Thursday, May 20, 2021

Every year is an election year—and every election has profound implications for the animal protection movement. That’s why our team at the Humane Society Legislative Fund meticulously evaluates every candidate before we announce an endorsement.

When Mark Herring first ran for attorney general in 2013, HSLF swung behind him with an endorsement, communications to our supporters and canvassing in the Commonwealth. After a hard-fought race, Herring won by a mere 165 votes—a real testament to why animal protection engagement is crucial and elections matter. In the years since that first election, Attorney General Mark Herring has amassed a record placing him firmly in the top level of statewide office holders for us.

So today we announced our endorsement of AG Herring for re-election—and ask all our supporters throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to enthusiastically join us in supporting him.

Of significant importance, Herring launched the nation’s first Animal Law Unit within an attorney general’s office. Due to the complexity of animal criminal enterprises, which often involve thousands of animals and millions of dollars, local prosecutors often rely on the expertise of the unit’s attorneys to bring criminals to justice and to save animals’ lives.

As Attorney General, Herring’s Animal Law Unit has prosecuted cases of cruelty and abuse, including:

  • Indicting the owner of a roadside zoo for wildlife trafficking, violations of the Endangered Species Act, and animal cruelty.
  • Securing guilty pleas from nine individuals as part of a sweep targeting fox pens stocked with illegal wildlife. Fox penning can become unlawful when operators put illegal foxes and coyotes into a fenced in area and allow dogs to chase – and sometimes kill – the wild animals.
  • Securing guilty pleas from two men for running a cockfighting operation in Powhatan County involving more than 300 birds.
  • Securing a guilty plea from a Richmond man to five counts of animal fighting and seven counts of animal cruelty in relation to his participation in a dogfighting operation.
  • Convicting several individuals for animal cruelty across three different jurisdictions for abuses at a Tyson Chicken breeder farm.

The Humane Society of the United States has awarded the Humane Law Enforcement award to the Virginia Attorney General twice—first in 2015 and again in 2020. The Humane Law Enforcement Awards are presented annually to officers, prosecutors, and attorneys general who have taken an exemplary stand against animal cruelty.

The Primary Election in Virginia is on June 8th—and we encourage every eligible voter to have their voice heard in this election. Residents can find their polling place and get more details on absentee or in-person voting from the Virginia Department of Elections.

Animals only win when humane candidates win—and to win in this election we ask you join us in supporting Attorney General Mark Herring’s re-election.