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Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Presidential Files: Discussing the Donkeys

In advance of the Iowa caucuses—the first official event of the 2008 election season—I've been introducing you to the candidates from both sides of the political spectrum. Yesterday I provided a round-up of where the Republican presidential candidates stand on animal issues, and today it’s time to summarize the Democrats.  It’s a tougher task, because there are not as many clear distinctions.  All of the Democratic contenders have been friends of animal welfare, and have received high marks year after year on the Humane Scorecard.  I’ve attempted to highlight some of the things that stand out. 

Donkey Joe Biden: In the current session of Congress, Sen. Biden is a co-sponsor of  measures to stop horse slaughter, upgrade the penalties for animal fighting, ban the possession of fighting dogs and attendance at a dogfight, and call on Canada to stop its annual massacre of baby harp seals.  He has consistently voted for animal protection during his career, and he led the fight with Sen. Barbara Boxer to ban the netting of dolphins by commercial tuna fishermen.  He was the lead author of a bill in the 107th Congress to prohibit trophy hunting of captive exotic mammals in fenced enclosures, and he successfully passed the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: In the current session of Congress, Sen. Clinton is a co-sponsor of legislation dealing with horse slaughter and animal fighting, and she previously co-sponsored legislation to stop the processing of “downer” livestock and to crack down on abusive puppy mills where dogs are treated like production machines  She led efforts in the 108th and 109th Congresses to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, which allow them to be crammed in overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary conditions on factory farms.  She had a perfect 100 percent score on the Humane Scorecard in the 108th and 109th Congresses.

Chris Dodd: In the current session of Congress, Sen. Dodd is a co-sponsor of measures to stop Class B dealers from trafficking in random-source pets for research, end horse slaughter, upgrade the penalties for animal fighting, and call on Canada to stop its annual massacre of baby harp seals. He has consistently voted for animal protection during his career, and can always be counted on by animal advocates.

John Edwards: A leader on the issue of factory farming, Sen. Edwards has called for a moratorium on the construction or expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  His campaign has released a positive statement on animal welfare, and you can read more about his record in my longer entry, “John Edwards on Animals and Rural America.

Dennis Kucinich: An ethical vegetarian, Rep. Kucinich has been one of the true leaders on animal protection issues in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is currently a co-sponsor of 14 animal protection measures in the 110th Congress, one of the highest numbers among all 435 members.  He led the effort in 2001 and 2002 to secure more funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act at puppy mills, research laboratories, zoos, circuses, and other facilities.  When animal issues are considered on the House floor, Rep. Kucinich can often be found speaking in favor of the animal protection position.  In November, he hosted an online forum to discuss animal issues.

Barack Obama: In the current session of Congress, Sen. Obama is a co-sponsor of measures to stop horse slaughter, upgrade the penalties for animal fighting, and crack down on dogfighting.  He has had a strong record for animals in both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate. Read more about his responses to the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s questionnaire in my longer entry, “Barack Obama and the Dog-acity of Hope.

Bill Richardson: New Mexico banned cockfighting in 2007 thanks to Gov. Richardson’s leadership, and the chief executive signed numerous animal protection bills into law and issued a comprehensive animal welfare package for the state.  Read more in my longer entry, “Bill Richardson’s Animal Magnetism in the Land of Enchantment.”

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