Animal Humane Society will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. We will be open extended hours — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — on Friday, November 28.

AHS position on declawing of domestic cats

Animal Humane Society position on declawing of domestic cats

Animal Humane Society believes that the decision whether to declaw is up to the individual in consult with their veterinarian.

Studies do show that cats who exhibit destructive scratching behavior are more likely to be euthanized or abandoned by their owners. Steps, other than declawing, can be taken to reduce destructive scratching including providing scratching posts or carpet remnants and frequent nail trims. Synthetic nail caps can also prove effective.

Despite these non-surgical alternatives, destructive behavior cannot always be modified. Animal Humane Society believes that despite temporary discomfort and/or pain, declawing is preferable to euthanizing or otherwise relinquishing ownership of a cat.

AHS position on canine elective and cosmetic surgical procedures

Animal Humane Society position on canine elective and cosmetic surgical procedures

Every year, tens of thousands of dogs and puppies undergo unnecessary cosmetic/elective surgical procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and devocalization (debarking).

Animal Humane Society opposes surgical procedures when performed for purely cosmetic or convenience reasons, that provide no health benefit to the dog, and subject the animal to unnecessary pain or health risks.

Tail docking refers to the amputation of all or part of an animal’s tail utilizing a cutting or crushing instrument. A dog’s tail is comprised of muscles, tendons, nerves, cartilage and bone — all of which are severed during a docking procedure.

Ear cropping refers to the practice of reshaping a dog’s ears by surgically removing the pinna, or floppy part of the ear. Approximately one half of the ear is removed in a cropping procedure.   

Devocalization (debarking or bark softening) is a surgical procedure that removes tissue from the vocal cords and permanently reduces the volume of vocalization. Chronic or excessive barking in dogs may be caused by improper socialization, stress, boredom, fear or frustration. Surgery stops the barking, but does not address the cause of the barking and subjects the dog to potential health risks (i.e. aspiration pneumonia).

Devocalization is not appropriate as a quick fix. While no dog can be trained to stop barking completely, most dogs can be trained to reduce barking through behavioral modification after owners understand the reason for the excessive barking.

Most of the tail docking and ear cropping procedures are done solely for cosmetic reasons and/or to adhere to breed standards.  Accordingly, Animal Humane Society encourages the elimination of docking and cropping from breed standards.

AHS position on breeding of companion animals

Animal Humane Society position on breeding of companion animals


Animal Humane Society believes there is a place for responsible breeding of companion animals. However, inhumane and inadequate breeding facilities exist; therefore, we encourage individuals to exercise caution when purchasing animals from breeders and to consider alternative means for acquiring companion animals.

Alternative means

Animal Humane Society position on breeding of companion animals

Animal Humane Society position on breeding of companion animals

Animal Humane Society believes there is a place for responsible breeding of companion animals. However, inhumane and inadequate breeding facilities exist; therefore, we encourage individuals to exercise caution when purchasing animals from breeders and to consider alternative means for acquiring companion animals.

AHS position on breed specific bans

Animal Humane Society position on breed specific bans

Animal Humane Society opposes regulations based solely on dog breed and/or legislation banning a specific breed.  While breed is one factor that contributes to a dog's temperament, it alone cannot be used to predict whether a dog may pose a danger to his or her community. AHS believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs.

AHS position on rescue and relief

Animal Humane Society position on rescue and relief

Animal Humane Society believes it is the responsibility of animal welfare organizations with a reasonable level of resources to participate in assisting during local and national disasters whenever possible. The nature and extent of the efforts in disaster response will vary depending on such factors as access, timing, available resources, the security and safety of responders, and the extent of the relief required.

AHS position on humane investigations

Animal Humane Society position on humane investigations

When animals are subjected to neglect and cruelty, it is critical for there to be a humane intervention that will aid and protect the animals.

Animal Humane Society believes there is an essential role for humane investigations in response to formal complaints regarding alleged violations of the animal welfare laws. Humane agents should partner with local law enforcement agencies to facilitate any appropriate investigation. The nature and extent of the efforts vary depending on the case.

AHS position on pet overpopulation

Animal Humane Society position on pet overpopulation

The quantity of companion animals is grossly disproportionate to the number of homes available for them, a situation that has produced suffering for orphaned and displaced animals, many of which are euthanized in our nation’s shelters.

This problem exists in part due to indiscriminate breeding practices that result in excess puppies and kittens. An equally important factor is the number of adult animals surrendered. Unexpected life changes and situations where people are unprepared, unable or unwilling to handle the challenges of pet ownership result in their surrender to shelters.

