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Politics

Julián Castro announces plan on animal welfare, wildlife protections

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced a proposal on Monday that is focused on animal welfare and enhancing protections for vulnerable wildlife populations.
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced a proposal on Monday that is focused on animal welfare and enhancing protections for vulnerable wildlife populations.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Presidential hopeful Julián Castro announced a proposal to end euthanasia of cats and dogs for population control and to strengthen protections for endangered species, which have been weakened under President Trump. His plan would also end oil drilling on federal land and restore two national monuments diminished by Trump.

The former HUD secretary appears to be the only candidate to release a plan on animal welfare. The Protecting Animals and Wildlife (PAW) Plan was announced Monday before Castro and his family visited the Animal Defense League of Texas in San Antonio, where he previously served as mayor.

Castro’s plan seeks to make animal cruelty a federal crime, prohibit the testing of cosmetics on animals and permanently ban the sale of horse meat for human consumption. It proposes stronger oversight of dog breeders and minimum space standards for livestock and poultry. It also aims to establish a $40-million grant program to expand vaccinations and spaying and neutering services in underserved communities.

The plan would ban private ownership of lions and tigers and crack down on big-game hunting trophies allowed into the U.S. under the Trump administration.

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“Trump values profits over people, individual fortunes over our collective future, and he is the most anti-animal president in our history,” Castro said in a statement.

Under Castro’s plan, housing created as part of his housing affordability proposal — $500 billion over 10 years to build at least 3 million new homes — will be required to have pet-friendly policies. His proposal also aims to work with homeless shelters to ensure homeless individuals with pets are allowed to stay.

On Twitter, animal rights activists praised the presidential candidate on his plan.

TV producer Melissa Jo Peltier tweeted that the plan was an important statement and a step toward other candidates taking it up as an issue as well.

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“A society that treats its animals with respect treats its citizens with respect,” she wrote in a second tweet. “That is the point.”

Ari Solomon, the founder of media site Veganista, wrote on Twitter that although he believes the plan falls short on animal rights, it would be groundbreaking.

In a post on the site, Solomon wrote that he will be watching to see if New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a vegan, “can up the ante.”

While many candidates have plans tackling climate change, Castro also addresses the impact it will have on the wildlife population in his recent proposal. He proposes increasing protections for marine life by enforcing the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and establishing a $2-billion National Recovery Fund to give states and tribal governments the funds to strengthen wildlife populations.

Castro also criticized Trump for weakening the Endangered Species Act, which critics have said will speed the loss of animals and plants.

“The climate crisis is putting over 1 million animal species at risk of extinction,” Castro wrote in his proposal. “I will ensure Endangered Species Act designations and classifications are created based on scientific facts, incorporating both the current and projected effects of climate change, reversing this administration’s actions.”

Castro also proposes ending the leasing of federal lands for fossil fuel exploration and extraction, and restoring the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah to the sizes they were before the Trump administration reduced and reconfigured them.

Included in Castro’s announcement are links to information on pet adoptions.


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