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September 3, 2013 > Ohlone Humane Society: Winners and Losers

Ohlone Humane Society: Winners and Losers

By Nancy Lyon

The hallowed halls of the California State Legislature have seen many a battle and while they may not show the physical scars, reverberations of conflicting passions echo within their confines. There are winners and there are losers; in this year's session it was no different.

Animal protection advocates always fight an uphill battle against those who would exploit innocent animals for 'sport,' amusement and just plain old greed. Unfortunately, it's the price for engaging some of humanity's baser instincts.

One of this year's big wins was for greater safeguards of California's mountain lions, resulting from the slayings of two mountain lion kittens in Half Moon Bay, California. The outrage from these unnecessary killings sparked legislation to change how the California Department of Fish & Wildlife handles mountain lion public safety situations. In response to the public outcry, the California State Assembly and Senate voted unanimously in support of Senate Bill (SB) 132 the Mountain Lion Protection Bill authored by Senator Jerry Hill, D-Santa Clara.

The bill will curb the inhumane practice of killing mountain lions that come into contact with people but pose no imminent threat to public safety. SB 132 was widely supported by the public and now goes before Governor Brown for his signature for it to become law. Timothy Dunbar, CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation stated "With this very important vote, California is one step closer to ending the unnecessary killing of mountain lions." "We applaud Senator Hill for recognizing the value of mountain lions to California's environment and for championing nonlethal responses to mountain lion encounters."

Another win for the animals came when Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 789 by Assemblymember Das Williams. It helps protect animals by regulating "nuisance trappers" that often used cruel methods of killing animals in traps such as drowning, crushing chests, and injections of substances not meant for humane killing; it also reduces the size of killer conibear traps set on land, making it less likely to squeeze companion animals to death.

Anti-animal legislation has a way of resurfacing when it goes down to defeat. This year's session saw attempts at reviving old bills, only later to be withdrawn often because of a lack of support. However, it would not be surprising to see them come alive in the future:

AB 1230 by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, a move to repeal last year's successful ban on hunting bear and bobcat with dogs.

SB 675 by Senator Lois Wolk, regarding animal welfare standards, it would have required the Dept. of Food & Agriculture to set "standards for animal welfare." It was suspected the bill would be amended to allow the presently banned sale of cruelly produced foie gras in California.

AB 343 by Assemblymember Jim Patterson, another "Ag-Gag" bill to silence people who document cruelty to animals. It would have required that citizen's turnover any information that is presently legally gathered under our Constitutional right of free-speech to law enforcement within 120 hours or face a fine.

Many of these hard fought protections are at imminent risk of being history.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has introduced an extremely destructive amendment in its version of the pending Farm Bill. If this amendment is not rejected state laws protecting farmland, waterways, forests, human safety and animal welfare will be overturned. States' bans on inhumane factory farming practices and many other state laws and rules regulating agriculture are at risk of being discontinued.

John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said: "State agriculture laws were crafted by legislators, agencies and citizens who know their needs best and should not be overturned by politicians in Washington, D.C. The King amendment is a violation of the Tenth Amendment's guarantee that states' sovereign rights cannot be abridged by Congress."

It should be noted that the version of the Farm Bill that passed in the U.S. Senate did not include the King amendment.

Rep. King's provision in the House bill would not only wipe out numerous state animal protection laws on puppy mills, farm animal confinement, shark finning, horse slaughter, and even dog meat, but also a wide range of other laws related to food safety, environmental protection, worker safety, labeling and more.

According to HSUS, Rep. King has a history of attempting to block animal welfare laws. He has voted in favor of killing horses for human consumption and trophy killing of polar bears even though they are a threatened species. He also voted against disaster response legislation to address the needs of people with pets, passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and he opposed legislation to crack down on illegal dog fighting and cockfighting.

King's amendment could also nullify six state bans on gestation crates, horse slaughter bans in six states, comprehensive animal welfare standards adopted by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and a raft of other animal protection laws designed to shield farm animals from abuse and extreme confinement.

We urge you to immediately contact your elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives and urge that the King Amendment be stricken from the Farm Bill. Our health, environment and hard earned protections of animals depend on speaking out.

Contact information for you House Representative can be found at http://www.house.gov

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