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Position Statements

NHES is concerned with the care and treatment of all sentient beings.  (Please click on a topic to learn more.)

Companion Animals

Animal Abuser Registries

NHES supports legislation that will create animal abuser registries for those convicted of felony animal abuse or who committed certain violent offenses against animals. The registries, modeled after sex offender and arson registries, would collect and publish the names of individuals who have been convicted of animal abuse within the state. If an offender moves to a state with such a registry, he or she would have to register with police within days of moving. Such registries can include the offender’s name, aliases, address, place of employment, nature of the offense, and photo. Such information would be posted online.Animal abuse is often an early sign of potential human abuse. Keeping track of animal abusers would help protect not just the animals of a community but the humans as well. Animal cruelty poses a definite risk to a community and society as a whole. Intentional animal cruelty is of particular concern as it is a sign of psychological distress and often indicates an individual may be predisposed to committing acts of violence toward humans.  Maintaining a registry of individuals convicted of felony animal cruelty will help protect the animals and humans of a state where such a registry exists.

Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. Additionally, mental health professionals and top law enforcement officials consider the blatant disregard for life and suffering evidenced by all forms of cruelty to animals to be an unquestionable warning sign. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders; and the FBI uses reports of animal cruelty in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals.

In addition, registries could be valuable in tracking people who engage in illegal animal fighting, such as cockfighting and dog fighting; hoarders; and people who run puppy mills.

Cat Declawing

NHES opposes unnecessary cosmetic surgeries and surgeries performed to correct misbehavior in pets. NHES holds forth that the surgical removal of a feline’s claws causes disfigurement as well as suffering.The recovery from declawing, or onychectomy, can be prolonged and painful as this surgery is an extreme measure whereby the entire last digit of each toe is amputated. To understand this practice in human terms, this would mean severing each finger at the last knuckle.NHES encourages veterinarians to oppose declawing and to educate clients on alternatives to this drastic procedure. NHES also encourages veterinary medical associations to draft policies that oppose declawing.

If, after trying ALL available alternatives, declawing is chosen, owners must not allow cats to go outdoors unattended because a declawed cat’s ability to climb to safety and defend himself against other animals is greatly diminished. After declawing, some cats may exhibit changes in behavior; most notable are cats who display signs of aggression, including increased biting.

Lastly, because this surgery causes extreme sensitivity and soreness, some declawed cats may cease using the litter box. This information needs to be disclosed and contemplated before any onychectomy surgery.

Euthanasia

NHES and its affiliate organization, Briggs Animal Adoption Center, operate on NHES’s founding philosophy that:Companion animals are sentient creatures who have intrinsic value in and of themselves. Therefore, our stewardship includes sanctity for their individual lives, and we will not participate in the killing of one animal in order to make room for another animal. But rather, we will remain committed to each animal who comes into our care until such time as an appropriate adoptive home can be found, because this is part of the humane solution to ending animal suffering. 

We realize that other private and public facilities are founded on different philosophical missions that mandate the killing of healthy animals as a means of population control. We take no position related to their actions other than to state, through our policies, that all life is sacred and NHES chooses to follow practices directed by our founding philosophy noted above.

Ultimately, the humane solution to the overpopulation of unwanted animals is responsible pet ownership and legislatively imposed mandatory spay/neuter ordinances in every county of our nation.

NHES and its affiliates will only euthanize animals who are in a terminal state of health and are suffering from pain or who are infecting others. The only exception is those animals, primarily dogs, who, despite concerted efforts to bring about a behavioral change, continue to display unpredictable aggression towards other animals or people; these animals are also proper candidates for euthanasia.

When performing euthanasia, NHES and its affiliates adhere to Ms. Alice Morgan Wright’s guiding principle that the euthanasia . . . be so arranged that the animal be held in the arms of some human friend while it is being given a painless preliminary anesthetic, to be stroked and comforted with reassuring words until it loses consciousness, after which the lethal agent should be quickly administered.

