Green Education Network awards Pet News and Views its seal of approval.

6 Tips for Raising Healthy and Happy Cats

Even half asleep, this black cat is incredibly beautiful.

Even half asleep, this black cat is incredibly beautiful.

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Cats are a lot like us. We cat parents know that while it is nice being around loving family and friends, we value our independence. Maybe we all have a little cat in us.

We also know that once we gain the trust of a cat, we’ll have a friend for life. A happy and healthy cat will reward us with affection. Showing them trust is easy. Following are six tips for raising healthy and happy cats.



1. Cat Naps

Cats sleep between 13 and 16 hours a day. They like having a warm and comfortable place to curl up in, even if that is on your bed, in an open linen closet (that’s where my mom’s cat sleeps) or in her own personal cat bed. One of my cats sleep on my desk while I work because she likes being near (at least that is what I tell myself) and she loves the big window that floods the room with sunlight. Getting 40-plus winks is quite restorative.

  1. You are what you eat applies to cats too

Poor nutrition leads to health problems. Look for a cat food that lists meat as the first ingredient. Cats are carnivores and must have meat in their diets.

My cats are fed once in the morning when we have our breakfast, and once at night to coincide with our dinner time. After breakfast and dinner, I pick up and clean their bowls. They are left empty because a grazing cat that eats too much food can develop diabetes and other serious ailments.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 58.3 percent of cats in the U.S. are overweight, and obesity leads to illness. My cats are not finicky. Some cats can be. So, try a few varieties of food until you find something your cat enjoys.

3. Good grooming

While cats groom themselves it is important to brush them. Make it a ritual. When my cats see me take out their brush, they come over and start to purr.

Brushing their fur cuts down on hairballs, which means they won’t ingest a lot of their fur when they are cleaning themselves, and you will have less fur in your home and on your clothes.

4. Cats like clean litter boxes

Ever notice that as soon as you clean the litter box, they want to use it? I can’t say that I blame them. No one likes a dirty bathroom!

Use a dust-free litter that’s free of harmful chemicals, additives and synthetic scents. There are lots of eco-friendly bio-degradable products on the market to choose from.

5. Playtime

Cats love to hunt and play. They know exactly where the laser pointer is kept and as soon as I reach for it, they are ready for the chase.  Just don’t shine it in their eyes.

Another favorite toy is a fishing rod with a fabric bird on one end. My cats love to chase and jump after this toy.

Playtime is when we bond, and cats get a lot of mental stimulation and exercise from playing.

6. Bonding time

Spending time with your cat benefits both of you. I make time in the morning before I start my work day. We wake up together and I talk to them while I give them their breakfast. After breakfast, we play with the laser pointer. I am at home, so we play after lunch and again after dinner.

They reward me with purrs and cuddles.

Why Cats Need their Claws


By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

My two cats hate having their claws clipped. However, I like my skin and when they walk on me with their needle-like nails, I need to clip them. Plus, my sofa and other furniture should not be used as scratching posts. So, I clip their claws.

I would not consider declawing them and here are five reasons why:

1. Cats need claws for protection…
If your cat ever gets outside and doesn’t have claws, he will be defenseless. Cats use their claws to climb trees, which can help them escape from dangerous situations. Without those claws, he has a greater chance of being attacked.

2. …for exercise…
Cats also use their claws for stretching their muscles.

3. …for marking territory…
Ever see a declawed cat scratch your furniture? It’s an inherent trait that marks a cat’s territory. But they won’t scratch a particular item if you train them to use a scratching post. (In my house we avoid certain items, like tightly woven rugs and wicker furniture. They are just too tempting.)

4. …and for balance.
When a cat is declawed, it’s not at all like clipping nails. Declawing is amputating the claw and related bone and muscle tissue. Without their claws, cats often have trouble balancing.

5. Not only that, removing claws can cause health problems.
According to my friends at Best Friends Animal Society, many declawed cats suffer from joint stiffness, and because their paws remain sensitive from the surgery, they avoid scratching in their litter boxes.

For more information on declawing and the health issues associated with it, check out The Paw Project. To train your cat to use a scratching post, read these tips from the MSPCA. The Humane Society of the U.S. has a list of tips on how to trim a cat’s claws.

Editor’s Note: I would appreciate it if you subscribe. It’s free and I publish twice a month.

