Julian Castro Announces Comprehensive Policy On Animal Welfare

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Says She’s a Vegan, Supporting Animal Welfare And Condemning Factory Farming

Animal Wellness

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Announcing that “we have a responsibility to protect and care for them,” former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced on his website a wide-ranging and sound platform on animal protection, calling for a national anti-cruelty law, a crackdown on puppy mills and factory farms, work to protect rare species, ending horse slaughter and soring, and initiating a national campaign to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals.

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He pointed to his success as mayor of driving down euthanasia rates in one of America’s biggest cities. Since he’s not served in Congress, the public didn’t have much insight into his views on a wide range of policy issues that have been examined there, but today’s statement makes clear where he stands on the issues.  He is the first major candidate to devote space on his website to animal protection.

At the same time, there is a Youtube clip circulating where Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, in a speech, reiterates not only her strong support for public policies to help animals, but also her personal commitment to these issues. A long-time vegetarian, she announced she’s been vegan for the last year, and she condemned factory farming.

Indeed, there is a strong roster of candidates when it comes to animal welfare, with Senator Cory Booker having staked out a very strong claim on these issues. Also a vegan, he has helped to shepherd the passage of a federal law banning cockfighting and dogfighting in the territories and to create a legal standard to make animal testing a last resort in the safety testing of chemicals.  He is also the Senate author of a bill to ban the sale of shark fins.

On the other hand, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who has had an otherwise excellent record on animal protection, has stayed on the sidelines as his Department of Fish and Wildlife has eliminated entire wolf packs to benefit a single ranching operation whose leaders have championed the idea of wiping out wolves.  His agency is also allowing widespread killing of bears and cougars in the state.

Today, Animal Wellness Action releases its national Presidential Platform on Animal Wellness and Protection. It is also published below.


Federal Policies to Help Domesticated and Wild Animals

Enhanced Legal Protections and Enforcement to Stop Malicious Cruelty

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act (H.R. 724/S. 479)PACT strengthens the animal crush video law enacted in 2010 to prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property. It also cracks down on the sexual abuse of animals (bestiality).

Protecting Horses in Sport and Commerce 

Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 693, S. 1007) – “Soring” involves the intentional injuring of horses' legs or hooves to force them to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait – just to win a ribbon at a horse show. The PAST Act would end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban devices integral to soring, and strengthen penalties for violators.

Safeguard American Food Exports (H.R. 961, S. 2006) – The SAFE Act prohibits the cruel transport and export of U.S. horses to slaughter for human consumption. The United States bans the sale of dogs and cats for food, and the same policy should be in place for horses who are not raised for food in the United States and whose meat is unsafe for this purpose.

Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 1754, S. 1820) – The legislation would eliminate the use of race-day doping of horses in racing that contributes to hundreds of breakdowns and deaths on tracks. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) would oversee a drug policy program for the industry nationwide, with limited oversight from the Federal Trade Commission.

Humane Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 1400) – This measure would prohibit the transportation of horses in motor vehicles containing two or more levels stacked on top of each other.

Halting Abuses of Companion Animals

Puppy Mills – Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 2442) and WOOF Act (H.R. 1002) – The Puppy Protection Act calls for large commercial dog breeding operations to have expanded cage space to allow for basic movements, safe flooring, annual veterinary exams, daily exercise, socialization with people, and other improvements. The WOOF Act calls on USDA to use its licensing authority to stop inhumane breeders from raising and selling dogs for commerce.

Greyhound Protection Act This measure would phase out greyhound racing. Florida is shuttering 12 of the 18 remaining tracks in the country by the end of 2020. The federal government has authority to act because dogs transported across state lines for racing, and races are broadcast to numerous states and foreign destinations for simulcast gambling.

Disaster Preparedness for Animals - Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act (H.R. 1042) – The PREPARED Act would require entities regulated under the AWA, such as zoos, commercial animal dealers, and research facilities, to have contingency plans in place to safely evacuate and care for animals in an emergency or disaster situation.

