Good riddance to Steve King: Iowa primary voters dump U.S. congressman who supported horse slaughter, dogfighting and factory farming

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on June 3, 2020 with 4 Comments

There is perhaps no one in the recent history of Congress who, during his term in office, has attempted to wreak more havoc on animals than Steve King. The Iowa Republican has supported killing horses for human consumption; opposed including pets in disaster planning; defended dogfighting and cockfighting, including allowing children to attend such fights; and attempted to block states from making commonsense reforms for animals by repeatedly advocating for the infamous King amendment in the Farm Bills.

He usually didn’t get his way on these matters, but it would be fair to say that if there was an animal welfare issue under consideration in Congress, King was most likely on the wrong side of it.

That’s why we couldn’t be happier that Iowa voters handed King a clear defeat in their state’s primary yesterday.

King was the worst kind of politician: one who worked against the interests of animals and the nation itself at the behest of special interests. His district included one of the highest concentrations of egg-laying hens in the country, and this may explain some of his hostility toward animal welfare issues. Over the years he launched multiple volleys against some of the most important reforms the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund championed—volleys we successfully deflected.

Among his most vicious attacks were his proposed amendments to the Farm Bill, the omnibus bill that covers everything from farm safety nets to land conservation programs to nutrition programs for low-income citizens. In 2014, and again in 2018, King tacked on to the Farm Bill the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, which came to be known as the King amendment, that threatened immeasurable harm to animals, by nullifying state and local laws that address, among other issues, the consumption of horse and dog meat, ending the slaughter of horses, the extreme confinement of farm animals, shark finning and animals in puppy mills.

The King amendment also threatened to undermine the work carried out by states and localities to protect their citizens in a broad range of policy areas, including food safety, child labor, opioids, pesticide exposure, fire-safe cigarettes, manure management and handling of diseased livestock. Fortunately, it was defeated both times, with HSLF leading the lobbying effort to defeat it.

To cite just a few more examples of his shameful efforts, King voted against the Animal Fighting Enforcement Prohibition Act, which was signed into law in 2007, and which strengthened penalties for illegal dogfighting and cockfighting, making it a felony to transport animals across state lines for these gruesome and barbaric fights. He repeatedly voted for legislation that undermines the Endangered Species Act, removing critical protections for native American carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves. Last year he voted against the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, a bill to crack down on the practice of “soring,” in which trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds to force them to perform an unnaturally high-stepping gait for competitions. That bill passed the full House by a bipartisan majority of 333-96—a measure of just how out of step he is with his own colleagues.

King’s positions, especially in the proposed Farm Bill amendments, were often at odds with core Republican Party values, like respecting states’ rights and reinforcing local government, and it was a wonder he lasted as long as he did. As he limps through the final months of the 116th Congress and makes his ignominious exit, we couldn’t be more excited to see the last of him. With countless millions of Americans focusing on making the world a better place for animals and for all people, there is no room left for someone who has so consistently displayed the worst of human instincts.

Goodbye, Steve King, and good riddance.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Court gives Joe Exotic’s zoo to Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue; but no reprieve for the animals

By on June 3, 2020 with 2 Comments
Court gives Joe Exotic’s zoo to Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue; but no reprieve for the animals

In yet another twist in the continuing saga of Joe Exotic, a court has awarded his roadside zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, to the leader of a big cat sanctuary whom he once hired a hitman to kill. A federal judge on Monday gave the GW . . . 

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HSUS-led coalition launches #SpayTogether fund to spay/neuter 50,000 companion animals in wake of coronavirus crisis

By on June 1, 2020 with 4 Comments
HSUS-led coalition launches #SpayTogether fund to spay/neuter 50,000 companion animals in wake of coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has affected animal shelters in unprecedented ways. But the humane movement has risen to the challenge, and shelters have pivoted swiftly and efficiently to ensure animals are neither forgotten nor left out, by expanding foster programs and creating innovative adoption opportunities. Unfortunately, . . . 