Why Sharks Attack and How to Keep Safe If You Spot One


By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Shark sightings make most of us tremble with fear. However, Marie Levine, executive director of The Shark Research Institute, finds encounters thrilling.

Levine has been observing sharks for 40-plus years—many times her encounters have been up close—and she has never been attacked. “There are so few fatal attacks,” she explained. “More people are spending time in the water, whether it is swimming, fishing, diving, snorkeling, surfing or boating. Being out in the water increases our likelihood of spotting a shark. Attacks are rare.”

Last year five people in the United States died from shark bites, and between 70 and 100 people were attacked by sharks worldwide.

In New Jersey, sharks seldom bother divers. “Many of our sharks have been overfished,” said Levine. “Sharks prey on skates and rays, which feed on shellfish. By decreasing the shark population, the skates and rays greatly reduced the number of shellfish, which in turn hurt New Jersey fishermen. That’s one reason why we need sharks. We must not mess with Mother Nature.”

About one-third of the more than 400 different species of sharks are endangered. “Why should that matter to us?” she asked. “If we remove sharks from our waters we are tampering with our primary food and air sources. Sharks actually keep our largest ecosystems—our oceans—healthy. Removing sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.”

“People are afraid of sharks because they don’t know them, and we are often afraid of things we don’t understand,” said Levine. “It’s important to read about sharks and other sea creatures before you dive or spend time in the water.”

“Peter Benchley, who wrote “Jaws,” became one of our major supporters,” she continued. “He used to say, ‘Don’t people realize the book is in the fiction section of the bookstore?’”

If you do spot a shark up close, Levine recommends staying as calm as possible. “Sure your adrenaline is pumping,” she said. “Sharks are curious and may come close just to check you out.”

Splashing won’t do much. When sharks spot a person splashing in the water, they may think they’re seeing a sea lion, seal, small fish or other marine mammals, which they prefer to eat. They will attack if they feel threatened or are defending their territory.

So in addition to keeping calm, if you spot a shark in the distance and are close to your boat or to land, you can swim to safety. If you are several feet away from your boat or land, you won’t be able to out swim a shark. Your best bet is to stay still and keep your eyes fixed on the shark. On the few occasions when sharks have attacked, they often have done so from behind.

The best safety advice is to avoid encounters by swimming where there are other people. Never wander far away from the crowds and don’t wear shiny jewelry in the water. Shiny jewelry mimics fish scales and labels you shark bait. Also, stay out of the water during early morning, late afternoon and at night; that’s when sharks tend to eat.

Swim where a lifeguard can spot you. And if you are bleeding, stay out of the water. Sharks can smell blood from several feet away.

For more information about sharks, visit The Shark Research Institute.


Michele C. Hollow writes about pets and wildlife. She can be reached at Twitter

Tips for Keeping Aging Pets Healthy

See the smile?

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Just two decades ago, large dogs like Labrador Retrievers lived to age 9. Today, these dogs can live to 15 or 16. Our cats and dogs are living longer thanks to many changes in veterinary medicine, and because of the care we give them.

“We’ve taken our pets from the backyard to the bedroom, and from the kennel to the couch,” says Dr. Robin Downing, DVM, and owner of The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, CO. “Our pets are aging, and with that we know, as the Buddhist saying goes, pain is inevitable. [But] suffering is optional. Our senior pets don’t have to hurt.”

Dr. Robin shares 5 tips on how to make our senior pets more comfortable:

1. Lay a foundation.
Pets like their routines. Start with regular veterinary care, a good diet, exercise, and together time. As your cat or dog ages, maintain their regular activities.

2. Practice preventive care.
Senior cats and dogs should see their veterinarians twice a year. “The most dangerous words in the English language are Let’s just watch it,” says Dr. Robin. “We see our cats and dogs slowing down and attribute that to old age. Maybe their coats aren’t as shiny as they once were. Maybe you found a small lump. Maybe something else seems off. Slowing down may be a slowing metabolism due to an underactive thyroid. Early detection is critical. By scheduling semi-annual veterinary visits, we can catch illness at its initial stage, making the success rate far higher than if we let a disease progress.”

3. Prevent obesity.
“Obesity is the number-one preventable disease of dogs and cats in the U.S.,” says Dr. Robin. “It trumps kidney disease and cancer for preventable diseases, and it is completely preventable and reversible. Leaner pets live longer than obese pets. Obesity causes wear and tear on the body. Twenty percent of all senior cats and dogs have osteoarthritis, and the percentage is much higher among the overweight and obese. Just like with humans, if you are fat, you have a higher increased risk of developing cancer of all types. Diabetes can also be caused by obesity.”

