Friends of Animals (FoA) is a non-profit, international animal advocacy organization incorporated in the state of New York since 1957. Friends of Animals advocates for the rights of nonhuman animals, free-living and domestic. Our goal is to free animals from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation around the world.
The organization has grown from its beginnings as the most comprehensive low-cost spay neuter program in the country, facilitating more than 2.8 million spay/neuter procedures to date. It has evolved as well and now places critical habitat, wildlife protection and veganism at the core of animal advocacy. We also address the biggest contributors to climate change caused by human activity—deforestation, animal agriculture and fossil fuels.
Our advocacy work includes legal initiatives by our Wildlife Law Program as well as policy and legislative outreach on such issues as banning fur sales and prohibiting trophy imports of Africa’s Big 5.
FoA is on the frontlines of providing sanctuary for animals that were victims of exploitation in the exotic pet trade, research and entertainment industry, operating Primarily Primates in San Antonio, which cares for more than 300 animals including many chimps.
Our reach also extends overseas with two important projects in Africa: the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project in The Gambia and our work in Senegal where FoA has been instrumental in establishing and maintaining a recovery program for the Scimitar-horned Oryx and Dama Gazelle. FoA is also working to restore the critically endangered North African red-necked Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus), the largest bird on earth. What’s more FoA has partnered with Senegal National Parks to establish water-efficient gardens as a new source of sustainable nutrition for local communities in the Ferlo area of northeast Senegal.
Latest Advocacy and Achievements
Your support enables us to continue to push for change on the frontlines. Our achievements include:
Spay/Neuter: Surpassing 2.8 million procedures with our low-cost spay/neuter program. Spay/neuter is the most effective way to prevent pet homelessness in America. Pet adoptions are soaring because of the pandemic, but many shelters were forced to suspend their spay and neuter programs. Our low-cost certificates have been a boon to families who had to get their pets altered on their own. During the pandemic, we have provided close to 14,000 certificates, a 30% hike from the same period last year.
Wild Horses and Burros: Pressing the new Biden administration and the new Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland to protect wild horses from roundups. Under the previous administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asked for $116.8 million for the Wild Horse and Burro Program that calls for massive removals, permanent sterilization, sale without limitation and slaughter.
These latest efforts follow a lawsuit filed against BLM for its decision to not return 779 of the wild horses it rounded up from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon in 2018 to their habitat. FoA is challenging the decision’s new rule that virtually eliminates critical public participation in considerations about how to manage these and other wild horses in the future.
In 20TK FoA won a lawsuit against BLM to halt a policy change that had allowed the agency to sell two dozen wild horses at a time with no questions asked to get around a Congressional ban on slaughter.
Beluga Whales: Allowing five belugas whales slated to be moved to Mystic Aquarium to have their day in court and remain where they are until to allow a judge to decide the legality of moving them from Canada after FoA filed a suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service for approving a research permit to import them from Marineland, a facility in Canada. Unfortunately, in May 2021 the belugas were transported from their home in Canada to Mystic Aquarium. FoA will continue to advocate for these belugas’ health and safety.
Wild Animal Meat Markets: Publicly press the United Nations Security Council, U.S. officials and Congressional lawmakers to use their power to shut down worldwide wild animal meat markets—COVID-19 has been linked to a so-called “wet” meat market in Wuhan, China, that processed farmed and captured wild mammals. Since our efforts started, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act with a provision calling on federal agency officials and the Secretary of State to “provide assistance to foreign countries to end the trade of wildlife that pose a risk to humans because of transmission of pathogens that cause disease” and Sen. Cory Booker introduced a bipartisan bill, “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020,” also calling for closure and addressing the public health risks posed by wildlife markets.
Hunting: Filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for making hunting imagery mandatory for the federal Duck Stamp Contest. Waterfowl hunters are required by law to purchase the stamp. Ninety-percent of the annual $25 purchase price goes directly to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to acquire and protect wetland habitat vital to the survival of migratory waterfowl and purchase conservation easements for the wildlife refuge system. Requiring a hunting image will turn off wildlife watchers who might not purchase them, decreasing funding for waterfowl.
Big 5 African Trophies Act: Passing important legislation in the New York State and Connecticut senates that would ban the importation, possession, sale or transport of the trophies of African elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes and black and white rhinos.
Pesticides: Winning a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for denying FoA’s May 2015 legal petition asking the agency to consider new scientific evidence demonstrating the need to cancel the registration of the pesticide porcine zona pellucida (PZP). The win forces the EPA to review compelling evidence on the detrimental impacts of the use of the pesticide to decrease the population of wild horses on federal public lands.
Wildlife Area Access: Filing a lawsuit in state court against Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) over its requirement of a valid hunting or fishing license to access any State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land even if someone just wants to hike, birdwatch, take photographs or simply get their nature fix.
Primate Rescues: Participating in the heroic rescue of 12 animals who are now safe at our Texas-based sanctuary, Primarily Primates. The primates were rescued from a “Tiger King” affiliated roadside zoo in Indiana that was shut down by the government. We will provide lifetime care for them in addition to the 300+ animals who already reside at the sanctuary. Prior to that, we were also able to rescue 11 animals who needed to be relocated from a California sanctuary that was closing due to financial struggles and bring them to PPI. Additionally, we won a lawsuit on behalf of Primarily Primates, to stop Chimps, Inc. in Oregon from moving chimpanzees to a research lab in Iowa. The chimps will get to stay together on the same property where they’ve lived for more than a decade under the supervision of the newly formed nonprofit Freedom for Great Apes.
Senegal Conservation: Continuing our work in the Ferlo region of Senegal to repopulate oryxes that we began a decade ago. Scimitar-horned oryxes had gone extinct in the wild but our work has helped the population grow to 550 today. We are also working to rehabilitate 12,355 acres of land there that has been decimated by livestock and introduce plant-based diets through a community garden project. In 2021 our efforts in Senegal expanded to include reintroducing critically endangered red-necked ostriches in the region.
Barred Owls: Winning an important appeals court victory in our efforts to protect barred owls from a FWS experiment that was aimed at killing them to save spotted owls. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit appeals court overturned a district court dismissal of the case FoA brought against FWS concerning the killings.
African Elephants: Filing an emergency rulemaking petition with FWS to restrict U.S. zoos’ ability to import African elephants. The petition states that FWS has superficially relied on three premises to determine that imports of wild elephants by zoos are not for commercial use: the zoos’ status as nonprofits, their plan to breed animals and their role in educating the public as part of their mission. There’s plenty of evidence zoos are big business.
Fur Ban Legislation: Advocating for the passage of fur ban legislation in NYC, the heart of the fur trade, that was introduced in 2018 by Speaker Corey Johnson after FoA’s presented a similar draft bill to council members.
Queen Conch: Winning a ruling in our lawsuit to move the queen conch back to fair and full consideration under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Yellow-billed Cuckoo: Winning a legal victory for the yellow-billed cuckoo. Under the settlement, FWS was required to make a final critical habitat designation by 2021. The agency did so in April 2021, and designated some 300,000 acres throughout the West as critical habitat. There may be as few as 500 pairs left north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Scarlet Macaw: Continuing our fight for overdue protections for the scarlet macaw. FoA won a lawsuit and successfully obtained an order from federal court requiring the FWS to finalize its ESA Listing Rule for the brilliantly colored birds.
African Wildlife Trophy Imports: Pushing for transparency and public accountability among federal agencies with Freedom of Information lawsuits challenging the Department of Interior’s failure to release numbers of elephant skins and giraffe parts being imported into the U.S. and the names of the importers.
You can count on FoA for its continued integrity in its efforts to defend animals and the environment. Can we count on you to continue your support? You can make a donation here.
Priscilla Feral, President
Bob Orabona, Director of Operations
Dustin Rhodes, Vice President of Development
Michelle Hopson, Director of Administration
Jane Seymour, Creative Director
Bob Bock, Accountant
Donna Thigpen, Assistant to President
Shelly Scott, Secretary to President
Belveley Russell, Bookkeeper
Meghan McIntire, Digital Content Director
Nicole Rivard, Editor/Correspondent
Scott Smith, Communications Director
Dana Visi, Receptionist
Veronika Johnson, Membership
Jennifer Best, WLP Director
Stephen Hernick, Senior Attorney
Andreia Marcuccio, Staff Attorney
Adam Kreger, Associate Attorney
Kira Abramovitz, Administrator/Conservation Coordinator
Bill Clark, Senior Policy Advisor
Friends of Animals Board of Directors:
Priscilla Feral, President
Sally Malanga, Secretary/Treasurer
Pamela McKenna, Chairperson
Elizabeth Forel, Director
Teresa D’Amico, Director
Phyllis Hawkins, Director
Barbara Sitomer, Director