Commenting Guidelines

    • The HSLF invites comments—pro and con. Keep them clean. Keep them lively. Adhere to our guiding philosophy of non-violence. And please understand, this is not an open post. We publish samplers of comments to keep the conversation going. We correct misspellings and typos when we find them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Election Day result - a good one for animals and the HSLF

We knew coming into this election season that it would be a fateful one for animals, at both the state and federal levels, and that’s why the HSLF made significant commitments of endorsements, independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates, and grassroots efforts in races throughout the nation. It was worth it, as we sent several anti-animal legislators packing, saw the election and reelection of a number of strong allies, and helped pass ballot measures of immense importance in Florida and California.

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Photo courtesy of iStock.com

One of the candidates we helped to defeat was U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) who in the course of his career voted against animal protection interests 40 times. As Chair of the House Rules Committee, Sessions worked to prevent commonsense, bipartisan measures from reaching the floor for a vote. That’s why we went all in with Colin Allred, who won the race by a margin of 6.3 percent. HSLF placed television and digital ads to contrast Allred’s commitment to animal protection with Sessions’ lengthy record of opposition at every turn.

This was our kind of race and our kind of outcome. We helped to replace a stubborn opponent of our work with a candidate we’re confident will do his best for animals.

HSLF also canvassed more than 38,000 households in CA-48 and CA-49, districts held by representatives who were way out of step with their constituents when it came to animal protection. While we await final results, it appears likely that Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) will defeat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) who recently voted against enforcing animal fighting prohibitions in the U.S. territories, and that Mike Levin (D-Calif.) will take the seat formerly held by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

We also played a critical role in the approval of two consequential state ballot measures. Florida citizens overwhelmingly voted to end greyhound racing, a miserable “entertainment” in which dogs suffer broken bones and deaths on the tracks. This was a big win because Florida is home to 11 of the remaining 17 greyhound racing tracks in the country. As a constitutional amendment, the measure required a threshold of 60% of the vote—it received nearly 69% in the end. We were proud to work with the HSUS, the Doris Day Animal League, Grey2K, and a number of coalition partners to sound the death knell for greyhound racing in the United States; no industry that inflicts so much pain, suffering, and death on thousands of gentle greyhound dogs deserves to survive.

Across the country, Californians resoundingly said “YES!” to Proposition 12, which ushers in the strongest farm animal protection law in the world. Proposition 12 builds on protections first passed by voters in 2008, to ensure that pork, eggs, and veal products produced or sold in the California marketplace come from facilities that do not confine animals in tiny cages for their entire lives. This is the fifth consecutive ballot initiative win on farm animal confinement issues since 2002, and promises to improve the lives of millions of animals. The measure will create immediate relief for millions of animals and bring more pressure on the pork and egg industries to accelerate their transitions to cage-free and crate-free housing systems. California voters saw through the false claims of the factory farming industry, and sided with compassionate and commonsense standards to protect farm animals and food safety.

With results still coming in, we cannot report in full on every race of interest to our supporters, but what we know so far is pretty good. HSLF-endorsed U.S. House candidates won 219 and lost 16 races, for a 93 percent win rate, with 14 additional races not yet called. In the U.S. Senate, HSLF-backed contenders won 16 races and lost 3, for an 84 percent win rate.

In other House races of interest, we worked to re-elect allies like Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the lead sponsor of the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 4693) and Welfare of Our Friends Act (H.R. 4691), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.

But the real story in the Congress concerns the many new faces we’ll welcome, including Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), and Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) who defeated Cresent Hardy, who previously had a zero record on animal protection. HSLF targeted all of these races in its work, and these are great outcomes for animal protection.

Unfortunately, some key House allies lost their races including Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), sponsor of the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act (H.R. 4202) to ensure that federal animal fighting laws are applied to the U.S. territories. Roskam successfully championed the measure as an amendment to the Farm Bill which passed by a vote of 359-51. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a consistent supporter of animal protection and co-chair of the House Climate Change Caucus, also lost.

In the Senate, we saw several strong allies reelected, including Sen, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee who has fought off the frivolous King amendment in the Farm Bill while protecting the pro-animal measures it included, the Pet and Women Safety Act (H.R. 909/S. 322), the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act (H.R. 1406), and the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act (H.R. 4202/ S. 2971). Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a stalwart in our fight against cruel hunting practices on federal lands in Alaska, won his race too, by 23 percent.

We were active in a number of critical state-level races as well. HSLF was heavily involved in Michigan supporting the election of Gretchen Whitmer (D) for governor and Dana Nessel (D) for attorney general. Whitmer has a strong record of animal protection from her service in the state legislature, including votes to uphold the protections for wolves and other wildlife species, so her victory is great news. Nessel will become just the second attorney general to create a dedicated task force to assist prosecutors in cracking down on animal cruelty.

Several important races have yet to be called, so please check back in with our election site as we will be updating as results are announced.