“Your pets should be eating foods that are age-appropriate. Kittens get food that is marked for kittens. It has a higher fat content, which they need for their growing bodies. Then, there is an adult stage, and a senior stage.”

4. Watch for medical breakthroughs.
“It used to be that we had to amputate the limb for certain bone tumors,” says Dr. Robin. “Now, we know—in many cases—how certain bone tumors grow by using stereotactic radio surgery. Dogs and cats are keeping their legs. A really cool development right now is work on the horizon for a vaccine that may be able to be used against bone cancer. Comparative oncologists are looking into this to be used on human cancer. It’s a huge breakthrough.”

5. Make your home comfortable.
As pets age, we can make our home environments comfortable for them. Dr. Robin suggests using pet ramps for dogs getting in and out of cars. “There are also carpet-covered steps that you can place by your bed, so your cats and dogs can have easy access to your bed,” she adds.

Other items Dr. Robin suggests include:

* Food and water bowls that can be raised so your pets don’t have to put any stress on their backs. The bowls should be somewhere between elbow and shoulder height.

* No-skid carpets or foam floor mats—the ones that look like puzzle pieces—are easy to assemble and can be removed from the floor when guests come over.

* For homes with cats, make sure your cats have easy access to a window seat. Place an ottoman or step so he won’t have to jump too high.

* For pets with bad backs or hind legs there are wheelchairs, assistive slings, and harnesses.

* For hard-of-hearing pets, you can ring the doorbell when you enter your home. Since their hearing isn’t as sharp as it used to be, they will hear a doorbell or you can use a loud lifeguard whistle. “Pets like their routines and they want to greet you when you come home,” says Dr. Robin. “By using a whistle or ringing the doorbell, they can. You can also stomp on the floor, if they can’t hear. They can respond to the vibrations.”

* If your pet has poor vision or is blind, please don’t rearrange the furniture. “Keep their food and water dishes in the same place,” says Dr. Robin. “Same goes for the litter pan. We want to set seniors up for success.”

“Our pets need us a lot when they are very young and again they need us a lot when they are very old,” says Dr. Robin. “Now that they are older, it is time for us to step up to give our pets the best life they deserve.”

Editor’s Note: I hope you will subscribe!

5 Things You Need to Know before You Get A Dog

Many Labrador Retriever puppies are trained as therapy dogs.

Many Labrador Retriever puppies are trained as therapy dogs.

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Are you ready for a new commitment in your life? While this one gives you lots of unconditional love, it’s essential to note that with this, as with every relationship, you will need to invest time and work. Go into it knowing that it will be worth every moment.

1. Do your homework

If you have never lived with a dog, visit your local dog park, talk to friends who have dogs and check out books on dog care. Before you are ready to commit, you may want to volunteer at your local animal shelter or talk to the workers there about the dogs in their care. They know their personalities and can find a good match for you.

You may want an active dog who loves the outdoors or you may prefer a couch potato who will sit by your side while you both watch the tube. By visiting your local animal shelter, you can observe the dogs who are looking for their forever homes.

2. A few facts to know

  • The average life expectancy of large-breed dogs is 15 years, and small breeds can live up to 20 years.
  • Annual vet care is vital to your dog’s health. Ask friends with dogs to recommend a good veterinarian.
  • Your new dog will need to be spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering results in healthier dogs.

3. Create rules to follow

Before you bring your dog home, sit down as a family to discuss the rules. Decide which rooms your dog will be allowed in, where he will sleep and if he is allowed on the furniture.

Decide on a schedule for meals, play, potty breaks and quiet time. If you have young children, you can supervise and teach them to feed the dog. You can also take walks together. If your children are young, never leave them alone with the family dog. Children can hurt the dog, and the dog may bite out of fear or protection. So if you have young children, you must be present.

If your children are older, have them walk the dog when they come home from school. You can create a chart to put on your fridge; this way everyone in the house will know the schedule.

4. Prepare your home

This should be done before you bring Fido home. For areas that are off limits, either keep doors closed or put up a large baby gate that he won’t be able to clear.

You can purchase a dog bed if you want him off the furniture. You will need a water dish and food bowl. Make sure the water is changed once a day. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about the type of food you want to feed your dog. The rule here is to buy the best quality that fits into your budget.

