Lawmakers work to create a more humane world

Lawmakers work to create a more humane world
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Our bond with animals has defined humanity for thousands of years. Animals have comforted us, healed us, sustained and protected us at home and in times of war, and even served as our eyes and ears. Animals have provided us with nourishment and served alongside us on the front lines of battle. Animals entertain us, educate us and teach us the meaning of compassion and what it means to be humane — and human.

With this in mind, the American Humane Association is grateful to Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) for their leadership in forming the Congressional Caucus for the Humane Bond. This bipartisan caucus is devoted to bringing a common-sense, scientific and rational dialogue to the issues surrounding the physical, emotional and even medical connections between humans and animals.

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The caucus will play an important role strengthening the humane bond between people and animals in working environments, our homes, hospitals, educational settings, the wild and agriculture, unleashing the power of our connection to benefit both and create healthy, sustainable and humane communities.

For example, more than 95 percent of Americans choose to eat eggs, meat and dairy, so it’s important to find positive, productive ways to work with farmers to continue producing a safe and affordable food supply, while ensuring that our nation’s 10 billion farm animals are being treated humanely.

The caucus will also seek to explore the healing benefits of the human-animal bond, which has long been a source of solace and relief for those who suffer from physical or emotional pain. Groundbreaking research has shown that using animal therapy may help children with cancer, people who have autism or are differently abled, and in other areas of life, where animals and people provide hope and healing to each other. While animal-assisted therapy has shown enormous promise, we have just begun to explore the healing and learning power of the human-animal relationship. 

The use of service dogs is also greatly beneficial in helping veterans and military families. But when servicemen and women end their tours of duty and return home, their faithful military dogs do not always follow. Solutions are needed to ensure the once-inseparable pair can be reunited and enjoy the peace and freedom they earned. The benefits to both soldier and dog are immeasurable; we can make sure that the four-footed veterans who served our country receive the hero’s welcome, dignified retirement and loving forever home they so richly deserve.

And of course, the caucus will promote the importance — to humans as well as animals — of basing our actions on compassion and common sense, sentiment and science. The animal space often brings out strong emotions and passions, and the national dialogue has at times been contentious with different competing agendas. We share the passion for animals, and based on 138 years of innovating protections for our nation’s children and animals, we also know that the best approaches and solutions come from the head as well as the heart.

The American Humane Association doesn’t believe in animal abolitionism, whereby we remove problems simply by removing animals from our lives. We believe in coming up with sustainable, moral solutions that enrich and benefit both people and the creatures that share our earth.

In a time of partisanship and polarization, it’s encouraging that leaders are willing to put differences aside and work across the aisle to create the Caucus for the Humane Bond. In doing so, they will make a more humane world for animals, including those in our homes, working environments and agriculture, while helping children, families, our military veterans, the ill and the elderly.

Ganzert is president and CEO of American Humane Association. Learn more at AmericanHumane.org.