At the HSLF, we put the animal into politics. This year, we endorsed a record number of candidates, and in crucial instances, we put our money and our energy behind them. And so many of you did, too. If  you voted or volunteered for one of these men and women, thank you. If you sent funds in support of our work to elect them, or made contributions yourself, we appreciate it. We wanted to swing for the fences this time around, and because of you, we were able to do it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day is here – see what’s at stake for animals

Election Day is special for those who care about animals, because it’s the one day on which we can directly shape the future for animal protection by electing those who share our humane values. It’s just that important. If you haven’t already voted, today is your last chance. You can identify your polling place at www.vote.org.

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Photo by Mark Bacon/Alamy Stock Photo

But we’d also like to invite you to check out our election site and Humane Scorecard to read about the candidates we believe will do good things for animals.

A few races in particular have tremendous implications for the animal protection landscape at the federal and state levels. For example:

  • In Texas, the dynamic Colin Allred is challenging Phil Sessions, an incumbent in the 32nd district who has repeatedly blocked animal protection measures from receiving a vote on the House floor. HSLF has made substantial expenditures in support of Allred, and against Sessions.
  • In Michigan, a number of women who support animal protection are running statewide, including Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate, Gretchen Witmer for governor, and Dana Nessel for Attorney General. They are all proven advocates.
  • In Iowa, J.D. Scholten is challenging “the King of Cruelty,” Rep. Steve King, in the 4th Congressional District. If Scholten wins, King’s reckless anti-animal welfare amendments to the Farm Bill will go away with him. We’ve done our best to mobilize HSLF supporters in this race.
  • In Tennessee, former governor Phil Bredesen is running for the U.S. Senate against Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn, who has supported soring—the cruel use of caustic chemicals and other painful substances to injure the hooves and legs of show horses. We’re all in behind Governor Bredesen in this one.

Here are some of the other candidates we’re supporting:

  • In Colorado, former state official Joe Neguse is running in the 2nd Congressional District with a promise to build on his pro-animal record.
  • In Illinois, Peter Roskam, who has led the charge against animal fighting, is running for re-election in the 6th district, while prosecutor Brendan Kelly is fighting to unseat a callous incumbent in the 12th Congressional District.
  • In Nevada, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford are running for open congressional seats in Nevada’s 3rd and 4th districts, respectively. Horsford’s opponent is a former congressman who refused to crack down on heinous animal cruelty.
  • In New Jersey, Josh Gottheimer, who earned a perfect score on the Humane Scorecard, is running for re-election in the 5th district.
  • In Oregon, Earl Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, is seeking re-election in the 3rd district.
  • In Pennsylvania, Brian Fitzpatrick (8th district) and Conor Lamb (18th district) are running for re-election to continue their good work for animals, while attorney Susan Wild and state legislator Guy Reschenthaler are running for open seats in the 7th and 14th districts, respectively.
  • In Texas, State legislator Lance Gooden and county official Veronica Escobar are running for open seats in the 5th and 16th districts, respectively.
  • In Washington, Kim Schrier is running for the 8th Congressional District against a former state legislator who supported bills allowing the use of body-gripping animal traps, and the hunting of cougars with hounds.

Voters in California and Florida have a particular opportunity to drive positive change for animals in this election cycle with their support for two remarkable ballot measures.

  • In California, Proposition 12 will ensure baby calves, mother pigs, and egg-laying hens aren’t confined in tiny cages. For Congress, Jeff Denham is running for re-election in the 10th district, Harley Rouda is contesting an anti-animal incumbent in the 48th district, and Mike Levin is running for an open seat in the 49th district.
  • In Florida, Amendment 13 will phase out cruel commercial greyhound racing by 2020, and animal protection champions Carlos Curbelo and Vern Buchanan are running for re-election to the U.S. House.

Should you be a resident of either of these two states, or have family members and friends to whom you can reach out, we really want to encourage your advocacy today.

If you’re a supporter of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, you know that your investment means that we’re working hard in the nation’s capital every day, making the case for animals in the Congress and with the agencies of our federal government. And you play a crucial part in any success we achieve by writing and calling legislators and government administrators on your own.

That said, Election Day represents a distinctive opportunity to reshape the world consistent with our animal protection values. Please do get to the polls, and cast your vote in a way that makes a difference for animals. We also invite you to share our election site with friends and family, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates as each race is called.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Stop the King of cruelty

You may have heard U.S. Representative Steve King’s (IA-4) controversial remarks regarding the way he views people. But you may not know he also has a long record of ambivalence and hostility toward animals and their protection. Whether it involves animal fighting, horse slaughter, or the infamous amendment in the House version of the Farm Bill that carries his name, he has consistently fought to prevent any advancement in commonsense animal protections supported by the vast majority of Americans. Today, HSLF launched a digital ad campaign highlighting his longstanding contempt for humane values, and specifically for his obstructionist stand against cracking down on animal fighting and the criminal element that accompanies it.