5. Must-haves

You will need a leash and collar with an ID tag that has your name, your dog’s name and your phone number on it. It’s also a smart idea to buy shampoo and flea prevention. K9 Advantix II is a monthly preventative solution recommended by veterinarians that protects your dog against ticks, fleas and other insects. It kills between 98 and 100 percent of fleas within 12 hours and continues working for one month to prevent infestations. It should be used on dogs over four pounds and older than seven weeks of age.

Another must-have is training. Start training your dog within the first week when you bring him home. This way, your dog will be well mannered.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by K9 Advantix® II, a registered trademark of Bayer. Do not use on cats. (This post originally appeared on SheKnows.)

Deployed Soldiers Leave Animals in Loving Hands

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

reunion_20140802_jkk  BUZZ MILLER, 73, doesn’t know the meaning of the words “slow down” — his retirement 11 years ago actually meant springing into action, pursuing a dream and, ultimately, coming to the aid of U.S. service members.

As a successful lawyer who enjoyed his work, Miller, of Gladwyne, Pa., retired at the age of 62 to pursue his passion of volunteering at local animal shelters.

While volunteering, however, he came across military personnel giving up their pets because they were being deployed. “These men and women about to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan had tears running down their faces, because they had nowhere else to leave their pets,” Miller said. “These pets would either be euthanized, adopted to another family or spend the rest of their lives at the shelter. This is no way to treat the men and women who serve our country, and no way to treat their pets.”

So, in 2011, Miller created PACT (People + Animals = Companions Together) for Animals a 501(c)(3) located just outside Philadelphia that finds foster homes for the pets of military personnel while they’re deployed.

Beginning with just a few foster families and four foster dogs in 2011, the group had placed 150 companion animals as of December 2013, Miller said. Owners have driven to the Philadelphia area from as far away as Florida and Missouri, and some have even flown in with their pets.

“We serve a lot of soldiers in the area and are expanding to other parts of the country,” said Miller, noting that PACT satellites have formed in Colorado and Arizona.

Miller Makes a Match

For Specialist Petra Torri, a U.S. Army intelligence officer who hailed from Florida, the program helped her find a home for a mini cocker spaniel mix named Coco and a Jack Russell terrier named Bella when she had to leave home for training.

With no other options, and with pet sitters too expensive for the seven or eight months she would be gone, Torri turned to PACT.

She ultimately flew her dogs to eastern Pennsylvania to be fostered by Lorrie and Michael Manacchio, who had seen a segment on their local news about the group and decided to foster.

The Manacchios have two dogs of their own, a golden retriever and a chow mix, and Torri was initially concerned about leaving her small dogs with larger ones. However, “when I made the introduction, her fears were allayed,” said Miller, who checks out every foster home before a placement is made. “I assured her that we don’t accept aggressive dogs. She also liked that Michael was a veteran.”

Miller also ascertained that although the Manacchios work full time, Lorrie’s father, who is retired, walks the dogs and spends time with them during the day.

During the deployment, Torri and the Manacchios kept in touch. Lorrie “would send me photos of Coco and Bella sitting at the dinner table,” said Torri. “They didn’t want to eat. They just sat there to be part of the family.”

Other photos showed the dogs playing with toys and taking turns sitting on Lorrie’s lap while floating on an inner tube in the Manacchios’ pool.

“We now feel like our family has expanded thanks to PACT,” said Lorrie. The Manacchios, in fact, have promised to foster Torri’s dogs if she is deployed again.

“The people that foster are truly caring people,” said Miller. “They share my love of animals, and they want to help those who serve our country.”

New Career Is a Labor of Love

While he was a practicing attorney, Miller worked long hours, but as the founder of PACT, “I put in even more time,” he said. “Transitioning to a full-time job running PACT is truly a labor of love.”

In addition to running PACT and fundraising for the organization, Miller and his wife, Judi Goldstein Miller, 70, (who is active in cat adoptions), also own and operate a local pet store called Buzzy’s Bow Wow Meow in Narberth, Pa., where they also host pet adoption events.

“I like to keep busy,” said Miller, “and it is easy when you know you are making a difference. It gives me such joy to help people who care about their pets. That is what PACT is all about.”

PACT’s new ventures include launching a foster program for individuals who are hospitalized and need foster care for their pets.

Whether military personnel or patient, PACT’s goal is to make sure owners “know that their pets will be in good hands,” he said.

