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Red, Blue, Any Dog Democrats

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by Holly Hazard

As animal protection issues from factory farming, to circuses, to puppy mills have become mainstream, increasingly they present candidates for office, and therefore voters, with the opportunity to stand up against cruelty at the ballot box. According to the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), the nation’s leading political advocacy organization for animals, in 2016, Virginia ranked 4th in best animal protection laws in the country.

Last week, The Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsed Ralph Northam for Governor. This endorsement came on the heels of Humane Dominion, Virginia’s only state PAC dedicated to animal protection, endorsing Mr. Northam. Northam won these endorsements with a history as a State Senator championing animal protection by introducing legislation to ban gas chambers to euthanize companion animals and supporting legislation to make cockfighting a Class 6 felony. Joining a trend for state and national political office-seekers, Northam has laid out his history on animal welfare and his policy priorities for animal protection on his website.

In an easy call, both organizations earlier endorsed Mark Herring for Attorney General. Mr. Herring is one of the nation’s leading attorneys general supporting animal protection. In his first term he created the nation’s first Attorneys General Animal Law Unit, specializing in complex animal criminal enterprises and advising local jurisdictions on our state animal cruelty statutes. Since 2015, Herring’s office has undertaken over 400 matters related to animal crimes.

After asking candidates to fill out a survey on animal protection priorities and weighing their legislative history supporting animals, last month Humane Dominion also endorsed dozens of candidates on both sides of the of the aisle running for the House of Delegates, including 33 Democrats and 12 Republicans.