HSUS and Ohio Gov’s Deal on Wide Range of Animal Welfare Issues

Nov. 3, 2010: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has lost his bid for re-election. Former U.S. Rep. John Kasich won by approximately 49%-47%. What will this mean for the deal Gov. Strickland struck in June, 2010 with the Humane Society of the United States on a range of animal welfare issues? Both parties agree the "deal" is not legally enforceable. 

For more on the deal and what it might have meant for Ohio’s animals, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

June 30, 2010: In a press conference held today, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced a deal has been reached with the Humane Society of the United States on a number of animal welfare issues.

As a result of the agreement, HSUS will not pursue its ballot initiative pursued through a ballot committee called Ohioans for Humane Farms to end certain factory farming practices such as (1) use of battery cages for egg laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, crates for veal calves or other confinement that prevents animals from from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely; (2) strangulation and other inhumane methods of killing cows and pigs and (3) transport, sale or receipt of non-ambulatory animals. 

Signatures necessary to put the initative on the ballot were due today. 

Gov. Strickland said the deal would "enhance animal welfare and animal care standards" and is "good for Ohio agriculture and good for animal welfare in our state." He said the deal had the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau and agriculture industry organizations in Ohio.

What the deal means for Ohio’s farm animals

Under the deal veal crates must be discontinued as of 2017, the same date as specified in the ballot initiative and when the industry has said use of the crates would be phased out anyway. Gestation crates may continue to be used until 2026 though no new permits for facilities using the crates can be issued after Dec. 31, 2010. Battery cages used for egg laying hens will not be required to be phased out, but there can be no new permits issued for facilities using battery cages for confinement.

It is not clear if the Livestock Care Standards Board will agree to implement these measures. Under Ohio law, the LCSB determines standards of care and treatment for farm animals. The LCSB could also presumably lift these restrictions at some point. 

The deal does include a ban on strangulation of farm animals and mandatory humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals. There will also be a ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter. The language of these measures is not yet available. It is not clear what enforcement measures and penalties will be included. Again, the LCSB must implement these restrictions if they are to have the force of law. 

In addressing why HSUS decided to abandon the ballot initiative, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, who was present at the news conference said that a ballot initiative is an "uncertain circumstance for both sides" and it is a "better outcome for both sides if we can advance …reforms". 

HSUS, the Governor and Ag Industry agreed on a number of other animal welfare issues  

Indeed, the deal is far-reaching, affecting other animal welfare issues. It was agreed that the governor would issue an order barring importation of exotic, dangerous animals as pets. It was agreed legislation would be enacted to raise penalties for cockfighting and improve commercial dog breeding standards. But the legislature must first pass the legislation.

There is already a bill pending to raise penalties for cockfighting. There is a battle between two puppy mill bills, S.B. 95, that would actually encourage puppy mills, and McKenzie’s Law, introduced by Ohio state Rep. Cheryl Grossman and which is supported by a grassroots movement. There is also a ballot initiative underway that would ban dog auctions.  McKenzie’s Law would ban dog auctions and use of dogs for raffles and sale of dogs on public property including along public highways and roads, while S.B. 95 would allow them to continue.

Pacelle said HSUS would support S.B. 95.

It is more important than ever that you let your Ohio legislators know that you support McKenzie’s Law as the best way to end puppy mills and the cruelty to dogs. And, you can still help gather signatures for the ban on dog auctions. Take this as an opportunity to get involved and help pass meaningful legislation that will truly save dogs from the puppy mills in Ohio.  

4 thoughts on “HSUS and Ohio Gov’s Deal on Wide Range of Animal Welfare Issues”

  1. HSUS, Parcell, Governor Strickland and the Farm Bureau have all thumbed their noses at the citizens of Ohio and have left its animals in jeopardy. Every voter who signed those petitions should feel like they’ve been slapped in the face and should remember that during the elections in November. HSUS needs to tuck its tail and go back whereever it came from taking Parcell with it because they have failed the citizens of Ohio and the animals they were suppose to be protected. As usual in politics, they got the mine while the citizens, in particularly the animals, got the shaft. Governor Strickland, I will remember this at the polls in November that you have no concern for what the citizens of Ohio want and no concern for the welfare of the animals of Ohio. Despite the fact that I campaigned for you in the elections, I sure won’t this time and actually will push for another person for Governor.

  2. @Vivian – I’m sorry you feel this way, but I can understand why. The battery cage moratorium was obviously not our original goal; however, this agreement does have immediate implications for the construction of a planned six-million-bird battery cage complex in Ohio. Hopefully our work with the newly established Livestock Care Board will lead to more animal welfare improvements, through collaboration instead of the more contentious ballot campaign route. Here are some additional thoughts from our CEO Wayne Pacelle: http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2010/07/ohio-animal-agreement.html.

  3. Also, please remember that the ballot committee can still proceed with the ballot initiative should any portion of the deal fall through. The signatures already gathered can still be used towards for a period of time towards another ballot initiative effort. This should give LCSB incentive to cooperate.

    And, it appears many in the agri-business community in OH are upset about the deal and feel the Farm Bureau "sold them out". 

    Finally, please remember how difficult it is to pass animal welfare legislation. To have the agreement of the governor and Farm Bureau to implement some of these measures and pursue others should be regarded as a victory for animals.   

  4. Vivian, you have very adeptly expressed the views held by Ohio citizens who are advocating for animal welfare reform. The truth is politics has absolutely no standing in the legal arena and the compromise touted by the HSUS is unacceptable. I see so many loopholes built into this agreement. I am ashamed of the farming community in this state who continue to conduct inhumane practices against animals under their stewardship and who resent any interference of such policies. I have been advocating for animals for 50 years, be it vivisection, farm animals, animal cruelty in all forms. My God, if animals must die to put food on our tables, what short life they do live should not be one of suffering. So yes, at the very least, the ban on new applications for such things as battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates will force future generations from such cruel practices. But it sure damns those who will continue to use them to suit their archaic attitudes. And Wayne Parcell, how can you betray the animals you have vowed to protect. Do you think people are so gullible as to your self-promoting tactics? I’ve heard negative comments about HSUS from many animal welfare groups, even from my veterinarian. November is coming up fast. We need leadership that cares more about compassion towards farm animals and refuses to perpetuate the shameful inhumane practices perpetrated against them.

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