(Editor’s Note: This article, written by me–Michele C. Hollow–originally appeared on NowU. The site recently closed it’s doors.)

Foster Pet Parents Learn How to Say ‘Good-bye’

By Michele C. Hollow

Shakespeare’s famous line “Parting is such sweet sorrow” sums up how many foster parents feel when they return a dog or cat that’s been in their care.

Whether it’s just a long weekend or months of sharing a home with an animal up for adoption, it’s easy to get attached when you’ve bonded with that playful kitten or lovable senior mutt.


 If you’ve considered fostering a homeless animal but are worried that you’ll get too attached, rescue groups and experienced foster parents have sound advice to offer.

The true secret to letting go, they say, is focusing on the many positives. Ask anyone who fosters a pet, and you will hear over and over that they do it because fostering saves lives.

Animals that temporarily reside in foster homes while they’re waiting to be adopted free up valuable space in shelters and with rescue groups, who can then take in other homeless dogs and cats that might otherwise be euthanized.

But the benefits don’t stop there. “When people foster pets, they are getting them ready for their forever homes by socializing them,” explained Bridgett Knote, Intake and Foster Care Program coordinator at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City.

“Socialized pets spend less time in our adoption center. They get adopted quicker, because they are comfortable being around people,” Knote said. “And what’s equally important is the feedback we get from our foster parents regarding the behavior of the animals in their homes.”

A foster parent may also be required to take notes about the animal’s behavior, temperament and health, and then share that information with the rescue group and potential adopters.

“In even the best animal shelters, pets are stressed,” explained Marc Peralta, executive director at Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles. “That’s why in a loving home — even though it’s temporary — pets can relax and be themselves,” revealing their true nature to foster parents.

Here are two foster parents who’ve learned to keep the end goal in mind as they volunteer:

Preparing Animals for Their ‘Forever’ Homes

Laurette Oldewurtel, 54, adopted two dogs and two cats but wanted to do more. She lives within easy walking distance of the ASPCA in New York City and started fostering three years ago. Now, 70 animals later, she is caring for Lola and Aura, kittens in need of socialization.

Seventy sounds like a lot of pets. However, it’s spread over three years, and some of those instances involved litters of kittens.

“For kittens, socialization isn’t long,” she explained. “Some of them are here between two and six weeks. Kitten season starts in spring and can last through early fall. That’s the time when animal shelters and rescues are in desperate need of temporary foster homes.”

Fostering for Oldewurtel, who runs a financial consulting business in her home, is rewarding.

“Kittens are so entertaining,” she said. “When it’s time to give them back, I know that they will be placed in loving homes. That is what I focus on. I’m helping more animals by fostering than by adopting.”

Personal Pets Make It Easier to Say Good-bye


Kiem Sie, 48, has let go four times. She is on her fifth foster, and she credits her two adopted dogs — Leo, a pit bull mix, and Bimo, a Chihuahua terrier mix — with making the good-byes less difficult.

“Having them here makes it a bit easier to let go of the foster,” said Sie, of Albany, Calif., who volunteers through Berkeley Care Animal Services.

She also keeps in touch with the owners of her fosters. “Sometimes we hang out at the local dog park.”

Sie, who works in the IT department at Mills College, can work from her home office, so she’s able to keep an eye on Leo, Bimo and her newest foster, Winston, a pit bull mix from Home at Last Animal Rescue.

Winston, who was undernourished and had a badly broken leg when Sie stepped up to foster him, has gone from 42 to 64 pounds, a healthy weight for his size.


Peter DaSilva for NowU

He’s been with Sie the past five months while his leg heals. Sie is training him and managing hisFacebook page.

“I tell myself each time I place a dog in a good home, I’m able to save another dog,” she said. “If I keep this dog, I wouldn’t be able to help a lot more.”

How to Cope With Good-bye

The ASPCA of New York City offers the following advice for foster parents on how to cope with the inevitable parting. For more details, check out their site.

  • Know that it gets easier with time.
  • Become active in the adoption process.
  • Focus on the ultimate goal, which is saving a life.
  • Celebrate when your foster pet has found a new forever home.
  • Don’t feel guilty that you did not adopt the pet.
  • Start or join a foster support network.
  • Take a break if you begin to feel burned out.
  • Cherish the memories with photos, stories or a scrapbook.

