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February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

State Animal Protection Bills on the Move

We are now two full months into 2011, and state legislatures around the country have been active on animal protection issues. We have many defensive battles, such as blocking Missouri politicians from defying the will of the voters and dismantling Proposition B, but we are also advancing our proactive agenda for animal welfare in many state capitols.

Dog_puppy_mill_resuce_in_bowl_270x224 Already this year, Arkansas has enacted a bill making appropriations for animal rescue shelters in the state. The Texas House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging the adoption of shelter pets, and the California Assembly passed a measure commemorating Spay Day 2011.

Just today, by a vote of 83-14, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a strong measure to crack down on puppy mill abuses in the state by establishing common-sense standards for the care of dogs. While Missouri politicians seek to undermine voters and roll back basic protections for dogs, lawmakers in other states are heeding the concerns of their constituents and moving forward to address these serious problems.

Cockfighting A number of animal welfare bills in other states have passed at least one chamber and await action in the other body this session, including legislation to stop antifreeze poisoning in Georgia, New Hampshire and West Virginia; to establish felony-level penalties for animal cruelty in Mississippi; to ban gambling at animal fights in West Virginia; to prohibit greyhound racing simulcasts in Pennsylvania; to promote spaying and neutering in New Jersey; to prevent Internet hunting in North Dakota; and to combat poaching in South Carolina and Wyoming. Several states are working to upgrade their anemic anti-cockfighting statutes, and bills to combat cockfighting have been introduced this year or are expected to be soon in Alabama, California, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Find out what animal protection bills are pending in your state, and let your elected officials know that you support these public policy reforms for animals. You can also attend one of the upcoming Humane Lobby Days, and join other citizens who care about animals in making your voice heard at your state capitol.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Animal Issues Take the Stage in Budget Debate

The House last weekend passed its version of a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) to fund federal government programs through the end of Fiscal Year 2011 (which runs from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011). The government is now operating on a CR passed in December that funds the government through next Friday. The House bill would cut $61 billion from a variety of programs, and it’s not clear yet how the House and Senate will reach agreement in order to prevent a government shutdown.

And with the consideration of the CR, the first votes on animal issues have taken place in the 112th Congress. With the federal deficit growing, and on the minds of so many lawmakers, we pressed Congress to consider reductions in a number of areas that could help animals while also helping the bottom line and saving taxpayers from footing the bill for indefensible expenditures. I’m pleased to report that some of these proposals were considered on the House floor last week:

  • Wild horses Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., offered amendment #30 to reduce the Bureau of Land Management’s budget by $2 million to send a signal that the agency must reform its enormously wasteful and misguided program of capturing wild horses and burros and holding them in pens, rather than employing a much less costly and more humane option—immunocontraception to control herd size. Rep. Burton’s amendment passed by voice vote following a strong debate that helped shine a spotlight on the problems with BLM’s round-up and removal policy, in which approximately 46,000 horses are currently held in federal pens and the agency spends nearly three-quarters of its program budget just caring for captive horses. Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Ranking Member Jim Moran, D-Va., both voiced support for reforming the BLM’s wild horse program, and we hope this will help spur the agency toward a better pathway.

  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., offered amendment #323 to cap agriculture subsidies at $250,000 and limit huge taxpayer giveaways to Big Agribusiness at a time of record-high commodity prices. Massive factory farms rely on cheap animal feed, which is supported by these excessive subsidies, and some factory farms are themselves direct recipients of subsidies. Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., joined Rep. Blumenauer in speaking passionately on the House floor in favor of reining in Big Ag’s fleecing of American taxpayers, and Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., co-signed a letter to colleagues urging support, while others like Agricultural Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., opposed the cuts. While Rep. Blumenauer’s amendment did not pass—the vote was 185 in favor, 241 opposed—the floor debate did help call attention to the issue and make clear that these outrageous subsidies should be on the table as Congress tackles deficit reduction. 

Wolves Unfortunately, the underlying CR approved by the House includes a dangerous provision forcing the Secretary of Interior to remove endangered species protections for the Northern Rockies wolf population in Montana and Idaho. If passed into law, this language will establish a dangerous precedent of trumping science with politics and de-listing an endangered species by legislative fiat, something which has never been done throughout more than three decades of the Endangered Species Act. The language also precludes further judicial review on this.

