Senator Kennedy, An Animal Advocate

by Mary Haight on August 27, 2009

{{w|Ted Kennedy}}, Senator from Massachusetts.
Image via Wikipedia

After putting up the video eulogy on how one person can effect change yesterday, I had hoped you might share my sense of wonder at how some things never change…our philosophy, our heartfelt beliefs as a people…and the guiding principles that all of us passionate in our missions can claim as central to our life’s work.  The theme of striking out against injustice, so starkly central to animal welfare work, struck a chord, as did so many other phrases. And I would hope that no one would believe this comparison in any way diminishes the original intent of the piece.  They would be wrong.

Having explored this angle, I wanted to find out more about Senator Kennedy’s record on animal issues.  I knew he had a rating in the low 80’s on his scorecard, but found it was because he was absent for a vote on the Farm Bill HSUS used to reach their ratings. Kennedy’s work on behalf of animals is broad-based: Horses, farm animals, wild animals, pets, research animals, and animal cruelty and welfare issues all benefited from his work on their behalf.

Kennedy supported a wide range of animal welfare laws from farm animal quality of life issues, overuse of antibiotics, cruel slaughter practices, animal use in medical research and finding a successful pathway out of it, banning dog fighting, cock fighting, and horse slaughter, puppy mill abuse, slaughter of downed cows, increased funding to allow for better enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, humane methods of slaughter, a sanctuary system for ex-research Chimpanzees and worked to push through the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Act, arising after Katrina and the mess that made separating people from their animals. Kennedy, according to Wayne Pacelle’s blog, claimed he would never leave his house without his dogs in much the same way many in New Orleans refused to abandon their pets.

Pacelle said, “He often spoke about wanting to create a “Canine Caucus,” and said it would be one of the truly bipartisan groups on Capitol Hill, because he shared his love of dogs with Republican senators like Mike Enzi, Kit Bond, and Elizabeth Dole. His warmth and kindness on Capitol Hill were legendary and should provide a lesson on model conduct for elected officials and any of the rest of us who deal with contentious issues on a regular basis.”

He made his dog “Splash” the narrator of a book, “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.” explaining Congress and the political process to elementary school children, available at Amazon.  Now there’s a side of the Senator’s life I was not aware of.  He was a force to be reckoned with, and knew the importance of getting things done, not just railing against the wind.

You can read more at Pacelle’s blog, and at LA Unleashed

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