How You Can Help

There are thousands of animal shelters and rescue groups in need of foster homes throughout the U.S. To find one near you, check with your local animal control or animal shelter.

 chameleon-john 800x270 (1) This post is sponsored by ChameleonJohn. You can check out their discount coupons on pet products!


How is Fur Still a Thing?

No Fur sign     By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

According to reporters covering Fashion Week in New York City, fur is making a comeback. From full-length fur coats to brightly dyed fur trims, the terms “fun,” “playful,” and “fresh” were used to describe these new designs.

I thought we were enlightened about not wearing fur. For the past 20 years, fur coats fell out of favor thanks to public relations campaigns highlighting the cruelty associated with the fur trade. Now, fur is back on the runways because fur industry manufacturers gave designers pelts at greatly reduced prices so that they could experiment.

Pair that with celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lopez who flaunt their fur coats. They are well-educated women who, I believe, understand the cruelty behind the fur trade. Wearing fur and knowing the viciousness tells me that they are uncaring and selfish.

I know the readers of Pet News and Views would not wear fur. You understand the sorrow that is associated with the fur trade. What I don’t understand is why is fur still a thing? Let’s be fashion forward and make our own statement by not wearing fur. Let’s Tweet #I’mFurFree.

The Humane Society of the United States has a list of fur-free retailers, designers, and brands. Please share it with your family and friends. And don’t forget to Tweet #I’mFurFree.



Charitable Deductions for Animal Rescue Volunteers


By Julian Block for Pet News and Views

Millions of individuals volunteer to help raise funds or perform other tasks on behalf of charitable organizations. When the annual reckoning with the IRS rolls around, the reward for their willingness to help out can take the form of write-offs for unreimbursed expenses incurred while they do volunteer work.

But what’s in store at tax time for animal rescue volunteers who work on behalf of organizations like the Humane Society of the U.S. and the ASPCA? Are they also entitled to claim charitable deductions for their unreimbursed expenses?

The IRS says such outlays are nondeductible personal expenditures, unless the rescuers establish that they incur the expenses to further the efforts of charitable organizations—for instance, foster care for stray animals.  Continue reading Charitable Deductions for Animal Rescue Volunteers

Wildlife Protection Legislation Hits and Misses for 2014





Our friends at Born Free USA shares its list of successes from 2014, and what still needs to be done in 2015.

1) Federal Bill: Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2856/S. 1463)

Purpose: To prohibit the interstate commerce in nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

History: In 2003, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act was signed into law to prohibit interstate commerce in lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Because primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety, advocates seek to add them to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA, along with partners, worked to attract more attention to this bill. The list of cosponsors soared to more than 150, and members of Congress spoke out in passionate support of the bill at a press conference highlighting Charla Nash: a woman who was severely injured in an attack by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee, and who lent her voice to highlight the importance of this measure.

Outcome: While the bill had strong bipartisan support and passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, it was ultimately overlooked due to other Congressional priorities. Born Free USA will capitalize on the favor it accrued to start strong in the next Congress.

2) Federal Bill: Humane Care for Primates Act (H.R. 3556)

Purpose: To change CDC regulations to allow sanctuaries to import primates into the country for the purpose of providing humane lifetime care.

History: Current CDC regulations allow the importation of primates for “bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes,” which excludes sanctuaries and prevents needy primates overseas from being rescued by U.S. organizations, such as the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

Progress in 2014: After securing introduction of the bill in 2013 with Rep. Ellmers (R-NC) as a sponsor, Born Free USA worked to raise awareness and build support for the bill in Congress. With more than 40 cosponsors, this bill was well-received.

Outcome: While it did not pass, the awareness raised ensures that the bill is well-poised to be reintroduced in the House in 2015, and to find a Senate champion.

3) West Virginia Bill (S.B. 428/H.B. 4393)

Purpose: To prohibit private ownership of exotic species, with that list to be defined by the Department of Natural Resources.

History: West Virginia was one of only six states left lacking restriction or oversight for the private possession of exotic animals. This historic bill was initiated by Born Free USA in 2012, though it failed to pass that year.

2014 SUCCESS: This bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.


Born Free USA is addressing this cruel, unregulated industry. Tens of thousands of targeted and non-targeted animals are caught in traps that leave them injured, maimed, or dead. To prevent further harm, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513)

Purpose: To ban trapping in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The bill aims to restore the original intent of the National Wildlife Refuge System to create havens for wildlife that are safe and free from unnatural intrusion. The bill would also protect people and companion animals incidentally caught by brutal traps.

