The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) advocates for animals through legislation, publication and litigation. We strive to develop better public policies for animals and advance humane alternatives in veterinary education.

Advocacy

Advocacy

One of the pillars of HSVMA is our focus on animal advocacy. We strive to develop better public policies for animals and advance humane alternatives in veterinary education.

Get involved—become an advocate for animals now.

MOST RECENT HSVMA ADVOCACY ALERT:

URGE CONGRESS TO SWIFTLY PASS THE PAST ACT
Veterinary Support Needed NOW to End the Cruel Practice of Horse Soring


Legislation known as the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act (H.R. 1847/S. 2957) has been introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Ted Yoho and Kurt Schrader, two veterinarians serving in Congress, and in the Senate by Senators Mike Crapo and Mark Warner.  We need the help of the veterinary profession to pass this bill into law.

Horse soring is the process of intentionally inflicting pain on the lower limbs of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses for the purpose of creating an exaggerated, artificial gait known as the "Big Lick."

Soring is accomplished by the use of inhumane chemical and physical methods:

  • The chemical method includes applying caustic substances to the horse's lower leg, then wrapping it in plastic for several days, resulting in severe inflammation. Chains or other "action devices" are then strapped to the inflamed leg to exacerbate the pain as these objects strike the painful areas with each step taken by the horse.
  • The physical method includes grinding or trimming of the hoof and/or sole to expose sensitive tissues, then nailing on a pad with objects inserted between the pad and the sole to place pressure on this sensitive area of the hoof. In addition, the horse is made to wear tall and heavy platform shoes held on with over-tightened metal hoof bands that are applied to cause excessive pressure, resulting in pain when the horse's hoof strikes the ground.

Congress passed the Horse Protection Act (HPA) in 1970 to eliminate this abuse, but weak regulations and a failed system of industry self-policing have undermined the law's effectiveness.  Unfortunately, soring is still rampant after 48 years. The number of violations cited by industry inspectors is a small fraction of those found when USDA veterinarians are present. And currently, USDA veterinarians inspect at only 10 percent of shows due to a lack of resources.

Although the PAST Act has overwhelming bipartisan support with more than 280 House cosponsors and 30 in the Senate, Congress has thus far failed to vote on this important protection for horses since it was first introduced in 2013.

. As veterinary professionals and leaders in the field of animal health and welfare, we should applaud and encourage this effort to stop the abuse of horses. 

HSVMA is part of a broad coalition of groups endorsing the PAST Act to end the cruel practice of horse soring.  In addition to HSVMA, this legislation has been endorsed by all 50 state veterinary medical associations, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Horse Council, many other horse industry professionals and groups, and all major animal protection organizations.

How You Can Help Horses NOW

Please call and/or email your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative today, urging them to support this important animal protection legislation!

You can say:

"My name is <your name> and I'm a voting constituent in <your state> and a veterinary professional. I urge you to cosponsor the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 2957/H.R. 1847), to end the cruel practice of horse soring.
If you’re already cosponsoring the PAST Act, I really appreciate your support. Please do all you can to get it enacted quickly! Thank you."

Thank you for your time and for adding your support to finally relegate the cruel practice of horse soring to the history books. Please contact us  if you have any questions.

 
Advocacy
URGE CONGRESS TO SWIFTLY PASS THE PAST ACT
Veterinary Support Needed NOW to End the Cruel Practice of Horse Soring


(September 2018) - Legislation known as the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act (H.R. 1847/S. 2957) has been introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Ted Yoho and Kurt Schrader, two veterinarians serving in Congress, and in the Senate by Senators Mike Crapo and Mark Warner.  We need the help of the veterinary profession to pass this bill into law.

Horse soring is the process of intentionally inflicting pain on the lower limbs of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses for the purpose of creating an exaggerated, artificial gait known as the "Big Lick."

Soring is accomplished by the use of inhumane chemical and physical methods:

  • The chemical method includes applying caustic substances to the horse's lower leg, then wrapping it in plastic for several days, resulting in severe inflammation. Chains or other "action devices" are then strapped to the inflamed leg to exacerbate the pain as these objects strike the painful areas with each step taken by the horse.
  • The physical method includes grinding or trimming of the hoof and/or sole to expose sensitive tissues, then nailing on a pad with objects inserted between the pad and the sole to place pressure on this sensitive area of the hoof. In addition, the horse is made to wear tall and heavy platform shoes held on with over-tightened metal hoof bands that are applied to cause excessive pressure, resulting in pain when the horse's hoof strikes the ground.