Overpopulation & Mandatory Spay and Neuter

One of the primary problems facing dogs and cats is their physiological capacity to reproduce an exponential number of unwanted offspring. Exponential reproduction creates the breeding reservoir from which future irresponsible pet owners, animal profiteers, and animal experimenters will retrieve the neglected and abused dogs and cats of tomorrow. From this reservoir streams the estimated three to four million unwanted dogs and cats who die each year in our nation’s shelters. The need is unequivocally clear: We need to stop the senseless killing of companion animals in our nation by becoming part of the humane solution of spaying and neutering.Large numbers of puppies and kittens as well as dogs and cats are adopted unspayed and unneutered from poorly funded shelters across the country. National studies indicate that more than 50 percent of persons adopting unaltered animals fail to comply with their contractual agreements to spay/neuter their adopted pets. This 50-plus percent of persons who fail to comply are simply perpetuating epidemic overpopulation by allowing their animals to breed.

NHES believes the only solution to the rampant overpopulation and suffering of unwanted dogs and cats is appropriate animal adoption services, responsible pet ownership, and population control through nationwide mandatory spay/neuter programs. As a testament to this belief, NHES and its affiliates adhere to mandatory spay/neuter before adoption policies, including early-age spay/neuter of puppies and kittens.

Puppy Mills

Puppy Mills are commercial kennels where animals are bred for the pet store market. NHES opposes puppy mills because they fail to provide a humane standard of care for the animals’ physical and behavioral needs, while producing many breeds of dogs for the majority of pet stores. In addition to many documented physical ailments, puppy mill animals often display antisocial behaviors as a result of early removal from their mothers and littermates.As an alternative to purchasing puppy mill dogs, NHES encourages consumers to check with their local shelters and rescue groups to see if the particular breed they are looking for is available or only purchase “purebred” dogs from reputable breeders. Reputable breeders do not breed dogs for economic gain but rather do so out of a genuine love for a given breed. Their love translates into conscientious care for their animals’ physical and mental well-being. Further, a responsible breeder will always accept the return of an animal if, for any reason, the owner can no longer adequately care for the animal.

Pound Seizure

NHES opposes pound seizure on ethical and scientific grounds. Pound seizure refers to the taking of cats and dogs from shelters and pounds to use in biomedical research. This practice started many decades ago on small-scale projects and exploded after World War II as funding for biomedical research increased.Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of biomedical research in this country, stopped using shelter animals in its own in-house research several years ago because shelter animals were deemed unsuitable research subjects—too little being known about the animal’s origins, health conditions, or age. Despite the decrease in pound seizure, this practice continues today.

Shelters were developed as places where people could bring unwanted stray animals with the hope of new homes being found; the release of these animals for research is a breach of public trust and should be stopped.

Animals in Entertainment

Circuses

NHES opposes all circuses that use animals in any of their acts because they ultimately exploit animals for human entertainment and economic gain.Unlike reputable zoos and wildlife refuges, circuses do not serve to educate people about the animal world or its habitats; nor do they protect endangered species or strive to instill in the general public an increased appreciation and compassion for animals. Circuses fail to provide captive animals with a humane standard of care that requires the creation of natural habitats, ample area for exercise and socialization, appropriate diets, and suitable climatic controls. Further, some circuses use abusive training techniques including whips, chains, clubs, and electric shock to force animals to perform out of fear of punishment. 

Dog and Horse Racing

NHES opposes both dog and horse racing. Though NHES acknowledges that it is in the nature of many animals to race, it is the widespread practice of abuse associated with commercial animal racing that is reprehensible.Thousands of animals suffer and die yearly in the racing trade. Animals born specifically to race may not qualify, or they become too old to race. These animals are killed instantly, sent to research laboratories or slaughterhouses, or sold at auction. Some are kept on the track through the use of performance-enhancing drugs and abusive training techniques.

Local, state, and federal legislators must pass and strictly enforce laws protecting race animals. Citizens can help by writing to their representatives insisting on this legislation, alerting authorities to abuses, and not attending or betting on racing events.

Rodeos

Each year, more than one thousand official rodeos occur in the United States, primarily in the western states. Standard events include bucking contests, calf and steer roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding.NHES opposes rodeos because it is inherently cruel to force animals by means of spurs, sharpened sticks, electric prods, flank straps, and other rodeo tack to unwillingly participate in events causing pain, injury, and, in some instances, death. NHES encourages individuals and families to seek alternative forms of entertainment that do not involve cruelty to or exploitation of animals.

