The Animal Wellness podcast is produced by Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.  It focuses on improving the lives of animals in the United States and abroad through legislation and influencing businesses to create a more humane economy. The show is hosted by veteran journalist and animal-advocate Joseph Grove. Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and Podbean offer subscriptions to the free show.

Prop 12 and the Supreme Court: How Pigs Won the Day | Episode 59

May 22, 2023
After numerous battles in lower courts, the National Pork Producers Council and others finally convinced the Supreme Court to hear their challenge to California’s Proposition 12. That state initiative, passed by a powerful majority of California voters, mandates that no producer may sell products sourced from pigs or chickens into the state unless the producers ensure certain humane standards are maintained for the animals.

No fair, said the plaintiffs — time and again, up and down judicial ladders across the country. And time and again, courts rebuked the challenges and upheld the right of Californians to dictate what kinds of products may be sold within the state’s borders.

Fortunately for animals — and for citizens in the several other states where such requirements exist — the Supreme Court dealt the ultimate lethal blow to their arguments, and Prop 12 stands. The victory for animals and for the people who care about them cannot be understated.

In this episode of the Animal Wellness podcast, host Joseph Grove talks to Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, and Kate Schultz Barton, the group’s senior attorney. Pacelle was key in developing Prop 12, its predecessors in the state, and similar ballot initiatives across the country. Shultz Barton, along with colleague Scott Edwards, submitted amicus briefs to the Court, making legal arguments some of which were adopted by the Court in the winning opinion.

Pacelle and Barton Schultz find little time to celebrate, however, explaining that the Pork Producers Council can be expected to turn to Congress for relief.

’Wild Beauty’: A Film About the Tragic Fate of Our Wild Horses | Episode 58

May 4, 2023
Our special guest is filmmaker Ashley Avis, whose new WILD BEAUTY: MUSTANG SPIRIT OF THE WEST is available for on iTunes after earning multiple awards from film festivals across the country. The release date is May 12, 2023. You can watch the trailer here.

Avis and her crew went on a multi-year expedition to uncover the truth before wild horses disappear forever. What she found is a tragic conspiracy to displace the horses so private-sector ranchers can co-opt public lands for cheap grazing for animals for commerce. The horses, once rounded up, often end up in the slaughter pipeline. It’s capitalism and government collaboration against public interest at their worst, executed with maniacal chases, weapons, black helicopters and a far-reaching campaign of disinformation with little journalistic scrutiny to keep any of it in check.

The documentary features two great friends of the Animal Wellness podcast: Scott Beckstead,  director of campaigns for Animal Wellness Action and perhaps the leading national authority on wild horses, and our former executive director, Marty Irby, who was personally recognized by Queen Elizabeth for his work on behalf of horses.

Visit the website for Winterstone Pictures here.
Learn more about the nonprofit set up by Avis to champion wild horses here.

The Emotional Lives of Fighting Roosters | Episode 57

May 3, 2023
Jewel Johnson joins our podcast to talk about the emotional lives of fighting roosters, whom she rescues from seizures at busted cockfights and other surrenders. She does this through her 30-acre sanctuary in Colorado called Danzig's Roost.

Contrary to expectations, the animals are incredibly docile with people and even exhibit bonding behaviors with humans more typically associated with dogs and cats. Johnson talks about the merciless culling of "undesirable" fighters, and how a fully trained rooster—while being gentle with other birds and even hens—loses the ability to be socialized with other roosters. Her stories underscore the earnestness with which we are pursuing passage of the FIGHT Act, recently introduced legislation that would add new penalties for animal fighting and create new ones.

Johnson also takes listeners inside the culture of cockfights, finding among the people who fight the animals a devotion to God and family that is perniciously at odds with the concomitant belief that a divine grant of dominion over animals gives them the right to sentence the animals to death for the purpose of entertainment. You don't know fighting roosters or cockfighting until you listen to Johnson's story of love, sacrifice and hope for these misunderstood, exploited animals.

Ursula Goodenough and ’The Sacred Depths of Nature’ | Episode 56

April 29, 2023
In this episode, author Julie Marshall and host Joseph Grove talk with Ursula Goodenough about her new release, the second edition of "The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved." The book provides a brief but powerful commingling of science and spirituality to help readers more deeply connect with animals, plants and the earth herself.

