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:
And, about one of his dogs, Billy, who passed away in 2002:
Pictured: Sen. Byrd, his wife, Erma and their dog, Trouble