ASPCA ramps up horse welfare initiatives

Dr Emily Weiss is the vice-president of the ASPCA's new Equine Welfare department.
Dr Emily Weiss is the vice-president of the ASPCA’s new Equine Welfare department.

Horse care is in the spotlight of the ASPCA following the creation of its Equine Welfare department and the appointment of Dr Emily Weiss as its vice-president.

The new initiative by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is aimed at ensuring horses safely transition to new homes, providing access to critical safety net resources, and enhancing anti-cruelty efforts.

The ASPCA will work with stakeholders in both the rescue community and equine industries to help the Equine Welfare department reach its goals.

Weiss said protecting horses has been central to the ASPCA’s mission since its founding more than 150 years ago.

“Through this new program we are rededicating ourselves to developing innovative ideas and partnerships to promote the bond between horses and humans and improve the welfare of equines in the United States,” Weiss said.

Weiss will oversee the strategic direction of the ASPCA Equine Welfare program, part of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group and includes the organization’s participation in The Right Horse Initiative, a collective of industry professionals and equine welfare advocates aiming to increase training opportunities for horses and promoting adoption as the preferred method for acquiring a horse. The ASPCA is also collaborating with veterinarians and global animal health company Zoetis on a pilot project that provides access to vital veterinary care and increases the likelihood horses can remain in their current homes.

The ASPCA’s efforts to ensure equines have good welfare also include supporting humane legislation and advocacy, field rescue, and targeted equine grants. In 2016, the ASPCA awarded more than $1 million in equine grants to assist 171 horse rescues across the country. The grant funding supported several areas of equine welfare including emergency hay relief grants, safety net programs, and reducing the suffering of homeless or neglected equines, as well as the Rescuing Racers Initiative and the annual Help a Horse Day contest.

Weiss has been with the ASPCA since 2005, most recently serving as vice-president of its Research and Development team. In that role, she created life-saving programs including shelter animal assessment tools such as the Meet Your Match Canine-ality, Puppy-ality and Feline-ality. She also led ASPCA research aimed at challenging long-established beliefs that had restricted animal welfare improvements. She is co-editor of The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science and has published and lectured extensively in the field of applied animal behavior.

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