Cantwell Receives Humane Society Award for Animal Protection Legislation

Cantwell: ‘Smart animal protection legislation is good for our communities’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) received the Humane Society’s Legislative Leader award for her leadership on animal protection legislation in 2011. The Humane Society of the United States cited Senator Cantwell’s leadership on the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act and animal fighting.

“It is heartening to see again how animal protection issues bring Members of Congress together across party lines,” said Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian. “We thank Sen. Cantwell for her outstanding work to ensure that our federal laws reflect the core humane values and attitudes of American society.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said, “We commend Senator Cantwell for taking the lead and calling attention to these humane concerns. We’re grateful to have such a steadfast supporter on animal protection.”

Each year, the Humane Society Legislative Fund compiles a “Humane Scorecard,” which allows animal advocates to evaluate and track the performance of their Senators and Representatives on animal welfare legislation. This year, nearly one-third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House received awards. To see the complete list of 2011 awardees, please click here.

In 2011, Cantwell introduced legislation to end the use of Great Apes, including gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees, in invasive research. Today about 1,000 chimpanzees – half of them federally owned – languish at great taxpayer expense in eight research laboratories across the nation. The vast majority of these chimpanzees are not being used in active research.

For a single chimpanzee, lifetime care in a research facility can cost over $1 million, compared with $340,000 for care in a sanctuary. Ending invasive research will mean a savings of more than $25 million per year for the American people.

Washington state has a chimpanzee sanctuary located in Cle Elum. Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is currently home to seven chimpanzees released from biomedical research.

“Smart animal protection legislation is good for our communities,” said Cantwell. “I thank the Humane Society for its work protecting animals and making our communities better places to live.”

Chimpanzees are poor research models for human illness, and they have been of limited use in the study of human disease. The United States is the only country – besides Gabon in West Africa – that is still holding or using chimpanzees for invasive research.

In 2011, Cantwell also joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Animal Fighting Spectator ProhibitionAct, a bill which makes it a federal felony to attend animal fighting activities. While Congress has passed laws against animal fighting, and the transport, possession and training of fighting animals, many states only charge spectators with a misdemeanor.

The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would make knowing spectators subject to federal law and meaningful punishments – putting a stop to the problem at its source. Nearly every state in the country has some form of spectator statutes at the state level that make it illegal to attend animal fights.

Animal fighting is associated with other criminal activities such as gangs, gambling, narcotics, and weapons possession. A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies including human abuse.