AWI Quarterly » 2015 Winter

Winter 2015 AWI Quarterly - Cover, Photo by Tirc83
Winter 2015 Volume 64 Number 1
On December 8, 2014, Air Transport International (ATI) was cited by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), after it transported 1,148 monkeys from China to Houston without providing food or water for more than 24 hours. This same company had been cited on July 28, 2014, for the same issue—in that case, not providing food and water for at least 32 hours to a shipment of over 1,700 monkeys.
In December 2014, the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued its latest broadside against the inadequacy of the USDA’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This sharply critical OIG report is the fourth to be issued in 20 years. This latest report, like its predecessors, cites specific examples of enforcement deficiencies, poor oversight, inadequate penalties, lack of deterrence, and many examples of animals suffering and dying.
The conclusion of a study almost always means euthanasia (from the Greek for “easy death”) for animals in research. As with all phases of research, there are moral, regulatory, and scientific imperatives to use the least painful and stressful method possible. These imperatives have led to much debate, including a recent symposium sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that focused on improving animal euthanasia methods, due to growing realization that one of the most commonly used methods is inhumane, causing both pain and distress.
What happens to animals in research, after they are no longer needed for a study? In some cases, the research protocol does not call for euthanasia of the animals. Thus, rather than needlessly killing them, institutions are slowly beginning to find ways to provide these animals a life and a home after research.
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union (EU), has conditionally banned horse meat imported from Mexico due to food safety concerns. The ban took effect on January 15, 2015.
New state-specific manuals compiled by attorneys working with AWI will help lawyers and advocates for domestic violence survivors to utilize protection orders on behalf of their clients’ companion animals.
A January 19 article in The New York Times shined an extremely harsh light on the practices at the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska. The in-depth article described indefensible acts that have taken place at MARC over the past several decades.
Perdue Farms engages thousands of “contract farmers” each year to raise company-owned birds. Contract farmers are obligated to abide by Perdue’s animal-raising standards and any other specifications established by the company. The standards and specifications are notoriously neither bird- nor farmer-friendly.
Using enforcement documents supplied by the USDA, AWI has identified the US poultry slaughter plants with the worst records on animal welfare. The survey covered violations of industry animal care guidelines over a five-month period during the winter and spring of 2014.
Numerous lists of species that are likely to go extinct within the next few years have been published. Front and center on all of them is the tiny, critically endangered porpoise known as the vaquita.
On November 12, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., issued its third quarter financial report. While the results were not as catastrophic as its second quarter report in August—when, after its revenue and attendance figures took a nosedive, its stock fell 33 percent in a single day—its performance for the peak summer season was still decidedly lackluster.
Sometimes, politics play a greater role than the merits of the issue when deciding whether legislation gets a fair hearing. In the case of AB 2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act introduced in the California legislature in February 2014 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, politics is most definitely a factor.
In early December, AWI’s executive director, Susan Millward, attended meetings of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the “Cartagena Convention”). Susan and AWI have long been engaged in these biennial meetings of the Cartagena Convention, which was adopted in 1983 and entered into force in 1986 as a means to legally implement the Action Plan for the United Nations’ Caribbean Environment Programme.
In November, Japan submitted its plans for a resumption of whaling in the Southern Ocean to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), despite the March 2014 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Japan’s scientific whaling there is not in compliance with the IWC’s treaty (see Spring 2014 AWI Quarterly).