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 by 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.

Our Top Wins for 2023 and Goals for 2024 | Episode 66

Dec. 16, 2023

The past year was busy on the animal-wellness front. Not only did Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy see some major wins outside of Congress, we worked to set up major legislative victories for when the 118th Congress returns for its second and final year.

In this podcast, Wayne Pacelle, president of the groups, and Jennifer Skiff, director of international, review those wins and set the stage for 2024. Victories include:

  • The Supreme Court’s upholding California’s Prop 12 and affirming the state’s right to exclude from its markets products from animals kept in extreme confinement.

  • The persuasion of Nike, Puma, and New Balance to stop sourcing products from hunted kangaroos.

  • Developing opposition to the EATS Act, a sinister bill that would undo the ability of states to enact animal-welfare protocols that may impact other states.

  • The inclusion of animal-welfare standards into the requirements products must satisfy in order to be labeled “organic” — a legally binding designation putting first-ever farm animal welfare rules into federal law.


The International Fight for Kangaroos | Episode 65

Sept. 27, 2023

About 1.5 million kangaroos a year are shot, bludgeoned or left to starve to death or die of their injuries. This occurs because companies like Adidas and New Balance still pay hunters to head into the Australian wilderness to hunt the animals. The hunters make the kills, the kangaroos are skinned, and the skins are made into soccer shoes for affluent customers across the United States and other parts of the world.

That's right. The largest commercial slaughter of terrestrial wildlife is predicated on selling soccer shoes, or cleats, to pros, amateurs and kids who are willing to pay extra merely for the "luxury" of wearing leather from dead kangaroos.

Worse, the slain kangaroos often have joeys in their pouches. The policy for joeys is that they are immediately to be killed, usually by bludgeoning them against the bumper of the hunter's truck. Those who don't meet this fate often escape back into the wild, where they, too, face starvation, dehydration, or being attacked and eaten by other wild animals.

It's a brutal kill for what seems to us to be an absolutely frivolous purpose

The campaign to stop this horror show is called Kangaroos Are Not Shoes, and here to talk about is Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. He'll tell us about progress the campaign has made and what comes next. Also on the show are Emma Hurst and Louise Ward. Hurst is a member of the Australian parliament, representing the Animal Justice Party, and Ward is a state director for it. We had the chance to visit them during a break from their whirlwind visits with U.S. congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill.

Listeners can take action for kangaroos by visiting, where you’ll find links to congressional Action Alerts and a petition for the Don’t Be a Dick’s campaign, which intends to pressure the nation’s largest sporting-goods retailer to stop trafficking in the skins of slaughtered kangaroos.

One Teen's Heroic Fight against Dairy | Episode 64

Sept. 12, 2023

Last May, Marielle Williamson was an anonymous teenager doing anonymous teenager things. Like her classmates at Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles, California, she was busy preparing to graduate and to leap across the threshold into adulthood. The last thing on her mind was becoming the subject of countless news stories and being thrust into a debate about nutrition, animal welfare and the First Amendment. But that's what happened to her, and that's the topic of today's show.

We were interested in Marielle's journey because it intersects with efforts to have Congress pass the ADD SOY Act.

The bill would require the USDA to reimburse schools when they provide soy milk as an alternative to dairy milk in the breakfast and lunch lines. Right now, not only does it require notes and special permission even to receive soy milk instead of dairy, but schools aren’t paid back for the cost of it, the way they are when they serve cow's milk.

That's why, whether a kid wants it or not — even if dairy makes the kid sick — her or she gets two cartons of milk with each school-provided meal. Oftentimes, maybe even most times, those cartons end up straight in the garbage, unopened, because their would-be consumers either don't like milk or have a physical aversion to it, usually in the form of lactose intolerance. Not only is the practice harmful to children who don't know they are lactose intolerant and drink the dairy, or who drink it despite the many health concerns surrounding dairy, it represents a remarkable waste of tax-payer dollars.

Tax-payer dollars aren’t the only waste, however. Also in vain, too, is the suffering of the thousands of dairy cows required to provide all that wasted milk. When we take action for animals, we help people, too. Helping animals helps us all.

To learn more about the need for the ADD SOY Act, watch our special webinar featuring Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy; Dotsie Baush, executive director, Switch4Good; Dr. Lakshman (Lucky) Mulpuri, chief executive, PlantsNourish; and Rep. Troy Carter, who introduced the legislation. You can view it here.

Don’t Be A Dick’s! | Episode 63

Aug 31, 2023

That’s the message of a new campaign initiative by Animal Wellness Action and its sister organization, the Center for a Humane Economy. It’s targeted at Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest sporting-goods retailer in the United States, and intends to call attention to the chain’s role in the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife in the world.

Dick’s Sporting Goods remains a significant reseller of shoes sourced from killed kangaroos. Several models from Adidas, New Balance and other brands are marketed in their more than 750 physical locations and on its website, patronized by millions of shoppers across the globe.

