Animal Welfare On The Ballot In November


When voters go to the polls this November, they won’t only be making critical decisions about who represents them in the White House, Congress and state and local offices. In a number of states, the people will vote on the humane treatment of animals—deciding whether to adopt policies on factory farming, wildlife trafficking and other animal protection issues.

Since the early 1990s, The Humane Society of the United States and allied organizations have been involved in about 50 statewide ballot contests, and voters have sided with animals about 70 percent of the time. They’ve banned cockfighting in three of the last states where it remained legal (Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma), set humane treatment standards for dogs in the largest puppy mill state (Missouri), stopped extreme confinement of animals on factory farms (Arizona, California and Florida), and adopted new policies to restrict greyhound racing; horse slaughter; body-gripping traps and poisons; trophy hunting of bears, cougars and wolves and more. When politicians in the state legislatures have been held captive by special interests—such as big agribusiness, the trophy hunting lobby or even organized cockfighting groups—animal advocates have petitioned to put these questions directly to the people.

This year in Massachusetts, voters will decide on Question 3, which would phase out the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens in small crates and cages where they are virtually immobilized for their entire lives, and will remove inhumane and unsafe products from the Massachusetts marketplace. Backed by the MSPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Zoo New England and hundreds of Massachusetts veterinarians and family farmers, more than 170,000 Massachusetts voters signed petitions to place Question 3 on the ballot. Question 3 adds momentum to what’s already occurring in the marketplace, with McDonald’s, Walmart and 200 other major food retail brands pledging to change their procurement practices and source only cage-free eggs and meats.

In Oregon, voters will weigh in on Measure 100, which will help save endangered sea turtles, elephants, rhinos and other wild animals threatened with cruel poaching and extinction. Every day close to 100 elephants are brutally killed in Africa, their tusks hacked off to supply the black market for ivory trinkets. Poachers poison watering holes with cyanide, killing hundreds of elephants at once. Organized criminal gangs and armed rebels use military weapons to kill wildlife for the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. Measure 100 will ensure that Oregon does not provide a market for endangered species products resulting from wildlife poaching and trafficking. If passed, Oregon will join California, Washington, Hawaii and other states in shutting down local markets for those who seek to profit from this destructive wildlife trade.

In Oklahoma, family farmers and animal advocates are opposing State Question 777, a measure referred to the ballot by politicians to amend the state constitution with a so-called “right to farm.” It would protect corporate interests and foreign-owned big agribusiness at the expense of Oklahoma’s family farmers, land and animals. The measure is so broadly worded that it could prevent future restrictions on any “agricultural” practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter and raising gamefowl for cockfighting. Even the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau said the language is flawed, and “I wish that language weren’t in there.”

Those aren’t the only states where voters will see ballot issues related to animals. Californians will vote on Proposition 67, to protect the state’s ban on plastic grocery bags, which wash into our rivers, lakes, streams and ocean, where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish and birds. Some ocean animals mistake bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics, and die of starvation. Montanans will vote on I-777, which would restrict the use of cruel traps and snares on public lands. In Colorado, Amendment 71 would make it more difficult for citizens to have a say on future constitutional ballot measures, including those dealing with animal protection. The HSUS favors the California and Montana measures, but strongly opposes the Colorado measure as an attack on citizen voting.

When you enter the voting booth or send in your mail ballot this November, make sure you don’t stop after the candidate races. Continue down the ballot and review the issues at stake, and you could have a role in promoting the humane treatment of animals and protecting these creatures from cruelty and suffering, and preserving your rights to participate in democratic decision-making in future elections.

Michael Markarian is chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States, and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.


