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January 19, 2009

We Need Your Vote on Components of “Change Agenda for Animals”

As a marker of a healthy democracy, there is nothing to match the spectacle of seeing a new American president sworn in. This transfer of political authority is one of the foundation stones of democratic government, and a reminder that the people of America ultimately hold the power.

Dog and flag
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With the changing of the guard at the White House comes the prospect of new possibilities for moving our goals forward, and to mark this latest transfer of power, The HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) are advancing a 100-point “Change Agenda for Animals.” Never before has the animal protection movement so carefully articulated a vast array of critical animal protection reforms in the domains of so many federal agencies—Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, State, and others. It is a road map for reform, and it reflects the remarkable experience and knowledge of HSUS and HSLF staff experts and government affairs specialists who developed the roster of items after years of study and work, and experience in the corridors of power where fateful decisions concerning the fate of animals are made—or not made.

We numbered the items from 1 to 100, but they reflect no order of priority. They are all important, from #1, the inclusion of chickens, turkeys, and other poultry under the standards of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, to #100, improving the work of a federal committee that validates alternatives to animal testing. Other reforms include ending the slaughter of American horses for consumption in foreign countries (#4), cracking down on abusive puppy mills (#5), transforming the USDA’s Wildlife Services program into one that mitigates human-wildlife conflicts through non-lethal means (#10), halting the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies into the United States (#23), having the Environmental Protection Agency regulate factory farms and the pollution they produce, including emissions that contribute significantly to climate change (#39), ensuring that Housing and Urban Development officials don’t require tenants in public housing to subject their cats to declawing (#54), and phasing out the use of chimpanzees in invasive research and retiring these great apes to permanent sanctuaries (#74).

In the last decade, animal protection advocates have begun to flex some political muscle, winning ballot initiatives throughout the country, passing hundreds of laws at the state level, and dozens of laws in Congress. Now it is time to reach an even higher level of effectiveness, by driving forward the 100-point platform we’ve developed here and achieving still greater progress for animals during the Obama Administration.

You’ll be hearing more from us on all of these reforms, but we’d also like to hear from you. Please write to me, either by offering a comment or sending an email, and tell me what you think should be the top five priorities from this list. Just send in the numbers, in no particular order, and we’ll post the top vote-getters in a couple of weeks, and we’ll be sure to factor your thoughts as we advocate for change. Be sure to forward the blog to other animal protection advocates so we can increase participation in voting and get an accurate picture of which reforms you think are most urgent and important.

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