At a time when our nation is divided, opposition to animal cruelty and neglect unites us. Dramatic increases in pet ownership have led to enhanced pet protection laws across the country. Animal cruelty laws now include felony provisions in all 50 states. Twenty five states, including Indiana, have added or strengthened felony penalties for cases involving animal cruelty and now have some type of “hot cars” law on the books, granting civil immunity for removing animals from hot vehicles. Even with all of this progress, many dogs spend their lives on the end of a short chain with no human interaction, limited food and water, and no protection from extreme weather. This is a travesty and it keeps me up at night. Dogs are social creatures because we domesticated them thousands of years ago and most experts agree that almost all animals on earth are capable of living on their own except for the family dog. And it’s not just about the welfare of the dog.
Recently, the FBI added cruelty to animals, including neglect, as a category in the Uniform Crime Report, a nationwide crime reporting system commonly used in homicide investigations, and the FBI now tracks the relationship between animal crimes and other violence.
The National Sheriffs’ Association’s National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) released a white paper and mobile app showing that law enforcement officers’ awareness of animal neglect and cruelty can help deter other crimes. Additionally, the Humane Society of the United States offers training specifically developed for law enforcement agencies across the country because they’ve found a strong link between animal abuse and other felonious activity (namely drugs, guns, domestic violence and elder/child abuse). Having laws in place for humane treatment of animals has benefits across the spectrum; for people, dogs, law enforcement and communities as a whole.
• The American Heart Assoc. has linked the ownership of dogs to a reduced risk of heart disease and greater longevity.
• Dog owners who are bonded with their pets are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
• When people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
• Playing with a dog elevates the humane release of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
• Compared to those without pets, or those who have but ignore their pets, pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease).
• Heart attack patients who interact with their dogs survive longer than those without.
• Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
• Children and adults alike can benefit from playing with dogs, which can provide a source of calmness and relaxation, as well as a source of stimulation for the brain and body.
• The mental health benefits of having a healthy relationship with a dog are so clear, there are thousands of programs that use dogs to help people with PTSD, including: prisoners, victims of domestic violence, war veterans, people in recovery/addictive services, trauma-related services, inmate transitional services, and special education services.
Animal welfare is a personal issue that I have spent years fighting for and will continue to fervently support. It’s critical that we speak up for dogs because they have no voice. In Gary, our group of volunteers was successful in passing a new ordinance which protects dogs from the type of treatment outlined above. We are working directly with the community to educate pet owners on the new ordinance and to assist those in financial need with food, dog shelters and other basic needs. On Change.org, there is a petition to change the Indiana state law regarding domestic animals in extreme temperatures that has almost 500,000 signatures! I also don’t know how anyone can post a picture of themselves with a giraffe, or an elephant, they just killed. I support Protecting Animals and Wildlife (PAW) plan and efforts to making animal cruelty a crime throughout the country. The PAW plan would strengthen the Endangered Species Act, which Trump has all but gutted. And it would stop Americans from importing animal trophies that result from big-game hunting. When I’m in Washington, I will fight to bring these laws to the federal level because we need to protect wildlife and no dog should live it's life on a chain.
Indiana's Democratic Primary is May 5th, 2020
Vote for Sabrina Haake for United States Congress
Indiana's First Congressional District
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