Despite congressional fighting on both sides and across the aisle, 2011 was a relatively successful year for animals. Let's take a brief look at what Humane Society Legislative Fund writer Michael Markarian had to say about Congress's successes and setbacks for 2011 and where they will likely focus their attention in 2012.
Even though most of us, including our government, have been tightening the proverbial "purse strings", animal successes in 2011 largely came in the form of budget boosts to animal-related acts and governmental organizations. Two of these are increases in the Department of Agriculture budget and the enforcement budget for the Horse Prevention Act. With more funds, inspections of animal-related facilities like puppy mills, circuses, zoos, and laboratories will hopefully ensure humane conditions for animals everywhere. Other budget increases will help prevent the Bureau of Land Management from killing wild horses and burros, ensure protection of key aspects of the Endangered Species Act, and halt the military and other groups from performing certain tests on animals.
The setbacks in 2011 come from the prevalence of politics over protection. As most animal advocates are aware, language protecting horses from slaughter for human consumption was not renewed in USDA funding language. Further, gray wolves lost their Endangered Species Act protections, allowing hunters to take advantage of the sensitive species and maybe opening the floodgates for future political subversion of other protected species. Even more disturbing is the continued, though seemingly-useless (as it affects around 1% of the livestock population), subsidy that allows private livestock ranchers to use tax dollars to inhumanely poison, trap, or otherwise kill predators when plenty of other humane options are available.
Click here to read Hot Off the Press: 112th Congress Midterm Humane Scorecard on Michael Markarian's blog where he reviews the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard which tracks the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year.
Looking ahead, there will be several animal issues that will likely crop up in 2012. These issues will undoubtedly include those revolving around service animals, puppy mills, dog and cock fighting, horse-racing, animal testing, livestock and food safety, wildlife conservation, hunting, and more. Stay tuned to THLN and we will keep you updated on the issues that impact the animals we all love and strive to protect.