Safeguarding Wildlife in the Wild

Phasing out Lead Ammunition in Sport Hunting on Parks and RefugesThis bill would phase out the use of lead ammunition on national wildlife refuges and National Park Service lands, putting an end to the needless incidental poisoning of millions of wild animals each year by lead that’s left behind. Lead alternatives are readily available, and comparably priced copper and steel ammunition outperform lead and do not keep killing after it leaves the gun.

Bear Protection Act (H.R. 2264) This bill prohibits the import, export, and interstate trade of bear gall bladders and other viscera. Bears should not be killed for the bladders, just like elephants should not be killed for their tusks, rhinos for their horns, or sharks for their fins.

Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act (H.R. 2532) This bill would provide permanent protections to grizzly bears in the lower 48 states by prohibiting taking, possessing, or transporting a grizzly bear or grizzly bear parts.

Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (H.R. 737, S. 877) This legislation prohibits the trade of shark fins. As apex predators, sharks play a valuable role in the ocean’s ecosystems, but shark populations are in crisis because of the demand for fins (such as shark fin soup).

Protecting Captive Wildlife

Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380) – The bill amends the Lacey Act to prohibit, with exceptions, private breeding and ownership of big cats and prohibits direct contact with big cats, such as cub pettings. Since 1990, there have been over 365 dangerous incidents in 46 states and two dozen adults and children have been killed.

Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 1776) This bill would restrict the trade in primates for the pet trade and also prohibits direct public contact with them. Since 1990, more than 275 people—including scores of children—have been injured by primates, including in some particularly gruesome incidents.

Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 2863) – TEASPA would restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and traveling exhibitions. Severe confinement, endless travel transport cause physical, behavioral, and psychological problems for animals. Other circuses thrill crowds with human acrobatics and other human-centered performances.

Helping Farm Animals and Protecting the Family Farm

Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act (S. 935) The OFF Act would bar use of check-off dollars for lobbying. USDA check-off dollars have been used to advance anti-competitive marketplace practices that hurt family farmers and undermine the policy wishes of consumers.

Banning the use of gestation crates in pig farming – This bill would ban the sale of inhumane gestation crates, which immobilize pregnant sows for much of their lives. More than 250 companies – from Costco to McDonald’s to Safeway – have pledged to phase out the use of gestation crates in their supply chains by 2022, and this new policy will help them fulfill their pledges. Two states – California and Massachusetts – will forbid the sale of pork by 2022 if it comes from pigs confined in gestation crates.

Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research Endeavors (AWARE) Act –The bill would require Animal Welfare Act (AWA) inspections of laboratories using farm animals in research at federal agricultural facilities. USDA is conducting animal welfare inspections of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facilities, but this policy should be made permanent.

Ending Unnecessary Testing on Animals

Humane Cosmetics Act – This bill would phase out animal testing for cosmetic products in the United States and prohibit the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals in other countries. It would also bring the U.S. in line with other parts of the world that have already banned cosmetic testing, from the European Union to India to New Zealand.

The Primate Protection and Research Modernization Act – This measure restricts testing on nonhuman primates, setting up a protocol for any such experiment to be approved. Additionally, it forbids primate research for consumer goods and products.

The Humane and Existing Alternatives in Research and Testing Sciences Act of 2019 (HEARTS) HR 1209 – The HEARTS Act would amend the Public Health Service Act to ensure that non-animal methods are prioritized, where applicable and feasible, in proposals for all research to be conducted or supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species (PUPPERS) Act –PUPPERS prohibits the Department of Veteran Affairs from purchasing, breeding, transporting, housing, feeding, maintaining, disposing of, or experimenting on dogs as part of any study that causes significant pain or distress.

Animal Freedom from Testing, Experimentation and Research (AFTER) Act – The AFTER Act would direct all federal agencies to develop and maintain a policy allowing for the adoption or retirement of dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, and other regulated animals no longer needed for research in federal labs.