King’s record on animal fighting puts him right at the bottom of the barrel, as he has repeatedly opposed legislation that would restrict it, making him a part of an infamous minority in the U.S. Congress. Last May, King voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill that would clarify that federal prohibitions on animal fighting apply in all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories. This measure would protect animals from senseless cruelty, communities from other criminal activity often linked to animal fighting, reduce public health threats from bird flu and other diseases, and enhance enforcement of the federal animal fighting law across the U.S. It passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 359-51.

King’s upside down record on animal fighting goes back a long way. In 2007, he voted against the Animal Fighting Enforcement Prohibition Act, which strengthened penalties for illegal animal fighting and made it a felony to transport animals across state lines for the purpose of fighting. In 2013, King worked to block legislation that made it a crime for an adult to attend or bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight.

These measures had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, but each time, King was at the front of the parade of those staking out the wrong side of the issue.

King is also responsible for one of the worst threats to animal protection at the federal level in recent history. In its various forms over the last few years his bill, also known as the King Amendment is simply fanatical. It’s a radical federal overreach that could undermine thousands of state and local laws, including ones addressing intensive confinement of farm animals, horse slaughter, puppy mills, and shark finning. But the measure doesn’t stop at animal welfare. It could nullify any measure affecting the production of agricultural products, including those regarding alcohol, child labor, fire-safe cigarettes, and dangerous pesticides.

During consideration of the current Farm Bill, King again made plain his willingness to threaten countless state laws that protect animals from abuse and consumers from unsafe foods through his amendment. We’ve been working as hard as we can to stave off his reckless and dangerous attacks.

As if his mischief around the Farm bill weren’t enough, Steve King also has a history of voting against wildlife and equines. He has repeatedly voted to support the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in foreign countries even though the 80% of the U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes it. He voted for a bill that undermines the Endangered Species Act, removing critical protections for some of America’s most iconic and imperiled species, including grizzly bears and wolves. He also voted twice to restore scientifically unjustified methods of trophy hunting on federal land in Alaska.

All of this makes it pretty obvious why HSLF has proudly endorsed J.D. Scholten, a fifth generation Iowan and supporter of commonsense animal protection issues. If we want to end dogfighting and other extreme cruelties that cause animals so much suffering and misery, we must elect humane legislators. And there is no place where this need is more urgent in IA-4.  If you live in IA-4, please cast your ballot to say no to animal fighting, horse slaughter, and harming wildlife and say “YES” to a J.D. Scholten.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pete Sessions—not for animals, not for Texas

Over the years, thanks to our terrific base of supporters, we’ve been able to cultivate a strong bloc of legislators at the federal level who support our vital animal protection mission.  Even so, there are a handful who don’t care much about animals or our policy goals, and within that group there are a few who stand out for their indifference and obstructionism. That’s the case with U.S. Representative Pete Sessions (TX-32), and that’s why the Humane Society Legislative Fund began airing a television ad in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that exposes his abysmal voting record against commonsense animal protection legislation during two decades in Congress. By our count, Pete Sessions has voted against animals and their protection 40 times over that period. He’s in a swing district, and he’s facing a challenger whose commitment to our values and policies is crystal clear. That’s why we think it’s time for a big change of direction there. 

Sessions has a dismal score of 17 out of 100 on the HSLF’s 2017 Humane Scorecard—and his lifetime average score is a bottom of the barrel 11 out of 100. Recently, he voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill designed to end the horrors of animal fighting by applying the same legal prohibitions to the U.S. territories that we apply in the 50 states. Sessions was surely out of touch on this one, as the amendment passed the House floor by a vote of 359-51.

The congressman’s record of supporting the slaughter of horses for human consumption in foreign countries also marks him as an outlier. Some 80% of Americans, including many of his fellow Texans, are opposed to the practice.

Sessions has exhibited a horrible record on wildlife protection, too. He helped to block efforts to protect iconic elephants from the ivory trade and supported efforts to allow a small group of wealthy trophy hunters to import threatened polar bears’ heads and hides for display. He voted to eliminate vital protections on federally owned, taxpayer-supported lands in Alaska, allowing hunters to kill hibernating mother bears and their cubs in their dens.

A self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, Sessions even voted to continue funding wasteful subsidies for lethal predator control, which relies on some of the most callous and ecologically destructive killing methods known to man.

All of this would be bad enough on its own, but it’s worth noting too that as chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions was a one-man barricade against animal welfare, preventing bills from reaching the floor even when they enjoyed widespread support within the House itself.  No one sent him to Washington to defend and protect horse slaughter, trophy hunting, predator killing, and animal fighting, and to prevent other elected representatives from voting on these practices, but that’s the kind of record he’s amassed.

