Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States has compiled a list of the top ten animal stories of the first decade of the new millennium. Among the top ten animal stories of the past decade are:
- Hurricane Katrina, which “resulted in the largest animal rescue operation in history.” The disaster spawned an outpouring of donations to animal rescue organizations and influenced the passage in Congress of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS), as well as new legislation in a number of states that sets policies on responding to the needs of animals during a disaster.
- Michael Vick’s arrest for dog fighting, which brought to light the horrors of forcing animals to fight for sport. According to Pacelle, “The Vick case resulted in more than half of the states upgrading their laws and a doubling of arrests, as well as an upgrade of the federal law against animal fighting.” Partly owing to the Michael Vick case, animal fighting is now illegal in all U.S. states.
- Advances in the treatment of animals used for food production, including a federal ban on the mistreatment of “downer cows” (cattle too sick or injured to walk on their own), and state bans on the long-term confinement of animals on factory farms.
- Oprah Winfrey’s series on puppy mills. In 2008, Oprah Winfrey did a series of programs on her influential talk show exposing the horrific realities of puppy mills. Since the broadcasts, HSUS has rescued thousands of animals from puppy mills, ten states have approved legislation imposing stricter standards on large-scale breeding operations, and public pressure has caused pet stores to either close altogether or to stop selling puppy mill dogs.
We hope that the coming decade brings about further advances in how we, as a society, treat the animals in our care and at our mercy.