Decreasing the number of unwanted pets and preventing random births requires a multi-faceted approach, including behavior training, spaying and neutering, and education.

Training and pet behavior programs for the public contribute to reducing the quantity of animals brought to shelters. Research suggests that education of pet owners improves the human-animal relationship which, in turn, increases the likelihood of a life-long home.

Sterilization is an essential part of the solution. Animal Humane Society requires that all dogs, cats and rabbits placed by AHS be spayed or neutered. AHS practices and supports the practice of prepubescent spaying and neutering of kittens and puppies. Further, AHS believes that all private or public shelters should dedicate resources to insure that the companion animals they adopt are not allowed to reproduce. We support programs that provide education and incentives to the public to spay or neuter their companion animals.

We believe that public education about responsible pet ownership and pet overpopulation is a key component to reducing the quantity of animals brought to shelters every year. In addition, animal welfare organizations have a responsibility to provide education and increase public awareness about the pet overpopulation problem and must engage the community to act, advocate and work together to effect change locally and nationally.

 

AHS position on animals used for research, testing and education

Animal Humane Society position on animals used for biomedical research, testing and education

Biomedical research & testing

We support the development of alternatives to the use of animals in biomedical research and testing. We advocate and encourage the eventual end to the use of animals in research and testing that cause harm to animals, realizing that some research (e.g. drug safety testing for human use) may not be possible without the use of animals. In the interim, until research alternatives are developed and used, and as long as laboratories are used, we feel that strict accountability is essential in research procedures, as well as in the process of obtaining, treating, and maintaining all species of laboratory animals. During this research, there should always be a written experimental protocol that is reviewed by a licensed veterinarian and that includes appropriate humane husbandry and medical care along with a focus on the elimination of pain and relief of stress and suffering of the animals.

We oppose the release of animals, living or deceased, from public or private animal shelters (including animal control agencies) to biomedical research or other related facilities that use animals for research or testing. In addition, we oppose any efforts, administrative or legislative that would mandate this practice.

We believe animal welfare organizations can play an important role in improving animal health and welfare by partnering with established and reputable entities that engage in responsible animal health study and research. This can be achieved by providing and / or supporting the gathering of samples, such as tissue and blood, obtained through normal, routinely performed, veterinary exam procedures leading to additional knowledge for the purpose of improving animal health and welfare.

We join other national and local animal welfare organizations in the belief that the three R’s (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) are critical and should be applied to the use of animals in biomedical research.* At the same time, we recognize a fourth R of “Responsibility to Society” and that animal welfare must be balanced with human welfare.

Education

We believe students of all ages should be provided an education that instills a respect for animals and emphasizes the value of animals as living, sentient creatures who share our world. Educating school children about the wonders of biology is one way to instill an appreciation on the intrinsic value of animals.

In elementary and secondary education we do not support curricula that includes the use of animals for dissection or other activities that may cause harm. Alternatives exist that support education at this level and those should be used.

Where appropriate, alternatives to the use of animals in the classroom, such as computer modeling, should be considered at the undergraduate level and beyond. While there are some alternatives to achieve educational objectives, we believe that there is a place for ethically sourced cadavers.

With appropriate supervision, we support veterinary students working with animals (such as shelter animals) that will benefit from the procedures for practical experience in examinations and surgeries. While we understand and recognize the value of the use of animals for professional education in veterinary, medical and biological careers, we continue to encourage and support alternative methods to the use of animals for dissection or laboratory study. In professional education any use of animals should follow the Three R’s (reduction, refinement or replacement of animal use).

 

*The principles of the Three Rs – Replacement, Refinement and Reduction are credited to Russell and Burch’s 1959 report “The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques” and are widely accepted internationally as criteria for humane animal use in research and testing.

  • Reduction - experiments should be designed in such a manner that the least number of the most suitable species are used.
  • Refinement - research animals need to be maintained in a clean environment in which they are humanely cared for before, during and after the procedures.
  • Replacement - animal-based research methods should be replaced when possible with alternative methods, such as mathematical or computer modeling, molecular modeling, organ perfusion, or other methods that allow the attainment of the objectives without having to use animals.

AHS position on animals in entertainment and competition

Animal Humane Society position on animals in entertainment and competition

Animal Humane Society believes animals used for entertainment must be treated humanely at all times. They must be transported in a humane and safe manner, provided frequent opportunities for natural exercise and psychological enrichment and rest, and should be housed and cared for in a manner appropriate to each species.

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