With our engaged supporters and contributors, we at the HSLF work tirelessly for the passage of laws to stop the inhumane treatment of animals and ensure their greater protection. We cannot afford to overlook the out-of-step philosophy and voting record of lawmakers like Pete Sessions, especially when we know that tens of thousands of voters in districts like his want their representatives to support fundamental animal protection policy. That’s why HSLF has endorsed Colin Allred for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District—he’s a humane champion who has committed to support our work, and we’re confident that he will.

Let’s talk straight. Pete Sessions has wasted 40 opportunities to help end suffering and improve the lives of animals everywhere. That’s the kind of waste we are determined to cut. If you have friends and family in the 32nd Congressional District, please share our TV ad to let them know about the abysmal record that Pete Sessions has racked up, and encourage them to vote for Colin Allred on November 6th. You’ll be glad you did.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Election Day is almost here—we hope you vote humane!

Election Day is right around the corner and for those of you in states with early voting, it may actually be already here! That’s why I want to remind you to check out our election site before you cast your ballot to see who we’ve endorsed in your state.

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Photo by Mark Bacon/Alamy Stock Photo

It’s so important that we use the power of the ballot box to advance the cause of animal welfare. It’s sad, but true, that all too often some elected officials continually ignore the pleas of constituents who make the case for animals. Instead, they side with special interests like puppy millers, horse sorers, trophy hunters, factory farmers, and animal fighters. They launch attacks on existing animal protection laws, and they stand in the way of new reforms. It’s an unfortunate reality of our work.

That’s why it’s essential to remember that you have the power to replace officials who are indifferent to our humane agenda with candidates committed to common sense animal protection measures, and, in the case of those who stand with animals, to reelect them and make it possible for them continue their good efforts.

It is a priority for HSLF to work with you to elect leaders committed to our shared values. We need officials ready to move our agenda to defend pets from cruelty and abuse, replace the use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical testing, improve welfare standards for farm animals, expand protections for wildlife, end the slaughter of American horses, and more.

That’s why I’m reminding you about our election site, to help you determine which candidates are committed to fighting for animals. The site features our endorsements in hundreds of congressional races as well as several at the state level. As a nonpartisan organization, we’ve selected these candidates solely and strictly on the basis of their positions on animal protection.

The election site landing page features candidates in some of this year’s most consequential races for our work. Colin Allred (D-Tx) is working to oust Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tx) who has served in Congress for more than 20 years and voted against animal protection more than 40 times. We’re also supporting Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fl) who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and leads the way on a raft of animal protection legislation.

In addition to the candidates we’re highlighting in key races, users of the website can easily view our full endorsement lists by state or office.

Finally, I’d like to remind you that we’re backing two statewide ballot measures: Prop 12 in California, which will upgrade farm animal protections, and Amendment 13 in Florida, which will end cruel greyhound racing in that state. If you live in either state or can support those efforts in other ways, we’d love to see you get involved.

If you have been paying attention to our issues in recent months, you know that this is a particularly critical time to get political for animals. So, please take a look at our site, work out which humane candidates will be on your ballot, and then share the information with your friends and family members. If you haven’t registered to vote, and the deadline has not passed in your state, you can easily do so here. We at HSLF are counting on you to get political for animals by voting on November 6th!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Honoring the memory of a hero for horses, Congress must take action on PAST

U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings was a giant in the halls of Congress and in the hearts of horse lovers everywhere. We mourn his passing while acknowledging the rich legacy he leaves on preventing cruelty to horses. Senator Tydings, the father of the federal Horse Protection Act, represented Maryland from 1965 to 1971. He also lobbied pro bono with us in recent years to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act. I fondly recall his stories of the U.S. Senate and his experiences there. He was a larger than life individual to the very end, and we’ll remember him with the deepest gratitude.

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Photo by the HSUS

A lifelong horseman, “Joe,” as he preferred to be called, strongly appreciated the contribution of horses to our society. He served in the last horse cavalry unit of the U.S. Army during World War II.

Tydings was appalled when he learned of the vile cruelty known as “soring,” in which trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds using caustic chemicals, chains, weighted shoes, hard objects, cutting, and other gruesome techniques to force them to perform a pain-based artificially high-stepping gait—the "Big Lick"—to gain unfair competitive advantage at shows. Working with the HSUS and other groups, he led the charge on legislation he thought would end the practice once and for all—a bill that took three Congresses to pass, in 1970.

In recent years, upon hearing that the law he had worked so hard to enact had failed to accomplish its goal due to loopholes—some created by a 1976 amendment and others by weak U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations—that enable violators to evade detection, he joined the battle again.

Tydings signed annual letters to key Senators and Representatives urging increased funding so that USDA could better enforce the law. He wrote to officials at all levels of USDA, urging tougher regulations and enforcement. He was known to walk the halls of Congress to make his case, too. 

The senator will be remembered as a staunch advocate for the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.1847/S.2957—a bill to strengthen the Horse Protection Act by banning the use of devices integral to the soring process, eliminating the conflict-ridden, failed system of industry self-policing, and increasing penalties. He teamed up with former Senator John Warner of Virginia, also an ardent horseman, to advocate for the PAST Act in a bipartisan op-ed published in The Hill, “Stop torturing horses now.”

