Joanna Grossman

From Observatory

Joanna Grossman and horse.jpeg
Joanna Grossman
Activist. Policy Adviser

Joanna Grossman, PhD, is the equine program director for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C.

Joanna Grossman, PhD, is the equine program director for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), based in Washington, D.C., and founded in 1951 to reduce animal suffering caused by people. She joined AWI in 2014 and oversees the organization’s campaigns, litigation, and legislative advocacy regarding horses—both wild and domestic. She also lobbies for farmed animal protection on Capital Hill.

Her writings and work have been featured in or covered by numerous media outlets, including The Hill, Roll Call, Politico, NBC News, Newsweek, the Daily Caller, and the Washington Examiner. Her chapter on political advocacy for animal protection causes was published in the Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics.

Grossman holds an AB from Princeton University and studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oxford before earning her PhD from Harvard University. While completing her doctorate, she worked on legislation impacting animal welfare at the Humane Society of the United States, at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and for Congressman Jim Moran, former chair of the Animal Protection Caucus.

Horse Nation | March 2024

Horse racing has long been called the “sport of kings,” conjuring up images of the fanciful hats and seersucker blazers at the Kentucky Derby. More recently, however, horse racing’s image in the United States has been tarnished by high-profile federal indictments of thoroughbred trainers and veterinarians who doped horses under their care, and an equine death toll that far exceeds the number of fatalities in other racing jurisdictions around the world.

Yet, there’s an even darker side to racing: An increasing number of “bush tracks” have become hotbeds of animal abuse and criminal activity. At these unsanctioned, informal events (mainly located in rural areas), horses are injected with methamphetamine, cocaine and/or Ritalin, shocked by devices taped to jockeys’ wrists, and whipped relentlessly to make them run faster.

CounterPunch | March 2024

According to a British charity organization, the Donkey Sanctuary, nearly 6 million donkeys are slaughtered each year for their hides to produce a gelatin known as ejiao, used in traditional Chinese medicines, herbal supplements, cosmetics, and aphrodisiacs for its purported—but unproven—benefits. This growing market causes tremendous animal suffering and severely impacts communities that rely on donkeys for their survival.

In China, which once boasted the world’s largest donkey population, donkey numbers have plummeted over the last three decades from an estimated 11 million to fewer than 2 million by 2022—prompting the booming ejiao industry to target other parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

At the conclusion of the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, which took place from January to February 2023, African state leaders took the monumental step of banning the cruel donkey skin trade across the continent for 15 years.

Denver Gazette | June 2023

One of the lessons to come out of the pandemic and the latest bird flu outbreak is that confining animals in crowded conditions can spell disaster. And yet that’s exactly how the federal government is treating wild horses.

Last week, news broke that over 100 wild horses have died of a mystery illness – now suspected to be a strain of influenza – at the Cañon City Wild Horse and Burro Facility. The pens, located on prison grounds in south-central Colorado, housed only a couple hundred horses a few years ago. Yet today, following the largest wild horse roundup in the state’s history, more than 2,500 mustangs who once roamed free on the range are held captive there.
The facility, now under voluntary quarantine, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the same federal agency that is charged with protecting our nation’s wild horses and burros.
Congresswoman Dina Titus | May 2023

Washington, DC - Today Representative Dina Titus, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2023, along with Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

In efforts to control equine populations, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently directed to “humanely capture” wild free-roaming horses and burros and set them up for adoption. To assist in the roundup, or “gathering”, of wild horses and burros, the BLM contracts directly with private enterprises, including helicopter companies, to pursue equines over long distances, creating situations that can be frightening and even deadly to the animals.

“We applaud Congresswoman Titus, Congressman Schweikert, and Congressman Cohen for their leadership in protecting our nation’s wild horses. Reforms are long overdue to the Bureau of Land Management’s failed management approach, which involves stampeding panicked horses through helicopter roundups. These roundups are cruel, expensive, and ultimately ineffective at stabilizing populations. Wild equines deserve to be managed safely and humanely in their natural habitats for Americans to enjoy,” said Dr. Joanna Grossman, Equine Program Director and Senior Advisor for the Animal Welfare Institute.

Arizona Daily Sun | November 2022
At least 36 wild horses were shot and killed in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests last month. As shocking as this incident was, it’s not the first time that horses have been targeted on these same public lands, which stretch over 2 million acres across central and eastern Arizona. Similar mass killings of dozens of wild horses have occurred since 2018. The trail has gone cold each time.

As highly social animals, horses maintain exceptionally close bonds. In this latest massacre, the remaining horses in the area were left to search for their family members among decomposing bodies, including those of young foals. Understandably, the public is outraged.

Horse Nation | December 2021

December 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which enshrined protections for America’s wild mustangs to prevent them from being captured, harassed and killed on public lands.

Sadly, this mandate has been largely ignored. In fact, this year’s anniversary coincides with the federal government carrying out the largest removal of wild horses in U.S. history. The Bureau of Land Management — which manages most of America’s wild horses — is removing a staggering 3,555 animals from Wyoming’s Checkerboard region. Over the next few months, nearly 50% of Wyoming’s population of wild horses will be eliminated during this sweeping “gather” (the government’s euphemistic term for roundups) due to pressure from a powerful livestock grazing association.

Salt Lake Tribune | February 2020

Poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly cherish horses and support protecting them from harm.

That belief is reflected in the landmark Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, federal legislation that mandates these animals be “protected from capture … harassment or death” due to their unique status as “living symbols of … the West.”

Sadly, that directive has been largely ignored by the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency entrusted with managing most of our country’s wild equines. As a result of the agency’s flawed policies, wild horses have seen their designated habitat shrink by nearly 20 million acres since the 1971 law’s passage, and their numbers dwindle in select herds to unsustainable levels that threaten genetic viability.

The Hill | April 2019

The shocking number of horse deaths — 23 — since late December at the storied Santa Anita racetrack outside Los Angeles has once again exposed serious safety and welfare concerns in the racing industry.

It’s still unclear what factors, including a prolonged period of heavy rain, led to this series of catastrophic breakdowns; necropsies and an investigation might provide answers. Regardless, it appears that whatever checks and oversight procedures were in place failed to protect these equine athletes.

Feature | 2020

Coexist’s Coe Lewis interviews Dr. Joanna Grossman, lobbyist for the Animal Welfare Institute.

Presented by Attorney King Studios with Coe Lewis on IQ Podcast. nsefu.org iqpodcasts.com

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