Animal Rights

Millions of families throughout California and the nation share their homes with animals, and animals play an indispensable role in our lives and our environment. Californians rightly expect government to protect animals from cruelty and exploitation. Our state has been a leader in protecting animals and implementing high standards for the humane treatment of animals. In the Senate, Kamala Harris will defend California’s landmark laws and work to expand federal protections for pets, farm animals, wildlife and other creatures. Kamala is proud to have the endorsement of the national Humane Society.

As Attorney General, Kamala Harris has fought in court to defend California’s animal welfare and protection laws, combatting out-of-state interests seeking to overturn California’s animal welfare laws. Attorney General Harris made the decision to appeal a federal court ruling striking down California’s ban on the sale of foie gras and the practice of forced over-feeding of ducks and geese. Similarly, Attorney General Harris defended California’s laws requiring that eggs sold in California come from free-range hens or hens kept in cages sufficiently large that the hens can stand up, lie down and fully stretch their wings. Harris also defended a 2011 California law that banned the possession, sale and trade of shark fins. The law was intended to protect shark species and the ocean ecosystem after it was found that shark fin soup contributed to the market for shark “finning” – the removal of fins from live sharks.

As San Francisco’s District Attorney, Kamala Harris successfully sponsored legislation that now allows judges to include a family’s pets in protective orders in domestic violence cases. Too often animals are abused or threatened with abuse as a way of controlling others in the family. The law recognizes the special bond between human and animal and seeks to protect both from violence.

Our relationships with animals cut across socio-economic lines and affect people and their animal companions in every county in California. Federal animal welfare policy should respect that reality. Kamala Harris believes that all animals should be treated humanely and without cruelty. In the U.S. Senate, Kamala Harris will be a champion for legislation that values the relationship between people and animals and ensures that all creatures are treated humanely.

Fight for Nationwide Protections for Animal Rights

In the United States Senate, Kamala Harris will work to protect the rights of animals by supporting humane legislation, opposing government programs that use taxpayer funds to harm animals, supporting initiatives to protect animals and for adequate enforcement of animal welfare laws, and opposing inhumane laws or those which weaken current protections.

Safety for the Pets of Domestic Violence Victims: As a career prosecutor, Kamala Harris has had a special focus on victims of domestic violence. Fear for the welfare of their pets prevents thousands of battered women from escaping abusive situations. Abusers often exploit the emotional bond between victim and pet by threatening or inflicting abuse in order to maintain control of the victim. As Attorney General, Kamala sponsored the California law that recognized the importance of pets in domestic violence cases and will continue to fight for similar protections in the Senate like the Pet and Women Safety Act.

Veterans and Dog Training for Therapy: For many of our soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the companionship of a specially trained animal can make a significant difference in their recovery, as well as the opportunity to participate in the training of dogs for disabled veterans. Allowing shelter dogs to be part of the program can also provide homes for dogs in need of rescue. Kamala will push for federal funding for programs that enable veterans with PTSD to train dogs as a form of therapy and provide trained companion dogs to disabled veterans.

Anti-Cruelty Protections: In the Senate, Kamala will support strong enforcement to crack down on puppy mills and ensure humane care for dogs in commercial breeding operations. She also will support enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, providing funding for USDA inspectors overseeing conditions at puppy mills, research laboratories, roadside zoos, circuses, and other regulated facilities. Kamala will also support federal legislation prohibiting malicious cruelty to animals.

Protecting Horses: In the Senate, Kamala Harris will fight for federal legislation such as the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to ban exports of horses for slaughter in other countries, and prevent horse slaughter plants from re-opening in the U.S. Kamala also will support legislation such as the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to ban doping of racehorses and allow the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to oversee and enforce the new rules. Finally, she will push for more humane treatment and population control of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management.

Animals Used for Product Testing: Kamala Harris will fight for greater funding for the development and approval of alternative chemical testing methods that could reduce the use of animals in product testing. Alternative methods for determining toxicity are often more effective than animal testing and eliminate animal suffering.

Wildlife Protection: Kamala Harris will support continued funding for wildlife conservation, habitat protection programs and efforts to combat illegal poaching and she will oppose any efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act. She also supports legislation to prohibit monkeys, chimpanzees, and other primates from being shipped across state lines for the pet trade. And she will support legislation such as the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act to limit the breeding of lions, tigers, and other big cats to accredited zoos. Kamala also will support legislation to protect sharks from “finning”, the practice of cutting the fins off sharks, often while they are still alive.

Fight for National Climate Change Legislation: Too often climate change isn’t considered in terms of what it means for biodiversity. In California, we recognize climate change as an existential threat, and we shouldn’t forget that entire species are at risk for extinction because of climate change. In the Senate, Kamala Harris will work to ensure that animal species are given special consideration as the nation develops climate change policies.