State of the animals under the Trump administration: a year of highs and lows

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 4, 2020 with 8 Comments

This past year has been a mixed one for animals under President Donald Trump. On the one hand we’ve seen federal agencies take steps to improve the fortunes of animals used in testing and the wild horses and burros on our public ranges, and also to end breed discrimination of companion animals. On the other hand, we’ve also seen some shocking anti-animal actions, including a conspicuous decline in the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, a continued lack of transparency over recorded violations of these laws, and the dismantling of the Endangered Species Act, the bedrock U.S. law protecting imperiled species across the globe.

Today, as President Trump prepares to deliver his third State of the Union address, here’s a brief look at how his administration dealt with issues of importance to us at the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Among the positive actions taken for animals:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to end all tests on mammals, including dogs, mice, and rabbits, by 2035. The agency will devote $4.25 million to the development of non-animal testing technologies at five universities.
  • The Bureau of Land Management agreed in 2019 to return to a 2014 policy designed to prevent horses from being funneled to slaughter by allowing individuals and organizations to buy only four wild horses over a six-month period. In 2018, the Trump administration had moved to allow 25 horses to be purchased at a time, with no time limit between purchases, making the animals vulnerable to mass purchases by “kill buyers.”

Among the damaging actions taken by the administration over the past year:

  • The National Institutes of Health announced that it will not send chimpanzees, now held at the Alamogordo primate laboratory in New Mexico, to retirement at the federal sanctuary Chimp Haven, despite an express Congressional directive.

Looking ahead, we urge the Trump administration to take the following actions in 2020:

  • Issue a final rule from the USDA to strengthen licensing and basic care requirements at puppy mills, roadside zoos and other facilities under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Significantly increase the use of humane population growth suppression tools by the Bureau of Land Management to manage wild horse and burro populations on public rangelands, and eliminate research into sterilization as a management technique.
  • Issue a proposed rule from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to mitigate the harm being caused to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, including measures to reduce deadly entanglements in vertical fishing lines.
  • Prioritize the relocation of chimpanzees owned and supported by the National Institutes of Health to the national sanctuary, Chimp Haven. NIH should also prioritize replacing animals in harmful research with approaches that represent the best available science and prevent the suffering of millions of animals in laboratories each year.
  • Improve enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection Act and federal animal fighting laws, cracking down on puppy millers, horse sorers and cockfighters, and reinstate the final HPA rule to end horse soring that was withdrawn at the beginning of the Trump administration. Following a mandate in the FY20 appropriations bill, the USDA must reinstate all AWA/HPA inspection and enforcement records it took down in 2017 and resume posting them without redacting the identities of violators.
  • Continue to provide necessary protections for endangered and threatened species, including rejecting permit applications for trophies of species like rhinos, elephants and lions, and ensuring that egregious and inhumane hunting methods are not permitted on federal lands.

Animal protection ought not be a partisan issue. Even in a highly polarized Congress, we saw major progress for animals last year with the passage of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act and other milestones such as the House approving the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act and the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. Most Americans feel a deep compassion for animals and moving forward we urge President Trump to put the policies and resources of this administration squarely behind this very American value.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Animal Research and Testing, Companion Animals, Equine, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Sally Palmer says:

    It is truly frightening what may be to come as the balance of power between those with and without compassion continues to be pushed down in favor of the merciless. But there is a mixture of things that has been gathering momentum that puts some extra weight back on the scale for compassion and vision—an ever-widening knowledge of animals as beings whose lives are to be respected and not dismissed as irrelevant; mounting evidence of animal products’ negative effect on human health and the environment; and new industries that are beginning to thrive and fight for their place in the financial world.
    And individuals, as always, can still make both and large differences in educating others about compassion, especially with leadership from people and organizations dedicating themselves to shining light on where and why it is needed. Compassion has proven itself to be the greatest power in the world, giving people strength and courage to fight even the most vicious efforts to suppress it. Thank you for giving us up-to-date information on the status of laws that help our work for compassion, and those that hurt it so we can be mindful that our individual voices do matter because they one by one add up to numbers that have power to create change. And for those of us who cannot forget the despair in the eyes and terror and pain in the cries of the animals suffering from horrific neglect and cruelty, there will never be an end to the fight for them. That includes showing support for the ones on the front line like HSUS workers and volunteers who are seeing and documenting their suffering so it is not so easily hidden, ignored, dismissed, or forgotten.

    • Virginia Vinson says:

      ///send messages to the committee chair person and give them your words. When enough people write they listen. You can go to Federal Government Committee, assignments are described and find the one that deals with Wildlife and send them a letter. I don’t recommend the blog because of it;s length but letting him or her know what was and a thank you helps. Emphasize your feelings about injustices.
      If a group ofyou get together and do this, they listen,.
      Next send a brief letter ask Your Senator, and your elected Representatives to speak to the committee about you concerns.

      your senator, Representative

    • Joie Hindley says:

      Much respect, and thankful for your dedication towards animal protection and rights.

  2. shirley kuzmicz says:

    Those beautful animals need protection before they become extinct…man is wiping out all the animals as it is…there is no need for the hunting that is being done today. And man does not eat the Wolf!! Just plain murder of the animal is going on!!

  3. Loretta and Carey Spear says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. Hubby & I are HUGE animal supporters. It makes us sick everytime we hear and see about any kind of abuse and/or mis-treatment of any animal. Just today’s news showed they found a lady who had over forty something little Maltese dogs living in horrible conditions (and many in serious health)–We have 2 non-kill and city animal shelters (in our city). Every xmas we make sure EVERY cat and dog (& even few pocket pets) get a new toy and treats; most new plush throws. We also give needs like cleaning & paper products, new towels, office supplies,etc. We give to help fly animals to from high kill and other donations. We wear shirts and talk about adoption vs buying a new pet (some still do; but we try). Even though I can’t work and husband works long days–we do whatever we can to help (esp.the dogs & cats). We Are SO thankful to EVERY Organization, Workers, Volunteers, Advocates for the animals. It is so hard to believe how people can treat these animals or abuse them to make a buck. We hope the Government does make STRONGER laws against abusers, puppy mills, and make laws to help the animals (not continue to hurt them). Thank you!!

  4. Ann Katcef says:

    Animal protection should be a priority in all Administrations. The barbaric actions against animals is wrong. It must be fixed.

    I’m a strong animal rights advocate and a trump supporter. I’m also vegan and have been for decades. Please President Trump stop animal abuse.

  5. Christy L Reinders says:

    No. We’ve seen exponentially increased numbers of roundups of wild horses and specifically burros since trump took office….and still the attempts at surgically spaying mares in the wild

  6. Roxanne Burke says:

    I always wonder how to fix animal cruelty. It’s like how much money does it take to make people kind and caring. I don’t have the answer, just feeling melancholy about how sad it is that people don’t respect all species……

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