A former U.S. Attorney, Tydings encouraged and applauded the prosecution of Jackie McConnell—the notorious Hall of Fame Walking Horse trainer who pled guilty to numerous federal charges as a result of the HSUS’ 2011 undercover investigation—and stood with us on the courthouse steps on the day McConnell was sentenced.

He was a presenter and frequent attendee at the Sound Horse Conference events organized by Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH).

Tydings was also a co-petitioner with the HSUS and partner organizations in a petition to USDA seeking regulatory reforms, and he enthusiastically supported the agency’s rule (announced as final in January 2017 but then put on the shelf by the Trump Administration) to strengthen Horse Protection Act regulations. 

For all of his extraordinary efforts, the HSUS honored Tydings with its Humane Horseman of the Year award in 2016.

Joe Tydings was a passionate advocate for horses and a true friend to the HSLF and the animal protection community. We must never let the contributions of this valiant warrior for fairness and humaneness be forgotten. We must honor his legacy by securing long-overdue passage of the PAST Act, to achieve the vision promised by the Horse Protection Act nearly 50 years ago. Congress should be inspired by his example and never let the demands of a few who profit off the abuse of horses prevail. Members of the U.S. House and Senate should cosponsor the PAST Act if they haven’t already, and do all they can to ensure it moves swiftly to a vote.

Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass the PAST Act!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Are your lawmakers making the grade?

One of our core objectives is to make it simple and efficient for voters to determine how federal lawmakers have sided on crucial animal protection legislation across a range of issues. As the midterm elections approach, the Humane Society Legislative Fund has just released its preview version of the 2018 Humane Scorecard for the second session of the 115th Congress to provide voters with such a tool as they head to the polls. The Humane Scorecard is a snapshot of each federal legislator’s votes on key matters that affect the lives and well-being of animals, along with their efforts to help animals through cosponsorship of priority bills and support for adequate funding of animal welfare enforcement, as well as extra credit for pro-animal leadership. While the scorecard does not include every measure that relates to animals, it scores a cross section of key bills and votes on which HSLF has advocated and that significantly impact the state of animal welfare in America.

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iStock Photo

This Congress has presented core challenges for animals, including the seemingly endless attacks to weaken historically critical laws such as the Endangered Species Act. The Humane Society Legislative Fund has been fighting tirelessly to preserve existing animal welfare policies and work with members of Congress from both political parties to push new legislation.

We’ve chosen to highlight a few key votes from the Farm Bill because it comes up only every five or six years and contains important animal protection provisions. The final Farm Bill is not yet settled, so we are continuing to press for positive outcomes on a number of issues in the House and Senate versions. The highly controversial House bill includes good amendments to strengthen federal law on animal fighting and prohibit the dog and cat meat trade, but it also contains the egregious and overreaching “King amendment,” which threatens to nullify hundreds of state and local laws on animal welfare, food safety, environmental protection, and many other concerns related to agricultural products. The Senate approved a much friendlier Farm Bill, which omits the King amendment and  includes essential language to address domestic violence against pets, as well as a provision (similar to House language) to prevent the dog and cat meat trade from taking hold in the U.S. and strengthen our hand in seeking to end it worldwide.

For animal protection measures to advance, robust cosponsorship is vital. The more members of Congress publicly supporting a bill through cosponsorship—particularly when it’s solidly bipartisan —the more apparent it is to congressional leaders in both parties that the bill warrants consideration. Animal protection issues have long been bipartisan and that trend continues in 2018, with every scored bill having strong leadership and support from both sides of the aisle.

The PAST Act to crack down on the cruel practice of horse soring has 285 cosponsors in the House and 37 in the Senate, the PAWS domestic violence bill has 251 House and 41 Senate cosponsors, the PACT animal cruelty bill has 282 cosponsors in the House and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, the SAFE horse slaughter bill has 219 House and 31 Senate cosponsors, the shark fin trade bill has 257 House and 40 Senate cosponsors, the cosmetics testing bill has 183 House cosponsors, and the WOOF puppy mill bill has 127 cosponsors in the House.

There is still time to encourage your federal legislators to cosponsor these important animal protection bills if they are not already on board, and to press them to do all they can to help get these reforms over the finish line in the coming months. Please contact your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators to thank them for supporting any of the bills listed below that they have already cosponsored and urge them to join on the rest. You can use our Find Your Federal Legislators tool, or call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask your friends and family to do the same; the more constituents your legislators hear from, the more likely they are to take action in support of animal protection.

Here are summaries of the bills whose cosponsors will count on the 2018 Humane Scorecard. Some bills may have counterparts in both the House and the Senate, while others may only be introduced in one chamber.

