In case you haven’t noticed, it’s election season! As we continue on this Alice in Wonderland-type journey that is our democracy in action, one issue is consistently ignored: animal welfare.

There’s a lot to consider in choosing a president, like who’s sane enough to possess the nuclear codes. So even if a staunch record on animal welfare isn’t your deciding factor, it’s one worth considering. Often times, how someone reveres the life of an animal is reflective of how they treat their fellow man.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) rates our lawmakers based on their voting record as it pertains to animal welfare issues. It’s worth visiting their website to peruse where our lawmakers stand on these issues. Since governors and private sector candidates can’t be ranked by this metric, a little additional digging was required.

The Elephants

Ted Cruz
Senator Cruz was present for two animal welfare-related votes in 2014, receiving a 12 (out of 100) rating from the HSLF. He voted NO on the Farm Bill final passage, which passed anyway, and NO on the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act. The Sportsmen’s Act would have allowed sport hunting and trapping on federal lands, including designated wilderness areas, but was defeated with the help of Cruz.

In 2015 Senator Cruz voted NO on the Omnibus bill. The bill encompassed many measures on wide ranging subjects that could have prompted his vote. Still, animal rights groups applauded the passing of the bill based on the following provisions:

1. Prohibits the use of funds to allow horse slaughter plants to open in the U.S.
2. Retains the Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves.
3. Allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to crack down on trade in ivory, protecting elephants from poaching.
4. Funds protections for farm animals in research at federal facilities.

Cruz stirred up quite a controversy when he posed next to a tiger skin rug alongside Utah Senator Mike Lee. Though it’s not Cruz’s rug, the image sent animal rights activists into an uproar.

Donald Trump
Google the hunting adventures of Trump’s sons and some pretty gruesome images of dead tigers and elephant tails will greet you. Mr. Trump halfheartedly condemned the behavior/defended himself by telling TMZ, “My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it.”

Trump also has expressed his disappointment that Ringling Brothers will no longer feature elephants in their circus performances. Perhaps he’s naïve to the abuse these animals suffer on a frequent basis, or perhaps he just really enjoys watching elephants do tricks.

Given that Mr. Trump has never been in a position to dictate policy related to animal welfare, it’s difficult to determine what his stance on these issues would be. We’ll keep an eye on his Twitter feed for updates.

Marco Rubio
It’s well documented that this Florida senator has missed his fair share of votes in the Senate. That said, those he’s participated in have been less than animal friendly. He voted YES for the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act of 2014 and NO on the Agricultural Act of 2014. Like Senator Cruz, HSLF gives Rubio a score of 12 out of a possible 100.

To his credit, Rubio voted YES on the Prevent All Soring Tactics. Anyone aware of the horrific practice of soring appreciates his support.

Rubio was absent for two animal welfare related votes through the midterm of 2015.

Ben Carson
Well, he’s a vegetarian. Kind of. So as far as presidential candidates go he’s personally done far less harm to animals than the rest of the crowd. He admits to “indulging” in chicken, and perhaps a steak, on occasion, but mostly sticks to his greens.

Aside from his personal avoidance of meat, there’s little information regarding Carson’s animal welfare record. Apparently, he was busy separating conjoined twins.

Jeb Bush
Bush’s “favorite mammal” is the manatee – you have to credit his originality – but many welfare groups say his fear of the dreaded ‘perceived’ tax was stronger than his affection for the finned mammal.

During his tenure as Florida’s Governor, Bush frequently met with animal rights groups regarding the issue of manatee/boater collisions. Suggestions to add a $10 fee to boater registrations, revenue that would hire 100 new wildlife officers to patrol the waterways, were rejected. Bush said, “It smells like a tax.” Manatees continue to die off Florida’s coast due to reckless boating practices.

Photo from Mother Jones

Michael Markarian, President of the HSLF, states the following on his blog Animals & Politics: “As governor of Florida, Bush signed a number of animal protection bills sent to him by the legislature, but never distinguished himself as a leader or an advocate in that office. During his tenure, Florida upgraded its laws on animal fighting, horse tripping, dog and cat fur, downer livestock, and pets in disaster planning.”

Carly Fiorina
Since most of her career was spent in the private sector, there’s not much out there on Carly Fiorina’s animal rights track record. A very strange video involving demon puppies, that seems to have no point, is available online.

