You can tell a lot about people by the way they treat animals, and the same can be said for our society. Colorado is home to some of North America’s most majestic wild animals, and millions of domestic and farmed animals, too. Like on so many issues, Washington D.C. is walking away from its moral responsibilities, and it’s time for states to lead.
We still have a long way to go
Just this year, President Trump ended the implementation of anti-cruelty protections for poultry and wiped information regarding animal welfare from the United States Department of Agriculture’s website. I opposed this change because it makes it so much harder to ensure we are treating livestock with the respect they deserve. According to the Humane Society of the United States, Colorado is ranked the fifth most humane state in the nation in 2017. And while we can be proud of our state, we still have a long way to go.
Here’s how we’ll get to number one:
- Pets should be protected from abuse, neglect, and abandonment, especially during extreme weather conditions. No dog should be left outside and exposed to extreme cold during a snowstorm. We should include this in our definition of animal abuse.
- Pet homelessness and overpopulation is a problem across the country. We want to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Colorado shelters by encouraging pet owners to spay and neuter, and supporting shelter and adoption.
- Many people across Colorado face a lack of housing options because they care for pets. Responsible pet owners should not be denied housing unless their animal behaves aggressively, violates animal control laws, or otherwise acts as a nuisance to other residents. Pets are our family members.
- Puppy mills are large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities where the welfare of the dogs is often substandard, and we should end this practice. Coloradans must stand together against these types of operations and instead rely on responsible breeders, shelters, and rescues for their companion animals. We must ensure that our Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, has the tools and resources it needs to properly oversee and inspect breeding facilities.
- Animal cruelty is illegal and must be addressed, not only for the safety of the animals involved, but also because there is a well-documented link between violence towards animals and violence towards other people. Protecting animals also protects people.
Colorado should create a statewide tracking system for convicted animal abusers that will be available to local and state law enforcement. I will work with our criminal justice system and animal welfare advocacy organizations to protect the privacy of those individuals and create a rehabilitation program for convicted animal abusers.
Colorado should be the best place to be a wild animal
Colorado should be the best place to be a wild animal, too. From bald eagles and buffalo to elk and black bears, some of our wild country’s most iconic creatures make our state their home. That’s why my Keep Colorado Wild plan prioritizes protection of these animals.
- Today, there are about 2,300 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. State wildlife agencies across the country have identified more than 12,000 species that are in serious decline, and are in greatest conservation need, and I will create species-specific and habitat-specific conservation policies. As Governor, I will have the experience as a former Member of Congress to ensure that Colorado is advocating effectively for federal funding, is on the front lines of wildlife habitat restoration efforts, and works closely with neighboring states on habitat conservation and wildlife corridors.
- This past year had one of the highest number of human-bear conflict incidents in recent history. Unfortunately, this too often results in CPW having to kill bears to prevent any danger to the community. As governor, I will sign an executive order requesting that CPW evaluates alternative methods to mitigate human-bear conflicts such as secure garbage collection.
- We will also seek to preserve Colorado’s historic wild horse herds, and oppose inhumane methods of population control, like confinement and castration, in favor of more humane methods to maintain a healthy population.
- Colorado will take an active role in the fight against rare animal-trafficking by prohibiting the sale, purchase, trade, or distribution of any animal covered by the Endangered Species Act.
- Should President Trump and Secretary Zinke choose to not strongly enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, then Colorado will adopt its own standards for the prevention of bird deaths due to industrial activities.
Humane policies require humane people in office
Our state is home to some of the most responsible farmers and ranchers you can find in the United States. And, as a former beekeeper and alfalfa farmer myself, I’m proud of Colorado’s agricultural heritage. We have an enormous opportunity to lead in providing Americans with the highest quality meats, cheeses, and eggs possible and the most humane and healthy treatment of farmed animals. We can also do more to expand the availability of plant protein products derived from Colorado crops.
In 2008, Colorado passed landmark legislation improving livestock confinement practices. I believe that ten years later, it’s time to revisit that law to make sure we are consistent with the most humane and up-to-date livestock confinement practices for all animals. For example, Colorado produces over 100 million eggs per year, and healthier hens produce healthier eggs. Chickens that have sufficient room to walk, stretch their wings, and socialize live longer and produce more eggs. To reduce the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, we will direct the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to identify and encourage best practices to prevent the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals.
I have the record to get this done and am proud of my work in Congress. I’ve earned 100 percent on a report card from the Defenders of Wildlife based on my voting record to protect animals. I’ve supported saving lab mice and rabbits from cruel practices by sponsoring H.R. 2790, the Humane Cosmetics Act, which will phase out cosmetic testing on animals and replace it with more humane and effective tests. I also proudly voted against revoking the predator rule, which prohibits conservation protections for bears and other predators. And, I’ve introduced amendments to the federal budget to encourage the protection of wild horses and burros.
Humane policies require humane people in office. Together, we will make Colorado the most humane state in the nation for animals in our homes, in the wild, and on our farms and ranches.