Historic wins for farm animals in California, greyhounds in Florida

The passage of Proposition 12 in California creates a bright-line legal standard that prohibits the confinement of egg-laying hens, pigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in cages or crates so small that they are essentially immobilized for their whole lives. Photo by iStockphoto

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund take on the big fights: the ones that have the greatest long-term impact for the most animals. On Election Day, we prevailed once again with two decisive and historic victories, one for farm animals in California and another for greyhounds in Florida.

In a vote that promises to benefit tens of millions of farm animals, California voters spoke loud and clear by approving Proposition 12. The measure, approved by a supermajority of 60 percent, creates a bright-line legal standard that prohibits the confinement of egg-laying hens, pigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in cages or crates so small that they are essentially immobilized for their whole lives. It also requires that eggs, pork and veal sold in California meet this same standard.

In Florida, voters passed – by a nearly 69 percent vote – a measure to ban greyhound racing. We needed just 60 percent of the voters with us to win, and we took nothing for granted. Working with our allies at GREY2K USA Worldwide, the Doris Day Animal League and others, we gave it our all, and since Florida has 11 of the remaining 17 racetracks in the country, the vote to end racing here is a major step toward sounding the death knell for this cruel “sport.”

Since Florida began tracking greyhound deaths in 2013, 493 dogs have died on its tracks. The demise of this industry, built on the suffering of animals, couldn’t have come a moment sooner. Photo by iStockphoto

There are now approximately 8,000 greyhounds being used in the Florida racing industry, and since the state began tracking greyhound deaths in 2013, 493 dogs have died on its tracks. Ninety-four percent were three years old or younger. In a single county, Seminole, since May 2017, 87 greyhound injuries have been reported, including 64 greyhounds who suffered broken bones and five dogs who died. The demise of this industry, built on the suffering of animals, couldn’t have come a moment sooner.

Both of these measures faced tremendous opposition at every step from groups with tremendous clout. Trade associations like the American Veal Association, National Pork Producers Council, California Pork Producers Association, National Association of Egg Farmers, Association of California Egg Farmers and the California Farm Bureau lined up against the California measure. In Florida, Amendment 13 had some unusual opponents, including the American Kennel Club, the NRA and the Farm Bureau. But the deep pockets of these special interest groups were no match for the energy of our staff members and volunteers who worked for months to mobilize millions of voters in favor of Amendment 13 and Proposition 12.

We are excited by these victories today. With the most populous U.S. state voting for better treatment of farm animals, and with the largest remaining stronghold of greyhound racing rejecting it, we’re on the verge of powerful change for the better. Let’s celebrate these tremendous wins, and applaud Florida and California for showing the rest of America – and the world – a better way forward.

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