By Brad Pyle
Tonight, the Democratic Party will host a presidential debate, and we thought it timely to examine the animal protection records of candidates for president. This debate will be co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Charleston. You can watch it live on CBS or CBS.com. We want you and other supporters to know that we’re going to hold candidates at all levels accountable for their animal welfare commitments in the coming election cycle.
Bernie Sanders has been a steady and constant supporter of animal protection during his time in Congress.
In previous sessions, Sanders cosponsored bills to curtail abusive puppy mills and animal fighting, to restrict the private trade in big cats and primates as exotic pets, and to ban barren battery cages for egg-laying hens. He supported strong enforcement of federal animal welfare laws, and opposed the weakening of the Endangered Species Act.
As Vice President, Joe Biden worked to include language in the federal budget to prohibit the USDA from inspecting horse slaughterhouses, effectively ending the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States.
Biden’s presidential platform points to ecosystem impacts and accelerating species and biodiversity loss as part of a rationale for a comprehensive climate change policy.
Biden was a strong supporter of animal protection legislation during his many years in the U.S. Senate, and consistently received high marks on the Humane Scorecard.
In his last session in Congress, Sen. Biden cosponsored measures to stop horse slaughter, upgrade the penalties for animal fighting, and ban the possession of fighting dogs and attendance at a dogfight.
Biden has led the fight on important animal protection issues. He was the co-author with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the 108th Congress on legislation to ban the netting of dolphins by commercial tuna fishermen. He was the lead author of a bill in the 107th Congress to prohibit trophy hunting of captive exotic mammals in fenced enclosures, and he successfully secured passage of the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Elizabeth Warren has consistently supported animal protection legislation while serving in the U.S. Senate.
In previous sessions, Warren introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of antibiotic use in animals, and co-filed an amendment to the Farm Bill to correct abuses by commodity checkoff programs such as those for beef, pork, and eggs.
Pete Buttigieg’s rapid rise from midwestern mayor to the forefront of our national politics has presented him with little opportunity to affect or demonstrate his commitment to animal protection policy.
During his 2018 State of the City address, promisingly, Buttigieg highlighted South Bend’s Animal Care & Control successes in doubling the number of pet adoptions and reducing the euthanasia rate for cats and dogs.
In the past, she cosponsored legislation which would require furs to be labeled, enabling consumers to make informed decisions. She also voted against legislation which allowed egregiously cruel and unsporting hunting methods on more than 76 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. Klobuchar earned a 100 on the 2019 Humane Scorecard.
Mike Bloomberg has been a steady advocate for animal welfare causes, both as New York City Mayor and as a philanthropist.
His campaign has released a #DogsFurMike campaign video and is running ads speaking to his animal welfare record as Mayor—claiming to have reduced euthanasia by 81 percent and increased adoptions by more than 160 percent.
Tom Steyer has made climate change the cornerstone of his philanthropic work and his political career. His presidential platform is centered around climate change and justice.
Notably, Steyer supported California Proposition 2 in 2008 and Proposition 12 in 2018, to introduce fundamental reforms concerning confinement standards for animals raised for food. The Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Humane Society of the United States spearheaded both ballot measures.
Steyer also founded NextGen America, a national voter registration and mobilization program.
Remember, we ask our supporters not only to back our lobbying efforts and ongoing campaigns but to increase their engagement as citizen advocates, and, importantly, to make their votes count for animals.
Please remember to update your voter registration, and take other steps to ensure that your voice is heard in our democracy.
You'll hear more from the Humane Society Legislative Fund about the presidential race as we get closer to Election Day 2020. Keep checking the blog for updates and more information.
Brad Pyle is political director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.