2020 Top 10 for Animals & People

The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund helps rescue individual animals, while also supporting programs that fundamentally change the way we humans interact with all animals. In 2020, COVID has highlighted why this change is a matter of survival for us all.

Please contribute to the Greg Fund. Please support the Fund’s partner programs and goals in other ways. And please go — or stay — vegan.
2020 “Top 10” highlights for the Fund and its partners include:

1 — The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (S. 4547/H.R. 1754) passed the US Congress on December 21. Update December 28: President Trump has signed the bill into law, as part of an omnibus government funding and pandemic aid package. 

This legislation began with PETA‘s 2013 investigation into treatment of racehorses including Charlie’s Quest, who we jointly rescued. It then advanced all the way through Congress — rare for an animal protection bill. PETA’s multi-pronged campaign to end drugging and other cruel racehorse treatment — which this Fund has long supported — was cited by The Washington Post editorial board among others, as the bill advanced to passage.

2 – Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Exam Room LiveYoutube and podcast programs launched a major expansion in spring — and this Fund was a sponsor for the 2nd consecutive year.

The Physicians Committee and its Exam Room program have tackled COVID risk factors — and associated social inequities — with daily news and advice on healthy plant-based eating. They’ve confronted the source of COVID by backing legislation to close live animal markets, fought the disease spread by calling for protection of hard-hit slaughterhouse workers, and promoted new vaccines and treatments through human-relevant replacements for outdated animal tests.

3 – PETA persuaded Virginia lawmakers to pass an anti-tethering law to protect animals in extreme weather.

The Virginia law, which went into effect July 1, is now being used as a model for other states. The law mandates shelter for outdoor animals in temperatures under 33°F or over 84°F, or during severe weather warnings. It also increases the minimum tether length from ten to 15 feet. PETA’s Community Animal Project, which this Fund has long supported, worked many years for this legislation.

4 – In July, a harness-racing bettor received $20,000 in a precedent-setting PETA-backed lawsuit, for loss of winnings when a doped horse won a 2016 New Jersey race. The lawsuit put trainers and owners on notice that there’s a price to pay for drugging horses.

5 – September saw release of the documentary Breaking the Chain, executive produced by award-winning actress Anjelica Huston. The film highlights the work of PETA’s Community Animal Project in impoverished Virginia and North Carolina communities — work Greg and I once supported together; which this Fund has supported since 2016; and which rescued my horses Henry and Caroline, my dog Christopher, and my late dog Itchy. It has inspired many to adopt instead of buy, spay or neuter their companion animals, and take action to stop animal cruelty.

6 – In June, PETA presented its annual Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award to Julia Novak, for 10 years of volunteer work that included fostering rescued animals with special needs (including Itchy, who Greg and I later adopted); helping PETA’s Community Animal Project in the field; and coordinating vigils for factory-farmed pigs at a Smithfield slaughterhouse.

7 – In October, I gave the interview “What Will Your Legacy Be?” for the Exam Room podcast of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I shared my story of life with Greg, our common purpose in making the world better for animals, the legacy he left, and how I’m carrying forward on my own. Most important, I gave my plea for everyone to start planning your legacy today — because none of us are promised tomorrow.

8 — In February, Florida Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary officially opened its “almost wild” habitat for 26 squirrel monkeys – including one named Gregory. The monkeys were released in 2018 from a US FDA nicotine addiction study, through the work of a White Coat Waste Project coalition that included the Greg Fund.

9 – Maryland Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary’s annual 5k Run for the Animals, long scheduled for mid-May, had to go virtual this year – but Poplar Spring still raised a record sum, and the Greg Fund contributed for the 5th consecutive year. Edward the peacock and Fanny the peahen are among hundreds of animals the 5k and this Fund helped support – they each lived alone for years, before they were united at Poplar Spring in February.

10 – New York Woodstock Farm Sanctuary launched its Dairy Truth campaign in June, introducing a rescued dairy cow named Jo at Meetjo.org. Jo has inspired thousands to take the dairy-free pledge — better for cows, the environment, and human health too! The Greg Fund contributed to Woodstock in 2020 for the 3rd consecutive year.


I wish everyone a healthy 2020 holiday season — with hope for a brighter 2021 for animals and people!

Leave a Comment