The hunting of kangaroos is barbaric and, given the availability and superiority of synthetic shoe material, needless. What’s worse, in addition to the approximately 1.7 million kangaroos shot in the dead of night each year, about a half a million joeys are killed as collateral damage. The infants are pulled from the pouches of their dead mothers and killed immediately, usually by being bludgeoned to death against the bumper of the assassins’ trucks.

The two groups have been successful, after years of online and instore protests, in persuading Puma and Nike to stop manufacturing shoes from kangaroo parts. Now, with the Don’t Be a Dick’s campaign, they hope to apply pressure against the hold-out brands by expressing their revulsion against this major reseller.

Joining host Joseph Grove are Jennifer Skiff and Kate Schultz Barton. Skiff is the director of international programs for the organizations. A dual citizen of Australia, she shares firsthand knowledge of kangaroos, their nature and their role in Australian culture. Barton is senior attorney for the organization and led several suits brought against retailers in California who sold kangaroo-sourced shoes, where such sales are illegal. Barton also discusses the newly filed Kangaroo Protection Act (H.R. 4995), introduced by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Debunking the Myths Against Soy | Episode 62

Aug 16, 2023

Animal Wellness Action is one of many organizations pushing for Congress to pass the ADD SOY Act, a bill that would require the USDA to make soy milk available as a beverage alternative to the 30 million children who are part of the National School Lunch Program.

Every year, about $300 million in cow milk is tossed into the garbage — much of it still in unopened containers — by children who don’t like the taste of it or, owing to lactose intolerance, cannot drink without suffering cramps, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting and more. But unless a school puts two cartons of milk on the tray, the school will not be reimbursed for the cost of the meal.

It's bad for kids. It’s bad for taxpayers. And it makes a mockery of the suffering of dairy cows, who lead truncated lives characterized by exploitation only to have their milk end up in the trash.

One would expect Big Dairy to be opposed to the ADD SOY Act, but another foe is making progress a challenge: the widespread misinformation about soy and the false beliefs about its safety.

In this episode, Dr. Lakshman “Lucky” Mulpuri, a medical advisor for Animal Wellness Action, visits the show to debunk the common myths impeding broader adoption of soy milk as an alternative to cow milk. He is chief executive of PlantsNourish and former president of the Plant-Based Nutrition Group (PBNG). He also developed and implemented the first-ever mandatory plant-based medical curriculum for first-year medical students at Wayne State. His work has been featured in VegNews, Forks Over Knives, and numerous newspapers and television stations.

Dr. Lucky produced a fact sheet for Animal Wellness Action on the truth about soy milk. You can view it here.

Save the Salmon for Orcas | Episode 61

June 23, 2023

For decades, a wide range of man-made and environmental threats have endangered Southern Resident Orca — thinning the population in the Pacific Northwest to only 73. Today, they’re looking directly at extinction.

The urgency of the orcas’ plight cannot be overstated. While many agencies and organizations are working to save our orca through scientific research, mitigation programs, public policy initiatives, and political action, these efforts have fallen short and the orca simply can’t wait. The show is about how each of us can help make a difference simply by NOT ordering a particular item off the menu.

In this 61st episode of the Animal Wellness podcast, host Joseph Grove talks with Emma Helverson and Joseph Gaydo. Helverson, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy, in Washington, shares her organization’s efforts to protect the Southern Resident orca from one of the many threats facing them — starvation. Gaydo, science director for the SeaDoc Society, talks about the complex personalities, culture and thinking exhibited by all orcas, including the Southern Resident, and how humans’ nonchalance about their well-being is having a catastrophic impact.

Waging War for Wolves | Episode 60

June 21, 2023

After the horse, no animal better represents the frontier heritage and pastoral expanse of the United States than does the wolf. Revered by some, demonized by others, enthralling to all — it’s also the case that no other wild animal brings such strong emotions to Americans.

No wonder, then, they are the subject of such complex legal and political battles. A byzantine web of state and federal regulations and protections seems to be in perpetual flux, making it difficult for supporters of wolves — or their opponents — to know where the law stands at any one time.

On this episode of the Animal Wellness podcast, Samantha Bruegger, Paul Collins and Jennifer McCausland give their perspectives from two states where the wolf issue could not be more relevant.

Bruegger is the executive director of Washington Wildlife First, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to transforming Washington’s management of its fish, wildlife, and natural spaces from a model of consumptive use to an ethic that values science, respects nature, and prioritizes the preservation of natural ecosystems. McCausland, a resident of Washington and an activist for state issues concerning animals, is the senior vice president of corporate policy for the Center for a Humane Economy.

Collins is the Wisconsin state director for Animal Wellness Action and has been focused on protecting wolves in what he calls “ground zero” for efforts to hunt them out of existence.

Bruegger calls on people in the state of Washington to comment on new regulations impacting wolves by visiting this link. She also refers to the Washington Wildlife First Resource Library and a New Yorker article that talks about the politicization of wolves.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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