Horse soring – S. 2957 and H.R. 1847, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Mark Warner, D-Va., and Reps. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Tom Marino, R-Pa., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Chris Collins, R-N.Y. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. This bill will crack down on the cruel practice of “soring,” in which trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds to force them to perform an unnaturally high-stepping gait for competitions. Congress passed the Horse Protection Act almost 50 years ago to end this abuse, but rampant soring continues, as shown in a 2010 audit by the USDA inspector general and by HSUS undercover investigations in 2012 and 2015. The PAST Act will end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and make illegal the actual soring of a horse—all without any additional taxpayer burden.

Pets and domestic violence – S. 322 and H.R. 909, the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., Rick Nolan, D-Minn., Mimi Walters, R-Calif., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. This bill will expand current federal domestic violence protections to include pets and authorize grant money to help domestic violence shelters accommodate pets or arrange for pet shelter. Currently, only 3 percent of these shelters allow pets, and many people delay their decision to leave a violent situation out of fear for their pets’ safety (a legitimate concern considering that up to 84 percent of women entering shelters reported that their partners abused or killed the family pet). While 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have adopted similar legislation, the PAWS Act would ensure protection across the country.

Animal fighting – S. 2971 and H.R. 4202, the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, introduced by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Rick Nolan, D-Minn., Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., Steve Knight, R-Calif., Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and John Faso, R-N.Y. This bill will clarify that federal prohibitions on animal fighting apply equally to all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories. The PACE Act will protect animals from vicious cruelty, protect communities from criminal activity often linked to animal fighting such as drug trafficking and gang violence, reduce public health threats from the transmission of bird flu and other diseases, and enhance enforcement of the federal animal fighting law across the U.S.

Horse slaughter – S. 1706 and H.R. 113, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. This bill will protect horses and consumers by prohibiting the transport and export of U.S. horses to slaughter for human consumption. American horses are not raised for food and are routinely given drugs that can be toxic to people if ingested. Horse slaughter is cruel, and the U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes it. Horses are shipped for long distances and are often seriously injured or killed in transit. At the slaughter plant, the methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths. This predatory industry doesn’t “euthanize” old, sick horses; young and healthy horses are purchased, often by buyers misrepresenting their intentions, and killed for the overseas horsemeat market.

Shark fin trade – S. 793 and H.R. 1456, the Shark Fin Trade/Sales Elimination Act, introduced by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, D-N. Marianas. This bill will protect sharks from cruelty and preserve our oceans’ fragile ecosystems by strengthening federal law against finning, in which fishermen slice off sharks’ fins and toss the mutilated animals back into the ocean to die. This bill will prohibit the trade in shark fins, expanding on the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (laws that banned shark finning and the transportation on U.S.-flagged vessels of fins not “naturally attached to the corresponding carcass”).

Animal cruelty – H.R. 1494, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Ted Deutch, D-Fla. This bill will strengthen the 2010 federal “crush video” law, which banned the creation, sale, and distribution of obscene videos that show live animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other heinous abuse. The PACT Act will prohibit those same acts of extreme animal cruelty when they occur in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether a video is produced. All 50 states have felony penalties for malicious cruelty to animals; this legislation will complement state anti-cruelty laws and provide an additional enforcement tool when extreme animal cruelty occurs on federal property or in interstate commerce (e.g., in the puppy mill trade or wildlife trafficking).

Animal testing for cosmetics – H.R. 2790, the Humane Cosmetics Act, introduced by Reps. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Don Beyer, D-Va., Ed Royce, R-Calif., Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. This bill will phase out the testing of cosmetics on live animals and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the U.S. These tests performed on rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and mice are intensely cruel and unreliable predictors of effects on humans. Cosmetics companies can choose from thousands of ingredients already known to be safe for humans. For new ingredients, there are faster, less expensive non-animal methods available to ensure products are safe for human use. More than 1.8 billion consumers live in countries that have already adopted similar restrictions, and 250 personal care product companies support this legislation.

Puppy mills – H.R. 4691, the Welfare of Our Friends (WOOF) Act, introduced by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Charlie Crist, D-Fla. This bill will address significant deficiencies in USDA oversight of commercial dog breeding facilities. The USDA often allows breeders with severe and multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act to be licensed year after year and allows those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked to operate under a new license using a family member’s name. The WOOF Act will prohibit the agency from issuing licenses to breeders whose previous licenses have been revoked or suspended or to their immediate family members at the same address.

Please take a few minutes today to help us save animals by voicing your support for these critical bills. Whether your legislators have scores of zero, 100+, or somewhere in between, they need to know that you care about their positions on animal protection policy and are paying attention to their performance on animal issues. Your efforts to engage them meaningfully on these subjects will produce ever greater returns for animal protection in the future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

After tragic death of puppy in airplane’s overhead bin, House passes bill to ensure it never happens again

Update 10/3/2018: Today the Senate passed legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by a vote of 93-6. The bill includes the same language that was approved by the House last week—prohibiting the storage of live animals in overhead compartments of airplanes and authorizing civil penalties for violators. Thank you to Senators John Kennedy, R-La, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., along with Reps. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., for spearheading this critical language. The bill now goes to the president’s desk for a signature, so please join us in urging him to sign it quickly!

