No time to be a bystander, as animals are threatened by hard-hearted politicians

By on February 23, 2017 with 25 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Traveling home to their districts, members of Congress are hearing from riled-up constituents like never before – and right on the heels of a tremendously contentious election. On Capitol Hill, telephone lines are being overwhelmed repeatedly by the fresh concerns of Americans roused to action. In cities across the country, citizens are organizing, vowing to maintain vigilance on politics for a range of civic purposes.

These are welcome developments.

Political overreach in Washington, D.C. has come up against growing public insistence on common sense governance and resistance to dangerous ideas. Americans want to be heard.

For me the tipping point has been the scattershot assault on animal protection that seems to be gathering steam in Washington, D.C.

Animals don’t deserve this. Their needs aren’t partisan and shouldn’t be partisan. Dragging animal welfare into the R-vs-D fray is a source of shame – no matter what your political leanings.

I’m speaking of the near-party-line House vote recently to reopen Alaska’s national wildlife refuges to disgraceful practices – a de facto war against grizzly bears and wolves. Scientists and citizens alike stood against this terrible idea, as did so many Democrats in Congress. As I mentioned yesterday on this blog, it was the most disturbing runaway vote I’ve witnessed in a quarter century of advocacy for animal welfare.

And make no mistake, trophy hunters and NRA lobbyists have proven that their ambitions are much larger than just Alaska. They have long had their sights and sites on the wildlife that lives on our shared public lands throughout the United States. Yes, that’s national parks, too.

Election 2016 was not about ending compassion for those without voices. Americans in key swing states did not vote for a radical special interest rule – an unwinding of what 90 percent of Americans think is right. No way.

The victors insist that the election was about making things better. Well, putting animals in greater jeopardy is a thumb in the eye of “better” and takes us rapidly in the other direction.

Again, we are talking about killing wolf pups in their dens, scouting bears from airplanes in order to kill them, permitting the baiting of bears, trapping them with those frightful steel-jawed leghold traps and neck snares. All on land that belongs to all Americans. On places designated by Congress as “refuges.” What a mockery of language. As the president might tweet, “disgraceful.”

Add in the USDA’s purge of inspection reports under the Animal Welfare Act and violation notices under the Horse Protection Act. That’s nothing but a cover-up to benefit flagrant puppy mill operators, horse soring scofflaws, and other violators of the law. Talk about adding algae and silt to the swamp.

And then there’s the freezing of the USDA-approved anti-horse-soring rule. Burning chemicals onto the feet of beautiful animals used in shows. Or putting a sharp object between a metal shoe and the shaved-down front hooves of horses. That’s animal cruelty. Worthy of prosecution. More than 200 members of Congress from both parties called on the USDA to complete that rulemaking. Freezing that rule is like issuing a get-out-of-jail card for lawbreakers.

The HSUS has long advocated citizen advocacy on behalf of animals, and we want to see even more of it now. Now is the best possible time to join with friends, family, and neighbors and make yourself heard.

“Compassion” and “humane,” are words without the letters “R” or “D” in them. They are shared, unifying, and important values. They are recognized by the world’s great religions, and they are taught and practiced by our finest leaders. A great many citizens of both parties believe that how we treat animals is a measure of our own humanity.

And if we look at the issue another way, we know beyond doubt that cruelty to animals begets cruelty to humans.

Yet, special interests are blind to the world of difference between the Right and what’s truly right. On Alaska, a number of anti-animal lawmakers disguised their intentions by claiming their motivation was the protection of states’ rights.

Now, just watch those same shape-shifters argue that state laws to protect farm animals need to be preempted by the federal government – a sure-to-arise rebirth of what animal advocates know as the “King Amendment.” How about this for a tweet: “Outrageously inconsistent.”

There’ll be other important votes in this 115th Congress, of that you can be sure.

Animals cannot speak for themselves. But you can give voice to their interests – whether they are bears or horses or cows or puppies. Take it from me, the public has got the attention of the members of Congress. Whether that translates into wise action by Congress – well, that depends on you.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Vickie says:

    Oh my gosh…this is so well written. I just wish more people understood what is going on. When I talk to friends, most are shocked to hear that these things are happening It is heart breaking.
    We must spread the word and let people on both sides of the aisle what is going on.
    Please forward this information to all of your friends and post on FB etc.

  2. tony says:

    Just horrible

  3. Sarah Blanch says:

    Thank God for the great work you do. One thought: would be great to post the link to the list of representatives in every blog, so that the process is simplified as much as possible. Your organization is wonderful. The world and the little animals need you.

