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Intro text on the Humane State program – where we are being provided by Tara.

Puerto Rico

  • An HSUS rescuer carries a bird away from a suspected cockfighter’s property. Alex Gallardo


In 2015 The HSUS and the Government of Puerto Rico announced an expansive partnership involving every governmental agency, and all 78 provincial mayors, to transform animal welfare on the island. During a joint press event, that included the governor and attorney general, Executive Order 2015-8 was announced, stating that the well-being and protection of animals was a priority for all aspects of the government. The governor pledged full cooperation to crack down on animal cruelty, address street dogs, and the overwhelming euthanasia problem in order to create a more ‘Humane Puerto Rico.’

This order calls for all branches of government to receive training,in conjunction with The HSUS, including law enforcement, animal control, and the Department of Education in order to develop a more humane island. We have since launched a targeted campaign to expand the capacity of animal welfare officers, extend spay/neuter services, provide shelters with services and training, and launched a humane education program for children.

Our Challenge

There are 300,000 street dogs roaming the island of Puerto Rico and affordable spay/neuter services are non-existent in most communities. Shelters, running at max capacity, have euthanasia rates near 95 percent, and there are known “dump sites” where unwanted dogs and puppies are abandoned. An estimated 120 puppy mills dot the island, fueling the crisis. Every day more than 600 new ads about dogs for sale are posted online in Puerto Rico.

Shelter staff can never catch up with the flood of animals and focus on rehoming rather than euthanizing pets. Law enforcement doesn’t have the equipment or the training to investigate, despite having some of the best laws regulating commercial dog breeders on the books. And children who see animals treated like disposable objects can become desensitized to animal cruelty.

Our Impact

Since launching our partnership with the Puerto Rican government we have achieved the following:

  • Trained 2,000 teachers, social workers, and directors in Humane Education and launched curriculum in every public school across the island – reaching 400,000 students.
  • Provided Kind News Magazine to every public elementary school. This magazine teaches children the value of treating animals well and the social implications to community and is used in English language reading curriculum.
  • Trained approximately 3,000 law enforcement officers/prosecutors/shelter community in Animal Cruelty Investigations.
  • Provided evidence kits for attendees, valued at $500, including digital cameras, which enable them to better apply the training they received.
  • Provided compassion fatigue training, volunteer engagement training, and social media training to all shelter/rescue workers. We also embarked on a new training titled Working with Law Enforcement to facilitate working relationships between the shelter community and law enforcement.oProvided computers/printers/software to partnered shelters.oTrained shelter staff in new software to standardize reporting methods and better track euthanasia rates.
  • Conducted 16 vaccine and spay/neuter clinics in 61 of the 78 municipalities across the island, focusing on areas that lack veterinary services.
  • Developed a coalition with Veterinary Board, Vet Association, shelters, and rescue community to move the island towards transparency amongst all parties involved regarding spay/neuter numbers, adoption numbers, and euthanasia numbers.
  • Worked with Tourism and the Board of Directors of the Hotel Association to determine ways we can inform the public and tourists of the value of spay/neuter/vaccines via clinics provided by Humane Society International.
  • Vieques Island horse populationoongoing darting of wild mares with immunocontraceptive PZP, which HSUS helped to developoplaced fresh water troughs near wild horses’ natural habitat, providing a sustainable source of water and luring horses away from urban centersoheld a horse festival where veterinary care and supplies were provided to local youth horse owners

The Sister Shelter Project

In creating the Puerto Rico Sister Shelter Project, we approached our partners with strong lifesaving programs, a community-oriented methodology to pet overpopulation and practices modeled by other shelters. The 11 participating partners have experts in disease management, volunteer programs, community outreach, customer service and lifesaving adoption programs, all items desperately in need in Puerto Rico. All 11 are utilizing creative and cutting-edge programs to save lives that include rescue partners.

Our EPPs (management/executive level staff) provide the following role for their sister shelters in Puerto Rico:

  • Phone mentorship and support for staff
  • Sharing of best practices and policies
  • Community supply drives for “adopted” shelter
  • In-person visits for hands-on problem solving and skill shares.oIdentify capital needs and/or repairs; coordinate volunteers from community and US.oOpportunity to interact with staff specializing in different areas of animal welfareoThird-party objective on daily operations
  • Potential to transfer animals from Puerto Rico to EPPs (optional/variable per shelter).

The Sister Shelter Project launches in February 2017 with the stateside shelters’ visit to their partner shelters in Puerto Rico. Staff from all shelters will attend a grant writing workshop, participate in a welcome dinner and presentation, and visit and tour the Puerto Rico shelters.

