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Humane Society's Wayne Pacelle: Schwarzenegger "acting like a demagogue and a bully" in scoffing at tail-docking bill

"Instead of working on budget, the Legislature is about to debate whether cows can keep their tails while we're in a fiscal crisis," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fumed on Twitter, referring to Senate Bill 135. But the media-savvy Schwarzenegger didn't stop at Twitter -- he also had a video produced to illustrate his point. 

S.B. 135 was introduced by California state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) in February and, if passed, would ban the practice of docking dairy cows' tails except in extreme circumstances.  It's been championed by the Humane Society of the United States, and naturally Humane Society president  Wayne Pacelle had something to say about the governor's vocal opposition to the debate on the measure.

"Everybody knows that California’s budget situation is dire and urgent, but that’s no excuse for grandstanding by the governor and picking on the vulnerable," Pacelle said in statement, adding that  passage of S.B. 135 would have "absolutely no fiscal impact on the state."

Schwarzenegger's record on animal protection issues is "pitiful," Pacelle added, citing as evidence the governor's proposal to cut the state-mandated hold period for stray pets in animal shelters and a plan to tax veterinary care.  "[In] panning this legislation, he's not helping California make tough choices – he's just acting like a demagogue and a bully."

To deal with the growing tension between Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-majority legislature, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has proposed some unorthodox ideas, including hiring a professional mediator to help bridge the idealogical gap. Our colleague Tony Pierce ponders on the Comments Blog, "Is this a legislature that is intentionally dragging its feet to force the state to close down? Does the governor have a point?"

The budget impasse has affected other animal issues as well: A planned committee hearing on Assembly Bill 241, which would address puppy mills and large-scale breeders, was postponed indefinitely this week when Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) ordered that all hearings on legislation not related to the budget be canceled.

What do you think -- is Schwarzenegger right to cry foul at cow-tail debate when the state's in crisis?  Or do legislators have a responsibility to address issues of animal welfare regardless of the political climate?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Comments () | Archives (25)

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I assume the Governor and the State Legislature can all walk and chew gum at the same time--it's called multi-tasking.

There are hundreds of bills the Gov could have attempted to trivialize to make his questionable point. Why pick on defenseless animals, pray? Does he not recall that Proposition 2, the farm animal welfare initiative, passed with 63% of the vote last fall? People DO care about animal welfare, even if the Governor does not. And so do the majority of our legislators, to their credit.

When SB 135 reaches the Governor's desk (it passed by a 6:1 vote in the Assembly Agriculture Committee this week), he would be wise to sign it, if he cherishes his political future.

There's a line in Tennessee Williams' NIGHT OF THE IGUANA: "Cruelty is the only unforgivable sin." I tend to agree. The Governor owes Californians (and the animals) an apology.

Eric Mills, coordinator

This is where I draw the line. I will turn my back and my support completely away from our Gov if he thinks for one second he can make a mockery of the hard work many of us animal supporters have done. I take this measure very seriously and I expect the governor to do so as well. I'm ashamed of his callousness.

I'm with the Governor on this. Our legislators' priorities should be on the state's fiscal health, not on frivolous animal rights drivel.

When only 4% of the cows are affected and those only because of outdated equipment and which will soon disappear, hurrah for the governor for being so intelligent and shame on Senator Florez for grandstanding on a non-existant problem. He is either a died in the wool vegan or an idiot who would rather see California suffer the lost of many more industries for his own political ambitions. Go Schwarzenegger and the other sensible politicians!

"It's been championed by the Humane Society of the United States, and naturally Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle."

He and his group are VEGANS and strive to remove farm animals and pets from our lives. Does this not speak to where this man is coming from?

It is interesting that the number one object of Sen. Florez this year has been proposing legislation for HSUS. Is there any other legislation he has proposed other than animal rights laws? In the State of California which the Governor states " is broke," one would think priorities would not be invested in costly laws, but ways of saving money in the budget to benefit all Californians. All may be for naught as with this publicity over cow tails, Sen. Florez may be giving up his political future, for a cow tail, and his association with HSUS. Shame on Florez for not putting people first, or does he believe a cow and a child in California are the same and have equal rights?. There is really something about his animal rights agenda that is rotten to the core and has made him blind to the severe problems in California. Definitely not a good for California people and in the end, not good for animals in the end..
Cow tail docking right or wrong is a sanitary measure to keep dried feces out of the milk and was used mostly years ago when people, not machines milked the cows. If you have ever felt the blow of a long tail of a big dog....multiply that force times 20 to your head and face every 10 seconds until you move to the next cow. Need to look at scienctific reasons why a proceedure is necessary, not emotions. Has to do with "food safety"! The Gov. of California was said to be insensitive to the issues first by Florez and then Wayne Pacelle the CEO of HSUS jumped on the bandwagon at his disappointment of the Governor. What does that say? Sounds like HSUS will be on the bandwagon to get Sen. Florez re elected.