  4. Barbara Anderson says:

    Your blogs are wonderful and I love your books. But, please, give us a measurable way to help–links, petitions, phone links to call senators, something we can do in our horrendously busy lives–but know we CARE, really CARE about animals and want to help. Show us a way to do this–connect with Indivisible, Move-On, or any one of the other organizations to get this on the radar. I am willing to volunteer and help.

    • Kim says:

      I agree with the comments left by Barbara. Given a bit more information as to what can be done to have an impact on these laws would be very beneficial. I would like to help as well and am willing to do what it takes but not sure where to start.

    • Elizabeth S. Biehn (Bettie) says:

      Dear Barbara Anderson –
      Your comment on Wayne’s blog is right on, and I would love to have a concrete way to help, as much as I can. I’ve been involved with dog and cat rescue, ahve worked for a large city animal humane organization, have fostered special needs pups and place them in good homes, and have adopted 5 rescue pups .

      I feel overwhelmed with the national and international scope of what HSUS and HSI are doing, and do not know how to get more involved. I give money monthly, but that is so hands off. Thank you for bringing the issue of getting involved in more concrete ways to the forefront.

      Elizabeth Biehn (Bettie)

  5. Carrie Henderson says:

    There is no reason to kill these wonderful animals. They deserve to live as you do. If we are a humane nation, our sport should not involve cruel useless killing which inflicts terrible suffering to innocent animals.

  6. ujjal goraya says:

    Leave poor animals alone you two legged animals. Since poor animals cannot retaliate (except Big Cats, one on One you without a gun) you think you are supreme. If you must shoot, shoot with a camera. Animals have as much right to enjoy this Planet as much you and me. Animals were here way before we Bloody humans. I would be ashamed if I mistreat animals, so should be YOU!

  7. Susan Trout says:

    Honestly, I realize that people are busy. I’m busy too. In fact, I don’t know anyone who isn’t busy with the business of life. But….if you REALLY care about making sure laws are enforced with regard to animal cruelty, then YOU, as an American citizen, need to MAKE time to phone your elected officials and let them know how you feel. Clicking on a link, signing a petition, etc. might really be convenient and make you feel like you’ve done your part, but I don’t know of any elected official who doesn’t take a personal call seriously. Few, and I mean few, ever bother to look at a computer-generated letter or petition. Oh, yeah their staff might, but just remember their staff has the ability to prioritize and they will. So, whatever issue is really important to you, do a bit of research and refer to the bill, it’s legislative number, etc. and in a nutshell, what it does. Same with a federal law. If we cannot take responsibility for our OWN governing, then we deserve whatever happens to us. The NRA and hunting lobbies are very strong (and ACTIVE!) The farm bureaus throughout the US fight tooth and nail against ANY legislation that reduces the pain and suffering food animals endure. Why? Because the meat industry pays them to and any efforts to minimize the callous practices food animals endure is seen as a threat to their profits. The AKC and dog breeders are quite skeptical about laws and regulations which limit the breeding and selling of dogs, cats, etc. Corrupt, and I say corrupt because they are, southern legislators who continue to fight increasingly strong laws to abolish soring (mistreatment of Tennessee Walking Horses!) will continue to do all they can to protect their right to keep the “big lick” classes. No educated horseperson, or even casual observers, would ever consider these grotesque spectacles exciting and worth watching. If you admire horses, take a moment to watch one of these ghastly classes and then watch a horse at liberty in an arena or pasture. The difference is like day and night. Slavery was once a tradition and considered a plantation owner’s right. We abolished slavery. We have the power to abolish animal cruelty. Tradition, culture, should never override common decency and compassionate treatment of animals. Please! you exercised your right to vote, now take that right further and exercise your right to hold your legislators accountable for their actions with respect to animal cruelty. To do anything less will open the door for the abusers to carry out their agendas without resistance. Thank you all for your efforts to help those who cannot help themselves. It is the right and just thing to do.

    • karen says:

      Susan, u hit it on the nail head. USA citizens, CALL, u can get the phone numbers on line easily.
      Make a statement and get all your friends to do also. Make waves, demand
      humane treatment of ALL creatures and fight the NRA AND THE Cattlemans
      ASS. LOBY. They are big and rich but they cannot win a war against all of us
      if we ban together and do what is RIGHT.

    • Diana Val says:


  8. kAREN K. says:

    I completely agree with Ujjal goraya about “If you must shoot, shoot with a camera!”
    My goodness it is the 21st. century and some people still don’t ‘get it’. Every living creature has a right to be cared for and a right to live….especially if you believe this is God’s planet! After many terrible centuries of using and abusing animals one would think we human animals had progressed to a deeper compassion …..let’s all participate!! LET’S BE MORE UNDERSTANDING AND KIND.

