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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lawmakers Speak Out on Animal Protection

The Hill newspaper today published its annual special edition on animal welfare, which demonstrates again the importance of animal issues to lawmakers and their constituents. This special edition provides a great overview of important animal welfare policies now being debated in the U.S. Congress—ranging from animal fighting to horse cruelty to chimpanzees in research to the confinement of egg-laying hens—written by a diverse and bipartisan group of champions on these issues from both the House and the Senate.

HenIt’s especially timely as the Senate is now considering the Farm Bill, and we are urging animal advocates to contact their two Senators in support of an amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors to phase out barren battery cages and improve the treatment of egg-laying hens. I hope you will read all of the animal welfare essays in The Hill, and I’d like to provide some excerpts from those pieces for blog readers:

“As the only veterinarian currently serving in Congress, I think I have a unique perspective on issues involving animal welfare and agriculture and a responsibility to provide a rational voice on these issues that are all too often polarizing and costly. In a time where compromise and agreement is in short supply, we should be embracing and rewarding this kind of cooperation. Producers want it, consumers want it and animal welfare advocates want it. This is a no-brainer—Congress should pass H.R. 3798.”—Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

“From ensuring that our pets are treated humanely to ensuring that we are protected from primate attacks, I know that these issues can be advanced with strong bipartisan support.  Animal safety shouldn’t just fly under the radar. It should be promoted and discussed more broadly, and in a consensus-building, nonpartisan way. That’s certainly my goal in my work to ensure that these policies find strong support in the Senate.”—Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

“Horses have been our companions and helped make this country what it is today. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to our nation’s relationship with horses. America’s admiration for horses’ natural magnificence is the foundation of numerous industries, yet many of the horses used in these enterprises are treated poorly. Two sporting industries plagued by this inconsistency are the Tennessee Walking Horse show circuit and the world of horse racing.”—Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.

“Cracking down on animal fighting is important not just because pitting dogs or other animals against each other to fight to the death is cruel in and of itself—those who have no compassion for the pain they inflict on animals also tend to lack compassion for their fellow humans. Gang activity, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and acts of human violence all go hand-in-hand with animal cruelty. It is barbarism and desensitizes those who participate in it to the pain and suffering of others.”—Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.

Horses2“In recent years, our horses have been protected from domestic slaughter due to Congress’s suspension of funding for horse-meat inspections. This year, however, instead of an open, full congressional debate on the issue, a few members of Congress reinstated funding for these inspections during a conference committee on appropriations legislation. This action does not reflect the current public opinion on this subject, and it opens the door to horse slaughter in our country, increasing the need to create a permanent ban on the practice, as was one of the recommendations in the June 2011 Government Accountability Office report.”—Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Prince Lorenzo Borghese

“As a scientist who used primates as subjects in life-saving research for America’s military pilots and astronauts as well as the only member of Congress with a doctorate in human physiology, I can assure you that spending more taxpayer money on invasive research on chimpanzees is both scientifically and fiscally unnecessary. That is the reason I introduced the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (H.R. 1513/S. 810), which already has more than 175 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and Senate.”—Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

“Animals don’t have a political voice except the one that humans raise on their behalf. They don’t vote, they don’t lobby and they certainly don’t buy air time during campaign season. But they are just as important to our way of life as we are.”—Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.

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