Not many California dairymen practice cow tail docking. The only time we have done anything close is when a cow got her tail caught or stepped on by another cow and the tail ripped off leaving a bloody mess. Then the end is cleaned, wrapped, and pressure applied to stop the flow of blood. I understand even cutting the tail hair/switch off may be banned. What about lice, long switches that drag on the ground and stepped on by other cows? Why not ban all people from haircuts, since it is bad for cattle shouldn't we protect the people, too?

My question is: If this is so important to Dean Florez and Wayne Pacelle, why didn't they include cat and dog tail docking in this bill? Tail docking is more prevalent in dogs. Why pick on a cow that is totally recycled for various uses? Instead of promoting the vegan agenda, you claim animal abuse since voters who have no interaction with animals are gullible to believe all animals are treated cruelly as Wayne Pacelle and Dean Florez want us to believe. Can we say all artists are drug addicts given this past week's sad loss.

Dean Florez is only doing this to kiss the tails of Northern and Southern CA voters by claiming animal abuse in this bill . The Humane Society is backing him with $$$$$$$$. He needs your vote for his next office and then he may even run for Governor and totally screw up this state.

Florez, is this payback to the voters in your area that did not vote your mama back into office?

Yes, I am a member of PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals. It's the 4th of July, time for a bar-be que. Time to recycle the cow!

It's about freaking time PEOPLE that are in need are actually put first for a change. Thank you Gov. for caring about the people you govern. If they are not taken care of first, I fail to see how exactly any animal will benefit when their owners are hungry and or services are not available.
These animal rights groups disgust me. They don't give a fig for the animals. All they care about is power and "fame" .
Disgusting pure and simple.

Some folks are missing the point. These politicians need to be working on the budget right now. Other issues can wait, and should wait, in light of our financial crisis. Once that's been resolved, there will be plenty of time for other issues. It's about priorities.

L.A. Native: Being a vegan is an admirably principled stand that shows both regard for living creatures and regard for the environment and the preservation of our precious natural resources, including land and water.

Also, you are either mistakenly or deliberately confusing the Humane Society of the United States, of which Wayne Pacelle is president, and PETA. HSUS has no such stand against pets, that is simply false. They do work for the humane treatment of farm animals, a stance which is pretty mainstream considering the wide margin by which Prop. 2 passed.

The moderation and common sense of vegetarians, vegans and those who work for the humane treatment of all animals should not be questioned nearly as much as the common sense (and basic humanity) of people who fight to keep in place cruel and outdated farming practices. What have cows ever done to you that you are so hostile to the notion of treating them humanely?

And honestly, if you're going to call other people idiots you might want to not write "died in the wool" when the expression is "dyed in the wool" or spell existent "existant." Doesn't make you look too...smart.

Mr. Pacelle only cares about promoting HSUS' agenda regardless of the needs & priorities of Californian & California's fiscal well-being. Pacelle, Mancuso, Florez & Nava have agendas that are not in the financial best interest of California.

I am so happy that Mr. Pacelle came out against the Governor on this. HSUS is doing GREAT work. Thanks to them we will finally be reducing our awful shelter overcrowding (Senate Bill 250) and cutting down on puppy mills (Assembly Bill 241). I think it is Mr. Pacelle who has moved HSUS in the direction of positive legislation like this, stuff that will really make a difference. Boo Arnold!!

Dear Environmentalists, Socialists, and bleeding hearts,
If you even want to have a State, you must realize that PEOPLE COME FIRST ! You IDIOTS!

Right-on, Mr. Governor!!!

Cow tail docking is a total NON-ISSUE. Some time back, a faulty study came out that claimed that docking dairy cows' tails reduced the incidence of painful mastitis so some farmers started docking tails. They thought that it would be good for their cows. That study was proven to be wrong by later, better studies and another study has since shown that docked cows produce LESS milk in summer so NO dairy farmer in her right mind will now dock a cow's tail unless there is an urgent medical reason for it.

So why is Florez spending time which would be much better spent on the Budget, spending all this time and energy on protecting cows from non-existant evils? He's termed out and running for Lt. Governor and it appears that he is doing everything he can to curry favor from the deep-pocket "animal riights" contingent in Hollywood to finance his Lt. Gov. run with this and other bills he is authoring.

And why is HSUS making an issue out of a non-existant problem? Some years back, HSUS was taken over by Pacelle and other militant vegans, whose statements in the past made no secret that that they would love to see an end to animal agriculture. (They're much more circumspect these days now that their statements to their followers are being publicized.) This is just another way for HSUS to demonize farmers and convince the public who knows nothing about dairy farming that animal agriculture is done by people who care nothing for their animals. I come from a farming family and I know that is definitely not true,

BTW, should Florez get the Dem nomination for Lt. Governor, since I've seen so much of his dirty politicking this year, this liberal Democrat will be voting for his Republican opponent.

