This week, Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released The Protecting Animals and Wildlife (PAW) Plan—a comprehensive program that will create stricter protections for animals should Castro be elected as President of the United States. The multi-pronged plan—a direct response to the Trump Administration’s rollback on animal-protection policies—is divided into two parts: Advance Animal Welfare and Protect Endangered Species. The first part of the PAW plan will make animal abuse a federal crime, provide a $40 million grant to local communities to aid with spaying and neutering companion animals, promote animal adoption, support companion animals of people who are experiencing homelessness, amongst other policies focused on helping companion animals. The plan also includes protections for animals in agriculture such as establishing better welfare standards and disallowing the enactment of “ag-gag” laws (or laws that seek to make filming or documenting animal abuse on farms illegal). In his plan, Castro aims to end the slaughter of horses for food and outlaw the private ownership of wild cats such as lions and tigers. Notably, the PAW plan seeks to ban animal testing in the cosmetic industry nationwide. “No animal should have to suffer when we develop perfumes, colognes, and soap when there are humane alternatives,” Castro said. 

When it comes to wild animals, the PAW plan will strengthen the Endangered Species Act (a policy the Trump Administration has weakened by making it more difficult to protect threatened species). In his effort to protect 50 percent of US land and oceans from destruction by 2050, Castro plans to establish a $2 billion Wildlife Recovery Fund to help with habitat conservation, enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and the development of biodiversity programs. The PAW plan will crack down on trophy hunters, ivory traders, and poachers, while dedicating resources to protecting marine life. Castro promises to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year, end the leasing of federal land for fossil fuel extraction, and require informed consent from tribal nations prior to starting large energy projects that would affect those communities.  

“Trump values profits over people, individual fortunes over our collective future, and he is the most anti-animal president in our history,” Castro said. “I believe that we can do better at advancing animal welfare and protecting endangered species from extinction. We each have not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to advance the welfare of animals and protect endangered species from extinction.”

Photo credit: MLive