History: Born Free USA played a key role in drafting the bill when it was originally introduced in the 2009/2010 Congress.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA lobbied to gain support for this bill in the House, and engaged our Members in a grassroots effort to emphasize the need for this ban.

Outcome: This bill failed to gain traction in the 2013-2014 Congress. However, Born Free USA will continue its efforts to educate members of Congress about trapping.

2) Illinois Bill (S.B. 3049)

Purpose: To add the gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar to the list of protected species under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

History: Under Illinois law, it is unlawful for any person at any time to take, possess, sell, offer for sale, propagate, or release into the wild any “protected species,” with exemptions for scientific, educational, or zoological institutions. The gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar populations are in need of these protections afforded to the other threatened species protected under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA lobbied in support of this bill through grassroots outreach and by submitting testimony to the legislature. The legislature recognized the importance of these wildlife protections, passed the bill, and the governor signed it into law.

3) Virginia Bill (S.B. 42)

Purpose: To prohibit the construction of new fox penning enclosures, although current fox pens may continue to operate until 2054.

History: There has been an ongoing battle to ban fox penning, a cruel “sport” in which organizers force dozens of dogs to compete in a fenced-in area to chase—and sometimes rip apart—foxes and coyotes. The wild animals are caught in leghold traps that cause anguish through broken bones or other wounds, and are transported in cages to the pen. With dogs tearing apart the captive animals, there is a constant demand for fresh wildlife for the fox pens.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition of groups to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was then signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state in which the practice is so entrenched.

Wildlife trade:

Illegal wildlife trade is ranked among the top five global crimes in terms of profitability. The trade in bear gallbladders, sport-hunted wildlife trophies, and other animals—including threatened and endangered species—could drive some populations or species to the brink of extinction. In particular, Born Free USA’s two groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, revealed the insidious links between terrorist networks and the ivory trade. To address this crisis, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act (H.R. 5454)

Purpose: To require certain nations to work with the U.S. on anti-poaching efforts, or face sanctions if they fail to cooperate.

History: As Born Free USA’s Ivory’s Curse report revealed, African nations must play a significant role in cracking down on corruption within governments and poaching within their boundaries. This bill is designed to incentivize African nations to make the poaching crisis a priority.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA assisted sponsor Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) with crafting the language of the bill. It contributed to the ongoing discussion in Congress about how to best tackle the poaching crisis, and demonstrated that the U.S. is serious about finding a solution.

Outcome: This bill did not make any progress in 2014, but Born Free USA will continue to promote it, as well as other Congressional efforts to end the ivory trade, in 2015.

2) Federal Bill: Rare Cats and Canids Act (H.R. 5836)

Purpose: To provide a source of funding for projects to enhance conservation of international felids and canids.

History: This bill was previously introduced in 2007 and 2009, and it passed the House of Representatives both times. Wild cats and dogs desperately need these conservation efforts. Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as being in need of protection.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA worked with sponsor Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) to update the language, find original cosponsors, and recruit the support of other groups before it was introduced.

Outcome: This bill was introduced too late in the session to make progress, but will be reintroduced in 2015.

3) Massachusetts Bill: Shark Fin Ban (H.B. 4088)

Purpose: To prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins, with exemptions for certain species and purposes.

History: Shark finning is a cruel practice in which people cut the fins off of live sharks and return their bodies to the water, where the sharks inevitably die. Similar laws exist in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state with a large fishing industry.

4) New York Bill: Restrict the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (A. 10143/S. 7890)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, trade, barter, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn articles, but with certain exemptions.

History: New York had a much weaker law regulating the sale of ivory, but it was not sufficient to ensure that no illegal ivory was sold in the state. As the elephant and rhino poaching crisis grows, New York was one of the first states to recognize the need to crack down on the trafficking of these products.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked with partners to provide grassroots support of the bill. The legislature recognized the urgency of this matter and passed the bill, allowing the governor to sign it into law.

5) New Jersey Bill: Ban the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (S. 2012/A. 3128)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, or barter of ivory or rhino horn.

History: This bill passed the first year it was introduced, establishing New Jersey as the state with the strongest prohibition on ivory and rhino horn.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with partners to secure this bill’s passage, including testifying before a committee, engaging with media, and providing grassroots support. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

Click here to find out more about these bills, and how to take action.