  9. Rosemary Harris says:

    I agree with these folks, and contribute monthly to HSUS for exactly this kind of work on behalf of the voiceless. As I spun around trying to figure out who exactly to contact in my state for HJ 69, it just wasn’t clear. So I wrote to the President, and my two US Senators. Not sure that was right?

    Thanks so much for all you do…please keep up the fight. These are going to be tough years for anything that doesn’t bring in visible revenue, so we need ways to easily converge on those who are elected to speak for us!

  10. Lynne says:

    So many members of the public are with you.
    Great work, happy to sign all petitions I get to stop animal cruelty of all types.

  11. Henrietta KOmras says:

    Yes we must ACT now; call and write and protest and take to the streets. We cannot let fascist-like, Nazi-like men (and make no mistake it is mostly men) act out their hideous sadistic “might makes right/let’s make bucks and shoot em up Wild West mentality win. This would be an affront to humanity or whatever is left of it.
    We have entered an era of “friendly fascism” in America
    This is no longer a democracy ; it is a fascist state run by a few rich white guys who only care about profit, greed, guns and proving that they are “real” men by shooting and killing innocent animals and acting out their hatred of the “other” by threatening women’s hard-won reproductive rights and also threatening any humane and caring legislation that tries to uphold rights for animals. These rich white men led by “uber fuehrere” Trump the little dictator are threatened by any showing of the heart lest that make them less than men.

    Horrific. This is the time for civil disobedience and making our voices heard not cowering in the corner and letting the bad guys win.

  12. Shadi says:

    Wayne, could you please let us know the most effective way to take action? Does emailing Congressmen really work? What about petitions like those on I agree that we can’t stand by, but feel a bit baffled about the steps to take next.

  13. Valerie Zaborski says:

    I see many people here were thinking the same as I was: Who do I call? The fact is, however, I live in a state where I can usually count on my congressman to vote the way I would like them to. So my goal now is to put the names of reps of other states on FB to alert my friends in other states when THEY need to call their reps. But I have found it remarkably difficult to discover exactly WHO voted for these measures. HSUS would make this so much easier if they would include that information here and with any article about action being taken in Congress. Or did I miss it? I make my financial contributions but it’s no longer enough. Please help me to help you help animals. Thank you!!

    • Valerie Zaborski says:

      PS: I did eventually find a by clicking through several links. So I just ask for it to be made a little more obvious. Thank you!!

  14. JANICE A HENRY says:

    I cannot bear to read all of this horrendous news and stories because of
    My intense love for all animals.
    I already donate and i will up the amount. We are the animals; and the
    Animals are the angels.
    We will be judged at our passing on how we have treated animals.
    This is why I am a vegetarian.. Every animal has a soul/spirit and heart
    For good. What is happening is cruel and unforgiving; i cannot bear to
    Read all of the information but i will add to my donations.
    Thank you all for what you do for our God given creatures who can teach us
    So much about how to live.


  15. Teri says:

    So many wonderful comments and great ideas. Now we have to take all of this information, this flood of good stuff and get working. I agree, there are many ways we can get going and keep it going. BUT, the key is we need a bunch of voices for these animals. 100,000, 200,000 isn’t enough we need the numbers to reach millions. As much as there are in people population we have to try and get at least 1/4 of those people to care, listen, call, write, donate, etc. Donations are great and do help, but getting people to really get involved and the number of people matters. This Administration won’t budge on a few thousand people, they think we’re just bickering. To make it a huge deal we have to have the numbers in “people” who care and want to save our animals. Anything, or every little thing counts. That’s the way I see it. Now, how do we get those numbers to reach at least 1 million?

  16. Linda Hadley says:

    I’ve known about this for awhile and is one reason I wouldn’t vote for Trump. I have fought for years for animal rights and especially wolves. I cry every day when I think of what is happening to our wildlife and the people who have no heart or soul and only think of killing. There is no reason for the greed I see in these Americans or are they American at all. We need a cross the country march to save our wild animals and our wild lands.

  17. B Benn says:

    What is happening to humanity.
    Greed greed and more greed.
    Certainly not ethical care and treatment of animals.
    Very sad and disappointing.

  18. Julie says:

    “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated.” by Mohatma Gandhi, 1869-1948. I’ve always liked this quote and am afraid our nation has been hitting “rock-bottom” in this area of late!

    I recently mentioned to one of my church groups that Alaska had voted in the hunting of bears and wolves in their national refuges — including by some horribly cruel methods. The group members had not heard of this happening, and they are well-read and informed people. I wish that local and national news media gave more coverage to important animal issues such as this. (Could this be in response to some caring people getting so involved in human issues that they don’t want to be “upset” by hearing about cruel treatment of animals?) Anyway, I am very glad there are great organizations like HSUS that keep us informed and work hard to rectify these wrongs! And I will continue to inform as many people as possible about these cruelties!

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