Are you people crazy? State is said to be going off a cliff and they are talking about animal issues. Can't this wait a month while other liberal programs are being saved. On second thought let them talk about it - this way they won't screw something else up.

The Governor is right. The amount of time and money spent debating a triffle should have been spent fixing the budget deficit. The Legislature is quite obviously enabling fraud for the sole purpose of bashing a public health care and welfare system, or for silly quarrels with the governor. The governor was elected by the Californians. If the Legislature doesn't allow the Governor to work for the benefit of the voters, then it's anti-Democratic (as in Democracy, not party name.)

If fraud is kept under control in California, the positive exposure to the rest of the nation will help spur on the National Health Care program that Obama has in mind, and that can't happen, can it? So there are interests in the works here that are far from liberal or Democrat. I believe a thorough investigation should be made into each and every Legislature member regarding gifts, conflicting interests and stakes at companies, and every other thing to think of. Suspended while being investigated might be a good wake up call.

I believe the voters who put the current legislators in their seats deserve what they get, in the end. Had I walked out on my job, I would be fired. In fact, any time a legislator walks out they should be fired or have their pay suspended ad infinitum. I'm sure the lady will have put down on her time sheet that the time spent fuming out of the room will need to be paid as extra on her salary.

It's up to Californians to decide if they want the freeloaders and fraud criminals to run their lives, or if they want this budget deficit fixed because the first ones to riot and pillage will be the same ones who are using the system criminally, when there will be no money to maintain city infrastructures, to put food in the supermarket shelves or water running from the taps.

Schwarzenegger's record on animal rights isn't entirely "pitiful." He did sign legislation banning the production of foie gras in California.

Anyone who focuses on the Budget Freezeup will realize the following: (1) Of the 120 total legislators (80 Assembly+40 Senate), more than 100 have reached agreement on the budget; (2) a total of 14 Republicans + that non-gender-specific Governatress Schwarzeneggar-thang have caused and continue to cause turmoil in the State from north to south. The "discussions" are among the Big Five and most of the Leg is waiting for the "Leaders" to tell them what to do. Seems like dealing with these issues in the interim is fine. The howling Rethuglicans might want to look at the plethora of useless resolutions and commendations that are their mother's milk.

Cut the budget. Give Arnold what he wants. The state can rebuild it's programs when the economy gets better and with a balanced and healthy budget.

Save the cow tails, state parks and puppies.
Vote Green Party.

It seems crazy for a state that's issuing IOUs instead of payments to work on anything other than the budget. There will still be cows to rescue once California stops acting like a deadbeat. ARNOLD IS NUMERO UNO

Funny how cattle have managed to live and thrive for millions of years without the California Legislature looking out for them. This is a great example of not only how the idiots in Sacramento are wasting time while their customers--the tax-paying citizens--wait for a budget, but it's also a great example why we should have a part-time Legislature. Then maybe they could spend their time on something more substantive than tail-docking. I don't recall seeing anything in the Constitution giving the government the right to tell cattlemen how to manage their livestock.

Cows use their tails to SCATTER FLIES away from their rear quarters. It's an INSTINCT that they are deprived of when their tails are docked. Think of having a bunch of gnats land on your face and having no hands available to swat the pests away.Passing this bill will cost the government ZERO....nothing at all. It won't cost the farmers, either.
So why all the bitching? Clearly, opponents, you haven't thought this through. After all, they're "only animals", right? Well, there is a multitude of voices out here to speak FOR them, since they can't depend on their "caretakers" to do it.

So I read the Senate Bill. You can read it too by clicking into "Senate Bill 135" in the first para. of this story. I cut and pasted the first part: "An act to amend Section 597n of the Penal Code, relating to animal
Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for any person to cut the solid
part of the tail of any horse in the operation known as “docking.”
This bill would likewise prohibit the docking of cattle, as defined,
except as specified. By expanding the scope of an existing crime, this
bill would impose a state-mandated local program."
End of quote. Apparently, city dwellers aren't too hip on what people are doing to cattle in the night. It's a no brainer, there are some sick people running around. This is simply an amendment to an already existing bill. I'm all for it, and there's no hidden agenda here people.

Of course animal welfare issues should come first and foremost to a budget crisis. We are not talking about broken computers, we are talking about the lives of millions of animals. These are not automatons, these are living creatures who have the capability to feel. It's not rocket science, it's just morals and ethics. As everyone knows, doing what's right is almost never the easier of your choices, but it's so much more important. As government officials and people we are supposed to look up and aspire to, they should prove to us that they know what's the right thing to do and set an example to be proud of.
-Jana M. Hardison

If a living, sentient being is in physical pain or emotional stress and is powerless to remove itself from that situation, then we're talking about an issue that cannot wait until a later date. COMPASSION shouldn't have to be tabled until a more convenient time.

This bill has nothing to do with being a vegan, an animal lover, a farmer, a politician, etc. Alleviating pain and suffering is simply the decent thing to do.



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