Congress passed the Horse Protection Act (HPA) in 1970 to eliminate this abuse, but weak regulations and a failed system of industry self-policing have undermined the law's effectiveness.  Unfortunately, soring is still rampant after 48 years. The number of violations cited by industry inspectors is a small fraction of those found when USDA veterinarians are present. And currently, USDA veterinarians inspect at only 10 percent of shows due to a lack of resources.

Although the PAST Act has overwhelming bipartisan support with more than 280 House cosponsors and 30 in the Senate, Congress has thus far failed to vote on this important protection for horses since it was first introduced in 2013.

As veterinary professionals and leaders in the field of animal health and welfare, we should applaud and encourage this effort to stop the abuse of horses. 

HSVMA is part of a broad coalition of groups endorsing the PAST Act to end the cruel practice of horse soring.  In addition to HSVMA, this legislation has been endorsed by all 50 state veterinary medical associations, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Horse Council, many other horse industry professionals and groups, and all major animal protection organizations.

How You Can Help:

Please call and/or email your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative today, urging them to support this important animal protection legislation!

You can say:

"My name is <your name> and I'm a voting constituent in <your state> and a veterinary professional. I urge you to cosponsor the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 2957/H.R. 1847), to end the cruel practice of horse soring.
If you’re already cosponsoring the PAST Act, I really appreciate your support. Please do all you can to get it enacted quickly! Thank you."

Thank you for your time and for adding your support to finally relegate the cruel practice of horse soring to the history books. Please contact us  if you have any questions.

 
Advocacy

An HSVMA State Representative Explains How Advocacy Efforts Help Keep Her Energized

By Dr. Eileen Jefferson, HSVMA New York State Representative

Like many practicing veterinarians, my days are mostly consumed by the ins and outs of routine patient care and client education. There is no end to the veterinarian’s job once you commit to it; there is always another client question, another sick patient, another problem to be diagnosed and treated, and another phone call to return. If you care for an at-home menagerie on top of that (plus or minus a spouse and children), it’s a wonder a veterinarian can do anything else at all. With the responsibility already on our plates, animal advocacy outside the exam room could seem like a draining prospective investment. However, as I look back on 10+ years of advocacy, I feel it has actually been the secret to keeping my energy up.

Animal advocacy can mitigate the burnout feeling rampant in our profession – the sense that you are swimming in circles or treading water as a veterinarian. As gratifying as it might be to transform an individual patient’s health or a single client’s perspective, that one case is often part of an overwhelming flood of such cases coming from the same flawed origins. There are just so many institutionalized problems in the pet industry, in our own profession, and in society’s perception of animals. These problems do find their way right into the exam room and can lead to repetitive frustration or exhaustion… unless we are simultaneously lobbying for changes in industry and legislation.

As a state representative for HSVMA, I feel I have simply taken “client education” and the concept of “treating the underlying problem” to a wider arena. I have taken it to New York legislative offices, the New York City Bar Association, veterinary student lecture halls, and to big and small newspapers in my state. I’ve taken it to press conferences and veterinary conferences. Despite obstacles that governments or institutions might impose, animal lovers still abound in all of those places. They value our knowledge. After all, we are not just advocating for animal welfare; we are advocating for scientific accuracy. Only a tiny minority of our society has scientific training beyond a rudimentary level. Consequently, it is up to us to ensure facts are given due consideration in politics, business and popular culture, where they may otherwise be absent or overruled.

In the past two years in New York, we have used facts and passion to spur the prohibition of wild animal entertainment acts in our largest city, and have helped bring an end to the use of elephants in circuses statewide. Through lobbying and letters to the editor, we have prevented reintroduction of snare traps for several years in a row. We have also incited a massive internal shift in the way the veterinary profession regards elective cat declawing. Although a no-declaw bill in NY has not moved for political reasons beyond our current control, the fact compilations and awareness we created in the effort have spread to multiple other U.S. states, cities and organizations. When I gave a cosmetic and convenience surgeries lecture to students at UPenn this past year, I was surprised at the enthusiastic turnout and new wave of shared sentiments against these procedures. It was such a difference from my experience as a student a mere 10 years ago.

Similarly, in the last decade, “puppy mill”, “factory farm” and “dogfighting” have become mainstream terms. When my clients who didn’t speak of these things years ago bring them up now, I feel glad to be part of the force that has called attention to these problems.