To donate specifically to the Humane Puerto Rico project, click here.



In 2015, The Humane Society of the United States launched Humane Oklahoma, an intensive state-level initiative that combines the strengths of The HSUS into a comprehensive program to provide law enforcement agencies, shelter leaders, and volunteers with training, resources and equipment to combat animal abuse and to work collaboratively.

A three-year investment, Humane Oklahoma is expanding the capacity of animal welfare officers to respond to animal cruelty, driving up enforcement of state laws, and providing shelters and rescue groups with services and training to expand their reach and decrease euthanasia.


With one inspector for the entire state and very limited training and resources available to animal control officers – Oklahoma has the dubious honor of being in the top five states producing puppy mill dogs. Weak enforcement of animal welfare laws, and a fragmented and disperse animal welfare network, discourages collaboration between shelters/rescues and law enforcement.

In partnership with the National Sheriff’s Association, FBI, Oklahoma Sheriffs Association, Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Oklahoma Sheriffs Peace Officers Association, we launched our humane law enforcement training in 5 cities across Oklahoma – training more than 700 officers and connecting the dots between animal protection laws and the people who enforce them. And our first shelter/rescue training had over 350 attendees, representing 160 organizations. Soon after, participating officers were calling our experts for on scene advice regarding cases, utilizing the equipment and tools we provided, and connecting with local shelter/rescue organizations for placement and coordination. We are currently receiving 4-5 cases per month from the officers and shelters that participated in Year One of the program.

Our Plan

The HSUS will continue to support shelters and rescue communities with resources and training to close the gaps in care, and provide law enforcement officers, prosecutors and state agencies the tools and resources to enforce state laws. The HSUS will also leverage our national puppy mill campaign to improve standards of care in commercial dog breeding operations through policy efforts and consumer engagement in Oklahoma. To increase our impact further, Pets for Life will assist Oklahoma shelters to go outside the shelter walls to look at the community comprehensively and challenge many long held assumptions and stereotypes about people and pets living in poverty. The program is creating a paradigm shift in the animal welfare movement to reach previously overlooked segments of pet owners and encouraging the realization that a lack of financial means does not equate to a lack of love felt for and provided to a pet.

Key activities include:

Training Enforcement (Ongoing)

The HSUS will continue to conduct statewide training sessions on humane law enforcement for police, animal control officers, and sheriffs. The trainings will focus on enforcing each state’s puppy mill and animal cruelty laws as well as breeding regulations and utilizing resources and partners like The HSUS. Our goal is to reach 500 law enforcement officers per year in 2017 and 2018. In addition to our baseline training, which counts toward continuing education credits, we will also provide new offerings:

  • LINK Focused Training: Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored; it is often an indicator or predictor crime and a “red flag” warning sign that other family members in the household may not be safe.
  • Provide module training to officers on more in depth subjects including veterinary forensics, officer and dog encounters, animal sexual assault, and equine cruelty investigations.
  • Expand our training program to include prosecutors and judges, with an emphasis on the importance of animal cases and public safety.
  • Dispositions: Options Consequences. Oklahoma has bonding and forfeiture laws. Our staff will assist officers to file these in timely matter, releasing those animals and fast tracking them to a new life with collaboration of state sheltering community. We will also train on Oklahoma specific state law, so officers know the severity of which they can charge the defendant.
  • Distribute the Oklahoma humane law enforcement reference book, an easy guide to federal and state enforcement codes.

Capacity-building for rescue groups and shelters (Ongoing)

The HSUS will continue to offer compassion fatigue training for shelter leaders across the state, workshops on how to work collaboratively with law enforcement, and how to build in-state resilience and experience. We will expand our core offerings in 2017 to include:

  • Connect Oklahoma rescue community and to other core HSUS programs such as Pets are Welcome, Community Cats, and BSL Breakdown.
  • Toolkits to Implement Change: Our staff will have continual outreach to the sheltering community and upon identification of need; help guide them to online resources and toolkits developed by our Companion Animals Department.
  • Natural Disaster Readiness: facilitating plans and relationships that ready agencies for their own disasters as well as prepare them to serve their community family needs.
  • We will also be providing response trailers and advanced training to two response teams in Oklahoma in 2017.
  • Containing Outbreaks.
  • Enrichment to Increase Retention.
  • Domestic Violence sheltering policy/protocol to establish confidential housing for the pets of individuals fleeing a violent living environment.

Creating Positive Media and Support for Oklahoma (Ongoing)

  • Support and highlight law enforcement and other efforts in each state to draw public attention to animal cruelty.
  • Utilize the HSUS social media platform and communications department to highlight activities in the state and drive earned media and public awareness.
  • Support our state efforts through our ongoing online advertising campaign to intercept puppy mill buyers and steer consumers toward shelters; and utilize our national End Puppy Mills campaign to drive action and expose the most egregious abuses in Oklahoma.

