Animal Issues on November's Ballot

There is much at stake in the November election. Americans will elect our next president, decide the makeup of the House and Senate, and vote on a number of important statewide and local candidates and issues. The outcome will have a decisive impact on our country.

Voting is an essential responsibility for everyone. In some states, your ballot will enable you to also help those with no voice - animals. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a long history going back to 1990 of successfully working with advocates to place animal welfare measures on the ballot and running campaigns that secure important protections for animals.

Examples include: Prop 117 in California that outlawed trophy hunting of mountain lions and Prop 2, also in California, that banned extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding sows and laying hens. HSUS has also had laws enacted in local jurisdictions to shut down puppy mills, protect whistle blowers and end cock fighting. This is an effective way to mobilize the power of the organization's supporters and the public's concern about the humane treatment of animals.

If you live in Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, Oklahoma, Colorado or California, there is an initiative on the ballot to help animals. Here is a breakdown:

• Vote Yes on Question 3 in Massachusetts to ban the practice of cramming farm animals in cages so small they're virtually immobile. The measure also requires that meat and eggs produced or sold in the Commonwealth simply come from animals that have enough space to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs. Question 3 prevents animal cruelty, protects food-safety and promotes responsible farming.

• Vote Yes on 1-177 in Montana. This measure ends commercial and recreational trapping on public lands. Trapping is inhumane, but what is more frightening is that a family pet or even a child could be caught in a steel-jawed leghold trap. Arizona, California, Colorado and Washington have all passed similar legislation.

• Vote Yes on Measure 100 in Oregon so that the state can join the global movement to stop illegal wildlife trafficking along with the barbaric methods poachers employ to kill elephants, rhinos and other species perilously close to become extinct.

• Vote No on State Question 777 in Oklahoma. The misleading measure entitled "Right to Farm" would be a constitutional amendment preventing voters and even legislators from making any reforms that would ensure food safety, animal welfare and the quality of Oklahoma's land, air and water. This is a dangerous amendment that would shield agribusiness from any future oversight by the state and could negate regulations of puppy mills and the state's ban on cockfighting.

• Vote No on 71 in Colorado. This measure seeks to take power away from the voters and consolidate it in the hands of state legislators by making constitutional amendments impossible to enact successfully. This is extremely dangerous as it limits the initiative process of Colorado's citizens.

• Vote Yes on Proposition 67 in California. Prop 67 protects the state's ban on plastic grocery bags. These bags wash into our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish and birds.

A better life for animals translates into a richer life for all of us. I encourage voters in these six states to go to the polls and support these ballot items.

If you are interested in how animals in your state can be protected, become a member of HSUS to learn about all of our legislative work. Let's show our lawmakers that we care about all animals and will use the ballot box to protect them from the unscrupulous practices of factory farming businesses and others.