Castro releases animal welfare plan as part of presidential campaign

Castro releases animal welfare plan as part of presidential campaign
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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro on Monday released an animal welfare plan that calls for ending the practice of euthanizing dogs and cats in shelters.

Castro’s plan, “PAW: Protecting Animals and Wildlife,” is the only animal welfare proposal released by a presidential campaign thus far. In addition to the call for an end to euthanasia, it proposes improved federal housing policy relating to pets and pledges that, as president, Castro would sign legislation making cruelty to animals a federal crime, prohibit testing of cosmetics on animals and ban unlicensed ownership of big cats like tigers as pets.

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The proposal also calls for strengthening the Endangered Species Act after recent steps by the Trump administration to make it easier to lift or lighten protections for animals on it.

"We each have not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to advance the welfare of animals and protect endangered species from extinction. 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 wrote, adding, "It’s up to all of us — neighbors, local leaders, activist and yes, even candidates for president of the United States — to speak up and propose a plan for a more sustainable, happy, and healthy future."

The former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary also calls for collaboration with federally supported homeless shelters to ensure homeless people with pets are not denied entry, and would create a $40 million grant program to ease the costs of spaying, neutering and vaccinations.

Castro’s plan would also address conditions for livestock and other animals raised in agricultural settings, supporting federal mandatory minimums for living space for animals like pigs and egg-laying hens. California passed a ballot initiative last November imposing such requirements and bans businesses in the state from selling eggs or meat raised on noncompliant farms.