Pets for Life (New)

PFL will bring services directly to people and pets in need, rather than expect them to discover services that are most often outside of the community, inaccessible and unaffordable. By embedding in the community, PFL will build trust and relationships in areas where people are often distrustful of the system and unfamiliar with basic and necessary pet care such as spay/neuter.

Our initial 3-year mentorship approach teaches shelters how to close service gaps through door-to-door outreach and relationship building, resulting in systemic impact and transformational change. While we know the model works in any type or size of community, we recognize that each location brings its own challenges, and we will work to address and overcome barriers specific to delivering spay/neuter and pet wellness care in rural Oklahoma. We will also network mentees to the broader national effort of the program, connecting Oklahoma with best practices and lessons learned from around the country.

The HSUS will bring the PFL mentorship program to rural northeast Oklahoma by:

  • Identifying a local organization to receive a PFL mentorship grant and incorporate strategic community outreach into their organizational mission.
  • Providing hands on training and ongoing guidance and support to the local PFL mentorship group. This includes:
  • Conducting an in depth community assessment to identify a focus area that has high rates of poverty, large majority of unaltered pets and lack of access to veterinary care.
  • Building coalitions with local animal welfare groups, veterinarians and other community based organizations.
  • Developing a sustainable community outreach program to reach people and pets in under-served areas including but not limited to outreach schedules, transport plans, veterinary partnerships and volunteer engagement.
  • Building long-term relationships with pet owners who do not currently have access to pet wellness services and information.
  • Providing spay/neuter and wellness care for pets that otherwise will not be altered or see a veterinarian.
  • Based on our work the last two years in rural Idaho, an area comparable to northeast Oklahoma, we anticipate serving around 500 pets and completing 300–400 spay/neuter surgeries the first year.
  • Collecting program data to illuminate the local need, determine future benchmarks, track progress and identify lessons learned.
  • Provide feedback and refinement of the PFL model for continued expansion that serves more pets; we will incorporate the lessons learned from working with rural Oklahoma markets into the broader national strategy.

The Program’s Impact

The program expands law enforcement’s ability to respond to animal cruelty, shut down puppy mills, enforce state laws and provides shelters with services and training needed to expand their impact in the community and decrease euthanasia. Specifically, it will:

  • Improve enforcement of many laws, including those noted by the FBI as often occurring with animal cruelty (child and elder abuse, domestic violence and bullying)
  • Shut down the most egregious puppy mills, reduce the number of puppies exported from the state and improve care standards for commercial breeding operations
  • Build relationships between law enforcement and local animal welfare organizations

Resources include:

  • Evidence kits with tools that many state responders lack (worth more than $500)
  • Handbooks with easy-to-reference information on wildlife conflicts and federal and state enforcement codes
  • Training in disaster response, compassion fatigue, animal handling and humane community-building
  • Wildlife protection training, with an emphasis on humane wildlife conflict resolution and exotic animal laws
  • Access to HSUS resources, like subscriptions to Animal Sheltering magazine and scholarships to attend Animal Care Expo

A look at our training weeks:

  • Wildlife protection training includes presentations on safe wildlife capture and handling and how to resolve wildlife issues such as helping orphaned and injured animals.
  • The pets-focused training for shelters and rescues includes topics such as compassion fatigue, social media strategies to help increase adoption, feral cat communities, rescue and disaster response and working with law enforcement.
  • Law enforcement training topics include recognizing and investigating animal cruelty, puppy mills and animal fighting; warrants and evidence collection; and interpreting and applying animal protection laws for rescue and criminal prosecution.

Are you an animal welfare professional or volunteer who would like to attend our trainings? Click here to register! www.animalsheltering.org/humane-state

Visit www.humanesociety.org/oklahoma for state-specific animal resources and to connect with HSUS’s Oklahoma state director.

Media, blogs and press releases:



Kansas has high volume of puppy mills, fragmented animal welfare resources, and struggles with enforcement of current laws. This is a stare that would benefit from increased collaboration between local animal welfare organizations and law enforcement. For Kansas, The HSUS is making a three-year investment to expand the capacity of animal welfare officers to respond to animal cruelty, drive up enforcement of state laws, and provide shelters with services and training to expand their reach and decrease euthanasia.