Just last week, at the Iowa Pork Congress, a member of Direct Action Everywhere asked Fiorina how she can justify her support of the “exploitation and killing” of pigs who the interrogator called “individuals with unique personalities.”

Fiorina’s response: “I really wish there was that much passion in that young man for unborn children as there are for pigs. Ladies and gentleman, this is exactly why we need to take our country back. We are being told to sit down and be quiet about our God, about our guns, about what’s going on in the abortion industry. People think they can come in here and say that you’re cruel. For heaven’s sakes folks, we gotta restore the character of this nation.”

It’s unclear how her response answered his question, but it’s safe to say Babe shouldn’t get too close to this candidate.

John Kasich
In 2012 John Kasich signed the Dangerous Wild Animal Bill into law in Ohio. This bill banned ownership of certain wild animals and placed requirements on housing and safety standards for the animals as well as requiring permits for ownership of such animals. ASPCA, Born Free, and the Humane Society applauded this move.

It should be noted that when he initially took office, Kasich failed to renew a ban on owning exotics. When Ohio resident Terry Thompson let his herd of exotics free after the death of his wife, 56 wild animals ran amok in Ohio and law enforcement killed 49 of them. Animal rights groups blamed Kasich’s oversight in renewing the ban for this tragedy, though his inaction probably had little effect on the incident.

The following year, Kasich signed a law cracking down on Ohio’s puppy mills. The law means that large-scale dog-breeding establishments are subject to new licensing and annual veterinary inspections.

In 2015 Ohio passed “Goddard’s Law,” – named after an animal-loving weatherman – giving greater protections to companion animals. According to, the bill makes it a fifth degree felony to “knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal, such as pets or domestic creatures. This is generally defined as activities involving a substantial risk of death, a partial or permanent incapacity, long-term pain, or deprivation of food, water and shelter.

“HB 60 also broadens the definition of “companion animal” to include animals that are kept inside a pet store, whereas the previous definition was limited to a residential dwelling.”

Chris Christie
In August, animal rights activists interrupted a Christie campaign rally, protesting his decision to veto a bill that would ban the use of crates in New Jersey. Crates are used on hog production farms and are often so small in size that animals are unable to turn around. Christie’s response, according to USA Today, was that “farmers, not the government, know what is best for their livestock.” But to most, it was a blatant case of political opportunism with animals paying the price. (For Jon Stewart’s amusing take on this, click here.)

Despite outrage at the killing of Cecil the Lion, Governor Christie has also blocked legislation banning the import of big-game trophies.

However, Christie did sign New Jersey bill A-2023 in September of 2012 that bans horse slaughter for human consumption in New Jersey, as well as transportation of horses to slaughter and the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. “This bi-partisan measure is a nod to our decency and respect for horses in our state, ensuring that no horse is slaughtered in New Jersey for human consumption,” Christie said.

As recently as November, Christie signed into law a bill banning bestiality in his state. Perpetrators of such crimes now face up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to 10,000. Unbelievably, 10 states still do not have laws against bestiality. Yes, you read that right. So kudos, Governor Christie.

The Donkeys

Hillary Clinton
As a senator in 2008, Clinton received an 83 HSLF rating. Clinton was co-sponsor of the 2005 Animal Fighting Prohibitions Act, which prohibits animal fighting and the sale, or transport, of animals for the purpose of fighting.

Additionally, then-senator Clinton co-sponsored Senate Bill 311, which bans the transport, possession, purchase, and sale of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. She also co-sponsored Senate Bill 394, requiring humane euthanasia of livestock that is too sick or injured to walk, as well as strengthened penalties for violations of the Humane Slaughter law. All of the above bills were signed into law.

As First Lady, Clinton penned a book about presidential pets titled Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets. It flew off the shelves.

Bernie Sanders
Since Sanders has spent a lifetime in government, there’s a long record showing his support for animal welfare. lists, very basically, the Senator’s stance on certain animal welfare issues from horse slaughter to breeding and captivity practices.

His senate votes have consistently been pro-animal, granting him a 100 point rating by HSLF in 2014 and an 86 in 2015 due to a missed vote.

In 2007, Sanders co-sponsored 8 bills pertaining to animal welfare. They include: Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, PUPS Act, Safeguard American Food Exports Act, Captive Primate Safety Act , Egg Products Inspection Act, Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.

Sanders most notable anti-animal vote occurred in 2014 when he voted YES for the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza


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