On March 12th, a family lost their beloved 10-month old French bulldog, Kokito, after being forced to stow him in the overhead compartment during a three-and-a-half hour United Airlines flight from Houston to New York. Kokito had been a birthday gift for 11-year-old Sophia Ceballos. Her mom, Catalina Robledo—who had paid the $200 fee to bring Kokito aboard with the family, including a newborn baby—protested when the flight attendant insisted that she put Kokito (in his carrier) in the compartment. Sophie recounted to CBS News how her mom had told the flight attendant, “‘It’s a dog, it’s a dog.’ He can’t breathe up there.’ And she said, ‘It doesn’t matter, it still goes up there.’” As the family sat in their seats, worrying, “they heard Kokito barking for two hours, then he stopped.” They wanted to check on him but couldn’t. “We tried, but there was a lot of turbulence. And we weren’t allowed to stand up,’ Sophie said.” When they landed, the heartbroken family and fellow passengers discovered that Kokito was dead.

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Photo by iStock.com

Short-nosed breeds like pugs and bulldogs are particularly vulnerable in such situations, as they often have difficulty breathing and cooling their bodies efficiently. But no live animal should be stowed this way. As reported by CBS News: “Retired airline captain Denny Kelly says the pitch-black overhead bin is dangerous for any live animal. ‘There is no circulation at all in there. They’re scared, their heart rate goes up and they use more oxygen. And there’s not enough oxygen in the first place, that just makes it worse.’”

United issued an apology and took responsibility for the tragedy, refunding the family’s tickets and $200 fee—which Sophia told NBC News wasn’t really the point. “She said they’re not after money as she recalled how her dog enjoyed running around and doing flips in the park. ‘We don’t want the same thing to happen (to other pet owners). If flight attendants tell you to put your pet (in an overhead compartment), don’t do it.” United announced that putting animals in an overhead compartment was already against company policy, and instituted a new system of issuing brightly colored tags to make animal carriers stand out for airline personnel. 

Thankfully, a bipartisan group of federal legislators decided not to leave it to chance, company policy, or mere common sense. They swiftly joined forces to ensure that no other beloved pet ever suffers the fate that Kokito did. On March 15th, Senators John Kennedy, R-La., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act, S. 2556, and Representatives Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced the Planes Ensuring Total Safety (PETS) Act, H.R. 5315. Both bills directed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue regulations within a year to prohibit the storage of live animals in overhead compartments of airplanes and to establish civil fines for violators. Sens. Kennedy and Cortez Masto then got WOOFF incorporated into the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill (S. 1405).

Last Friday, House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on a final FAA reauthorization package (H.R. 302), which includes an even stronger provision—making it immediately unlawful for anyone to place a live animal in an overhead storage compartment of an aircraft and authorizing the Administrator to impose a civil penalty for each violation.

The House has just passed this FAA bill by a vote of 398 to 23. It now heads to the Senate, which we hope will quickly follow suit and send it to the president’s desk for signature into law. We shouldn’t need a law to prevent such an obviously dangerous and cruel practice. But Kokito’s tragic story reminds us we can’t always count on common sense and basic compassion to protect animals. So we’re grateful to Sens. Kennedy and Cortez Masto and Reps. Donovan and Cohen for making sure that our beloved companions will be safer when they fly with us.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

You asked, we answered: our HSLF-endorsed candidates for 2018

“Politics,” Charles de Gaulle reportedly observed, “is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”  There’s a fundamental truth there, and it doesn’t diminish our elected officials when we underscore the genuine importance of citizen engagement in the political process. At the HSLF, it’s the foundation of our work.

Capitol
iStock Photo

Every year, our supporters contact their elected officials about animal protection issues by calling, emailing, writing letters, and visiting their offices. In many cases these communications result in new legislative advances and protections for animals, and that’s what it’s all about for us. 

But it’s also true, all too often, that some elected officials continually ignore the pleas of constituents who make the case for animals. Instead, they side with special interests like puppy millers, horse sorers, trophy hunters, factory farmers, and cockfighters. They launch attacks on existing animal protection laws, and they stand in the way of new reforms. It’s an unfortunate reality of our work.

We’re in no way helpless in the face of such challenges, however. We have the power to replace officials who are indifferent to our humane agenda with candidates committed to common sense animal protection measures, and, in the case of those who stand with animals, to reelect them and make it possible for them continue their good efforts.

It is a priority for the HSLF to work with you to elect leaders committed to our shared values. We need officials ready to move our agenda to defend pets from cruelty and abuse, replace the use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical testing, improve welfare standards for farm animals, expand protections for wildlife, end the slaughter of American horses, and more.