Reviving Animal Protection Rules and Sound Executive Agency Policies

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Final Rule – The USDA should revive a final rule – nixed in early 2017 - to strengthen and clarify animal welfare standards to protect the integrity of the organic label. The USDA rule clarified the requirement that animals cannot be tightly confined and set minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for egg-laying chickens. The rule would have kept thousands of farmers on the land by giving them a value-added opportunity to connect to consumers who expect organic producers to adhere to higher animal welfare standards.

Horse Protection Act standards – If Congress does not pass the PAST Act in the 116th Congress, the USDA should revive its 2017 rulemaking to ban the use of stacks and chains and to eliminate the industry’s self-regulation program. The Trump Administration withdrew that final rule in 2017.

Animal Welfare Act inspection reports and Horse Protection Act violation notices – In 2017, the USDA removed from its website inspection reports and enforcement records on licensed and registered facilities that use animals, including thousands of puppy mills, laboratories, zoos, circuses, and horse shows regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA). These records are developed at taxpayer expense, which can guide consumer decision-making and play an important role in deterring abuse of animals and ensuring agency accountability.

Banning the use of poisons for predator control –USDA’s Wildlife Services program uses sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate to kill predators in the West. California, Oregon, and Washington forbid them. The poisons are cruel and indiscriminate and should be outlawed everywhere.

U.S. Department of the Interior

Banning lead ammunition on federal lands – If Congress does not pass this legislation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service should adopt rules and policies to phase out the use of lead, because the agencies have a statutory duty to act to protect and conserve wildlife on these lands.

Stopping commercial trapping on national wildlife refuges – National wildlife refuges are the one category of federal lands set up primarily to benefit wildlife. The use of steel-jawed leghold traps, wire snares, and Conibear traps are inherently inhumane and often non-selective. We should not allow market killing of wildlife on refuges, especially by inhumane means.

Halting imports of sport-hunted trophies of U.S.-listed threatened and endangered species – The United States does not allow the trophy hunting of any threatened or endangered species inhabiting our country, and the same standard should apply for foreign species listed under the same law. It does not “enhance the survival of a species” to allow trophy hunters to shoot them.

Humane management of wild horses and burros – The BLM must more broadly implement on-the-ground contraception programs, with the PZP vaccine, for wild horses and burros in the West.  Round ups are inhumane and costly and are breaking the budget of the agency.

Protecting wolves, bears, and other predators on National Preserves in Alaska – The Interior Department has been working to unwind a 2016 rule that restricted the inhumane and unsporting killing of predators on 20 million acres of National Preserves in Alaska.  If that rule is undone, it should be restored by the National Park Service.

U.S. Department of Justice

Animal Cruelty Enforcement - The DOJs Environment and Natural Resources Division has authority to enforce more than a half dozen criminal statutes that constitute the existing legal framework against malicious cruelty. DOJ should create an animal cruelty crimes unit, which has dedicated personnel to enforce these statutes, including a brand-new prohibition against dogfighting and cockfighting in the U.S. territories to take effect in December 2019.

Reorganizing the federal government to advance animal welfare

Shifting Animal Welfare Act enforcement from USDA - Moving Animal Welfare Act enforcement from the USDA and placing the responsibility for enforcement of animal welfare laws without conflicts with other key agency stakeholders.

Reconstituting the Wildlife Services’ program - This USDA program, which spends the bulk of its dollars killing wildlife, would be better placed in the Department of the Interior, which has expertise on wildlife issues.  USDA typically sees wildlife through a narrow lens, treating animals as a threat to agriculture. The Interior Department would oversee a program that provides primarily non-lethal solutions to human-wildlife conflicts, using innovation and human ingenuity to produce a set of positive outcomes.

Appointing White House liaison on animal welfare - Animal welfare issues require attention with almost every federal department. The White House should have a senior policy staffer working to coordinate animal welfare functions across agencies.


Animal Wellness Action.org is helping animal welfare by promoting legal standards preventing cruelty. You can help animals by making a donation today.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.



About the Author

Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Prior to ValueWalk, Jacob was VP of Business Development at SumZero. Prior to SumZero, Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver