2012 Presidental Candidates and Animal Welfare

Everyone votes for different reasons: taxes, religion, education- why shouldn’t we take a closer look at their views on animal welfare? Below is a compilation of the animal issues that each candidate was either helpful or hurtful with! I am not trying to persuade you one way, just offering up some facts! Follow this link to see local animal friendly legislators! 


Barack Obama Former Senator from Illinois and current President of the United States. According to CounterPunch.org, in September of 2008 while campaigning for the Presidency, Obama stated in a town hall meeting outside of Las Vegas, Nevada “he sponsored a bill to prevent horse slaughter in the Illinois state Senate and had been repeatedly endorsed by the Humane Society. ‘I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other,’ he said. ‘And it’s very important that we have a president who is mindful of the cruelty that is perpetrated on animals.’” While in Illinois, Senator Obama worked hard to get strict laws in place when it came to animal abuse. Under the Obama Administration: Ken Salazar, a known hunter, was appointed as Secretary of the Interior. Appointed as Secretary of Agriculture was Tom Vilsack, who is considered to be animal rights friendly (but those of us in Iowa know differently). Also considered animal rights friendly is Cass Sunstein, who is the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information. Sunstein is known for his controversial opinions in animal rights. Obama has delisted the grey wolves from the Endangered Species Act; banned the slaughter of downed cows; opted to purchase his Portuguese Water Dog from a breeder (although he promised to adopt and not shop for his next pet), thereby angering animal rights groups; accelerated the wild horse round-up; supported the protection of tuna and polar bears; backed a proposal to lift the ban on commercial whaling (the proposal stalled); signed into law a ban on animal crush videos; and approved the return of horse slaughtering. In his response to a questionnaire by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Obama pledges support for nearly every animal protection bill currently pending in Congress, and says he will work with executive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make their policies more humane, according to Global Philosophy.

Rick Santorum  Attorney and former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. According to USA Today, “Santorum, R-Pa., has won high praise from the Humane Society of the United States for pushing legislation aimed at ending breeding facilities known as puppy mills.” PETA also finds him to be “a friend.” According to the article, “About the only legislative issue on which Santorum has gone against PETA’s view was oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Santorum filed an anti-puppy mill bill in 2001 similar to the PAWS bill. It passed the Senate and was part of the 2002 Farm Bill but was deleted before final passage, in part because of opposition from small breeders worried about over-regulation, Santorum said.” Santorum, in 2005, introduced the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS), requiring the USDA to regulate breeders who sell 7 or more litters of dogs or cats per year. The bill failed, causing the HSUS to “take it to the states.” He has supported and promoted anti-cockfighting legislation and more funding for federal oversight of animal breeding facilities. The article states “The animal rights political action committee Humane USA gave $5,000 to Santorum’s 2006 re-election bid and has pledged to campaign aggressively for him. ‘We support elected officials who have a proven record of leadership on animal welfare issues and Rick Santorum fits that characteristic precisely,’ said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society and a Humane USA board member.” The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), a division of the HSUS, gives Santorum the highest score of all candidates with a 60% score out of 100 and considers him to be “the most active on animal issues.” As of October 14, 2011, reports show no monetary donations to the Santorum campaign from the HSUS

Rick Perry  Governor of Texas, former farmer, graduated from Texas A & M University with a BS in Animal Science, Served two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Perry, in 2011, signed into law several bills concerning animal issues, including HB1451, which severely inhibits the pet breeding industry in the State of Texas and allows for warrantless searches/seizures. The bill was intended to “target puppy mills”, but targets all breeders, large and small. Bills signed by Perry include the prohibition of attendance at cock-fighting, animal cruelty and animal fighting, establishment of pet trusts, HB963, reimbursement of shelters for holding costs for those convicted of animal cruelty “based on estimated costs” without stating any requirement of proof for these estimated costs, and authorizing the shooting of feral hogs and feral burros from a helicopter. HB1451 created a new state agency, allows for entry into a private residence without the owners presence, establishes a public database to include the private information of pet breeders, established a bounty fund for animal rights activists to report pet breeders to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, and is a contradiction of the key values supposedly upheld by Gov. Perry. These bills were heavily backed by the HSUS, ASPCA, PETA, and other animal rights groups, and promote their agenda. The HSLF considers 2011 and Perry signing of the bills “a banner year for animal protection lawmaking in Texas,” but do not give him a score. It is believed by many that should Perry be elected, HB1451 would be the guide for new federal legislation in animal law. Perry’s campaign contributions for this election, dated November 4, 2011, reveal that thousands have been donated from the HSUS.

