Voting is Our Voice for Animals

Very often, I talk about how important it is for our pet clients to have a choice in accepting our care and that getting permission from them is an essential part of trust-building.  They communicate their permission to us using the only language they know…body language and “dog speak.”  It’s our responsibility as therapists and canine professionals to be able to understand a dog’s language and to help others who don’t know to understand.  We speak for the animals in our care because we have their best interests at heart.  Likewise, we, as pet parents, must remember that we play a vital role as advocates for our pets.  We are their voice.  But, our voices can carry our message of kindness and love toward animals much further, if we choose.

We create a loving, compassionate, and nurturing life for our own animals, but beyond our small circles, there exist puppy mills, inhumane animal testing, abuse and brutal treatment of pets and farm animals, killing of endangered species, destruction of wildlife resources, and man-made destruction of ecosystems across the globe.  By widening our circles a bit, we can strive to be a voice for more animals who need us, not only for the ones who bless our homes.
I have to admit that this blog is a little bit out of character. For those who know me, it is obvious by my voice, Facebook posts, and involvement in the upcoming election that I am intensely focused on what is happening across the political spectrum and where along that spectrum my support lies.

There are many issues the presidential candidates must face and so many issues about which to be concerned.  However, when it comes to matters involving animals, I compiled a list comparing each presidential candidate’s stance.

Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton:

  • Hillary and Bill Clinton are long time pet parents. Right now they have a poodle mix named Maisie and a toy poodle named Tally.
  • Clinton has a track record in Congress, so her positions are clear as are her good grades from the Humane Society and other animal-related organizations.
  • When Secretary Clinton was a US Senator, she had an excellent rating by the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF).
  • She voted for making more resources available to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who are taking steps to conserve our wildlife, lands, and waters.
  • She voted to protect farm animals from inhumane treatment by encouraging farms to raise animals humanely, and working to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals for non-therapeutic reasons.
  • Clinton voted to protect horses by ending their slaughter for human consumption and by cracking down on the practice of horse soring, where chemicals or other inhumane methods are applied to horses’ limbs to exaggerate their gait.
  • She co-sponsored-bills to crack down on puppy mills and spoke out against slaughtering sick cows for use in school lunches.  As secretary of state, she advocated for launching a campaign against the illegal ivory trade.  The Clinton Foundation has also been instrumental in protecting elephants against illegal poaching.
  • Clinton wants to continue the policies of Barack Obama, who through a series of critical administrative rulemakings has done more to protect animals than any other president in recent memory. For more on her policies, you can go to www.hillaryclinton.com and click on “animal issues.”

Republican Candidate Donald Trump:

  • Even though Trump doesn’t have a voting record to grade, he has made his views on animals clear.
  • He has spoken out against the Barnum and Bailey Circus on its decision to stop the inhumane use of elephants in the circus.
  • He has defended his sons’ camped trophy hunts of endangered wild game in Africa, saying how it makes his sons "strong."
  • Most notable and unsettling are the people he is considering appointing to his cabinet if elected, many of whom would reinforce an anti-animal rights platform. The front man looking to be Secretary of the Interior is Forrest Lucas who is a fierce advocate for puppy mills, trophy hunting, and big agribusiness.
  • Other potential candidates for the Agriculture Advisory Committee include Annette Sweeney, Iowa Republican governor Terry Branstad, and former Nebraska Dave Heineman, all of whom are active opponents of animal welfare and protection policies. Advisor and factory farmer Dave Rastetter would potentially become Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture. Rastetter's family builds large scale hog facilities as well as inhumane gestation crates for breeding sows.
  • Besides Trump’s cavalier views about animal rights, he has also proven his lack of knowledge regarding climate change and its effects on animals and the world.  Climate change is destroying our ecosystems and bringing a significant number of animal species in the world closer toward extinction.

Now is the right time to speak up and be the voice for the animals in our care and beyond.  Get involved on a local and national level to elect politicians who can make a difference for animals and ecosystems.  Speak up against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which is an ineffective policy that bans dogs in communities based on breed. Speak up against puppy mills.  Speak up against unhealthy and inhumane factory farms.  Speak up to stop animal abuse everywhere it’s found.  Speak up to protect our wildlife and our land.

If you care as much about animals as I do, you’ll know that these issues only scratch the surface.  Do your research.  Know where your local politicians stand on matters related to animals. Get involved, and be sure to vote in this (and every) election!