[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 147 (2001), Part 9]
[Senate]
[Pages 12654-12656]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]



                           CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, a few months ago, a lady by the name of Sara 
McBurnett accidentally tapped a sports utility vehicle from behind on a 
busy highway in California. The angry owner of the bumped vehicle, Mr. 
Andrew Burnett, stormed back to Ms. McBurnett's car and began yelling 
at her; and then reached through her open car window with both hands, 
grabbed her little white dog and hurled it onto the busy roadway. The 
lady sat helplessly watching in horror as her frightened little pet ran 
for its life, dodging speeding traffic to no avail. The traffic was too 
heavy and the traffic was too swift.
  Imagine her utter horror. Recently, Mr. Burnett was found guilty of 
animal cruelty by a jury in a California court, so my faith in the 
wisdom of juries was restored. Ever since I first heard about this 
monstrous, brutal, barbaric act, I have wondered what would drive any 
sane person to do such a thing. There are some people who have blamed 
this senseless and brutal incident on road rage. But it was not just 
road rage, it was bestial cruelty. It was and is an outrage. It was an 
act of sheer depravity to seize a fluffy, furry, innocent little dog, 
and toss it onto a roadway, and most certainly to be crushed under tons 
of onrushing steel, iron, glass, and rubber, while its terrified owner, 
and perhaps other people in other vehicles, watched.
  There is no minimizing such cruelty and resorting to the lame excuse 
that, ``after all, it was just a dog.''
  The dog owner, Ms. McBurnett, puts the incident in perspective. Here 
is what she said: It wasn't just a dog to me. For me, it was my child. 
A majority of pet owners do believe their pets to be family members. 
That is the way I look at my little dog, my little dog Billy--Billy 
Byrd. I look at him as a family member. When he passes away, I will 
shed tears. I know that. He is a little white Maltese Terrier. As a pet 
owner and dog lover, I know exactly what that lady means, and so did 
millions of other dog lovers who could never even fathom such an act.
  For my wife and me, Billy Byrd is a key part of our lives at the Byrd 
House in McLean. He brings us great joy and wonderful companionship. As 
I said on this floor just a few months ago, if I ever saw in this world 
anything that was made by the Creator's hand that is more dedicated, 
more true, more faithful, more trusting, more undeviant than this 
little dog, I am at a loss to state what it is. Such are the feelings 
of many dog owners.
  Dogs have stolen our hearts and made a place in our homes for 
thousands of years. Dogs fill an emotional need in man and they have 
endured as our close companions. They serve as guards and sentries and 
watchdogs; they are hunting companions. Some, like Lassie and Rin Tin 
Tin, have become famous actors. But mostly, these sociable little 
creatures are valued especially as loyal comforters to their human 
masters. Petting a dog can make our blood pressure drop. Try it. Our 
heart rate slows down. Try it. Our sense of anxiety diminishes, just 
goes away. Researchers in Australia have found that dog owners have a 
lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and lower 
cholesterol levels than those people who do not own dogs. Researchers 
in England have demonstrated that dog owners have far fewer minor 
health complaints than those people without a dog. Our dogs are about 
the most devoted, steadfast companions that the Creator could have 
designed. They are said to be man's best friend and, indeed, who can 
dispute it?
  The affection that a dog provides is not only unlimited, it is 
unqualified, unconditional. A faithful dog does not judge its owner, it 
does not criticize him or her, it simply accepts him or her; it accepts 
us as we are, for who we are, no matter how we dress, no matter how 
much money we have or don't have, and no matter what our social

