Today, our Animal Rescue Team was on the ground in Jefferson County, West Virginia, to help local law enforcement officials rescue 21 dogs from a suspected dogfighting ring. The dogs were tied up with heavy chains and many bore scars from past fights. It's been a busy week for our Animal Rescue Team in the Mountain State. Yesterday, in a separate action, we helped rescue 24 animals, including horses, goats, dogs, cats, birds, and a pig who were living in deplorable conditions.
The HSUS is rightly recognized for our advocacy work, driving change in the legal and corporate sectors and changing public attitudes. We are achieving big wins in the advocacy sphere: the recent decision by Walmart to transition to a policy of food procurement honoring the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare; our latest win in the courts today upholding a local ordinance restricting the sale of puppy mill dogs; our work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list all chimpanzees, including the captives, as endangered; and our work to enact a shark finning ban in Texas, signed by the governor earlier this week.
But we also maintain an extraordinary range of hands-on animal-care programs, as this week's West Virginia interventions demonstrate. We care for animals through the work of our Animal Rescue Team, our international street dog welfare program, our immunocontraception programs for wildlife, our traveling veterinary teams from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, our network of five Animal Care Centers, our Pets for Life programs that help pets and their owners in underserved areas, our Humane Wildlife Services team, our Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, and our Wildlife Protection Department, which responds to imperiled wildlife displaced by urban development, community growth, and other disruptive activities.
At our animal care centers, we help thousands of animals each year who come to us in desperate need of healing. Just this year, by the end of May, our animal care centers had cared for 8,300 animals across the country. More than 75 percent of that number required some form of critical, lifesaving care.
Our Pets for Life program provides free services like vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, training classes, pet supplies, food, and one-on-one advice to tens of thousands of animals and the people who care for them.
Our Humane Wildlife Services program provides wildlife conflict resolution in urban areas. This fee-for-service program allows humane-minded homeowners to call in an experienced team to solve their wildlife-related problems and not cause any harm to animals. The Wildlife Protection Department has helped rescue hundreds of gopher tortoises from construction sites - a meticulous project that takes more than a month's work at each site. We have relocated and rescued hundreds of prairie dogs, and provide practical solutions to solve humane wildlife conflicts with a range of species, including deer, coyotes, beavers, and Canada geese, resulting in countless lives saved annually.
The HSUS also conducts training for shelter professionals at our annual Animal Care Expo. And our ongoing Rethinking the Cat symposia train cat advocates, shelter and rescue workers, animal control and municipal officials on community cat management, effective TNR programs, and capacity and health issues in animal care facilities.
Right now, The HSUS is also helping to care for a colony of 66 chimps in Liberia that the New York Blood Center used for research for decades and then abandoned.
Each year, our Animal Rescue Team is constantly on the road, filling in gaps where there is insufficient local capacity to handle large-scale cases of cruelty. The animals rescued from today's operation will be evaluated for potential placement with HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition placement partners, and many will go on to find loving homes.
I've said many times that we cannot rescue our way out of the problems besetting animals, and that's one of the reasons we are working on so many fronts to challenge and prevent animal suffering and misery in the first place. But for those animals in need of care and support, we are also doing so much because they are in crisis right now and someone must respond. When the alarm is sounded, we'll come running.
Help rescue more animals in need.