It seems not a day goes by without some kind of legislation involving animal welfare making headlines across the country. Bills introduced on the local, state and even national levels have become important issues because animal welfare has emerged as a major priority to an increasingly growing population of people. At Tails, we know that keeping current and understanding the legal issues as they pertain to our beloved animal companions—and all animals in general is important to our readers. Which is why we created “It’s the Law,” by Laura Allen, executive director of the Animal Law Coalition a non-profit, which brings the latest animal legal news to attorneys, law students and the public, and offers legal analysis of the issues affecting animals.
The good news for the animals from last Tuesday’s vote: Missouri voters gave a thumbs up to Proposition B, a ballot initiative that will regulate dog breeders, with the idea of shutting down puppy mills.
The new law criminalizes breeders’ failure to provide humane care to dogs they use for breeding and also limits the number of dogs breeders can keep at one time for breeding. Missouri voters sent the message they don’t want to be known any longer as the puppy mill capital of America.
More good news: Arizona voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have prevented them from using future ballot initiatives for wildlife protection. The initiative would also have stripped the state wildlife commission of authority to regulate hunting and fishing and would have made hunting and fishing the preferred means of wildlife “conservation.”
Also, a neck-and-neck race for Illinois Governor ended with a victory for democrat Pat Quinn over republican Sen. Bill Brady to retain his job. Voters may have been appalled by Brady’s support of a bill that would allow animal shelters to kill as many as 10 animals at a time in carbon monoxide gas chambers, a practice not approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and which is banned in a number of states. Gov. Quinn has signed several animal welfare measures into law during his tenure including a law that effectively banned the use of CO gas chambers in animal shelters.
Mark Kirk has been elected in Illinois to fill President Obama’s former U.S. senate seat. Kirk will take office immediately. The good news is that as a U.S. representative, Mark Kirk introduced HR 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, which would ban use of double-decker trailers to transport horses. The trailers are used to transport horses to slaughter. It will be great to have an ally for the horses in the Senate!
The bad news: Though the alternative candidate may not have been better for the horses, Sen. Harry Reid was re-elected and will remain as Senate Majority Leader. Reid championed legislation that passed in 2004 to allow the sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.
The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives also means that Rep. Bob Goodlatte will become chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, a position he has used in the past to defeat legislation to ban horse slaughter or really any animal welfare issue. (Horse advocates like Reps. Nick Rahall, Dan Burton, and Raul Grijalva did retain their seats, so the news is not all bad.)
At the state level, politicians who were infamous in initiating legislation in the past two years to promote the return of horse slaughter for human consumption to the U.S. were re-elected: IL State Rep. Jim Sacia, TN state Rep. Frank Niceley, KY state Rep. Johnny Bell, OK state Rep. Roger Ballenger, and WY State Rep. Sue Wallis. Pro-horse slaughterer J. Paul Brown was elected to the Denver House of Representatives. (But anti-horse slaughter advocate MT state Rep. Dave Wanzenreid was re-elected and pro-horse slaughter candidate for the state senate in ND, Rod Froelich, was defeated!)
On another front, former U.S. Rep. John Kasich defeated Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in his bid for re-election. No word on what this means for the “deal” Gov. Strickland struck with the Humane Society of the United States to advance a number of animal welfare issues.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett will be the new governor of that state. During the campaign Corbett sat on a decision about whether to allow the state Dept. of Agriculture to issue regulations that gut key provisions of a 2008 law giving more protection to dogs held by commercial breeders. As governor, will Corbett stand up for the dogs?
North Dakota voters rejected a ban on canned hunting, where wild animals are penned in relatively small areas and so-called hunters shoot them. (Think shooting fish in a barrel.) Voters in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee passed ballot initiatives to support the “right” to hunt and fish, calling on them as the “preferred” and “traditional” methods of wildlife control and conservation.
For more on these initiatives and other results from the Nov. 2, 2010 elections follow the links below.
For Missouri’s Proposition B, click HERE.
Results of state ballot initiatives can be found HERE.
What will happen to Gov. Strickland’s deal with HSUS? Click HERE for more information.
What will Tom Corbett’s election mean for the PA Dog Law? Find out HERE.