The Humane Society of the United States pretty much never weighs into politics, unless, of course, it’s about an issue that directly affects animals. This is no normal election, though, and after a series of pictures in which Donald Trump’s sons gleefully show their murdered animal “trophies,” and after seeing Trump’s potential nominees, the animal rights group had to weigh in, calling Trump a “threat to animals everywhere.”
The next president will have an enormous impact over animal protection in this country for the next four to eight years, and the stakes are high with policy decisions overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Institutes of Health, and other executive agencies. When you consider the potential for advancing animal welfare reforms at the federal level, or rolling back the recent gains and rulemaking actions, there could not be a greater contrast among the White House hopefuls. One ticket has a clear, compelling record of support for animal protection, while the other has assembled a team of advisors and financial supporters tied in with trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and other abusive industries. The names that Trump’s campaign has floated for engagement on Interior and Agriculture department issues are a “who’s who” of zealous anti-animal welfare activists.
The photos of Trump’s trophy hunting sons were bad enough. The pictures show the two men with their trophy kills, which include Cape buffalo, waterbuck, a leopard and even an elephant tail. African elephants and leopards are nearly extinct. The group compared the two to Walter Palmer, the dentist who shot Cecil the lion.
This might just be symbolic, but Donald Jr. has been floated as possible Interior Secretary.
The risk of having a globe-trotting trophy hunter at or near the helm at Interior, or having the ear of the President, should be a terrifying prospect for any animal advocate. The administration is responsible not only for policies involving hundreds of millions of acres of federal lands, but also wildlife law enforcement, international treaties on trade and conservation, and import policies for wild animal parts and trophies.
They also note several other potential cabinet members, including oil tycoon Forrest Lucas, who is anti-animal welfare. For Secretary of Agriculture, Trump has mentioned pork farmer Bruce Rastetter, who is known for building the very same pig gestation crates that the state of New Jersey tried to ban and Trump surrogate Chris Christie vetoed the bill.
Several other possible candidates also worry the Humane Society, but they are very favorable toward Hillary Clinton.
While Trump has advocates for trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, and horse slaughter on his side, Hillary Clinton has a strong record of taking a stand against many of these issues. She published an animal welfare statement on her campaign website, noting that “[t]he way our society treats animals is a reflection of our humanity.” Clinton highlights the humane issues she plans to tackle as President, as well as her strong record on animal protection in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of State. She pledges to crack down on abuses such as wildlife trafficking, puppy mills, and horse slaughter, and to support a federal anti-cruelty statute and more humane treatment of farm animals.
It’s not just who he advocates that makes Trump so dangerous for animals, it’s also what he advocates, and that is the near total elimination of regulations. One of Trump’s least favorite regulatory agencies is the Food and Drug Administration, which he laughs at, because they regulate dog food. The strong implication is that Trump doesn’t care about any animals, not even pets. The Humane Society is right. He is a threat to animals everywhere, even the two legged kind.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.