(June 18, 2008) WASHINGTON — Last night, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) yet again voted against a common-sense animal welfare measure that was overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. This time, he voted against a bipartisan bill called the Captive Primate Safety Act, an anti-cruelty and public safety measure written to stop the movement of primates for the pet trade. The House of Representatives passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 302 to 96.
"Primates belong in the wild, not in our basements and bedrooms," said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "Lynn Westmoreland is out of step with Georgia citizens who want common-sense animal welfare policies and want their communities protected from dangerous attacks and diseases."
The bipartisan Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R. 2964, prohibits the interstate and foreign commerce in apes, monkeys, and other primates for the exotic pet trade. These animals can inflict serious injuries and spread life-threatening disease, and the average pet owner cannot provide for the animals' basic social, psychological, and physical needs in captivity. These highly intelligent and social creatures are often confined in small cages, and their teeth are pulled out to make them less dangerous.
Twenty states already prohibit private possession of these animals as pets, but primates are easily obtained over the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making federal legislation necessary to complement the efforts of state law enforcement. The bill has received strong support from a broad range of scientists and organizations, including Dr. Jane Goodall, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund noted that Rep. Westmoreland has consistently voted against common-sense humane laws. He has voted to give dogfighters and cockfighters a slap on the wrist rather than tough penalties, and voted to allow trophy shooting of threatened polar bears, to ship American horses to other countries for slaughter where horse meat is considered a delicacy, and not to include pets in disaster planning.
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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.