To achieve these goals, we’ve launched our HSLF 2018 election site, featuring our initial endorsements in hundreds of congressional races as well as several at the state level. As a nonpartisan organization, we’ve selected these candidates solely and strictly on the basis of their positions on animal protection.

The election site landing page features candidates in some of this year’s most consequential races for our work. Former Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), who has supported animal welfare in both the state legislature and Congress, is running in an open seat contest against a former congressman who received a zero on the Humane Scorecard and refused to support tougher penalties for extreme animal abuse. We’re with Horsford.

We’re also supporting Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who is running for reelection in a newly-drawn congressional district in his state.  Rep. Fitzpatrick has led efforts to crack down on puppy mills, and earned a score of 100 on the Humane Scorecard. Not long ago, he said, "A culture that respects the dignity of all living things is one that I want to live in and represent in the U.S. House of Representatives.” Mr. Fitzpatrick, we’re with you on that, sir.

In addition to the candidates we’re highlighting in key races, users of the website can easily view our full endorsement lists by state or office.

Finally, I’d like to remind you that we’re backing two statewide ballot measures: Prop 12 in California, which will upgrade farm animal protections, and Amendment 13 in Florida, which will end cruel greyhound racing in that state. If you live in either state or can support those efforts in other ways, we’d love to see you get involved.

If you have been paying attention to our issues in recent months, you know that this is a particularly critical time to get political for animals. So, please take a look at our site, work out which humane candidates will be on your ballot, and then share the information with your friends and family members. If you haven’t registered to vote, you can easily do so here. We at HSLF are counting on you to get political for animals by voting on November 6th!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Great day for animals on the Hill as three critical animal welfare measures pass the House

Today we made major strides in our fight to improve the lives of animals everywhere with the passage of three critical animal welfare measures in the U.S. House of Representatives. All three of the following passed the House by voice vote after strong bipartisan floor statements:

  • the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act (H.R. 6720) to keep this brutal industry from taking hold in the U.S. and strengthen our hand in pressing other countries to outlaw it;
  • Res. 401, a global resolution urging other countries to prohibit and enforce laws to end their dog and cat meat trade;
  • and the Rescuing Animals With Rewards (RAWR) Act (H.R. 6197) to authorize U.S. State Department rewards to combat international wildlife trafficking.

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Jean Chung/For HSI

The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act (H.R. 6720) makes it illegal to knowingly slaughter, ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell or donate a dog or cat or his or her parts for human consumption, and authorizes a fine of up to $5,000 for each violation. H. Res. 401 urges the governments of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India, and other nations to adopt and enforce existing laws banning the dog and cat meat trade. 

Around 30 million dogs and untold numbers of cats are subjected to this brutal industry globally every year, with animals often snatched off the street or stolen from loving families, still wearing collars as they are subjected to unspeakable abuse, only to end up on someone’s dinner plate.

Momentum is growing around the world to end the dog and cat meat trade. Humane Society International/Korea recently delivered 1 million signatures to end the dog meat industry to South Korean President Moon Jae-In. HSI has worked with South Korean dog meat farmers to help them transition to more humane livelihoods, closing 12 dog meat farms and bringing more than 1,300 dogs to Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States for adoption.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore have all outlawed the dog meat trade, and the government of Indonesia has pledged to do so; some of them have banned the cat meat trade as well. In a 2016 poll, more than 8.6 million Chinese expressed support for a proposal to ban trade in dog and cat meat, making it the most popular of 142 legislative proposals presented for online voting in China that year.

We are grateful to Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., for their leadership in persuading the U.S. House to pass legislation to end the dog and cat meat trade. Today’s action demonstrates the commitment of Congress to end this horrific trade once and for all.

With the House global resolution over the finish line now, we are urging the Senate to swiftly approve the common-sense domestic ban bill, which mirrors provisions the Senate already passed in July as part of its Farm Bill. (The precursor ban bill, H.R. 1406, was incorporated into the House Farm Bill, and has 245 cosponsors.)

In addition to these two successes in the fight against the dog and cat meat trade, the House today reaffirmed its commitment to crack down on wildlife trafficking by passing the Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act (H.R. 6197). This bill authorizes the U.S. State Department to use its successful rewards program to target wildlife traffickers.

Wildlife trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit trades in the world, bringing in over $10 billion a year in illegal profits and threatening endangered species worldwide. The RAWR Act provides an important additional tool to combat illegal wildlife trafficking on a global scale. We are thankful to Reps. Dan Donovan, R- N.Y., and Joaquin Castro, D- Tex., for leading the charge on the RAWR Act.

Today was a good day for animals. We are incredibly grateful to each and every one of you who reached out to your legislators to push for action on these issues and support for other pro-animal measures. Your voice really does make a difference. We hope you will continue to use it as we work to move the dog and cat meat and wildlife trafficking bills through the Senate and onto the president’s desk for signature soon.

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