A national animal protection group has endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, stating that her Republican opponent Donald Trump would be “a threat to animals everywhere.”
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, a lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, made the announcement on Wednesday. The same day, they launched an anti-Trump ad campaign, citing his past record on animal protection.
The HSLF says they are “non-partisan” and evaluate candidates only in regards to their support for animal protection. And it’s an area where Donald Trump comes up pretty short.
Trump himself has never held office himself and thus doesn’t have much of an animal protection record one way or the other, and what he does have isn’t too promising. He denounced Ringling Brothers’ decision to phase out their circus elephants due to the public’s concerns about cruelty, and he also has bizarrely called for the FDA to stop regulating dog food.
But the HSLF primarily takes issue with Trump’s chosen advisers. His agricultural advisory committee is filled with people who the organization says clearly do not have the best interests of animals at heart. One prominent example is Forrest Lucas, the oil executive that Politico reported was Trump’s front-runner for interior secretary.
An oil executive overseeing the country’s parks and wildlife refuges is worrying enough, but Lucas really kicks things up a notch. He’s the founder of Protect the Harvest, a group with the apparent sole purpose of fighting the Humane Society of the United States, according to the Center for Food Safety. Lucas has fought against regulations on puppy mills, going so far as to finance a movie about a fictional animal rights activist who visits a commercial dog breeding operation and finds out it’s actually not so bad.
Of course, Lucas may have some competition for interior secretary. Trump’s son and noted trophy hunter Donald Trump Jr. has also expressed interest in potentially heading up the Department of the Interior, according to the Washington Post.
Other agricultural advisers include Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who signed into law the country’s first “ag gag” bill, which prohibits undercover filming or photography on farms. Another is Bruce Rastetter, an agribusiness giant whose brother is the CEO of a company that makes gestation crates — the small, metal enclosures where many pregnant pigs are forced to spend much of their lives.
In contrast, the HSLF points to Clinton’s record on animal protection, which they write includes co-sponsoring bills to “crack down” on puppy mills and prohibit horse slaughter. Unlike Trump, Clinton also has an entire page on her website detailing her plans to protect animals and wildlife. Her stated goals include “working to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals for non-therapeutic reasons” — a phenomenon that has disastrous consequences both for the animals and for human health.
That said, Clinton has not won over all animal advocates. In August, animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere protested at a Clinton rally, saying that if the candidate truly cared about animal well-being, she’d call for an end to animal agriculture altogether.