How Far Is Too Far When It Comes to Animal Advocacy? | Episode 55

April 12, 2023

Listen as two veteran activists with somewhat different approaches discuss the best tactics to effect change for animals. Wayne Pacelle often works quietly and behind the scenes, nudging the levers of government and commerce to create improvements. The author of two New York Times bestsellers on animals believes in applying reason and the appeals of logic and decency to convert those who put or leave animals in harm’s way.

Donny Moss, founder of Their Turn, is just as apt to use a bullhorn as a keyboard and oftetn takes the battle to the streets, using video, social media and in-person confrontation to put pressure on businesses, consumers and corporate board members to change minds.

The two review their successful collaboration on the Kangaroos Are Not Shoes campaign, which has had major wins in the fight to convince Nike, Puma and Diadora to stop selling soccer cleats made from the kangaroo skins. The campaign is now targeting hold-outs Adidas and New Balance. You can sign the petition here.

What’s Up with Horses? | Episode 54

March 23, 2023
In this episode of the Animal Wellness Podcast, the team says farewell to Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. Irby has been a guest on virtually every show and served the organizations and the podcast since their inceptions.

One of Irby’s greatest passions is improving the lives of horses — Tennessee Walkers, Thoroughbreds, wild horses and others. He and Wayne Pacelle, president of the non-profits, update several campaigns being waged on the behalf of America’s equines, such as:

Veterans for Mustangs Act. Read more about it here.

Horse Slaughter.Read more about it here.

Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.

Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. Read more at our dedicated website.

Irby also discusses his appearance in the award-winning “Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the American West,” a powerful documentary about wild horses set for national release next month. You can watch the trailer here. Listen to the show here.

Will Cockfighting Lead to a Bird Flu Pandemic? | Episode 53

February 24, 2023
While the Corona virus has largely receded from the daily consciousness of most folks, regional and national hotspots remain across the globe. Countless people are grieving the almost 6.8 million people the virus has killed so far. 

The looming culprit is now bird flu, a devastating virus responsible directly and indirectly for the death of millions of birds, most notably chickens, who are being slaughter in countless numbers as a prophylactic against further spread of the disease. Why are eggs so expensive these days? Fewer chickens. Fewer eggs. Supply and demand.

But the real threat to humans is so far merely potential, albeit increasingly likely. On the show with host Joseph Grove to talk about bird flu and its potential harms to people are Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, and Drs. Jim Keen and Tom Pool. Dr. Keen is the Director of Veterinary Sciences for the Center for a Humane Economy. Dr. Pool is the Senior Veterinarian, Animal Wellness Action. 

Click here to read our exclusive undercover report on cockfighting.
Listen to the podcast here.

Horse Slaughter: The Endurance and Cruelty of ‘America’s Dirty Secret’ | Episode 52

February 14, 2023
Australia has its kangaroos. China, its beloved pandas. In the United States, we have horses. But there’s a rancid underbelly to our treatment of horses, and a new investigative report, “U.S. Live Exports Fade as Foreign Demand Abates | An Investigative Report on Horses and Other Equines Sent to Slaughter in Canada and Mexico,” looks into it. Published by Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy and Animals’ Angels, the results are by turns stomach-churning and heart-breaking.

The dark side is this: While it is illegal to slaughter horses in the U.S., it remains legal – and profitable – to sell horses for transport into Canada and Mexico for that purpose. Yes, as foreign demand dries up, fewer horses are so destined. But with about 20,000 horses a year still sent to the kill plants, we have a long way to go.

From Lethal to Compassionate Conservation: The North American Model and How We Can Do Better | Episode 51

January 10, 2023
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is less a structured paradigm of how Americans and their neighbor animals can co-exist than a set of tenets that benefits "sportsmen," who take advantage of the model to hunt, trap and poison their way through much of our wildlife population, and ranchers, who hope to acquire and maintain land for private profit. Little about it considers conserving, and much more about it ensures hunters and trappers have access to animals to kill.

Anja Heister, Ph.D., a writer and life-long animal rights activist, talks about her new book. Julie Marshall, national communications director for AWA and author of “Making Burros Fly: Cleveland Amory, Animal Rescue Pioneer," joins her following her review of Heister's book in The Denver  Post.

