a decade now, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the advisory committee of the NOP, has recommended that the NOP raise animal welfare standards. 
  The cattle industry is moving away from a feed additive linked to animal lethargy, lameness, and even becoming too heavy to walk. The drug Zilmax is a beta-agonist, which promotes muscle growth; it is used to bulk up cattle just before they are sent to slaughter.