Sunday, April 29, 2007

Humane Index Released - LA Ranks #6

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has released its Humane Index which is the first-ever attempt to determine the overall humaneness of America’s largest metro areas. The HSUS ranked the 25 largest metropolitan areas according to criteria such as the number of vegetarian restaurants per capita and Congressional leadership on animal issues.

Los Angeles ranked #6 behind San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Washington D.C., and San Diego.

By measuring a wide range of humane and inhumane conduct, HSUS hopes to inspire individuals and entire communities to strive to do better to make the world a more merciful place for animals.

The Humane Index is comprised of a dozen factors selected to provide a basis for comparing the relative humaneness of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. The index includes topics related to pets, farm animals, wildlife, animals in entertainment and advocacy for animals. The Humane Index demonstrates that Americans extend their compassion beyond the millions of pets who share our homes.

West Coast cities generally performed better than other areas of the country. In addition to San Francisco and Seattle, Portland ranked fourth and San Diego fifth. Los Angeles ranked sixth. On the East Coast, Washington, Boston and Baltimore ranked in the top ten metro areas.

The full detailed results are available online at The interactive website allows visitors to view the details on each index item. See how various cities rank, compare two cities, and learn how they can take action to make their city more humane.

The following is a synopsis of LA's ranking in each of HSUS' 12 categories:

LA ranked #2 in the Bird Shooters category. Four California cities top the Index for celebrating wildlife by shooting them with cameras instead of a lethal approach. Californians are seven times more likely than Texans to sport binoculars over shotguns. The ratio in every Humane Index city favors wildlife watching. There are 20.9 wildlife watchers to every one hunter in California. Across the nation, Americans are consistently celebrating the beauty and mystery of wildlife and prefer to mount their photos rather than their heads or hides.

While across the country there is evidence that major newspaper coverage of animal issues is significant, LA sadly ranks 24 of 25 in this category. The LA Times featured 330 stories in 2006 compared to the Index average of 596.

LA ranks number 14 in the Fur Shame category with 45 fur retailers compared to the Index average of 29.

LA is in 5th place for putting the chicken before the egg. LA has at least 91 cage free locations compared to the Index average of 19. Every Humane Index city has at least one place where you can support a company with a stance against cruel confinement of laying hens in barren wire cages.

LA ranks six in the Captive Entertainers category. LA has 19 locations where captive animals are used for entertainment compared to the Index average of 18 locations.

LA is ranked #17 in citizen advocacy but it is unclear from the HSUS website if this category is merely a ranking of HSUS membership in the Index cities. If that is the case this would not be a valid means for determining advocacy. LA is well known throughout the nation for its strong animal advocacy efforts as demonstrated most recently by our Mayor and City Council's support of Assemblyman Levine's AB 1634.

LA ranks number 20 in the Pet Shop Puppy Suffering category. There are too many puppies in pet shops. Across Humane Index cities one in three pet stores sell puppies creating the demand for puppy mills and the misery they breed. Four of the five worst metro areas are warm belt cities like Tampa (#22), Miami (#23), Houston (#24) and Phoenix (#25). San Francisco, New York and Pittsburg take top spots in avoiding the cruelty of puppy mills with only 15% of pet stores selling puppies. 45% of all LA pet stores sell puppies compared to the Index average of 34%. With so many great dogs adoptable from animal shelters we would like to see an end to selling puppies in pet shops in LA.

HSUS uses the term “wildlife whisperers” and it is not clear if they are referring to wildlife rehabilitation organizations or individual licensed rehabilitators. Whatever the criteria used to evaluate this category, LA was ranked 19 with 28 “wildlife whisperers” to the Index average of 21.

If you want to shun the animal cruelty inherent in animal circus acts, California is the place you want to be according to HSUS. Three of the top Humane Index cities in this category – Riverside (#1), San Francisco (#2) and Los Angeles (#5) – are in the Golden State.

If you’re looking for fine vegetarian fare, you can’t lose on the West Coast, home to all of this category’s top five Humane Index cities. Up and down the coast – from Seattle (#2) to San Diego (#5) and in between (San Francisco #1, LA #3, and Portland #4) – you will find an average of 44 vegetarian restaurants in each of these towns (112 in LA).

LA ranked number 6 in the Congressional Compassion category. In general, Humane Index cities can thank themselves for electing humane legislators with Congressional Compassion running higher on average in Index metros than in other areas. But there is a coastal effect – lower Congressional Compassion emanates from inland areas. With average scores on the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s Humane Scorecard for the 109th Congress ranging from 26.6 (Dallas) to 90.8 (Philadelphia). It is worth noting that 18 of the 25 Humane Index cities have scores exceeding 50. LA is at 64.9.

LA ranked #7 in registering disapproval of Canada’s seal hunt. From Portland (#1) to Atlanta (#2), Tampa (#3) and Miami (#4) many Humane Index cities are protesting Canada’s barbaric clubbing of baby seals for fur by boycotting Canadian seafood. With nearly 1,208 participating establishments, there are an average of 50 in each Humane Index city. There are 183 locations in LA.

LA Animal Services is asking HSUS to consider ranking municipal animal shelters as part of its Humane Index in future Indexes.