Adele Douglass, the executive director of Humane Farm Animal Care, has been awarded the RSPCA Overseas Award for outstanding achievement in animal welfare outside the UK and Europe. RSPCA is the acronym for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
For more than 100 years, the RSPCA Honours have been given to people and organizations who have helped end cruelty, protect animals from abuse, and further knowledge of animal welfare. Douglass is among 19 award recipients this year.
"Adele is truly unique and the animal welfare movement is extremely lucky to have her on board," said Dr. Julia Wrathall, the RSPCA's Chief Scientific Officer. "She thoroughly deserves this award in recognition of her extraordinary achievements in helping farm animals."
After a lifetime of working on animal welfare issues in Congress and for animal welfare organizations in the U.S., Douglass started learning about factory farming, and she was appalled at how farm animals were actually raised.
"I thought farm animals had idyllic lives on the farm," she said. "I was shocked at what I discovered and knew there had to be a way to raise farm animals that was more humane."
In 1998, Douglass spent several weeks with the RSPCA's Farm Animal Department to observe their RSPCA Assured program for farm animal welfare and to begin laying the groundwork for launching a similar program in the U.S.
In 2003, Douglass cashed in her retirement savings and launched HFAC and the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program. Her goal was to bring a set of humane standards to farm animal care and get farms on board through consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.
The impact on U.S. farming has been astonishing. When HFAC launched in 2003, only 143,000 farm animals were in the program. Today more than 103 million farm animals are in the Certified Humane program in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Peru and Chile.
"Many other organizations have followed suit to create similar programs, but to date, none has had the impact or inspired the extraordinary progress in welfare achieved by HFAC," said Wrathall.
When consumers see the Certified Humane® label on meat, poultry, egg and dairy products, they can be assured the food has been produced according to HFAC's strict animal welfare standards. Verification is through independent third-party inspections and traceability audits.
"Founded in 1824, the RSPCA, the oldest humane organization in the world, has always been a beacon of inspiration for the welfare of animals," said Douglass. "Without the help of the RSPCA Farm Animals Department and their program, the Certified Humane program would not exist today. I am deeply honored to receive this award from what I consider to be the most prestigious humane organization in the world."
RSPCA Chief Executive, Jeremy Cooper, who grew up on a dairy farm and was previously head of RSPCA Assured program, said, "We're incredibly proud and flattered that the work of the RSPCA to improve the welfare of farmed animals is being emulated around the world. There are not many people who can say they have improved the lives of millions of animals. Adele Douglass certainly can."