We mourn Senator Dianne Feinstein, a stalwart champion on humane issues across the board, a 100 percenter on our Humane Scorecard year after year, our Legislator of the Year in 2016 and most recently, a leader in the fight to uphold California’s Prop 12 and defeat the dangerous Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act that could negate countless state and local laws. We will miss her deeply and we extend our condolences to her daughter and other family members, as well as to the phenomenal staff members who supported her work and were, as Senator Feinstein was, generous with their time and advice to us over the years.
Dianne Feinstein was never one to stand on the sidelines for an important fight. So, it was no surprise that even as her health declined, she came through strong on the campaign to stop EATS in its tracks. She co-led the recent Senate letter against EATS, just as she fought hard against its predecessor measure, the King Amendment, in previous Farm Bill battles.
The highlights of her animal welfare legacy include her leadership in just about every dimension of our work.
On farm animal welfare, in addition to EATS, Senator Feinstein stood with us in our efforts to secure protections for “downed” calves and cows too sick, injured or weak to stand, supported measures for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens, pushed for appropriations language to curb the reckless misuse of antibiotics on factory farms that contributes to antibiotic resistance and props up inhumane conditions , fought against ag subsidies for fat cat millionaires, and advocated for the EPA’s efforts to collect greenhouse gas emissions data from intensive confinement factory farms.
On wildlife issues, she was a strong champion of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act, of ESA protections for African elephants, lions and leopards, of prohibitions on ivory imports, and of marine mammal protection, as in her sponsorship of the SWIMS Act. She was outspoken in her efforts to end the National Park Service’s shooting of deer on Point Reyes National Seashore.
Serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee since 1993, Senator Feinstein played a critical role in securing funding and directing policies that improve animal welfare across the federal government. One of these crucial items was requiring inspections at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and other USDA facilities to bring them into compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, following a New York Times investigation that exposed shocking instances of animal mistreatment in experiments conducted on farm animals. She was also a staunch advocate to secure the horse slaughter defund amendment that we have championed year after year during the annual appropriations process.
Senator Feinstein also supported legislation to improve the lives of countless companion animals including the Pets on Trains bill enacted in the FAST Act to enable passengers to bring cats and dogs onboard with them, joined Senator Durbin in calling on USDA to update its animal care standards for commercial dog breeding facilities, and consistently cosponsored the Puppy Protection Act to upgrade standards of care for commercial breeders, as well as being a tireless voice to end the cruelty of horse soring.
These achievements, just some of the many with which Senator Feinstein was associated, don’t even begin to capture what it means for a United States Senator to lend time, energy and political capital to animal protection. She was the epitome of the engaged and skillful politician when it came to animal welfare, and her death is an immense loss. We’ll remember her with gratitude and admiration, and we’ll never forget her devotion to duty, her compassion for the animals whose interests we’ve sworn to defend, and her courageous spirit in stepping up for those who cannot speak for themselves.