Thankfully, Rep. Moran successfully challenged an amendment that would have gone even further, #194 offered by Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., which was ruled out of order on procedural grounds. The Lummis amendment would have also removed protections for wolves in Wyoming, a state that plans to allow the species to be trapped or killed on sight immediately after de-listing. These flawed management plans have been successfully challenged in court numerous times by HSUS and environmental groups, and since the wolf killing advocates cannot get their way in court, they have turned to their politician allies to gut the Endangered Species Act. It’s a partial victory that the Lummis amendment was struck down, but the remaining de-listing provision, if enacted in the final CR, would also lead to unnecessary and reckless killing of wolves. 

Though it’s too soon to say how Congress will resolve the CR, we hope the final legislation will cut the indefensible hand-outs to Big Ag and the expenditures to round up wild horses and warehouse them in holding pens, and exclude language to remove endangered species protections for wolves. And as the House leadership has shown that it is allowing amendments and floor debate on many subjects, we hope this early consideration of wasteful and inhumane programs will set the stage for further action on these issues when Congress considers additional appropriations bills, the Farm Bill, and other legislation during the 112th Congress.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tell Congress: Cut Spending on Programs that Harm Animals

The U.S. House of Representatives this week is considering the Continuing Resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 2011—a massive bill to fund the operations of the federal government. With the federal deficit growing, and on the minds of so many lawmakers, it is expected that more than 500 amendments to the bill will be offered to cut federal spending. We are hopeful that some of them will seek to cut spending for federal programs that are harmful to animals.

Wild horse roundups are expensive and cruel.
Wild horses belong on the range, not in holding facilities.
Kayla Grams/The HSUS

I wrote back in December about some ideas for spending cuts that could save tax dollars and save animals at the same time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program, for example, is spending millions of dollars exterminating wildlife on behalf of the private livestock industry. And the Bureau of Land Management is spending millions to round up wild horses from public lands in the West and care for them in long-term holding pens. These are the old ways of doing things, and there are better options that are less costly, more effective, and more humane. Then, too, we need to rein in the billion-dollar bailouts for the largest factory farms, and stop subsidizing the worst abuses in agribusiness.

Please call your U.S. Representative today at (202) 225-3121, and ask him or her to “support amendments to the CR that cut spending on programs that harm animals.” We can do better for animals, and better for the bottom line.

Friday, February 11, 2011

They Got it Right: Vote Your District

A handful of Missouri politicians are feverishly trying to repeal or gut Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which voters passed in November. The issue may come up for debate in the state Senate as early as next week, and two of the leaders of the repeal effort who are working hard to dismantle the will of the people are Senators Bill Stouffer, R-21, and Mike Parson, R-28.

VOTERS-SPOKE You might think we don’t agree on much with Senators Stouffer and Parson. But we have to give credit where credit is due. There is one thing that both Stouffer and Parson got exactly right: that every Missouri lawmaker should vote their district.

Back in December, when the election was weeks old, Stouffer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “If you look at the Proposition B votes, if every legislator votes the way their district voted, it will repeal easily.” And Parson commented on the plans for repeal at a forum in Bolivar, “I think if the legislators will vote their districts, then we will be able to do that.”

In a flub worthy of “Dewey beats Truman,” they apparently forgot to check the votes. Prop B was favored in 18 of 34 Senate districts, and 88 of 163 House districts. When these bills come to the Senate and House floor for a vote, elected officials need to be reminded that the same constituents who placed them in their seats were responsible for passing Prop B in a majority vote. The districts that went “yes” on Prop B are listed below for their easy reference.

Elections matter. So today we ask Missouri legislators to listen to Senators Parson and Stouffer: Vote your district!