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standing might be or might not be. No matter what happens, one's dog is 
still one's friend.
  A long, frustrating day at work melts into insignificance--gone--with 
the healing salve of warm, excited greetings from one's ever faithful, 
eternally loyal dog.
  President Truman was supposed to have remarked: If you want a friend 
in Washington, buy a dog. I often think about Mr. Truman's words. No 
wonder so many political leaders have chosen the dog as a faithful 
companion and canine confidante. Former Senate Republican leader, 
Robert Dole, was constantly bringing his dog, ``Leader''--every day--to 
work with him. President Bush has ``Barney'' and ``Spot.'' President 
Truman had an Irish setter named ``Mike.'' President Ford had a golden 
retriever named ``Lucky.'' The first President Bush had Millie.
  Of course, there was President Franklin Roosevelt and his dog, 
``Fala.'' They had such a close relationship that his political 
opponents once attempted to attack him by attacking his dog. Eleanor 
Roosevelt recalled that for months after the death of her husband, 
every time someone approached the door of her house, Fala would run to 
it in excitement, hoping that it was President Roosevelt coming home.
  The only time I remember President Nixon becoming emotional, except 
when he was resigning the Presidency, perhaps more so in the first 
instance, was in reference to his dog ``Checkers.''
  At the turn of the century, George G. Vest delivered a deeply 
touching summation before the jury in the trial involving the killing 
of a dog, Old Drum. This occurred, I think, in 1869. There were two 
brothers-in-law, both of whom had fought in the Union Army. They lived 
in Johnson County, MO. One was named Leonidas Hornsby. The other was 
named Charles Burden.
  Burden owned a dog, and he was named ``Old Drum.'' He was a great 
hunting dog. Any time that dog barked one could know for sure that it 
was on the scent of a raccoon or other animal.
  Leonidas Hornsby was a farmer who raised livestock and some of his 
calves and lambs were being killed by animals. He, therefore, swore to 
shoot any animal, any dog that appeared on his property.
  One day there appeared on his property a hound. Someone said: 
``There's a dog out there in the yard.'' Hornsby said: ``Shoot him.''
  The dog was killed. Charles Burden, the owner of the dog, was not the 
kind of man to take something like this lightly. He went to court. He 
won his case and was awarded $25. Hornsby appealed, and, if I recall, 
on the appeal there was a reversal, whereupon the owner of the dog 
decided to employ the best lawyer that he could find in the area.
  He employed a lawyer by the name of George Graham Vest. This lawyer 
gave a summation to the jury. Here is what he said:

       The best friend that a man has in this world may turn 
     against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he 
     has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who 
     are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our 
     happiness and our good name may become traitors to their 
     faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away 
     from him perhaps when he needs it most. A man may sacrifice 
     his reputation in a moment of ill-considered action.
       The people who are prone to fall on their knees and do us 
     honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the 
     stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our 
     heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can 
     have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, 
     the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is the 
     dog.
       Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in 
     prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will 
     sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow, and the 
     snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master's 
     side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he 
     will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with 
     the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper 
     master as if he were a prince.
       When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take 
     wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in 
     his love as the Sun in its journey through the heavens.
       If fortune drives the master forth and outcast into the 
     world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no 
     higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him 
     against danger, to fight against his enemies.
       And when the last scene of all comes, death takes the 
     master in its embrace and his body is laid in the cold 
     ground, no matter if all other friends desert him and pursue 
     their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be 
     found, his head between his paws and his eyes sad but open in 
     alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even unto death.