Zoos
NHES opposes Roadside Zoos that exist for the purpose of entertainment, but supports those select zoos whose explicit purpose is to educate people about the animal world and its varied habitats, protect endangered species, and instill in the general public an increased appreciation and compassion for animals. To achieve these ends, a zoo must provide a humane standard of care that requires creation of natural habitats with ample area for exercise and socialization, appropriate diets, and suitable climatic controls.

Farmed Animals

Factory Farming

Factory farming, the normative method of food production in the United States, is hailed as the most cost-effective means of caring for farm animals prior to slaughter. As a society, we (Americans) consume several billion farm animals each year and the majority comes from factory farms where chickens, pigs, veal calves, turkeys, and most food animals are confined in small restrictive areas, sometimes in darkness.NHES opposes factory farming because its standard of care for animals is inherently cruel—it fails to provide for the basic physical, behavioral, and psychological needs of animals. We advocate the establishment of a humane standard of care for farm animals that affords them the opportunity to live a life consistent with their physical, behavioral, and psychological needs as well as provide for their medical needs. Factory farming does not provide such a humane standard.

Viable alternatives to the cruel rigors of factory farming do exist. For example, certain ranches and family run farms provide a humane standard of care that incorporates adequate food, water, shelter, ample area for exercise, and veterinary attention as needed for the animals. Food products from these sources can be found in some local health food stores and other stores that carry certified organic animal products.

Genetic Engineering

NHES opposes the genetic engineering of animals because it is inherently cruel to alter an animal’s genes to produce healthier food for humans when these genetic engineering attempts do, in fact, subject animals to pain and suffering.The inhumane results of attempts to genetically engineer transgenic animals—faster growing pigs, pigs with low cholesterol meat, dairy cows with higher yields, chickens immune to varied viruses, and so on—are not common knowledge to the general public. For example, genetic breeding attempts have produced alarmingly obese animals fraught with painful skeletal anomalies.

Slaughter Industry

NHES opposes the slaughter industry because its methods of slaughtering farm animals, including horses, impose unalleviated pain on these sentient creatures and is inherently cruel.Slaughter-bound animals are sometimes shipped thousands of miles across the country without consideration of sex, size, or temperament. In general, slaughter-bound animals are not medicated, rested, fed, or watered during cross-country trips.

At slaughter plants, farm animals are stunned by a captive-bolt pistol or gunshot, hoisted by a rear leg, have their throats slit, and are slowly bled to death. Stunning is not always effective and many animals throats are slit while they are still semi-conscious.

If the slaughtering of animals is to continue, NHES supports humane legislative standards of care that mandate instantaneous death.

Vegetarianism
NHES advocates a vegetarian lifestyle for both humane and health considerations. By choosing vegetarianism, more animals will be spared the cruel rigors of Factory Farming and the inhumane conditions of the Slaughter Industry.

Animals Used in Research

Animals in Biomedical Research

NHES opposes cruelty in all its forms and anxiously awaits the day that animals will no longer be subjected to the pain and suffering associated with biomedical and all other research testing. Until that day arrives, NHES strongly recommends:

  • Increasing legislation to control and monitor research using all forms of animals, vertebrate and invertebrate.
  • Strictly enforcing laws that pertain to animals used in research.
  • Forming an international data bank of information to assist researchers in eliminating unnecessary duplication of experimentation.
  • Shifting of our research funding emphasis away from animal studies to a concerted search for alternatives.
  • Increasing clinical and epidemiological research with an emphasis on preventive measures.
  • Immediately discontinuing experimentation that causes unalleviated pain.
Classroom Dissection

NHES opposes dissection because killing an animal just to study it is inherently cruel when, in fact, equally viable alternatives exist that do not involve killing animals.Each year, nearly six million frogs, mice, rabbits, pigs, cats, and other animals are dissected in life science and biology classes in American schools. The most frequently dissected of these animals are frogs, who account for approximately half of all animals dissected.

NHES encourages all educational institutions, teachers, parents, and students to utilize available alternatives to dissection. One of the most popular, humane alternatives is Operation Frog, a computer simulation of a frog dissection.