Yes % No %
39 Jean Peters-Baker 81.5 18.5
60 Jamilah Nasheed 80.8 20.2
58 Penny Hubbard 80.5 20.6
63 Tishaura Jones 80.4 20.6
59 Jeanette Mott Oxford 78.8 21.2
61 Chris Carter 78.8 21.2
67 Mike Colona 78.8 21.2
64 Susan Carlson 78.5 21.5
44 Jason Kander 77.8 22.2
37 Mike Talboy 77.5 22.5
73 Stacey Newman 77 23
57 Karla May 76.7 23.3
66 Genise Montecillo 76.4 23.6
108 Jacob Hummel 76.2 23.8
72 Rory Ellinger 76.1 23.9
41 Shalonn Curls 75.8 24.2
65 Michele Kratky 75.5 24.2
50 Michael Brown 74.4 25.6
70 Sharon Pace 73.9 26.1
43 Gail McCann Beatty 73.2 26.8
69 Tommie Pierson 73 27
31 Jay Swearingen 72.6 26.4
71 Clem Smith 72.3 26.7
74 Steve Webb 72.2 26.8
75 Bert Atkins 72.2 26.8
40 John Joseph Rizzo 71.7 28.3
77 Eileen Grant McGeoghegan 71.2 28.8
76 Churie Spreng 71.1 28.9
42 Leonard Hughes 70.9 29
33 Jerry Nolte 70 30
78 Margo McNeil 69.6 31.4
32 Ronald Schieber 69 31
38 Ryan Silvey 68.9 31.1
51 Ira Anders 68.6 31.4
49 Tom McDonald 68.4 31.6
96 Scott Sifton 66.7 33.3
15 Sally Faith 66.5 33.5
45 Jason Holsman 66.5 33.5
46 Kevin McManus 66.2 33.8
34 Myron Neth 65.8 34.2
52 Noel Torpey 65.5 34.5
80 Sylvester Taylor 65.5 34.5
83 Jake Zimmerman 65.4 34.6
48 Gary Cross 65 35
101 Tim Meadows 65 35
79  Mary Nichols 64.7 35.3
18 Anne Zerr 64.5 35.5
16 Mark Parkinson 64 36
85 Cloria Brown 64 36
93 Dwight Scharnhorst 64 36
92 Sue Allen 63.6 36.4
88 Andrew Koenig 63.5 36.5
89 Timothy Jones 63.2 36.8
82 Jill Schupp 63 37
90 John McCaherty 62.8 37.2
81 Rochelle Walton Gray 62.6 37.4
14 Kathie Conway 62.5 37.5
84 Don Gosen 62.5 37.5
97 Gary Fuhr 62.3 27.7
30 Nick Marshall 61.9 38.1
86 Cole McNary 61.9 38.1
19 Kurt Bahr 61.7 38.3
17 Vickie Schneider 61.6 38.4
100 Marsha Haefner 61.5 38.5
102 Paul Wieland 61.5 38.5
54 Jeanie Lauer 61.4 38.6
87 John Diehl 61.4 38.6
53 Brent Lasater 61.2 38.8
91 Jeanne Kirkton 61.2 38.8
94 Rick Stream 61 39
123 Chris Molendorp 60.9 39.1
95 Mike Leara 60.8 39.2
12 Doug Funderburk 60.5 39.5
47 Jeff Grisamore 60.2 39.8
56 Mike Cierpiot 59.5 40.5
103 Ron Casey 58.7 41.3
107 Linda Black 58.7 41.3
35 TJ Berry 57.1 42.9
55 Sheila Solon 56.6 43.4
162 Terry Swinger 56.3 43.7
138 Sara Lampe 56 44
27 Pat Conway 55.2 44.5
105 Paul Curtman 54.7 45.3
13 Chuck Gatschenberger 54 46
129 Bill White 53.4 46.6
23 Stephen Webber 53 47
137 Melissa Leach 51.5 48.5
25 Mary Wynne Stlil 50.2 49.8


District Senator Yes % No %
1 Jim Lembke 70.4 29.6
2 Scott Rupp 53.5 46.5
4 Joe Keaveny 78.0 22.0
5 Robin Wright-Jones 79.4 20.6
7 Jane Cunningham 65.4 34.6
8 Will Kraus 60.4 39.6
9 Kiki Curls 72.8 27.2
10 Jolie Justus 75.9 24.1
11 Victor Callahan 67.7 32.3
13 Timothy Green 73.3 26.7
14 Maria Chappelle Nadal 70.5 29.5
15 Eric Schmitt 70.1 29.9
17 Luann Ridgeway 67.7 32.3
22 Ryan McKenna 60.7 39.3
23 Tom Dempsey 64.8 35.2
24 John Lamping 69.0 31.0
30 Bob Dixon 50.9 49.1
34 Rob Schaaf 58.8 41.2

Friday, February 04, 2011

Leading Voices Speak Out in Defense of Missouri's Prop B

A few Missouri politicians are busy trying to repeal or dismantle Proposition B, the voter-approved Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which sets humane standards for large-scale dog breeding operations. Prop B passed in a statewide vote—and won majorities in most state Senate and state House districts—but a handful of legislators want to substitute their own judgment for the wisdom of 997,870 Missouri voters who favored the new law. While this attempted power grab is coming from the state capitol building, more reasonable voices around the state are calling on lawmakers to respect the will of the people.

