Kitty Block carrying a puppy
Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Three years ago, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International embarked on an important campaign in South Korea, the only nation in the world where dogs are raised on commercial farms to be slaughtered for their meat. There are thousands of such farms and millions of dogs trapped in them. But we’ve helped to transition a number of farmers to humane livelihoods and relocated their dogs for adoption. So far, we’ve closed down 11 dog meat farms and rescued more than 1,200 animals. Through this approach, we have sought not simply to stop cruelty on a few farms, but to give the dog farmers and the Korean government a pathway to phase them out altogether.

This approach to effecting change for animals in diverse nations and cultures has special relevance for me. I have worked at the HSUS for the last 26 years in a number of leadership positions, and in February I became the first woman to serve as acting president and CEO in the organization’s history. I joined the organization in 1992 as a legal investigator and have focused on our work against horse slaughter and the killing of dogs and cats for their fur in China, and the protection of whales, dolphins and other wildlife. I’ve represented the organization and its affiliates in numerous meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Whaling Commission. Through this work and as president of HSI, I’ve developed a broad perspective on our work both domestically and internationally.

I’m excited to be leading the HSUS at one of the most hopeful times in the history of animal protection. The progress we’ve made as a movement has been tremendous, and we and our affiliates have, over the last six decades, taken on the toughest battles for all animals around the globe. Every day I’m inspired by the work my colleagues are doing.

As most of you know, our organization works with local shelters and rescues in many ways—including partnering to find homes for many of the dogs we’ve rescued in South Korea. I’m hugely grateful for those relationships, which strengthen our capacity to help animals who are suffering now and increase our ability to work toward less suffering in the future.

Our leadership team on companion animal issues will be working to strengthen those alliances and partnerships over the coming years. In this space in Animal Sheltering magazine, expect to hear from me from time to time, but also to hear from more of our staff who work on the issues you’re dealing with every day—finding homes for your adoptable animals, looking at ways to increase interagency collaboration, helping outdoor cats, providing resources to keep pets in homes and so much more. I’m excited for you to meet more of the incredible people here.

We’ve got a lot in the works, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you about your challenges and successes. Change for animals comes much easier when the people who care about them work together.

About the Author

Kitty Block

Kitty Block is the president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States and also chief executive officer of Humane Society International.

She leads the nation's most effective animal protection organization in the fight for all animals. Block was named president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States in January 2019, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the organization’s history. Block first joined the HSUS as a legal investigator in 1992 and was instrumental in bringing cruelties such as horse slaughter and the killing of dogs and cats for their fur in China to light. She led the HSUS’s efforts to secure protections for dolphins with successful litigation and landmark dolphin-safe tuna legislation. In addition, she was one of the architects of a successful lawsuit over commercial whaling brought against Japan by Australia in the International Court of Justice.

She has served as an adviser to the White House on trade and the environment, and she has served multiple elected terms on the International Dolphin Conservation Agreement International Review Panel, which works with governments on monitoring violations of the agreement.

Block received a law degree from The George Washington University in 1990 and a bachelor’s degree in communications and philosophy from the University of New Hampshire in 1986. She is a lifelong animal lover who helped her mother rescue and care for pets and other animals in need as a child. Block lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter, their street dog rescue, Lilly, and rescue cats, Misti and Storm.

Subscribe to "A Humane World," the official blog of the Humane Society of the United States as written by Kitty Block for regular updates on the animal welfare world.


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