Is Rick Santorum A Closet Animal Rights Activist?

Skeletons are revealed in the closets of the candidates for the U.S. presidency, and Republican Rick Santorum is rumored to be tightly associated with animal rights groups.

The question posed by this headline is buzzing in blogs in the agricultural industry and sportsmen’s rights groups. The anxiety stems from Santorum’s backing (and, when in the U.S. Senate, sponsoring) bills animal-rights groups are advocating, but that agricultural groups and sportsmen’s organizations oppose.

For example, in 2001, then Sen. Santorum (R-PA) introduced S. 1478, the Puppy Protection Act of 2001, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). This act intended to improve conditions for dogs at “puppy mills” by addressing socialization and breeding issues, and by creating a “three strikes and you’re out” system for violators of the Animal Welfare Act.

“The bill will require commercial breeders to provide socialization for dogs at their facilities,” Santorum said at the time.

Santorum did more than back animal-rights legislation; he even held a press conference in 1995 in which he was pictured alongside Wayne Pacelle, an animal-rights activist who now heads the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). For those of you who don’t know HSUS, its positions are similar to PETA’s and no, they don’t run your local pet shelter; in fact, HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter in the U.S. and only gives about 1% of its money to pet shelters. What HSUS does is spend its money on anti-farming and anti-hunting campaigns.

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