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Report: Puppy mill revenues decline as states, localities move to end pet store dog sales

By on May 29, 2020 with 2 Comments
Report: Puppy mill revenues decline as states, localities move to end pet store dog sales

A recent industry publication paints a grim picture for the future of puppy mills, after several hundred localities and three states have banned the sale of puppies in pet stores in recent years. According to a report from IBIS World, a market research firm, fewer . . . 

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HSUS, HSLF urge federal consumer protection agency to crack down on Petland and other dishonest puppy sellers

By on May 28, 2020 with 1 Comment
HSUS, HSLF urge federal consumer protection agency to crack down on Petland and other dishonest puppy sellers

Pet stores like Petland and internet puppy sellers routinely deceive unsuspecting customers into buying animals who are bred in inhumane puppy mills and who could be sick or even dying. Today, we are calling on the Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with consumer protection, . . . 

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Missouri proposes opening its small black bear population to trophy hunters

By on May 27, 2020 with 31 Comments
Missouri proposes opening its small black bear population to trophy hunters

Missouri has proposed a hunting season on its small and still-recovering population of black bears, who were once nearly wiped out because of overhunting and logging, which decimated their habitat. The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates that there are now approximately 540 to 840 bears . . . 

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As slaughterhouses continue to spread coronavirus, plant-based foods are a safe, humane alternative

By on May 26, 2020 with 0 Comments
As slaughterhouses continue to spread coronavirus, plant-based foods are a safe, humane alternative

This week, the Washington Post and New York Times reported rampant coronavirus spread at meatpacking plants, and efforts by large meat producers to obscure the transmission rates. “As dozens of plants that closed because of outbreaks begin reopening, meat companies’ reluctance to disclose detailed case . . . 

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Missouri moves to shut down Horrible Hundred puppy mill for keeping dogs in filthy conditions

By on May 21, 2020 with 15 Comments
Missouri moves to shut down Horrible Hundred puppy mill for keeping dogs in filthy conditions

Just days after the release of our annual Horrible Hundred report, Missouri’s attorney general has sued to shut down one of the puppy mills named in it. The owners of Little Bit Ranch in Unionville, Missouri, failed to provide adequate veterinary care for their dogs . . . 

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Breaking news: U.S. will allow cruel trophy hunting practices to kill hibernating bears and wolf pups on Alaska’s federal lands

By on May 20, 2020 with 90 Comments
Breaking news: U.S. will allow cruel trophy hunting practices to kill hibernating bears and wolf pups on Alaska’s federal lands

The Trump administration has just delivered a one-two punch to Alaska’s wildlife: it has announced that it will release a final National Park Service rule allowing some of the cruelest practices for killing black bears, wolves and other wildlife on national preserve lands in Alaska; . . . 

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Breaking news: Chinese provinces announce plans to buy out wildlife breeders, end trade in wild animals for food

By on May 19, 2020 with 5 Comments
Breaking news: Chinese provinces announce plans to buy out wildlife breeders, end trade in wild animals for food

Four Chinese provinces will offer farmers a government buy-out or other financial help to stop breeding wild animals like civets and cobras for food. This move is part of a continuing crackdown by China and its individual provinces and cities on the nation’s rampant wildlife . . . 

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Roadside zoos lure in visitors amidst the pandemic, at great risk to animals and people

By on May 18, 2020 with 4 Comments
Roadside zoos lure in visitors amidst the pandemic, at great risk to animals and people

Last week, the Oklahoma roadside zoo where Joe Exotic bred tiger cubs, ripped them from their mothers as soon as they were born, hit them so they would pose with visitors for photos, and disposed of many of them when they were no longer of . . . 

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Pennsylvania teen who tortured dying deer avoids prison sentence; case highlights need for mental health evaluations in animal cruelty instances

By on May 15, 2020 with 32 Comments
Pennsylvania teen who tortured dying deer avoids prison sentence; case highlights need for mental health evaluations in animal cruelty instances

A Pennsylvania court this week allowed an 18-year-old to avoid prison time for a crime that shocked Americans when a viral video of it surfaced earlier this year: in the video, the young man and his friend were seen torturing a dying deer, kicking him . . . 

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