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The New 111th Congress

Story ID:4868
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various USA
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As I read the articles in Humane Activist for January and February '09
my eyes filled with tears -- tears of joy. The first article spoke about the
race for Michigan's 9th congressional district. Prior to the election, The
Humane Society Legislative Fund had released a TV spot highlighting the
miserable animal protection record of Rep. Joe Knollenberg during his 16-year
House tenure. Among animal issues he OPPOSED HALTING were: horse
slaughter, dairy cow abuse, polar bear trophy hunting, and animal fighting.

HSLF's commercial gave a boost to challenger Gary Peters and he became
the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1893. As executive director of HSLF,
Sara Amundson observes --it was the "perfect storm"-- an anti-animal
legislator out of step with his suburban, humane-minded constituents, squaring
off against a former state senator who had demonstrated support for animal
causes. My eyes watered with tears of joy. Sixteen years of lack of concern
for animal suffering was over for this individual congressperson who was
clearly lacking in animal compassion.

HSLF was also happy to report that 93 percent of the 312 congressional
candidates endorsed by them won their races this past November. It shows that
animal lovers were clearly on board with HSLF's mantra --"To pass humane laws,
voters must elect humane lawmakers." I hope we never forget this message.

Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, also
noted that election day for the National Rifle Association was rough this time
around. They spent millions of dollars supporting John McCain for president
while trying to tarnish Barack Obama's image. And to their chagrin, the states
in which they were most active: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the other swing
states went to Obama.

In a post-election analysis of federal candidates by the NRA and those endorsed
by HSLF-- Makarian notes : "...the puppy power clearly outshot the gunpowder."
HSLF was the victor 74.4 % of the time.

Some of the the NRA's staunchest loyalists did hang on: Reps. Scott Garrett, R-NJ;
Sam Graves, R-MO; and Don Young, R-Alaska, but the NRA's influence seems
clearly on the wane. The NRA opposes sensible HSLF-backed policy reforms such
as stopping the black market trade in bear parts, banning captive shoots that offer
customers guaranteed kills, and halting the arerial gunning of wolves. They fail
to take in account a small constituency of women, suburban voters, and minorities
who back HSLF policies --thereby driving them further away from their gun-bearing

Four legislative leaders were profiled in this issue as well. The first -Senator
Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH replaced incumbent John E. Sununu- a one-term senator
who scored a ZERO on HSLF's Humane Scoreboard for the 110th Congress. As
governor of New Hampshire, Shaheen worked to clean up the puppy mills,
implement harsher penalties re animal fighting laws, promoted sheltering dogs
in inclement weather, and supported spay/neutering policies to lessen pet over-

Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. succeeded two-term incumbent Gordon Smith, who
scored a 33 on the Humane Scoreboard. During his 10 years as a state representative,
Merkley backed pro-wildlife bills, supported penalites for people involved in animal
fighting, worked to ban tiny gestation crates for pigs on factory farms, voted to
keep pets and their families together during disasters, worked to prohibit the sale
of fur from dogs and cats, and worked to protect the nation's food supply from sick
and crippled farm animals.

Two "old" congressional friends of the animals are Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
who has established himself as a strong animal advocate, scoring 100 on the
Humane Scoreboard for the 110th Scoreboard and Rep.Mark Kirk, R-Ill. who has
always scored high marks on the Humane Scorecard and has been a leader on
animal issues during his four terms. To me -the smiling faces of these compassionate
congresspeople gave me an incredible warm feeling knowing that the animals do
indeed have friends in "high" places.

BALLOT BOX VICTORIES. Mentioned in this newsletter were two ballot box
victories for the animals. More than 8 million people voted for PROPOSITION 2
on California's November ballot that will impact the state's 20 million farm
animals. It is a modest beginning but "when the law takes effect in 2015, breeding
sows, veal calves, and egg-laying hens will be required to have enough room to
lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely." Can you
imagine that since the 70's these poor animals were denied these "luxuries" all
because of the Cafo "model" Pres. Reagon allowed to take shape. Sadly, they still
have a long wait before 2015, but if there are any compassionate Cafo owners out
there -hopefully they will begin NOW to start making these compassionate changes.

And titled - The End of the Road? refers to the end of a cruel sport which uses
greyhound dogs so badly in gambling races. One state though has said that
starting in 2010 there will be a statewide ban on greyhound racing and that
state is Massachusetts. That means that there won't be any more injured
greyhounds in this state from racing accidents or will you find the greyhounds
crammed into tiny cages in warehouse-like kennels. And lastly, none of them
will be killed by ungrateful owners when they are spent and can no longer run.

This 8 page brochure has much more important and helpful news for anyone
who cares about animals. I was so glad to come on another of their wonderful
pieces and it was titled "NAVIGATING DECEPTION IN THE FUR INDUSTRY." After
finding out about the millions of raccoon dogs skinned alive in China, I have
thought about them and whispered a prayer for them each day. How sad that
we can't do anything to stop this horror. Of course the only thing we can do is
make sure that we don't buy anything made of animal fur.

The HSUS has found that many unsuspecting consumers have been duped into
buying fur which has been labeled as fake fur but which, in reality is real animal
fur. According to HSUS "With today's market dominated by fur trim and cheap
imports from China --where an HSUS investigation found cats and dogs being
killed for fur exported to foreign markets---many garments slip through the
loophole" (in the federal fur labeling law).

If you want to test whether you have been buying real dog or cat fur- there
are 3 tests:
1. BURN TEST --Remove a few hairs and ignite them over a non-flammable
surface. Faux fur emanates a plastic odor, while animal furs smells similar to
burnt human hair.
2. VISUAL TEST --Push apart the hairs to see if the backing is animal skin
or a woven, grid-like fabric, which indicates faux fur.
3. ONLINE TEST --Zoom in on pictures of the garment ad and look for tapering of
the guard hairs. Check for inconsistency in labeling among Web pages, and
once the garment arrives, inspect it carefully.

By going to the HSUS site - you can get more information and pointers re this
and how to get your money back if you suspect you have inadvertantly purchased
animal fur which you didn't want. I think if the stores get a lot of returned goods
falsely advertized, they will be more careful re this and will do a better joy of
screening and labeling their products.

This page also has a HOW CONSUMERS CAN HELP if you are concerned about
stopping the horrors which those raccoon dogs and even cats go through for this
"fashion" statement. I don't need fur - what about you? I don't even want to buy
the faux fur for obvious reasons of being duped.