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Animals Win Big at Ballot Box

November 7, 2006

Voters in Arizona and Michigan Side with Humane Society on Statewide Ballot Measures

WASHINGTON As voters across the country participated in historic mid-term elections, citizens in Arizona and Michigan also chose animal welfare policies by landslide votes in state ballot measure contests continuing a remarkable two-decade track record on animal issues. The Humane Society of the United States, which led efforts to combat abusive factory farming practices in Arizona and to keep mourning doves protected from target shooting in Michigan, praised the overwhelming votes as an unmistakable signal that Americans want public policies that provide for the humane treatment of animals.

"Kindness to animals is a value shared by Americans of all political stripes, and the landslide votes tonight prove that rule once again," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Animals need protection from cruelty and abuse, and these ballot measures provide critical protections for millions of animals."

Michigan Proposal 3

Michigan voters crushed Proposal 3, a measure that would have allowed mourning dove hunting. Doves have been protected in Michigan since 1905, although groups such as the NRA have worked for years to reverse the state's longstanding tradition of protecting these gentle, backyard songbirds. The legislature narrowly passed a bill in 2004 to allow dove shooting for the first time, and Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the bill into law after initially promising to veto it. More than 5,000 Michigan volunteers, led by humane and conservation groups, gathered more than 275,000 signatures to place the issue before voters.

The NRA and other hunting groups supported a "Yes" vote to allow a dove shooting season, while The Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Humane Society, Michigan Audubon Society, Michigan State Grange, and many other groups urged a "No" vote. Most major newspapers in the state, including the Detroit Free Press, Traverse City Record-Eagle and Kalamazoo Gazette, urged a "No" vote. Proposal 3 was going down in flames by 68 percent to 32 percent. It appears that the dove protection campaign may receive more votes statewide than any other candidate or issue in Michigan.

Arizona Proposition 204

Arizona voters approved Proposition 204 in a lopsided vote, giving the measure 61 percent approval with most precincts reporting. The measure bans the intensive confinement of breeding pigs and veal calves in tiny crates on corporate factory farms, where the animals cannot turn around or stretch their limbs. It will provide more humane treatment of farm animals and will stop the spread of corporate factory farms in Arizona. The estimated 16,000 breeding pigs now housed on factory farms in Arizona are kept in gestation crates which prevent them from engaging in natural behaviors.

The Humane Society of the United States, Arizona Humane Society, Animal Defense League of Arizona, and Farm Sanctuary led the effort to pass Proposition 204. The measure was endorsed by the Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, Arizona Daily Star and other major papers, and was supported by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Paul Harvey and many others. The Arizona Farm Bureau, Center for Consumer Freedom and other groups pumped $2.5 million into a deceptive campaign to fool voters into thinking Proposition 204 was backed by "extremist" groups, but Arizona voters clearly rebuked this blatantly dishonest campaign.

Winning Track Record

Since 1990 voters have enacted more than two dozen animal protection reforms through ballot initiatives, including:

Banning cockfighting in Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma

Outlawing the slaughter of horses and the sale of horse meat in California

Restricting cruel and inhumane traps and poisons in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington

Prohibiting inhumane bear hunting practices in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington

Banning the use of gestation crates for breeding pigs in Florida

Providing specialty spay/neuter license plates in Georgia

Banning canned hunts and prohibiting future game farms in Montana

Outlawing aerial wolf killing in Alaska

"Voters have consistently chosen to protect animals when given the opportunity to cast their ballots in favor of humane treatment," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States. "It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to pass ballot measures and The Humane Society of the United States has been fortunate to work with wonderful grassroots activists and animal welfare groups across the country who turn a vision of a more humane world into reality for millions of animals."
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