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Sens. Barbara Boxer and Scott Brown Earn Top 2012 Humane Federal Legislator Awards

144 other Members of Congress Recognized

Top honors as 2012 Humane Legislators of the Year will go to Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Scott Brown, R-Mass. The Humane Society of the United States and its affiliate the Humane Society Legislative Fund will present the awards to Sens. Boxer and Brown along with other recipients of the congressional Humane Awards for 2012.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS said: “We commend Senators Boxer and Brown for their extraordinary leadership in advancing key animal protection laws. They have been two of our most effective champions on a wide range of the most pressing issues affecting animals, and we are so grateful for their tremendous skill, compassion and tenacity.”

HSLF President Michael Markarian said: “Animal protection issues continue to bring Members of Congress together across party lines, and have the strong support of mainstream Americans. We thank these leaders for their outstanding work to ensure that our federal laws reflect the core humane values and attitudes of American society.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer is being recognized for her leadership in fighting harmful legislation on toxic lead in ammunition and on polar bear trophy imports, as well as securing needed funding to strengthen USDA enforcement of key animal welfare laws, and advancing bills to protect primates and other wildlife species:

  • Leading a successful effort to challenge legislation that would have prevented the EPA from taking action to address the devastating effects of lead ammunition on wildlife and people – even tying the hands of agency scientists to evaluate the associated risks – when many forms of non-toxic ammunition are readily available and cost nearly the same. 
  • Helping to block an unneeded bailout for polar bear trophy hunters that would have encouraged the continued reckless killing of imperiled species in other countries, as hunters figured they could store the trophies in warehouses and simply wait for their allies in Congress to get them a waiver on the imports in contravention of laws such as the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. 
  • Working to get a bipartisan group of 35 Senators to join in seeking funding for USDA to improve its oversight of puppy mills, laboratories, roadside zoos, circuses and other regulated facilities. The funding also helped rein in the illegal “soring” of show horses (where trainers inflict severe pain on the animals’ legs and hooves to make it hurt them to step down, so they will exaggerate their high-stepping gait and win prizes); strengthen enforcement of the humane slaughter law; prevent illegal animal fighting; ease a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas and USDA positions through student loan repayment; and help address the needs of animals in disasters. 
  • Introducing legislation to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in primates for the pet trade (the Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1324), guiding it to unanimous approval in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which she chairs. 
  • Playing a pivotal role winning approval in committee for the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, S. 810, to help chimpanzees who languish in barren but expensive laboratory cages and should be retired to less costly and far more humane sanctuary space. 
  • Ensuring committee approval of a host of other wildlife conservation measures, and fending off a variety of anti-wildlife legislation.


Sen. Brown is being honored for his leadership on legislation to strengthen the federal animal fighting law, to prevent importation of polar bear trophies and live beluga whales, to establish tougher penalties for violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to provide more humane housing for egg-laying hens, and to end horse slaughter for human consumption:

  • Prime sponsorship of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, S. 1947, to close a loophole in the federal animal fighting law and make it a crime to attend or take a child to a dogfight or cockfight. Spectators finance organized animal fights and make them profitable with their admission fees and gambling wagers, and they provide cover to animal fighters who blend into the crowd during law enforcement raids. 
  • Helping win approval – by a vote of 88-11 – for the animal fighting legislation as an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill, and being instrumental in getting S. 1947 passed by voice vote as a stand-alone bill.
  • Co-leading efforts to remove a polar bear trophy import provision from the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 (S. 3525), which would have allowed 41 wealthy trophy hunters to import their sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada despite polar bears being listed as a threatened species.  
  • Following the illegal killing of grey seals on Cape Cod beaches, authoring the Marine Mammal Protection Amendment Act, S. 1402, to increase fines from $20,000 to $50,000 for knowingly killing or importing marine mammals.
  • Sending a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service opposing the importation of 18 wild-caught Beluga whales – who were to be transported across thousands of miles at great risk – to be exhibited at aquarium facilities. 
  • Original cosponsorship of the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, S. 3239, to phase-out barren battery cages in the egg industry and improve the treatment of hundreds of millions of egg-laying hens, as well as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S.1176, to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
  • Cosponsoring the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, S. 707, to crack down on abusive large-scale puppy mills selling directly to the public via the Internet or other means, by requiring them to be licensed and inspected under the Animal Welfare Act which regulates other commercial breeders, and sending a letter to USDA urging the agency to expedite its proposed rule to regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders selling puppies over the Internet.

Every year, the Humane Society Legislative Fund compiles a federal Humane Scorecard to provide a snapshot of animal protection issues considered by the U.S. Congress and give animal advocates a tool to assess the performance of their Senators and Representatives. The scorecard tracks key votes as well as cosponsorship of important pro-animal bills and support for adequate funding needed to enforce key animal welfare laws. For 2012, in addition to the top awards for Sens. Boxer and Brown:

  • Humane Champion awards will go to 28 legislators who took the lead on animal welfare legislation or a letter to an agency and also received a perfect score on the 2012 Humane Scorecard.
  • Legislative Leader awards will go to 87 legislators for their leadership as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation or a letter to a federal agency.
  • Humane Advocate awards will go to 29 legislators who received a perfect score on the 2012 Humane Scorecard.

In total, 146 legislators – one-third of the Senate and more than one-quarter of the House (representing 38 states, three U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia) – will receive awards for their work in 2012.

To see the complete list of 2012 awardees, please click here.

Previous recipients of the Humane Legislator of the Year Award include Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., for 2011, Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and James Moran, D-Va., for 2010, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., for 2009, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., for 2008, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., for 2007, Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., for 2006, and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., for 2005.

Media Contact:  Heather Sullivan: 301-548-7778; hsullivan@humanesociety.org

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