I got a great email message from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland). He is my Senator, and I had written him, repeatedly, asking for his support for the Great Ape Protection Act. I told his campaign that I would not send a penny in donations until he supported Senate Bill 810. Sure, I was heartened, and hopeful, watching him preside over a Senate subcommittee hearing, where he seemed to lend support to proponents of SB 810, but I still had doubts. And then, today, I got this message:
“Dear Mr. Forsythe:” his email message began. (I’m a Ms., not a Mr., but I quibble. The good stuff follows...)
Thank you for sharing your support for S. 810, the Great Ape Protection Act. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, I believe that the cruel treatment of animals is wrong, and I am proud to be an advocate of legislation that protects animal welfare. This year, I received an award from the Humane Society for my demonstrated leadership on animal protection legislation.The protection of apes and chimpanzees is a pressing concern. I have co-sponsored legislation along these lines in the past, including the Protect America's Wildlife Act, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, and the Shark Conservation Act. All of these bills work to end animal cruelty and provide living creatures with the protection they deserve and need.As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, I chaired a hearing on April 24, 2012 to discuss the Great Ape Protection Act and other pieces legislation. We heard insightful testimony from expert witnesses while discussing the implications of the December 2012 report from the Institute of Medicine entitled “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity.” This hearing was a necessary step in moving S. 810 forward and it is my hope that this legislation will be passed by the committee and a vote on the floor of the Senate later this year.In the meantime, I am continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sufficiently funded to enforce key animal welfare laws. With an increase in funds for enforcement, the Federal Government can better protect the welfare of millions of animals, including those at commercial breeding facilities, laboratories, zoos, and slaughterhouses. Recently, I joined a number of my colleagues in cosigning a letter requesting full funding to enforce animal welfare laws.Thank you again for bringing this bill to my attention. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of concern to you.