Julián Castro introduces animal welfare proposal
WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced a comprehensive animal welfare proposal on Monday that would work to end euthanizing domestic dogs and cats, make animal abuse a federal crime and respond to President Donald Trump’s recent overhaul of the Endangered Species Act.
Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Obama and former San Antonio mayor, said in a statement that his proposal, the Protecting Animals and Wildlife — or PAW — Plan, will “improve the treatment of animals around the country and the world, and undo Donald Trump’s damage.”
“The president does not care about animals and his cruel actions prove it,” Castro also said in the statement. “He has put corporate profits over living creatures and individual fortunes over our future.”
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The plan comes a week after the Trump administration announced that it would reduce regulations relating to the Endangered Species Act, including changes that end blanket protections for animals newly deemed threatened and allow federal authorities for the first time to take into account the economic cost of protecting a particular species.
Environmentalists criticized the administration’s move, saying the changes would push more animals and plants to extinction.
Castro’s plan also follows a viral movement called “Clear the Shelters.” Hundreds of shelters across the nation held a nationwide pet adoption drive Saturday. Hours after announcing his plan, Castro visited the Animal Defense League of Texas in San Antonio, which is a no-kill shelter. That shelter participated in the “Clear the Shelters” adoption drive.
In his plan, Castro outlines a new $40 million grant program for local communities that will expand spaying and neutering services to help keep strays off the streets. Castro also wants to hold puppy mills — large breeding facilities that turn out puppies for profit in unhealthy conditions — accountable. In addition, he wants bipartisan legislation known as the PACT Act to be passed in Congress, which would make animal abuse a federal crime.
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The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful also wants to implement pet-friendly policies in federally-supported affordable housing and military housing, as well as work with homeless shelters that receive federal funds to allow individuals with pets to seek refuge rather than being turned away..
The PAW Plan also touches on endangered species and would reverse Trump’s changes to implementation of the Endangered Species Act. Castro also wants to establish a $2 billion National Wildlife Recovery Fund. One part of the plan would also crack down on trophy hunting — a well-known hobby of the president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr.
“People and animals have coexisted and thrived together since the start of history, but now with the climate crisis and human activity that symbiotic relationship is at risk,” Castro’s plan declares.
Contributing: Doyle Rice
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