Julián Castro introduces extensive animal welfare platform

Editors Note: This is NOT a paid political advertisement or endorsed by anyone other than the writer / author of this blog.

On Monday, August 19th, Democratic Presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled a platform focused on advancing the welfare of animals around the globe, both domestic and wildlife. It would raise standards for factory farms and encourage conservation efforts, including expanding U.S. protected lands to 30 percent by 2030 with the goal of 50 percent by 2050.

The “PAW (Protecting Animals and Wildlife) Plan” is comprehensive. It proposes:

  • making animal abuse a federal crime
  • ending the killing of domestic dogs and cats for population control
  • strengthening the Endangered Species Act, creating a $2 billion National Wildlife Recovery Fund to protect wildlife populations
  • banning the use of federal lands for fossil fuel exploration and extraction and
  • eliminating the import of big-game trophies.

Castro, the former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Mayor of San Antonio, Texas is the first presidential candidate to address these important animal welfare issues.

Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, says “the fact that a presidential candidate – as a matter of personal compassion or as a political calculation — has identified animal welfare as a campaign issue is huge. “

“The President does not care about animals,” Castro said, “and his cruel actions prove it. He has put corporate profits over living creatures and individual fortunes over our future.”

Chickens caged on chicken farm; photo by Artem Beliaikin

The issues of animal welfare and lack thereof have become more visible to the American public over the past few years. Social media, whistleblower videos and celebrities such as Jon Stewart have brought our attention to the cruelty and abuse that factory farmed animals suffer. And although the number of companion animals euthanized each year has steadily decreased – from 7.29 million in 2011 to 733,000 last year, according to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s latest statistics, those numbers are still too high.

Approximately 68 percent of American households have one or more pets. Most view them as family members. Castro’s plan addresses issues such as animal cruelty, policies for homeless pets, abuses related to factory farming, private ownership of big cats and animal testing.    

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Zoo

With the President’s gutting of the Endangered Species Act and the steady race towards extinction of too many animal species around the world – a race caused by factors such as poaching, trophy hunting, overfishing, climate change and the loss of critical habitat – you begin to see how the PAW platform and Castro could be a vital force for positive change.

Best Friends’ Castle says “Every candidate has an opportunity to get on the right side of history with this issue and demonstrate to our country of animal lovers that this bipartisan cause is important.” Castro’s bold animal welfare plan could be a key that pushes him to the top of the pack.

The PAW Plan can be viewed here.

There’s hope for farmers who want to raise farm animals humanely

If you know any farmers, you know that earning a living is very difficult. Much money is spent – on equipment of all sorts, high labor costs and a myriad of other things – and the markets are volatile at best. Farmers who raise livestock – be it cattle, chickens or hogs – know that the demand from consumers for humanely raised animals is growing.

Change, however, costs money, something that’s usually in short supply for the American farmer.

But there’s hope out there and resources that farmers can reach out for to help them transition to a third-party certification of humanely raised farm animals.

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Dannon to switch to non-GMO ingredients for all its yogurt brands

Dannon Oikos yogurtYogurt lovers have received a much welcomed announcement about their favorite snack food.

Dannon, which owns the Oikos®, Dannon® and Danimals® yogurt brands, has announced that it will switch to non-GMO, non-synthetic ingredients.These brands represent 50 percent of the company’s current volume. This move is a pledge to farmers, customers and consumers to further improve sustainable agriculture practices for its milk supply, to increase transparency for its portfolio of products and evolve to more natural and fewer ingredients for flagship brands.

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SeaWorld set to “talk through the issue” of captive orcas

SeaWorld orca

Orcas at SeaWorld. Only in captivity are the fins on their backs folded over – another sign that something’s very wrong. Photo by Josh, flickr

Seems there’s a breakthrough in the making. As pressure increases on SeaWorld  since the release of the film Blackfish exposing details about its captive orcas. As the park continues to see serious drops in revenues from artists and tourist cancellations, it has decided it’s time to speak up. It announced that on June 5th a representative from SeaWorld will take on two prominent critics of the park to “talk through the issue” of keeping killer whales in captivity, according to Voice of San Diego, organizer of the unprecedented event that’s to be held at La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Farm Sanctuary and the National Conference to End (the cruelty of) Factory Farming

Factory farms confine animals in cages so small they can't even turn around

For those who don’t know – and many consumers don’t – much of the meat products that Americans eat come from factory farms. These “factories” are places where an often staggering number of animals such as chickens and turkeys are forced to endure extremely cramped confined spaces their entire lives, often stacked on top of each other – tighter than shelving in a garage – with no room to move around or nest in, much less any dirt to peck at. And cows and pigs endure even worse, many never seeing grass in their lifetime.

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