5 thoughts on “Animal Welfare On The Ballot In November

  1. It would be better for our health and the planet if all humans ate less meat or no meat. It is unsustainable: We are the cause of the on-going great anthropocene extinction era. Elk and deer do not need to be saved from wolves or other predators, they have millenniums of natural balance for mutual benefit. It is the blood sport killers (hunters and trappers) that are the additive problem. Humans kill 27 million animals daily for consumption, millions more yearly from hunting and”management” and this is not counting the sea life, 90 billion per year for consumption. Humans kill millions of sharks every year. Animal farming (aka ranching) is one of the most damaging activities to the earth and cruelest things we do to the planet, the environment (land, sea and air) and animals. It is also eating up wilderness and forest and jungles, polluting rivers and streams, polluting the air, down drawing stream levels. Man is crueler than any alien so far imagined or presented in alien movies. Man is working himself toward extinction by animal farming (aka ranching, extraction industries, development, encroachment on the wild, destruction of biodiversity) and is taking most everything else with him. We are 7 billion headed toward 10-12 billion by the middle to the end of the century. We may have the planet at a tipping point in global warming which also has disastrous effects on much land and sea animal life. We can make the transition with meatless meal choices and meatless days by market pressures for meatless offerings at restaurants, grocery stores, and our own entertainment eating. The wolves and other predators are healthy factors in the wilderness ecology. Game farming for sports killing is not. We have several major species on the brink and hunters and poachers and farmer/ranchers, extraction industries, development and encroachment are still going at the the destruction. What humans are doing is not healthy for us or the planet or the other animals. We instituted agencies like the EPA and ESA and international and national conservation organizations to protect us from ourselves and the by products of seeking monetary gain at all costs then we try to politically undermine and gut those agencies. We are a destructive species and cannot seem to help ourselves. The direction we are going is not sustainable. For the health of ourselves, the planet, other life, biodiversity, we need to change the way we eat, killing for sport (aka hunting and trapping), stop human sprawl, preserve habitat, and basically learn to live with wildlife and without killing animals for food via animal farming.

    References: wildlife extinction animal farming › … › Factory Farms › Farming – Index

    “According to NASS reports and expert interviews, 8,792,000,000 “broiler” chickens and 492,700,000 “layer” hens were killed for food in 2000, as well as 304,000,000 turkeys and 26,100,000 ducks, for a total of 9,551,000,000 birds, and is expected to continue to rise.
    Among mammals 41,700,000 cows and calves were killed for food in 2000, as well as 115,200,000 pigs and 4,300,000 sheep, for a total of 161,200,000. These stats are also expected to continue to rise.Thus, the total number of all animals killed for food in 2000 was 9.7 billion.
    In more personal terms, the average American meat-eating man, woman, and child subsidize the abuse and slaughter of over 37 animals per year. It’s much more if they eat sea dwelling animals). That’s 2,800 animals in a 75-year lifetime. This number includes 2,630 chickens and ducks, 123 turkeys, 32 pigs, 13 cows and calves, and 2 sheep. None of these figures include fish, lobster, crab, or other aquatic animals.”

    10,153 million (nearly 10.2 billion) land animals were raised andkilled for food in the United States in 2010, according to data extrapolated from Farm Animal Rights Movement
    The Animal Kill Counter << ADAPTT :: Animals Deserve …



    Books References:

    Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman

    In The Temple of Wolves by Rick Lamplugh

    The Wolf Almanac by Robert Busch

    The Hidden Life of Wolves by Jamie and Jim Dutcher

    Exposing the Big Game by Jim Robertson

    Romeo: The Story of an Alaskan Wolf by John Hyde

    The Lives of Red Wolves by T. Delene Beeland

    The Carnivore Way by Christina Eisenberg

  2. In reading Mr. Markarian’ s remarks, I cant help but notice that in regards to nonhuman animals, HSUS is without a doubt an organization that does not believe in animal liberation/ animal rights. Promoting bigger cages( as if a few more inches really matters to a chicken who lives her entire life as a ” thing”;force- fed, force -moulted, and bearing so much weight that her bones break.)is a severe and useless compromise. One of many meaningless gestures that HSUS and other ” animal welfare” organizations make in the name of the creatures totally under our control. They give their seal of approval on ” humane/ welfare” standards of caging and killing, as if there is such a thing.( I guess its humane as long as its being done to someone else. ) All of us who TRULY believe in animal rights should recognize that organizations who thank and honor carnist chefs, and other animal exploiters, should not be supported with our dollars or our voices. I urge animal advocates to do serious research in learning what Animal Rights truly means, and start uncompromisingly working towards that end, instead of short- term, feel good and hollow victories that encourage the use of nonhuman animals , as long as we do it ” humanely”.

  3. Hope all of these ballot measures pass with a loud voice. It’s true that incremental changes don’t really matter in one chicken’s life and cage free means living on the floor of a shed with thousands of other chickens for a few months, it’s at least better than extreme confinement. Without doing any investigation, the well heeled agribusiness and hunting proponents are pushing for failure of MA Question #3.

    • unfortunately these crumbs( slightly bigger cages,etc) thrown to the enslaved animals doesnt help the animals to be treated as other than THINGS. In fact these “changes” are encouraged by socalled animal advocates as a way to ” grow” better meat, and the industry agrees. It also lends crediblity to these exploitive businesses because now they can call themselves ” humane” – and that definition runs the gamut and cannot be enforced. One last issue against incrementalism; I personally know people who were seriously moving towards vegetarianism/ veganism, but now proudly tell me its ok to eat animal flesh because they buy “it” from ” humane” companies.No cages, not bigger ones, no chains, not longer ones.

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