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.

8 members of Congress honored for defending wildlife and the Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species poster

Many Americans have bones to pick with our members of Congress over a variety of issues. But sometimes, some of them do get it right. This evening eight members of Congress were honored for their staunch defense of wildlife and of the Endangered Species Act.

The “Champions of the Endangered Species Act” reception in Washington, D.C. features former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and honors Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and House members Don Beyer (D-VA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).
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Obama and 2 states to appeal ruling on federal protection for wolves – but who do the wolves appeal to?

Great Lalkes Gray WolfGreat Lake wolves have shown a recovery in numbers. Scientists, who consider the Great Lakes wolves’ territory to include nine states, have established populations of about 3,700 animals total in just three — Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Even so, a  federal judge’s recent order restored legal protection to gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

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The Climate Change Debate doesn’t really need to happen

Now that the election is behind us and the Republicans are in power in both houses of Congress, it’s easy to anticipate that climate change legislation is in trouble, along with the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and perhaps even the Endangered Species Act.

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