SAOVA message to sportsmen, pet owners and farmers concerned about protecting their traditions, avocations and livelihoods from anti-hunting, anti-breeding, animal guardianship advocates. Forwarding and cross posting, with attribution, encouraged.
Dear SAOVA Friends,
You may have heard that HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle had a very bad day last week, testifying before the House Agriculture's Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry. There's a press report below. On-scene observers indicate that Pacelle was extremely defensive and lost his composure during frequently hostile questioning. At one point, a congressman was heard to say, "Son, just answer the question."
Compelling hearing statements by Congressman Charlie Stenholm and Center for Consumer Freedom's David Martosko are attached. Other excellent statements by the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Association for Biomedical Research, United Egg Producers, Sonoma Foie Gras, National Cattlemens Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Quarter Horse Association and the National Milk Producers Federation may be found at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html
While most of Pacelle's 52-page prepared statement focuses on livestock and farm issues, it does contain an extended call for new "puppy mill and imports" legislation in the current Congress. Without naming the new bill, HSUS's website summarizes it as follows:
*A bill that would require inspection of dog breeding operations that sell directly to the public over the Internet. Current law requires inspections of facilities that sell puppies to pet stores but does not apply to breeders who sell dogs online. The bill would also address the problem of importing puppies from other countries to the U.S. for use in the pet trade.*
This is very likely a partial PAWS2007 preview. See online breeder advertisements at http://www.akc.org/classified/search/index.cfm
Mainstream animal ag groups, HSUS square off in D.C.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 2:25 PM
by Peter Shinn
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry heard from two very different witnesses during a hearing on animal welfare Tuesday in Washington D.C. Representing the interests of many mainstream animal agriculture groups was Charlie Stenholm of Texas, the former ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee. Speaking for animal rights activists, and arguably, many millions of consumers who know little about animal agriculture, was Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S (HSUS). And while members of the House ag panel appeared decidedly more sympathetic to Stenholm's point of view, Pacelle suggested his group could simply go around the House Ag Committee to advance its agenda if necessary.
Stenholm was the sole witness on the first panel to testify at the hearing. He gave an eight minute opening statement that pointed out livestock producers have a both a financial and moral interest in treating the animals in their care humanely. Stenholm also noted "animal rights are NOT synonymous with animal welfare," and he accused the HSUS of using its massive war chest of donations to advance a political agenda, rather than using the money to actually care for animals.
"The Humane Society has accumulated $113 million in assets, has a budget three times the size of PETA's [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] and according to the activist cash web site, has more than enough funding to finance animal shelters in all 50 states," Stenholm testified, "yet only operates one animal sanctuary, Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, which is at full capacity."
But Stenholm, who lobbies on behalf of the Livestock Marketing Association among other groups, focused much of his testimony on the efforts of animal rights activists to end the practice of horse slaughter in the U.S. At the beginning of the year, three horse slaughter plants were in operation in the U.S., two in Texas and one in Illinois. Since then, a court decision put an end to horse slaughter in Texas and the Illinois facility is currently operating while it appeals a separate injunction that temporarily shut it down. And Stenholm told lawmakers horse owners who are looking to get rid of their unwanted equines are already feeling the effects of a potential horse slaughter ban.
"The first people who have come in contact now with this unwanted horse phenomenon has been the people bringing their horse into the livestock auction to sell it," Stenholm said. "And they're being turned away because they're being told, 'We can't buy your horse.'"
Stenholm called banning horse slaughter "a slippery slope" that could lead to the curtailing of the property rights of all livestock owners and producers. And Stenholm said he had a problem with that.
"I respect the rights of those who you will hear from who basically want to eliminate horse slaughter as an option," said Stenholm. "I respect their right to that opinion, but I do not respect their right to take that away from me as a horse owner or my fellow horse owners."
But HSUS chief Pacelle denied eliminating horse slaughter left owners of unwanted horses with few options. He said horse slaughter numbers had declined over the last several years from 350,000 to around 100,000, and said that had occurred because "they had been absorbed" into a "network of sanctuaries." Pacelle also recommended that horse owners simply euthanize their unwanted animals themselves.
"Euthanasia is an option on site, rather than transporting them a thousand or 1500 miles," Pacelle testified.
Indeed, Pacelle took a combative tone with the House Ag Subcommittee members from the outset, suggesting they were out of touch with the American people on a range of animal welfare issues from horse slaughter, to banning non-ambulatory animals from slaughter, to eliminating sow gestation crates. And he admonished the lawmakers for not holding hearings on animal welfare sooner.
"This committee has completely abrogated its responsibility to have proper oversight on animal welfare issues," accused Pacelle. "This is the first hearing on animal welfare, other than an animal fighting bill in 2000, that's been held on production agriculture since 1989."
Before being cutoff by Subcommittee Chairman Leonard Boswell of Iowa about six minutes into his opening statement, which was to have lasted five minutes, Pacelle also touted the legislative successes of HSUS. He cited successful ballot initiatives in Florida and Adminzona that effectively banned sow gestation crates. Pacelle said those votes proved HSUS is on the right side of public opinion when it comes to animal welfare issues. And he warned the House Ag Committee that if they didn't include an animal welfare title in the next farm bill, HSUS would simply go to more sympathetic lawmakers.
"We're very hopeful that the Congress will include an animal welfare title in the farm bill - this is an issue that's been long ignored," said Pacelle. "When the committee ignores it, the issue gets addressed in other committees in this Congress," he added. "It's time for this Congress to address these issues."
For his part, Stenholm lamented that the HSUS does, indeed, seem to be winning the public relations battle over who knows best about animal welfare. And he said the animal agriculture industry must do a better job getting its message out beyond the agricultural trade media.
"What we've got to do is find a way is get that story out to where more of the non-agricultural press begin to pick up on what we're really doing in agriculture, not what some people say we are," Stenholm asserted.
Please take Mr. Stenholm's advice and do a better job of spreading our positive animal husbandry message.
Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance - http://saova.org
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Meet Bob Kane http://www.thedogpress.com/ClubNews/06_SAOVA_Bob_Kane_Prt1-08.asp