2023: The year ahead in animal welfare | Episode 50

December 30, 2022
2022 was extraordinarily successful for Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. The AWA leaders recap some of their successes in the now-concluded 117th Congress, including: Passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, the FDA Modernization Act, the Reducing Animal Testing Act, and helping craft and pass a fix to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, so it could survive a court challenge.

There are even bigger plans for 2023, such as planning to push the work of AWA deeper into state politics with ballot initiatives and a growing team of state directors and volunteers.

2022: The year in review for animal welfare | Episode 49

Dec. 23rd, 2022
Wayne Pacelle and Marty Irby from Animal Wellness Action join host Joseph Grove to discuss accomplishments for animals this year, including the Big Cat Public Safety Act and the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, as well as progress toward modernizing the FDA.

Crate Free USA’s battle against extreme confinement of factory-farm animals | Episode 48

Dec. 12th, 2022
One of the worst aspects of factory-farm life for these doomed sentient creatures is extreme confinement. Pigs are known to receive the worst of it, when pregnant sows are kept in indecently small cages known as gestation crates. The fight against their use is one key focus of AWA and the Center for a Humane Economy, a battle now being waged before the Supreme Court.

Jessica Chipkin is the founder and president of Crate Free USA, an organization whose mission simply is to reduce the suffering of animals on factory farms. Founded in 2015, the group believes there’s really no difference between cruelty inflicted on a dog, cat, bird, horse, chicken, calf or pig.

Ending the abuse for carriage horses | Episode 47

Nov. 26th, 2022
On August 10, 2022, a carriage horse named Ryder collapsed on a hot New York City street and instantly became the symbol for a growing movement. Liberated at last, he was sent to a privately owned farm. Retirement was short, however, and he had to be euthanized just a couple of weeks ago.

Many former carriage horses who are no longer of use to the industry often are sold for slaughter and must endure a terrifying trip to Canada or Mexico, where they are killed and butchered for their meat.

AWA, the Center for a Humane Economy, NYClass and Revolution Philadelphia are working to convince municipalities to do away with carriage-horse rides. Part of their argument is that electric carriages are now available, able to preserve the tourist experience of slow, open-air views of cities and the jobs of the drivers while eliminating cruelty.

Dan Buettner on living better, longer and kinder with Blue Zones lifestyles | Episode 46

Nov. 19th, 2022
We were interested in Buettner’s work because one of the Power 9 is that people in the Blue Zones eat much less or no meat. Where meat is consumed, it is done so only seldomly and usually entails pork in small portions, each about the size of a deck of cards.

Once again, what helps animals helps us all.

Buettner talks about the benefits of eating a diet that is as kind to our own bodies as it is to the animals it spares. It comes just as preorders are being taken for his newest book about Blue Zone living, “Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100.”

Harness racing: A struggling enterprise grapples with animal wellness | Episode 45

Oct 4th, 2022
With the enactment of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in 2020 that took effect July 1st of this year, we’re finally on the right track. But one of the key areas we’ve met the most resistance is in the world of harness racing. The U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) and those in the industry who want to keep doping alive and maintain the status quo have gone to great lengths despite the conviction of numerous criminals involved in harness racing.

But there is hope thanks to the good apples like Freddie Hudson, CEO of the U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association, who has been a key ally that’s made the most difference and is creating awareness and bringing newcomers into the fold with our efforts.

Rows of sows live confined to gestation crates at industrial pig farm.

Will the Supreme Court side against animals? The attack on Prop 12 | Episode 44

June 22nd, 2022
Approved with more than 62% of the vote in 2018, Prop 12 stipulates that any California farmer raising breeding sows, laying hens, and veal calves must provide minimum space allotments to the animals. The law also bars sale in California of pork, eggs, or veal coming from farms that rely on the most extreme confinement methods. If out-of-state farmers want their animal products to find shelf space in the large California market, they must play by the same rules that in-state farmers must observe. It’s a level playing field for all.  

The fight to spare animals through FDA Modernization | Episode 43

June 22nd, 2022
One of our critical campaigns is to ensure the modernization of FDA drug-testing standards, which currently require the suffering and entail the deaths of countless thousands of animals each year.

One of the many organizations also in this fight is PETA. Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at PETA, joins us to discuss her organization's work to uncover animal abuse related to medical testing, improvements in science such as organs on a chip, and legislative work to ensure passage of the initiative. 

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