Celebrating 9 Years of Victories

by | Apr 13, 2024

On April 14, we celebrate our 9th birthday.

In 2015, Humane Action Pittsburgh was founded in a church basement when 45 dreamers assembled and dared to ask, “What if.” Now, with 26 HAP-initiated pieces of legislation signed into law, we’d like to look back at some of the victories we’ve celebrated over the years that have contributed to us becoming Western Pennsylvania’s most impactful animal protection nonprofit.

Retail Sales Ban, 2015

We worked on the passage of two ordinances in Pittsburgh to safeguard mill-bred animals. Firstly, we implemented a retail sales ban, prohibiting the commercial sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits not from shelters or rescues within city limits, a pioneering move in Pennsylvania. Additionally, licensed breeders and kennels are now required to disclose their licenses in all advertisements. We brought these laws to  other towns like Sharpsburg, Bellevue, Monessen, and Wilkinsburg.

 

 

Bullhook Plus Ban, 2017

We created and worked towards the passage of the Bullhook Plus Ban that prohibits the use of bullhooks, electric prods, shocking devices, and other instruments capable of inflicting pain, intimidating, or threatening pain for the purpose of controlling the behavior of wild or exotic animals, including elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and monkeys, in the city of Pittsburgh. This ban led to the cessation of all circuses, including the Shrine Circus, in Pittsburgh, with no future events planned.

 

 

 

Foie Gras Ban, 2023

In a groundbreaking move in 2022, HAP presented a revolutionary idea to the Pittsburgh City Council—to become one of the pioneering cities in the country to outlaw cruel products derived from force-feeding animals, specifically targeting foie gras. Despite facing numerous obstacles, Councilperson Erika Strassburger and Councilman Bruce Kraus took the lead, resulting in the passage of this landmark legislation with a decisive vote of 7 – 2.

 

 

 

Pigeon Protection, 2020

In 2015, Pittsburgh City Council passed Ordinance No. 36 to protect wild birds but inadvertently allowed unqualified trapping, causing harm and safety risks. Collaborating with Councilor Bruce Kraus in 2020, HAP introduced an amendment restricting bird trapping to licensed professionals and banning the sale of native wild birds, disrupting the supply to pigeon shoots and preventing harm from pest control companies.

On March 23, 2021, four people were arrested after a HAP member found ten pigeons convulsing near the Frick Building in downtown Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving Day 2021, having ingested Avitrol, a chemical illegal in Pittsburgh due to HAP’s amendment efforts in March 2020.

Traveling Exotic Animal Ban, 2018

In April 2018, collaborating with Sharpsburg, we pioneered a ban on traveling exotic animal performances in Pennsylvania. Following this, HAP partnered with Bellevue for a similar ban. This precedent has spurred other towns in Pennsylvania to act, and HAP aims to extend the ban to more communities, building momentum for a statewide prohibition.

Heart of a Hero/Get Healthy Pittsburgh, 2019/2022/2024

In 2019, we teamed up with the City of Pittsburgh and Engine 2 for the Heart of a Hero Campaign, highlighting the impact of food choices on health. Employees from various departments embraced a 7-day 100% plant-based diet challenge, resulting in an impressive 22-point drop in average cholesterol levels. Many reported increased energy and a commitment to continue the lifestyle change.

Expanding on this success, our Get Healthy Pittsburgh! initiative, led by Dr. Sandra Sobel, introduced a pay-what-you-can model in 2024, making the program accessible to all. Participants received holistic support including biometric screenings, nutritional coaching, and physical activities, with a focus on a week-long whole food plant-based diet challenge known for its health benefits.

Vegan Night at PNC Park/The Game Changers, 2017

“The Game Changers” is a groundbreaking documentary following James Wilks as he explores the optimal diet for human performance. The film features athletes, scientists, and everyday individuals, including Humane Action Pittsburgh, and was showcased during a Vegan Night event at PNC Park, marking the first vegan night in any major league sporting event. Since then, the Pirates have continued this tradition, with other MLB teams following suit.

HR87 “Wildlife Corridors”, 2023

In May 2023, the PA House passed House Resolution 87, allowing for a study of wildlife corridors in Pennsylvania, a victory after two years of HAP’s advocacy efforts. HAP tirelessly educated representatives and the public on the resolution’s significance through correspondence, meetings, educational materials, and a visit to Harrisburg, the state capital, benefiting both wildlife and human residents of Pennsylvania.

Swissvale Pollinator Garden, 2022

In collaboration with Swissvale Borough Council, Humane Action Pittsburgh initiated the creation of a pollinator garden on a vacant lot, spanning 12,000 square feet. This space will provide vital habitat for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Volunteers from HAP, the Shade Tree Committee, and the community have been instrumental in preparing the site, participating in monthly workdays to clean, seed, plant, and maintain the garden.

These victories mark the start of our journey, and we know that, with your support, there are numerous victories awaiting us. Currently, we’re actively advancing several initiatives aimed at safeguarding animals in our community, such as HB1210, designed to extend protections to victims of domestic violence and their beloved companion animals.

Your contribution plays a vital role in sustaining our efforts. Even the smallest donation makes a significant impact, enabling us to continue our work to protect animals and the health of our planet. Please consider making a donation today and join us in our mission to create a better world for all beings.

AUTHORS

Aimee Douglass is the Director of Compassionate Living. Aimee works in the healthcare industry and has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a masters degree in Communications with a health care focus from Southern New Hampshire University.

Abhi Nadendla is a blogger at HAP and has been volunteering at the organization since late 2022. She is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and loves spending her free time helping out at animal shelters.

Hannah Lewis is a grant writer and blogger from Pittsburgh’s North Side who has been with HAP since 2020. In addition to writing and advocating for animals, she enjoys hiking, cooking plant-based meals, bouldering at her local climbing gym, and curling up with a good book and her long-haired cat, Freyja.

Kelly Frantz has recently joined the HAP family as a blog writer. She is passionate about animal protection and is excited to educate the community about animal welfare.