Wayne Pacelle on Democratic Front-Runners

In January, Wayne Pacelle released his impressions of the Democratic candidates for president.

Written before the first few primaries, Pacelle wrote that all of the Democratic candidates were relatively strong on issues important to Humane USA (HSUS’s political action committee). Of John Kerry, the frontrunner for the nomination, Pacelle wrote,

Senator Kerry was the co-author with former Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) of the successful effort to halt an annual $2 million subsidy for the mink industry – terminating a taxpayer give-away to the corporate mink industry. Kerry and Smith shepherded this amendment through the Senate during debate on the Fiscal Year 1995 Agriculture Appropriations Act, and they have repelled subsequent efforts by legislators aligned with the mink industry to revive the taxpayer boondoggle. Kerry has also been the co-author, with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), of letters in recent years sent to the leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations to increase funding for existing animal protection laws, including the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter Act. Thanks in part to his leadership – and collaborating with the powerful senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Robert C. Byrd — the Congress has provided more than $26 million in new funds for animal protection programs in recent years.

Kerry has cosponsored almost every piece of animal protection legislation – including measures to combat cockfighting, bear baiting, canned hunts, puppy mills, the bear parts trade, the exotic pet trade, steel-jawed leghold traps, and the abuse of “downed” livestock – introduced on behalf of animals. A Washington Post profile of Senator Kerry, however, did create concern among animal advocates across the country. It reported that Kerry highlighted his interest in the hunting of mourning doves – an unusual activity to draw out at this stage of the campaign, given that dove hunting is illegal and enormously unpopular in both Iowa and New Hampshire, especially among Democratic activists.

As for Kerry’s only major competitor left standing, John Edwards, Pacelle wrote,

John Edwards of North Carolina immediately became a much-admired figure within the animal protection community by defeating incumbent U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth, who was the chamber’s only operator of an industrial hog factory. Still in his first term in the Senate, Edwards has been a consistently reliable supporter of animal protection and regularly cosponsors animal protection legislation or supports our positions on key votes, such as banning canned hunts. He did, however, oppose the amendment to halt the use of leghold traps on national wildlife refuges. His general support for our positions is noteworthy because North Carolina’s agriculture, hunting, and animal fighting industries are larger and more vocal than those in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida – the states represented by the other senators vying for the Democratic nomination.


An animal friendly president? Press Release, Wayne Pacelle, Humane USA, Undated.

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