Where the Candidates Stand on Animal Rights

By Tiffany Battle on November 4, 2016

Although we can all agree the candidates for presidency have said plenty during this election, there hasn’t been much emphasis on animal welfare issues. I understand that some people don’t give much thought or concern to how animals are treated; there is a common belief that animals are already treated fair enough and no more needs to be done. However, this is an ill-informed thought-process and ignorant to reality.

Animal rights is something I put at the top of my list of important issues, and I know I’m not the only one. I decided to do my own research on how each of the U.S. presidential candidates measure up on the topic of animal welfare.

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First up: Hillary Clinton

On her website under the environmental issues section, I found a “protecting animals and wildlife” page. The subtitle for the page states that, “The way our society treats animals is a reflection of our humanity”. The page outlines things that Clinton will do should she become president. These include:

Protecting wildlife by making more resources available to those working to conserve our wildlife, lands, and waters

Combating wildlife trafficking by shutting down the U.S. market for illegal wildlife products and fighting animal trafficking and poaching

Protecting pets and domesticated animals by supporting the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act that would increase regulation on Puppy Mills and other places where dogs are used as breeding machines and treated inhumanely

Protecting farm animals by encouraging humane treatment and removing the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes (animals who are not clinically ill)

Protecting horses from being slaughtered and eaten and strengthening regulations on “horse scoring” (inhumane treatment of horses’ legs to improve their gait)

How do these promises hold up to what Clinton has already done for animals?

During her time in the U.S. Senate, Clinton cosponsored legislation that dealt with horse slaughter, animal fighting, and Puppy Mills, one of which was Senate Bill 261 which punishes those who break the law against animal fighting.

Clinton also requested more funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture which would strengthen already in place regulations on humane animal slaughter, including the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the Animal Welfare Act.

Senate Bill 714 would have made it illegal to use dogs and cats acquired through sketchy sources for research purposes, but it was not passed. Clinton did not vote on this Bill.

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Donald Trump

I found nothing on Donald Trump’s official website about animal welfare.

Trump’s statements about animals

Although Trump abstains from hunting himself, he has defended his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., stating that his sons “love to hunt”, even though their game includes endangered wildlife in Africa.

Because the Ringling Brothers will no longer include elephants in their acts, Trump has stated he will not attend another circus.

He did, however, cancel an inhumane horse-diving act when he owned the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.

Gary Johnson

Like Trump, I found nothing on Johnson’s official website about animal welfare.

Johnson’s actions for animals

During his time as Governor of New Mexico, Johnson vetoed a bill that would have made animal hoarding illegal. His belief is that animal hoarding is a mental illness and the bill would have made this illness illegal.

His general belief is that the government should not deal with animal issues, but organizations such as the Humane Society, the Audubon Society, and Nature Conservancy should be solely responsible for animal welfare.

In Conclusion

Clinton actually had a section about animal welfare on her website about what she has done and what she plans to do for animals if she is elected. It’s difficult to determine how Trump would pass legislation for animal rights since he has never held a public office. Gary Johnson doesn’t seem like he would do anything directly for animals, but would give the power to other organizations.

While the issue of animal welfare is certainly not the only one you should consider on Tuesday, it does deserve a fair amount of thought.

A senior Creative Writing student at the Florida State University. Dedicated cat mom, coffee drinker, and Grey's Anatomy groupie.

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