  Well, of course, George Vest won the case. It was 1869 or 1870. In 
1879 he ran for the U.S. Senate and was elected and served in the 
Senate for 24 years. The citizens in Warrensburg, MO, decided to build 
a statue to Old Drum, and that statue stands today in the courtyard at 
Warrensburg. Harry Truman contributed $250 to the building of the 
statue. I generally ask new Senators from Missouri have they heard 
about Old Drum. I asked that of Kit Bond one day and he remembered, so 
upon his first occasion to visit Warrensburg, MO, after that, he 
brought me a picture of the statue of Old Drum.
  So, just a little pat, a little treat, a little attention for the dog 
is all that a pet asks. How many members of the human species can love 
so completely? How does man return that kind of affection?
  I remember a recent news program that told of a man who was going 
around killing dogs and selling the meat from them. A couple of years 
ago, NBC News reported that American companies were importing and 
selling toys made in China that were decorated with the fur from dogs 
that were raised and then slaughtered just for that purpose.
  And now we have this monster--I do not hesitate to overrate him--who, 
because of cruelty and rage, decided that he had the right to grab a 
harmless little dog and hurl it to its certain death. It makes one 
ponder the question, doesn't it, Which was the animal? Burnett, or Leo, 
the little dog? Of course we know the answer.
  The point is this: We have a responsibility to roundly condemn such 
abject cruelty. Apathy regarding incidents such as this will only lead 
to more deviant behavior. And respect for life, all life, and for 
humane treatment of all creatures is something that must never be lost.
  The Scriptures say in the Book of Proverbs, ``A righteous man 
regardeth the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked 
are cruel.''
  Mr. President, I am concerned that cruelty toward our faithful 
friend, the dog, may be reflective of an overall trend toward animal 
cruelty. Recent news accounts have been saturated with accounts of such 
brutal behavior. A year or two ago, it was revealed that macabre videos 
showing small animals, including hamsters, kittens, and monkeys, being 
crushed to death were selling for as much as $300 each. And just a few 
day ago, there were local news accounts of incidents in Maryland 
involving decapitated geese being left on the doorsteps of several 
homes in a Montgomery County community.
  Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more 
and more barbaric. Six-hundred-pound hogs--they were pigs at one time--
raised in 2-foot-wide metal cages called gestation crates, in which the 
poor beasts are unable to turn around or lie down in natural positions, 
and this way they live for months at a time.
  On profit-driven factory farms, veal calves are confined to dark 
wooden crates so small that they are prevented from lying down or 
scratching themselves. These creatures feel; they know pain. They 
suffer pain just as we humans suffer pain. Egg-laying hens are confined 
to battery cages. Unable to spread their wings, they are reduced to 
nothing more than an egg-laying machine.
  Last April, the Washington Post detailed the inhumane treatment of 
livestock in our Nation's slaughterhouses. A 23-year-old Federal law 
requires that cattle and hogs to be slaughtered must first be stunned, 
thereby rendered insensitive to pain, but mounting evidence indicates 
that this is not always being done, that these animals are sometimes 
cut, skinned, and scalded while still able to feel pain.
  A Texas beef company, with 22 citations for cruelty to animals, was 
found

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chopping the hooves off live cattle. In another Texas plant with about 
two dozen violations, Federal officials found nine live cattle dangling 
from an overhead chain. Secret videos from an Iowa pork plant show hogs 
squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the boiling water 
that will soften their hides, soften the bristles on the hogs and make 
them easier to skin.
  I used to kill hogs. I used to help lower them into the barrels of 
scalding water, so that the bristles could be removed easily. But those 
hogs were dead when we lowered them into the barrels.
  The law clearly requires that these poor creatures be stunned and 
rendered insensitive to pain before this process begins. Federal law is 
being ignored. Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is 
infuriating. Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must 
not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food--and 
even more so, more so. Such insensitivity is insidious and can spread 
and is dangerous. Life must be respected and dealt with humanely in a 
civilized society.
  So for this reason I have added language in the supplemental 
appropriations bill that directs the Secretary of Agriculture to report 
on cases of inhumane animal treatment in regard to livestock 
production, and to document the response of USDA regulatory agencies.
  The U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies have the authority and 
the capability to take action to reduce the disgusting cruelty about 
which I have spoken.
  Oh, these are animals, yes. But they, too, feel pain. These agencies 
can do a better job, and with this provision they will know that the 
U.S. Congress expects them to do better in their inspections, to do 
better in their enforcement of the law, and in their research for new, 
humane technologies. Additionally, those who perpetuate such barbaric 
practices will be put on notice that they are being watched.
  I realize that this provision will not stop all the animal life in 
the United States from being mistreated. It will not even stop all 
beef, cattle, hogs and other livestock from being tortured. But it can 
serve as an important step toward alleviating cruelty and unnecessary 
suffering by these creatures.
  Let me read from the Book of Genesis. First chapter, versus 24-26 
reads:

       And God said--

  Who said? God said.

       And God said, Let the Earth bring forth the living creature 
     after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the 
     Earth after his kind: and it was so.
       And God made--

  Who made?

       And God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and 
     cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon 
     the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
       And God said--

  Who said? God said. Who said?

       And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our 
     likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the 
     sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and 
     over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that 
     creepeth upon the Earth.

  Thus, Mr. President, God gave man dominion over the Earth. We are 
only the stewards of this planet. We are only the stewards of His 
planet. Let us not fail in our Divine mission. Let us strive to be good 
stewards and not defile God's creatures or ourselves by tolerating 
unnecessary, abhorrent, and repulsive cruelty.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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