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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
17 December 2000 Issue

The Animals' Legislative Platform
by Kim Stallwood - kim@animalsagenda.org
from The Animals' Agenda - Volume 20 * No. 3

This Sample "Animals' Platform" summarizes the national and local issues that you may wish to lobby candidates about in order to determine how supportive they are on animal rights. Get together with local activists and organizations to customize a platform for your area.

COMPANION ANIMALS

The Problem

More than 64 million cats and 62 million dogs live in U.S. households, but another estimated 8-12 million of them enter shelters annually; roughly 4-6 million are killed. Overpopulation and constant challenges of housing, placing, and euthanizing unwanted animals prevent many humane societies, shelters, and sanctuaries from developing animal wellness and humane education programs to promote responsible guardianship.

The Solution

* Expand and improve state-funded spay/neuter programs to make them easily available to all sectors of society.

* Ban the commercial breeding of cats and dogs.

* Replace the sale of companion animals in pet stores with the promotion of adoptable cats and dogs from humane societies, shelters and sanctuaries.

* Prohibit such cosmetic mutilations as tail docking and ear cropping.

* End the practice of pound seizure whereby animal care facilities are forced to relinquish cats and dogs to animal research laboratories.

* Make animal cruelty a felony offense.

* Prohibit the import, export, or sale of dog and cat fur products.

* Establish animal care educational programs in schools, colleges, and public libraries.

* Provide strict penalties for harming dogs and horses used by police or federal agencies.

WILDLIFE

The Problem

Wild animals are at serious risk from such human activities as habitat destruction (residential and commercial), hunting, and trapping. The annual hunting toll is staggering: 42 million mourning doves, 30 million squirrels, 28 million quail, 13 million rabbits, 7 million pheasants, 17 million ducks, 13 million upland game birds, 6 million deer, 4 million geese, 4 million raccoons, and thousands of bears, moose, elk, antelope, swans, cougars, turkeys, wolves, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, boars, and others. Up to 10 million wild-caught and farmed animals are also killed for fur. The worldwide trade in wildlife parts, which is a $5 billion industry, severely threatens populations worldwide.

The Solution

* Outlaw the recreational killing of animals, whether by hunting, shooting or trapping.

* Prohibit commercial fur farming and trapping.

* End government-funded trapping, snaring, poisoning, killing, and other assaults on wild animals on all public lands.

* Prohibit interstate commerce of steel-jaw leg hold traps or fur caught with these cruel devices.

* Ban the importation of skins, pelts, and other products obtained from animals, whether trapped or farmed.

* Halt bear poaching by prohibiting interstate or foreign commerce of bear viscera (gallbladders and bile) or products that contain them.

* Establish public education programs that celebrate wild animals and encourage coexistence.

* Enhance protections provided under the Endangered Species Act.

* Support conservation projects to protect great apes from the bush meat trade, habitat destruction, and other threats.

* Increase funding for rescue, rehabilitation, and release of stranded marine mammals.

* Provide permanent funding for a variety of programs that will conserve and protect wildlife habitat, open space, and natural resources.

ENTERTAINMENT

The Problem

There are no reliable statistics on the numbers of animals used in such entertainment venues as zoos, wildlife parks, aquariums, and film and television production. There are many abusive practices involved in this profit-driven industry, including confinement in inadequate housing that does not allow for animals' normal behavior and psychological needs; capture and transportation; questionable breeding practices that perpetuate a constant supply of baby animals to attract the public; and the disposal of unwanted or genetically imperfect animals, some of whom end up in canned hunts or the exotic "pet" trade.

The Solution

* Ban the keeping of animals in roadside zoos and attractions.

* Prohibit the capture of animals from their native habitat for the purpose of public display and entertainment.

* Close the loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allows interstate commerce of birds used for cockfighting.

* Make animal fighting a felony.

* Eliminate animal acts from circuses and from theatrical productions.

* Convert zoos, wildlife parks, aquariums, and similar facilities into sanctuaries for rescued animals.

AGRICULTURE

The Problem

More than 8 billion animals are killed annually (or 15,221 every second) in the United States for human consumption. In 1998 this included 7,826 million broiler chickens, 169 million laying hens, 273 million turkeys, 23 million ducks, 37 million cattle and calves, 101 million pigs, and 39 million sheep. Many of these animals are raised in intensive confinement that does not allow them to turn around, lie down, or stretch their legs or wings. These factory farming conditions do not allow the animals to satisfy their behavior and psychological needs. The transportation and slaughter of animals is also a highly stressful and painful experience. Furthermore, the consumption of an animal-based diet is increasingly recognized as placing consumers' health unnecessarily at risk; significantly and negatively impacting the environment; and routinely exploiting disadvantaged and migrant workers in dangerous work conditions.

The Solution

* Make illegal the most egregious examples of factory farming, including battery cages, veal crates, and sow stalls.

* Ban the routine mutilation of animals, including tail docking and debeaking.

* Strengthen State anti-cruelty statutes to include animals in agriculture.

* Prohibit the transfer or sale of "downed" animals who cannot walk because of illness or injury.

* Eliminate the use of pesticides, drugs, and antibiotics in raising animals for food.

* Regulate factory farms to reduce environmental contamination from animal waste, which would likely lead to improvement in the living conditions of the animals.

* Stop grants for research into intensive animals agriculture systems.

* Remove tax subsidies for corporations engaged in animal rearing, transportation, and slaughter.

* Promote plant-based food options in schools and other institutions.

SCIENCE AND EDUCATION

The Problem

The federal government does not keep accurate and comprehensive statistics on the numbers and types of animals used in science and education, nor on the level of suffering to which they are exposed. Rats, mice, and birds -- who collectively are used more than any other species in research and testing -- are specifically exempted from the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act. The AWA does little to question the rationale for individual experiments, or attempt to limit research that is duplicative or of questionable purpose. It places no controls on the amount of pain and suffering that the animals may endure nor requires researchers to use non-animal alternatives. Commercial interests and scientific community are virtually free from public inspection and accountability. The increasingly costly dependence on a curative rather than preventative healthcare system, which relies upon theories based on questionable animal research, often fails to prevent disease and/or promote the well-being of humans and animals. Young people are desensitized to animal suffering by classroom dissections and the use of live animals in science fairs.

The Solution

* Ban the most egregious examples of animal experiments, including those that involve invasive psychological and behavioral research; tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs; personal care and household cleaning products; warfare; and so on.

* Strengthen the Animal Welfare Act to include coverage for rats, mice, and birds.

* Eliminate authorization of Class B dealers, who sell animals from random sources to research facilities, thereby helping to reduce "pet" theft.

* Demand that the federal government provide annual, accurate, and comprehensive statistics on the use of animals in laboratories.

* Require the government to subject any potential testing programs called for by federal agencies and departments to a thorough animal protection audit, assessing the relevance of proposed animal testing to the program and the availability of alternative methods, and mandating more animal advocates serve on institutional research oversight committees.

* Ban dissection in all schools, and the use of live animals in science fairs.

* Establish humane sanctuary facilities for chimpanzees no longer used in medical research.

* Codify the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods, and encourage federal agencies to give greater consideration to non-animal tests.

* Require laboratories to be held publicly accountable for their use of animals, and implement a maximum 10-year program to replace all animal use with non-animal alternatives.

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