Puppy mills are inhumane commercial breeding operations that maximize profits by disregarding dogs’ physical and emotional health. Sellers hide the grim reality of mill life behind photos of fluffy puppies gamboling in the grass and promises that dogs are “family raised.” The truth is that mother and father dogs in puppy mills live in filth and deprivation. Treated like machines in a production line, mother dogs have about half the life expectancy of the average dog. Their pups often have health and behavioral issues. In the U.S. puppy mills churn out 2 million or more puppies each year while 1 million adoptable dogs are euthanized in shelters.

Kansas has the dubious honor of being one of the largest producers of puppy mill dogs in the country and has just four USDA inspectors to cover the entire state. To make matters worse, Animal Control Officers in the state have limited training and resources.

While the Kansas state sheltering system has made incredible progress in recent years—banning gas chambers and death by gunshot —many are overrun with the burden of carrying for seized and disposed puppy mill dogs. In Kansas, law enforcement conducts seizures instead of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) which puts a burden on the local shelters to accept and hold those animals on cruelty charges. While the state does have a bonding law, very few counties have accepted it, leaving shelters with the financial burden of caring for dogs awaiting trial.

The Kansas Pet Animal Act, passed in 1989, requires licensing of all dog and cat breeders who produce, offer or sell three or more litters during the state fiscal year. The law needs to be modernized and updated, is ineffectively enforced, and is under attack by those who want to roll back protections to exempt hobby breeders and USDA licensed kennels from inspection. Humane breeding groups in Kansas and the Governor’s companion animal board support keeping the USDA and the hobby breeders under the act.

The Kansas Pet Animal Act itself says “you may inspect” instead of “you shall inspect” which means the DOA doesn’t have to do anything unless a complaint is reported. The director of the program was quoted in the media saying it wasn’t their job to “close down a Kansas business”. This means they aren’t going to stop any of the puppy mills from conducting business unless we drive action.

Our plan

The Humane State program will connect the dots between animal protection laws and the people who enforce them. Shelters and rescue communities will be given the resources to report issues. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and state agencies are will be given training and resources to enforce those laws.

The HSUS will provide support to the shelter and enforcement community of Kansas to ensure the greatest impact for pets and people in the state. The HSUS will also improve standards of care in commercial dog breeding operations through policy efforts and consumer engagement.

Key activities include:

Training Enforcement

  • Beginning in June 2017, we will conduct state wide training on humane law enforcement to police, animal control officers and sheriffs. The trainings will focus on enforcing Kansas’s puppy mill and animal cruelty laws, state breeding regulations, and utilizing resources and partners like the HSUS. This eight-hour course is eligible for continuing education credit.
  • We will partner with the Kansas Sheriff’s Association, Kansas Animal Control Assoc., Kansas Pet Animal Coalition, Kansas State Animal Response Team, Kansas Chiefs of Police, Wichita Animal Action League, Spay/Neuter Kansas and others. Other state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture and Kansas Park Wildlife will be invited to participate.
  • Equip law enforcement and animal control officers who attend trainings with evidence kits that include basic items that our own field responders carry but that Kansas responders lack. The budget anticipates 500 kits would be provided.
  • Create a humane law enforcement reference book to serve as an easy guide to federal and state enforcement codes. No summary of relevant state laws in Kansas exists.
  • Conduct Wildlife Protection Training with an emphasis on wildlife and exotic animal conflict resolution, enforcement of state laws and education.
  • Capacity-building for rescue groups and shelters
  • Provide compassion fatigue training for shelter leaders across the state, shelter staff struggle with the heavy burden of caring for—and being forced to euthanize—thousands of dogs and cats a year.
  • Offer training to shelters across the state about puppy mill interventions and available resources such as the HSUS Breeder Surrender Fund.
  • Provide trainings focused on working effectively with Law Enforcement.
  • Support shelters and other animal welfare groups’ efforts to identify the most egregious cases of cruelty within the puppy mill industry and work collaboratively to intercede.
  • Conduct coalition building and outreach to shelters across the state to identify capital and training needs; and to increase collaboration that builds in-state resilience and experience.
  • Participating shelter and rescues will receive animal handling and capture equipment along with subscriptions to Animal Sheltering Magazine for the year.

Public Outreach

  • Support and highlight law enforcement and other efforts in Kansas that draw public attention to the puppy mill industry.
  • Utilize the HSUS social media platform and communications department to highlight activities in the state and drive earned media and public awareness.
  • We are in the midst of a three-year, aggressive online advertising campaign to intercept puppy mill buyers and steer consumers toward shelters that will support our state efforts.
  • A media day will be set on each law enforcement training day at each training venue.
  • A press release will occur the week of each of the three training efforts in the state. To include, TV, social media, All Animals etc.
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Article source: HSUS

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