A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Senator Robert Byrd – Animal Protector

In the many obituaries, much was said about his life as a legislator; a fair amount about how he stepped away from his background as a racist; but much less about his life as a passionate protector of animals.

Robert Byrd led the fight for strong enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. And he spoke strongly for humane treatment of “downed” animals in factory farms – the ones who are too sick and injured even to walk.

Among his many legislative campaigns for animals, he successfully pushed for a measure to allow the adoption of horses no longer used by government agencies, pushed successfully for the closure of horse slaughterhouses and led the way in calling on the Department of Defense to stop using live primates in training programs to do with chemical and biological weapons.

On the Senate floor in 2001, he noted that “Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more and more barbaric.” And he added, “Let us strive to be good stewards and not defile God’s creatures or ourselves by tolerating unnecessary, abhorrent and repulsive cruelty.”

Among his other memorable remarks on the Senate floor:

“Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is infuriating. Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food—and even more so, more so. Such insensitivity is insidious and can spread and is dangerous. Life must be respected and dealt with humanely in a civilized society.”“It is one thing to determine as a culture that it is acceptable to raise and rear and then eat animals. It is another thing to cause them to lead a miserable life of torment, and then to slaughter them in a crude and callous manner. As a civilized society, we owe it to animals to treat them with compassion and humaneness. Animals suffer and they feel. Because we are moral agents, and compassionate people, we must do better.”

And, about one of his dogs, Billy, who passed away in 2002:

“If I ever saw in this world anything that was made by the Creator’s hand that is more dedicated, more true, more faithful, more trusting, more undeviant than this little dog, I am at a loss to state what it is. Such are the feelings of many dog owners.”

Pictured: Sen. Byrd, his wife, Erma and their dog, Trouble