Jamaica Plain’s local Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell (MSPCA-Angell) branch has been focused on advocating for public access to animal records.
MSPCA was invited to testify in Washington, D.C. as part of a bipartisan briefing regarding the removal of the reports on June 8. The briefing followed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) February decision to remove the public access to the Animal Care Information System, a taxpayer-funded searchable online database that includes inspection and enforcement records of the Horse Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act.
MSPCA-Angell joined other humane groups to pressure USDA to restore public access to the animal inspection and violation reports. The reports are useful for advocates for animals and also for everyday citizens looking to purchase a pet or visit a circus that involves animals. The reports allow anyone to see if any breeder, pet store, or circus have complied with inspection standards or violated any laws in relation to the humane treatment of the animals.
“The absence of those databases makes our work of advocating for animals that much harder,” said Rob Halpin, spokesperson for MSPCA-Angell, in a phone interview with the Gazette.
Halpin said that the organization may not know for some time what the outcome of the testimony will be, but hopes that the pressure on the USDA will result in the restoration of the records.
The organization was successful in one of their advocacy projects from last year: the ballot question to increase protection for farm animals.
In the November 2016 election, the initiative that will require that animals that result in egg or meat products in Massachusetts must be able to stand up, turn around, and fully extend their limbs passed with 78 percent of the vote. The law won’t go into effect for another couple of years.
“Ending animal cruelty is a train that is picking up momentum,” Halpin said. “Things are looking brighter for animals in the food industry and we’re happy for that.”
Primarily, the MSPCA always advocates for residents to adopt from their shelter, especially as opposed to a pet store or from a breeder.
“In recent years in broad strokes, Massachusetts is getting its hands around the homeless cat and dog populations, which is excellent,” Halpin said. “However, we get more rabbits surrendered to the MSPCA than puppies.”
MSPCA-Angell also has many ferrets, mice, and guinea pigs.
“You save two lives when you adopt: the animal in the cage and then you open up space for the next animal that needs to stay at the shelter,” Halpin said. “There is a tremendous karmic benefit to adopting an animal, even animals that are traditionally bought in a pet store.”
To encourage adoption, MSPCA-Angell will be hosting a program called Bigger Bookworms for the summer. The event includes a weekly program with kids 6 to 9 years old where participants can learn fun facts, have a chance to ask questions about animals, learn fun animal yoga poses, and work through a chapter book together. The kids will also be able to meet some of the shelter animals and learn about the work of the MSPCA.
“We want the kids to think about what it means to be a responsible pet owner,” Halpin said.
Bigger Bookworms will be held on five Tuesdays from July 11 to Aug. 8. Events are free and will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The organization is also holding a fee-waived adoptathon during the month of July for senior cats, which are 9 years or older. There is normally a $50 fee to adopt a senior cat, but there will be no fee from July 1 to July 31.
“The promotion is called The Karate Cat to shine a spotlight on the fact that nine year old cats don’t only want to nap in the sun,” Halpin said. “Senior cats, even if they don’t necessarily want to do karate, are still very suitable to people who live active lifestyles.”
For more visit about the MSPCA-Angell, visit mspca.org.