(Sept. 17, 2009)—Citing their strong leadership and support of animal protection policies, the Humane Society Legislative Fund announced its endorsement of Republican Bob McDonnell for Virginia governor and Democrat Steve Shannon for Virginia attorney general.
In the gubernatorial race, HSLF notes that Bob McDonnell has demonstrated active leadership and a career-long commitment to animal protection. As attorney general, McDonnell was awarded the 2008 Humane Law Enforcement Award for his leadership in helping to dramatically upgrade state laws against animal fighting. Cockfighting had essentially been decriminalized, but the McDonnell-backed legislation made it a felony and banned possession of fighting animals. Since the law was enacted, there has been a major crackdown on animal fighting and at least five cockfighting rings broken up in Virginia.
This year, McDonnell joined with 25 other state attorneys general in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a 1999 federal law banning the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty. The law targeted an underground subculture of "animal crush" videos, where scantily clad women, often in high-heeled shoes, would impale and crush to death puppies, kittens and other small animals, catering to those with a sexual fetish for this aberrant behavior, and has also been used against the commercial sale of dogfighting videos. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Oct. 6.
When he previously served in the House of Delegates, McDonnell also supported a number of animal protection bills, including measures to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, ban the possession and training of fighting dogs, give students the right to choose not to dissect animals in classroom education, prevent the shooting of live animals over the Internet, and ban the sale of dog and cat fur.
"Bob McDonnell included a crackdown on animal fighting as part of his anti-crime agenda, and he understands that the way we treat animals is a reflection of our basic attitudes and values in society," said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "Virginians deserve a governor like Bob McDonnell who has demonstrated strong and consistent leadership in protecting animals from cruelty and abuse."
In the race for attorney general, HSLF backs Steve Shannon, who has also been an advocate of the humane treatment of animals. As a member of the House of Delegates, Shannon was a co-patron of legislation to upgrade the animal fighting law, and has supported a wide range of bills to protect pets and other animals. His opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, has often stood nearly alone in the Senate as an opponent of modest and mainstream animal protection reforms. Cuccinelli was one of only two senators to vote against a stronger animal fighting law (SB 1190, Feb. 2, 2007), and one of only three to oppose restrictions on large-scale puppy mills (HB 538, March 4, 2008).
"It would be a major setback for the commonwealth’s top law enforcement officer to be a person like Ken Cuccinelli who opposed having animal protection laws on the books in the first place," Markarian said. "Steve Shannon’s support for the humane treatment of animals stands in stark contrast to Ken Cuccinelli’s obstinate and extreme views. Voters who want a common-sense and mainstream approach to animal protection enforcement should support Steve Shannon for attorney general."
Media contact: Pepper Ballard: 240-751-0232, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at www.hslf.org.
Paid for by Humane Society Legislative Fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. HSLF, 519 C Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.