Post dispatch ed cartoon
Editorial cartoon from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 28, 2011
(Click image to view full size)

State Rep. Sally Faith, R-St. Charles, had signed on as cosponsor of two repeal bills, even though more than 65 percent of voters in her district favored Prop B. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she got more than 200 phone calls and e-mails from constituents who questioned her on the issue. She has rightly changed her mind, after hearing from her district, and said she will now oppose efforts to repeal Prop B. “I’m not perfect, but I’m human,” Rep. Faith told the St. Charles Suburban Journals. “When we’re in Jeff City the legislators that we know, you figure out who you can trust, and the first bill put in front of me (in 2011) was Prop B. I signed on it. That’s not something I normally do, but I trusted the bill handler. I could have said, ‘Let me look at this. Let’s talk about this.’ That's where I shot myself in the foot. I love animals.”

Editorial cartoon from the Columbia Tribune, Jan. 30, 2011
(Click image to view full size)

Let’s hope other state lawmakers get the message as well, and take the time to find out how their own districts voted on Prop B. If every senator and representative votes with his or her own district, the measures to roll back dog protection standards will fail in both chambers. Newspaper editorials, cartoonists, and columnists, even some that opposed Prop B during the election campaign, are weighing in and saying the people’s vote should stand. Here’s a rundown of what some across the state are saying:

Our legislators cannot have it both ways. In any number of areas, they have chosen not to govern, leaving it to special interests—the gambling industry, animal lovers, gun enthusiasts, clean-energy advocates just to name recent examples—to use the initiative process to put policy questions directly to the voters. It’s costly and cumbersome, and it’s not terribly easy to go back to the voters to change policies when facts or public sentiment change. But that’s the way it is. Having chosen not to act in the first place, it’s outrageous for legislators to substitute their judgment for that of the voters after the fact.—Editorial, Independence Examiner, Feb. 3, 2011

Let’s start with Proposition B, the 2010 doggy mill initiative. It was approved by the voters, requiring dog breeders in Missouri to treat their animals more humanely. I did not support this in 2010, but the majority of the state did. I care about that. Yet it seems the Republican-heavy legislature does not. They think you were foolish to pass such a law and they want to gut it or kill it.—David Rosman, Columbia Missourian, Feb. 2, 2011

A basic issue is whether the legislature should so quickly amend the will of the voters. It’s legal for lawmakers to second-guess initiative voters, but usually after a decent interval when the paucity of their decision is clear. Perhaps a case can be made for changing Prop B, but only after we know more about the efficacy of the existing law.—Henry J. Waters III, Columbia Tribune, Feb. 1, 2011

With the coveted title of Puppy Mill Capital of America at stake, a House committee this week has been considering ways to cancel the election results. One proposal simply would repeal the law. Another would exempt existing breeders. A third course, warmly received by many committee members on Tuesday, would eliminate such pesky provisions of the law as prohibiting dangerous overcrowding in cages, protecting dogs from bad weather and providing them veterinary care when needed… [T]he Missouri Legislature prefers to defy the will of the people, trash duly enacted voter initiatives and bow to the will of special interests more to their liking.—Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 27, 2011

Rural lawmakers want to either repeal outright or substantially amend the statute that was Proposition B on the November statewide ballot. It requires dog breeders to treat their animals humanely. One of the bills, sponsored by Rep. Stanley Cox, a Sedalia Republican, would modify the ballot measure by:

  • Removing the provisions requiring owners to provide adequate shelter from the elements, sufficient housing, sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, necessary veterinary care and adequate rest between breeding cycles.
  • Removing the provisions requiring water for dogs to be free of debris, feces, algae and other contaminants.

With his proposed changes, Cox has soundly validated the wisdom of voters in passing the puppy mill cruelty act.—Editorial, Kansas City Star, Jan. 29, 2011

Proposition B passed by a narrow margin, but pass it did. Animal welfare groups sought the public vote because the legislature for years shirked its responsibility to require decent treatment of dogs. Lawmakers who have filed bills seeking to overturn Proposition B are demonstrating their contempt for the wishes of the people. They would be far wiser to help breeders comply with the new law.—Editorial, Kansas City Star, Dec. 29, 2010

Before the election, we took a strong stance against passage of the ballot proposition pitched as a protective measure for puppies. Here, we take a strong stance to try to protect the main tenets of the proposition. Contradictory? No. Voters have made the call on this one. We accept that. We support the process that allows a voter initiative to create law in Missouri. Those who are now trying to repeal Proposition B should back off.—Editorial, Springfield News-Leader, Dec. 19, 2010