Cloning

NHES adamantly opposes animal cloning and sees no value in it for any reason, including research purposes. Cloning directly interferes with nature’s way of reproducing an animal and potentially has the capacity of exponentially increasing the unwanted animal companion population and its suffering.Among the many issues inadequately addressed surrounding cloning are the absence of:

  • Legislation controlling and thoroughly monitoring all animal-cloning procedures. These laws must include the immediate discontinuation of experimentation and conditions that cause unalleviated pain.
  • Strict punishments for those guilty of animal abuse and neglect.
  • An international data bank providing the information that could render unnecessary the practice of duplicate research and experimentation.
  • Criteria guaranteeing a percentage of monies received from publicly and privately funded cloning procedures being directed to viable spay/neuter projects and adoption/sanctuary facilities for suplus cloned companion animals.
  • Resources and stipulations providing for humane sanctuary and adoptive homes for surplus cloned companion animals.
  • Stipulations regarding euthanasia of surplus cloned companion animals. NHES recommends that euthanasia not be used as population control of these animals, and that it only be implemented in a humane manner to end the suffering of sick and debilitated animals.

In conclusion, NHES absolutely opposes animal cloning for any reason including research purposes. With regard to cloning for self-gratification, in 2002 it was shown that cloned animals are not exact replicas of the initial donor animal. The new animal may vary in appearance and also in personality and behavior. Because of its unpredictability, this process cannot promise what some may hope for an exact copy of a beloved pet. With society grappling with millions of unwanted animals every year in the United States, NHES opposes and discourages cloning, period.

Cosmetic & Household Product Industry

NHES opposes the use of animals in testing and developing cosmetics, soaps, and household products, because such testing is inherently cruel when, in fact, viable alternatives do exist.Over the last decade, a majority of cosmetic companies and household product manufacturers have significantly reduced the number of animals used in product testing. At first glance this appears encouraging. It is, however, misleading because some of these same cosmetic companies and household product manufacturers have simply shifted animal testing to one of their primary suppliers or to an independent laboratory.

A growing number of humane conscious cosmetic companies and household product manufacturers now offer alternative products that do not require new testing on animals. These products are labeled cruelty free and are becoming more readily available to consumers. NHES encourages consumers to purchase “cruelty free” cosmetics and household products for their personal and household needs.

Wildlife and Exotic Animals

Fur Ranching and Trapping

NHES opposes obtaining and killing animals for their furs, whether by ranching or trapping them. It is inherently cruel to subject animals (fox, mink, rabbit, and so on) to pain and suffering for commercial purposes, particularly when viable clothing alternatives exist.Fur ranching accounts for approximately 80 percent of furs sold. Most ranch-raised animals are killed by gas or electrocution. For instance, ranched foxes are electrocuted by attaching a clip to their lip and inserting a probe in their anus and delivering lethal voltage.

Approximately fifteen million animals are killed in traps each year. Various types of traps are used to capture animals, including steel-jaw leg hold trap that causes undeniable pain and suffering. In response to the pain, trapped animals have been known to break their teeth while trying to get free and still others have been known to gnaw off their own limbs.

The pain and suffering experienced by both ranch-raised fur animals and trapped animals is simply unnecessary when reasonable clothing alternatives exist.

Hunting

NHES opposes hunting wildlife for either sport or trophy because neither serves any human survival need and is inherently cruel.Some hunting advocates argue that hunting is necessary to control wildlife population and to prevent wildlife from destroying the environment via overfeeding. NHES contends that in most instances ample forage exists to support the wildlife population, and nature has provided natural controls over population growth: as animals increase in numbers, reproduction decreases. If, however, nature fails (sometimes due to human activities) to maintain adequate control over the wildlife population, NHES recommends that wildlife management officials implement programs to remove the overpopulated wildlife from growing urban areas and relocate them to less populated areas. In instances where such relocation efforts cannot be implemented and nature fails to provide ample forage and natural population controls; and there is a demonstrable need (starvation or disease) to kill some wildlife, then it should be performed by responsible persons who utilize methods that result in instantaneous death.

Wild and Exotic Animals as Pets

NHES opposes keeping wild and exotic animals as pets or service animals. NHES also opposes the capture and breeding of wild or exotic animals for the purpose of selling them as pets. Wild animals are those not specifically bred over many generations to adapt to humans and their environment. Exotic animals are wild animals not native to North America.Only experts with many years of experience studying and working with wild and exotic animals are capable of caring for and safely interacting with them. The general public lacks this expertise and should not attempt to keep wild or exotic animals as pets. Documented attempts by members of the general public to keep wild or exotic animals as pets have led to tragedy in many instances for both humans and animals.

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