Indefinitely treading water does of course tend to be discouraging. However, commandeering a small boat to a shore you can glimpse is perpetually motivating. This is especially true when you can hoist other vets into your vessel along the way. So as the HSVMA state rep team continues to grow, let’s all keep our oars as handy as our stethoscopes. Let’s all keep rowing.

Visit the HSVMA State Representative webpage  to learn more about this program and view bios for the state representatives. 

 

 

 
Advocacy

Veterinary Opposition Needed to Help Defeat King Amendment

Proposed Federal Legislation Would Put State Animal Cruelty Laws At Risk

 Sign the Veterinary Opposition Statement

JUNE 2018 - Rep. Steve King's amendment, added to the U.S. House Farm Bill, could restrict a state's ability to set standards on how agricultural products sold within its borders are produced, potentially negating state laws protecting farm animals, cracking down on puppy mills, eliminating horse slaughter, banning dog and cat meat, prohibiting shark finning and more. Fortunately, the House recently rejected that version of the Farm Bill. However, this may be a short-term victory because the King Amendment is likely to be included in the next iteration of the Farm Bill, which may be brought back again in the House as early as the 3rd week in June! Here's how you can help:

  1. Sign the Opposition Statement: We need as many veterinary professionals as possible to sign onto a statement of opposition to the King Amendment. You can submit your name via our online form here to be added to the growing list of individuals and organizations opposing this legislation. (You can view a list of those already opposing the King Amendment here.)
  2. Contact Your Federal Legislators: Please contact your Representative and your two Senators (you can confirm who your legislators are here) and urge them to reject Representative Steve King's amendment (H.R. 4879) to the Farm Bill, given the disastrous consequences for animal protection. Here's a short sample script you can use:

"My name is <your name> and I'm a voting constituent in <your city> and a veterinary professional. I'm very concerned about the amendment (H.R. 4879) that Representative Steve King got included during committee markup of the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2). The King amendment is a dangerous attack on state laws regarding animal protection, food safety, and many other concerns. I urge you to oppose this amendment to the Farm Bill and do everything possible to ensure it is not enacted. Thank you."

For more background, here's a link to a King Amendment Fact Sheet. Remember to point out that you are a constituent and a veterinary professional when you call, since legislators look to the profession for guidance on animal health and welfare!

Thank you so much for taking action on this critical animal welfare issue.

 

 

 

 
Advocacy

HSVMA Partners with Massachusetts VMA to Offer Training in Animal Abuse Reporting

Veterinarians are now mandated reporters of animal abuse in Massachusetts, and the reporting process is not always clear to practitioners. To help address this issue, HSVMA sponsored a six-hour track at the recent Massachusetts VMA Spring Conference (May 2018) on the topic of animal abuse reporting.  Several local speakers were included in this seminar entitled, “Reporting Suspected Abuse in Massachusetts: Demystifying the Process.”

Dr. Lorna Grande (HSVMA’s continuing education adviser) presented in her role as founder/coordinator of HAVEN: Human Animal Violence Education Network. HAVEN is a coalition of MA citizens and professionals who come together to raise awareness about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence.

 Other local speakers included forensics veterinarian Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore of Forensics Veterinary Investigations.  And MSPCA Humane Law Enforcement Officer Christine Allenberg. HSVMA was also honored to once again work with forensics veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck of Veterinary Forensics LLC. Dr. Merck is a pioneer in the field of veterinary forensics and has presented webinars as well as other in person programs for HSVMA.

The program highlighted three aspects of veterinary reporting of animal abuse: the connection between animal abuse and other forms of violence, specific forensics details, and what to do locally in MA if you suspect animal abuse.

Dr. Grande discussed the connection between animal abuse, neglect and how it is often an indicator of family dynamics. Domestic violence, child abuse and other crimes are often occurring at the same time as the animal abuse. Dr. Merck delved into specific forensics information and emphasized the need to develop hospital protocols. Dr. Smith Blackmore was the leading forensics veterinarian on the infamous “Puppy Doe” case in Massachusetts and she shared details about that case and reporting protocols in MA.

To view HSVMA’s special webinar series on Animal Abuse Reporting with Dr. Merck, visit the archived webinar page. These webinars are provided at no cost to HSVMA members and RACE CE is available for those who view the webinars and successfully complete a quiz.

 
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