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Animal Rights

Congressman Kucinich is a strong advocate for animal rights, believing that nature should be treated with the greatest respect and animals deserve the utmost protection. In his commitment to animal welfare, he continually works to promote animal rights legislation in Congress and resist programs that sponsor cruelty and the abuse of animal lives.

Pain and Distress

Investigating impact of Navy’s sonar system on whale deaths

Supporting increased funding for Animal Welfare Act Enforcement

Link between animal cruelty and human violence

Dog and Cat Protection

View press releases and related documents on animal rights

Pain and Distress

In October 2005, Rep. Kucinich and Rep. Chris Smith sent a letter to Dr. Ron DeHaven, Administrator for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), concerning the regulation of pain and distress in animal research. The purpose of the letter was to express concern that little or no progress had been made since a November of 2001 letter in which Members of Congress wrote to the USDA to urge the agency to move forward with its proposal to clarify and simplify the regulation of pain and distress in animal research under the Animal Welfare Act.

Investigating impact of Navy’s sonar system on whale deaths

In December 2003, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service(NMFS) requesting necropsy reports of whales beached as a result of the U.S. Navy’s high-power sonar system called the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS). This sonar is so powerful that a single source can illuminate hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean at one time. At close range, the noise it produces is millions of times more intense than the Navy considers safe for human divers and billions of times more intense than the level known to disturb large whales.

Supporting increased funding for Animal Welfare Act enforcement

Congressman Kucinich advocated for an increase in funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Along with Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Kucinich spearheaded a letter signed by 117 Members of the U.S. Congress to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Chairman Henry Bonilla (R-TX) and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) urging an increase of $3.8 million in Fiscal Year 2002 for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This outpouring of support was critical in the House Agriculture Appropriation Committee’s decision to grant these funding requests for Fiscal Year 2002.

The Animal Welfare Act requires basic protections for millions of animals at 10,000 sites across the country, including medical laboratories, zoos and commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills. However, through the 1990s, Animal Care's funding to do the job declined in real dollar terms, so that inspections dropped precipitously, needed follow-up at facilities in violation of the law could not be done, and animal health and welfare suffered. For the last and current fiscal years, Congress provided modest increases in Animal Care's appropriation.

Congressman Kucinich requested an increase of $2.4 million for the Animal Welfare division in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This funding would allow the Animal Care division to hire and train additional inspectors, conduct approximately 11,600 inspections and improve follow-up inspections. An increase of $1 million was urged for the Investigative and Enforcement Services. Finally, an additional $400,000 was requested for the Animal Welfare Information Center. This Center, created by Congress, serves as a clearinghouse and education resource for all individuals involved in the care and use of animals for experimentation. It provides information on training for laboratory employees, and legal requirements and appropriate care for animals in research, including minimizing pain and distress, preventing duplication of experiments, and reducing or replacing animals in research when possible.

Link between animal cruelty and violence toward humans

Congressman Kucinich strongly supports efforts to prevent violence at all levels - including animal abuse. Research confirms a strong correlation between animal cruelty and violence against humans. Studies show that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal abuse. It has also been found that animal cruelty often occurs in households experiencing family violence -child abuse, spousal abuse and elder abuse.

Congressman Kucinich was successful in adding language to the Manager’s Amendment of the H.R. 1900, the Juvenile Crime Control and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2001, that allows programs designed to prevent animal cruelty by juveniles and to counsel juveniles who committed animal cruelty offenses to be eligible for funding through the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Block Grant Program.

In an effort to promote awareness of the connection between animal abuse and human violence, Congressman Kucinich sponsored a briefing, along with the American Humane Association, to educate Capitol Hill staffers about the topic.

Dog and Cat Protection

Congressman Kucinich supports the humane treatment of all animals and opposes legislation which results in animal suffering. On December 12, 2005, Congressman Kucinich was interviewed along with Congressman Jim Moran, on CNN’s Larry King Live show, regarding the continued international trade of dog and cat fur. As a follow up to that show, Congressmen Kucinich and Moran sent a letter to the Embassy of China expressing concern over the dog and cat fur industry, much of which takes place in China, and advocating for international standards for the humane treatment of animals.

During the 106th Congress, Kucinich was a leader in supporting legislation which bans the importation, manufacture and sale of products made with dog and cat fur, the Dog and Cat Protection Act. In March 2000, he sent a letter to Chairman Crane of the Trade Subcommittee, urging him to include the provisions of this bill in trade corrections legislation. A prohibition on importing products made with dog and cat fur was included in H.R. 4868, the Miscellaneous Trade and Tariffs Act of 2000, which successfully passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton on November 9, 2000.

As you may know, this new law prohibits the import, export, manufacture or sale of dog and cat fur in the United States. The law also authorizes civil and criminal penalties up to $10,000 for violation of the law, requires the U.S. Customs Service to publish a list of businesses and individuals known to trade in dog and cat fur, and provides for continuing congressional investigations.

In addition, Congressman Kucinich was a cosponsor of a bill to establish a committee responsible for reviewing alternative methods to animal testing. This bill became Public Law in December 2000.

Congressman Kucinich has also consistently voted to support and strengthen the Endangered Species Act and has opposed all efforts to undermine it. The Endangered Species Act of 1973, which lists hundreds of plants and animals as endangered or threatened, is one of the major environmental laws. Once a species is listed, a recovery plan is developed to aid in the recovery of the species and the protection of its habitat.

Locally, Congressman Kucinich has written letters asking for humane methods to be considered in dealing with the deer overpopulation in Cleveland.


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