This month, the state of Florida passed an important ballot measure with 69 percent of voters in support — to end greyhound racing in the state.
With Florida hosting 11 of the 17 greyhound tracks in America, this calves off two-thirds of the national industry, and in a red state where Republicans were victorious at all levels of government.
It was just one more marker that an appreciation for dogs and for mainstream animal welfare positions resonate with conservatives.
Many conservative leaders were at the front of the pack calling on voters to pass the racing ban, including first family member Lara Trump, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida resident and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Flordia Rep. Matt Gaetz, and former Florida Gov. and U.S. Senator-elect Rick Scott.
Their leadership on the issue persuaded conservatives throughout the state to back the measure, with voters from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Naples approving the measure by more than a two-thirds margin.
The animal protection community doesn’t praise the Republicans who support animal protection reforms enough, and we need to do better. Some advocates, in fact, spend their time on social media bashing the very Republicans who we work with on a daily basis — that’s not acceptable to the Republicans who support us.
There are many, many Republican leaders who have fought hard to help animals, but we face an uphill battle due to the handful of anti-animal conservatives who have actively blocked common-sense animal protection measures and as a result given conservatives a bad rap, and because the liberal agenda seems to have hijacked animal protection as an issue set.
One of the issues with the most Republican Congressional support is the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, led by Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho and Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo. The PAST Act would end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, which is one of the most egregious forms of abuse in the equine world, and a world I grew up in.
The bill is supported by more organizations than we can count, including the veterinary medical associations from all 50 states, the American Horse Council, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the National Sheriffs Association.
The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, legislation to reform the USDA’s corrupt checkoff programs has been led by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Virginia Republican Rep. Dave Brat. These champions have had the support of numerous conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation, and R-Street in this endeavor.
A Farm Bill amendment similar to the OFF Act in the Senate garnered Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul as a sponsor and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz as an “aye” during the vote. It doesn’t get much more conservative than that.
We’re sure going to miss Dave Brat; he deserves a round of applause as much as anyone. The first bill he co-sponsored as a Member of Congress was the PAST Act, a bill his predecessor, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, refused to move.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, a state that President Trump locked up in the 2016 election, led the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act to passage in the U.S. Senate by Unanimous Consent for the second Congress in a row in 2017. The measure would drop the hammer on sexual predators of animals, and the most gruesome of animal torturers in our Nation.
And Toomey was joined by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in sponsoring a Farm Bill amendment to ban the dog and cat meat trade in America. The amendment mirrors the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act led by Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan that passed the House in September and was also included in the House Farm Bill, thanks to the leadership of former California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.
Buchanan also leads the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act that would save tax dollars and end horse slaughter in America with counterpart South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in the Senate.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost some of our Republican leaders like California Republican Rep. Ed Royce, who led a bill to end shark finning; Illinois Republican Rep. Pete Roskam, who led the charge to end animal fighting in the U.S. territories with his Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act; and Denham, who’s done more for animals than we could probably list in an entire column.
There’s still a raft of Republicans in the House and Senate who deeply care about animals that prevailed the purple wave this cycle, and we hope more will join in our cause. It should be a conservative one as much as a liberal one, for we are all responsible for stewardship over God’s creatures.
Marty Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C., and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.