As many of you may know, one of my passions is improved legislation for animal welfare. Nothing makes me crazier than when someone gets charged with an animal cruelty, neglect or endangerment crime and then they walk away with a slap on the wrist because there are not adequate laws or punishments set up or because those doing the prosecuting and sentencing aren’t thinking about the rights of the animals.
Slowly but surely, the tides are turning. As more and more people become enlightened and bring animal welfare to the forefront, changes are becoming evident. It is important to highlight these wins and to celebrate those who are brave enough to swim in the treacherous political waters where they encounter swells of lobbyists and “Big Money” whose only objectives are to curtail the progress being made on behalf of animals and to continue operating in ways that are detrimental to the precious sentient beings.
The Dodo, the community who follows the profound shift in the way people regard animals and reports on important issues and developments, came out today with an article about which states in our nation are the best at prosecuting for animals. Here’s what they had to say:
“Last week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring burnished his pro-animal record when he established an Animal Law unit in an attorney general’s office. The unit will serve as a resource for local law enforcement and state agencies on animal fighting and animal cruelty prosecutions, providing the expertise and firepower to bring those responsible for animal cruelty, suffering, and abuse to justice. For the unit’s first project, it’s partnering with The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) to reach out to Virginia pet stores as part of an effort to crack down on puppy mills.
In New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an Animal Protection Initiative to shut down criminal animal fighting rings, protect consumers from unscrupulous pet sellers, and prevent other forms of cruelty to animals. Just last month, Schneiderman secured felony convictions in the case of two men who ran the largest known cockfighting ring in New York history, and he specifically requested that their guilty pleas include bans on them owning animals in future. In November, Schneiderman wrote to all of New York’s 1,034 municipal and local governments offering to help them draft enforceable laws to crack down on puppy mills and the pet stores that sell dogs and cats from mills.
In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi has made animal protection a serious priority. Last July, she shut down a Jacksonville puppy mill and puppy importer, who had been hawking sick English Bulldog puppies to unsuspecting sellers over the Internet for as much as $2,300 a puppy. She’s strongly supported decoupling greyhound racing and casino-style gambling, and also supported legislation to require greyhound tracks to report injuries (greyhound euthanasia rates have fallen sharply in states that have adopted injury reporting laws). On a personal level, Bondi brings an adoptable shelter dog to every cabinet meeting to promote adoption.
And in California, Attorney General Kamala Harris has defended a series of pioneering animal protection laws. Alongside HSUS attorneys, she’s now been on the winning side of four separate challenges to Prop 2 and AB 1437, California’s new farm animal welfare laws that went into effect earlier this month. (Unfortunately, a court recently overturned California’s pioneering ban on the sale of force-fed foie gras, though we’re hopeful that Harris will appeal that ruling.) And, drawing on the work of the HSUS Animal Protection Litigation division, she successfully defeated a challenge to California’s ban on the possession and sale of shark fins, which has helped us crack down on the brutal practice of shark finning.”
These are important milestones that need to be built upon so that other states will follow suit. It is critical that people – We the People – keep pressure on our elected officials, with our voices and our votes, and encourage them to make changes in how animals are regarded and how issues involving animals are legislated in their jurisdictions.
The fight is a big one and not everywhere are the battles being won. The Dodo also reports on how Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt are pushing back against progress and taking their states backward in terms of animal welfare. If you want to read about just what these two attorney generals are up to, the Dodo article will open your eyes. And it should anger you to discover that such barbaric mentalities are in positions of power.
The battles rage on and the fights seem endless, but we all must soldier on to ensure that we provide a world to animals in which they are treated with dignity and respect and love.
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