Proposition B was among the most discussed and debated issues on the November ballot. To contend the voters were misled undermines their intelligence. It doesn’t matter whether we—or other newspapers—opposed it, whether a vast majority of counties rejected it or whether legislators are happy with the outcome. The initiative petition process, used to launch Proposition B, empowers people to propose public policy when their elected representatives fail to do so. The proposition exemplifies the phrase “of the people and by the people.” And our state motto reminds us to respect the welfare and the people, including their ability to determine what that is. With regard to Proposition B, let it be.—Editorial, Jefferson City News Tribune, Dec. 4, 2010

Here in Missouri, voters have decided to let voters decide. Unless, of course, we decide we want to curb abuses in puppy mills, something a number of our state lawmakers have decided we didn’t have the right to decide. They’re talking about amending or throwing out the statute that passed at the polls on Nov. 2.—Barbara Shelly, Kansas City Star, Nov. 12, 2010

This would never have gone to the ballot at all if state legislators at some point could have bestirred themselves to enact at least some of these reforms, but, as with other issues, they took a pass. They’ve had their chances. It’s a little late now to suddenly show concern because an election went the wrong way.—Editorial, Independence Examiner, Nov. 10, 2010

Missouri lawmakers should respect the will of the voters on puppy mills, even if they disagree with what voters had to say. Anything less damages democracy and insults voters.—Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 8, 2010

During the campaign, a preposterous story line took hold that the move to regulate dog breeding operations was the first step in a calculated attempt to drive animal agriculture out of Missouri. Legislators would be very deceitful to use such unfounded fears as a basis to repeal Proposition B.—Editorial, Kansas City Star, Nov. 6, 2010

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hot Off the Press: The 2010 Humane Scorecard

Before Election Day, I posted a preliminary version of the 2010 Humane Scorecard, and after the end-of-year congressional “lame-duck” session, I provided a look at our year in review for animals. We made progress for animal protection on a number of fronts, and ended the 111th Congress with major policies enacted on crush videos, fur labeling, and shark finning.

Blog graphic I’m pleased to announce today that the Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2010 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during the two-year session of the 111th Congress. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as crush videos, primates as pets, service dogs for veterans, wild horses, and guns in parks; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, fur labeling, chimps in research, and overuse of antibiotics in factory farms; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but it is an invaluable one in gaining insight into how your lawmakers perform on the major issues of the day.

When the report card comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve. And much more needs to be done, as we have just begun 2011 and are pushing animal protection policy issues forward in the new congressional session.

Here are a few of the most important statistics from the 111th Congress:

  • A bipartisan group of 36 Senators and 110 Representatives covering 38 states and two U.S. territories led as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation and/or scored a perfect 100—more than one-third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House.
  • The average Senate score was a 35, with Senate Democrats averaging 53, and Senate Republicans averaging 11.
  • The average House score was a 58, with House Democrats averaging 76, and House Republicans averaging 32.
  • Eight Senators scored 100 or 100+.
  • Twenty-six Senators scored zero.
  • Fifty-five Representatives scored 100 or 100+.
  • Two Representatives scored zero.
  • The New England region led the pack with an average Senate score of 73 and an average House score of 87.
  • The Rocky Mountains were at the bottom with an average Senate score of 15 and an average House score of 35.
  • California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the only states with an average Senate score of 100 or 100+.
  • Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming were the only states in which both Senators scored zero.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are the only states with an average House score of 80 or above.
  • Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming are the only states with an average House score below 30.

I’d like to give special thanks to the following two Senators and eighteen Representatives who scored the highest possible 100+, meaning they had a perfect score on animal protection and also provided key leadership on a particular issue or issues:

  • Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.)
  • Sen. John Kerry (Mass.)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.)
  • Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)
  • Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.)
  • Rep. Bob Filner (Calif.)
  • Rep. George Miller (Calif.)
  • Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
  • Rep. Gary Peters (Md.)
  • Rep. Robert Andrews (N.J.)
  • Rep. Rush Holt (N.J.)
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Ed Towns (N.Y.)
  • Rep. David Price (N.C.)
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio)
  • Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.)

I hope you will use the Humane Scorecard as a guide, and communicate with your lawmakers about their grades for 2010. If they scored high marks, please thank them for their support of animal protection. If they did poorly, please tell them you’re watching and you hope they’ll do better in 2011. If you have new legislators representing you in the 112th Congress, contact them, too, perhaps indicating that you’ve seen the Humane Scorecard for 2010 and that you want them to be supportive of animal protection and earn a good score in the Humane Scorecard for 2011. (Click here to contact your representative. Click here to contact your senators.)

Let all your federal legislators know that you and other constituents care about the humane treatment of animals, and want to see common-sense policies enacted to protect these creatures from cruelty and abuse.

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