Newt Gingrich Politician, former Speaker of the House. He was charged with 84 ethics violations during his tenure as Speaker, and was sanctioned $30,000-the first time in history that a Speaker of the House was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing. Mr. Gingrich did not vote as Speaker of the House, revealing little of his stand on animal issues. He is a zoo enthusiast and a dinosaur enthusiast, making a point to visit as many zoos as possible. At the age of 10, he lobbied the Mayor of Harrisburg, Pa. to open a zoo. Gingrich loves animals and being able to hold them. He often speaks of the human-animal bond. He voted to allow sport hunting in the Mojave National Preserve, to approve the use of foreign aid dollars to promote trophy hunting of elephants and other species and co-sponsored legislation to strengthen the Endangered Species Act. On Tuesday, December 27, 2011, he launched a website, “Pets with Newt,” and says “As speaker I made it possible for people in public housing to keep their pets,” he says, referring to his tenure as House majority leader from 1995 to 1999. “I love pets, so we’re going to have an entire project.” He currently does not own a pet, as he and his wife are still “discussing” large or small dog. Gingrich has also received thousands from the HSUS.

Jon Huntsman Businessman and politician who has served in the administration of four US Presidents. Governor of Utah from 2005-2009. Served as the US Ambassador to China from 2009-2011 under the Obama Administration. One of the wealthiest businessmen in Utah, having a net worth of $1 Billion plus. His family business, Huntsman Corporation, created the clamshell container for McDonald’s Big Mac in the 1970’s. In 2007, he called a Special Session of the Legislature, following the heavy promotion by animal rights groups, to address the animal cruelty bill, known as Henry’s Law. In 2008, then Gov. Huntsman passed the bill, making the deliberate torture of a cat or dog a third degree felony on the first offense, carrying a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $5000 fine. The bill was heavily promoted by animal rights groups, and was celebrated by the Humane Society of Utah and the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah. Huntsman stated “As we treat our animals, so do we treat our fellow human beings. There is a connection there that I think is undeniable.” During his term as governor, he signed into law a bill creating a spay/neuter fund, a bill allowing out-of-state veterinarians to assist during emergencies, and to ban remote-controlled shooting of live animals over the internet. The words “Not to be cruel to any living creature” were included in his last inauguration invocation as governor of Utah. Reports show that Huntsman has received little in donations to his campaign from the HSUS.

Mitt Romney Businessman and politician, Former governor of Massachusetts. CEO of the Olympics of 2002.Much has been written about the family vacation of 1983 in which Seamus, the family Irish Setter, rode in his carrier on the roof of the family car for the 12 hour drive (where it was rumoured that the dog defecated and urinated all over out of fear). Romney says “You know, PETA has not been my fan over the years,” Romney said. “PETA has been after me for having a rodeo at the Olympics and were very, very upset about that. PETA was after me when I went quail hunting in Georgia. And PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.” In 2004, Acting Governor Kerry Healey today signed legislation establishing new measures to prevent cruelty towards animals by increasing penalties and allowing state officials to report cases of animal abuse. “Governor Romney and I are committed to fighting animal cruelty and will not stand for the inhumane treatment of animals,” said Healey. “By increasing penalties for animal abuse, we will help save pets from cruel treatment.” The law made cruelty a felony with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $2500. In 2006, then Gov. Romney declared September “Responsible Dog Owner’s Month,” working in cooperation with the MSPCA. Romney has made no clear statements or policies on animal issues. Reports also show that Romney has received thousands in campaign donations from the HSUS.

Ron Paul Physician and US Representative for Texas. He is a co-creator of the Congressional Rural Congress, which deals with agricultural and rural issues, as well as the 140 member Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus. He has the most conservative voting record since 1937, and states he will “never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution, and “Mr. Republican.” He has voted to bar the trade of big cats as pets, to pair veterans with service dogs, and to cut funding for agriculture subsidies, lethal predator control, trapping on national wildlife refuges, and trophy hunting programs in foreign countries. He opposed legislation that would ban the commerce in animal crush videos, due to the unconstitutionality of the bill, and was not supporting the act of animal crush videos. He voted no on the Public Land Management Act of 2009, no on the Horse Slaughter Protection bill, and voted no on the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. He is a firm supporter of less government. Reports show that he has received no campaign funds from the HSUS.

Michele Bachmann (has since withdrawn, but it is still an interesting read) an attorney in Tax Law, formerly employed by the IRS, owner of Mental Health Care Practice, US Representative from Minnesota. Bachmann voted to make animal fighting a federal felony, ban the commerce in animal crush videos, and pair veterans with service dogs for physical therapy. She supported an amendment to limit agriculture subsidy payments to factory farms, and voted to use tax dollars to subsidize the slaughter of wildlife to private livestock ranchers. She opposed reforms to ban the trade in dangerous primates as pets, to stop the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses from public lands, to prohibit the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada, and to assist conservation programs that protect rare cats and dogs, cranes, marine turtles, and sea otters, and to block the Environmental Protection Agency from collecting data on greenhouse gases from factory farms. In February 2011, Bachmann co-authored a bill that would remove the gray wolves from the endangered species list, returning management of the Midwest wolves to Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. Reports show that Bachmann has received no money from the HSUS. On January 4, 2012, Michele Bachmann withdrew her name from the GOP race for the Presidency after receiving only 5% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus.


Hopefully this sheds some light on where the candidates stand on certain animal issues. Doing further research is never a bad idea, this is meant to only be a resource.  Considering the ongoing legislation and the agenda of the animal rights groups, our next Presidential choice will have great impact on future animal legislation.

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