Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Animals Lose a Passionate Defender in the Senate

Written by PETA | June 28, 2010
Senator Byrd

With the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, animals and the people who care about them have lost a longstanding and true friend. The senior senator, who was a meat cutter in his youth, evolved into a tireless advocate for animals.

Sen. Byrd’s soft spot for animals, fueled by his love for his little dog, Billy, was as legendary as the passionate speeches he often made on their behalf. No one who saw it can forget the speech he gave in response to the Michael Vick scandal, in which he condemned dogfighting as “Barbaric! Hear me! Barbaric!”

In 2001, Byrd gave a moving speech in defense of a bill addressing cruelty to farmed animals, saying,

“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. … These creatures feel; they know pain. They suffer pain just as we humans suffer pain.”

A year later, Sen. Byrd led an effort to convince the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide $5 million—a record amount—for improving enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act.

In 2005, Sen. Byrd coauthored the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would prohibit the transport, purchase, and sale of horses for human consumption. Versions of the bill, now called The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, have been introduced every year since then, but have yet to pass both houses. As a tribute to Sen. Byrd, please urge your U.S. representatives to at last pass this important law.

PETA named Sen. Byrd our 2007 “Person of the Year” to recognize his defense of animals throughout six decades of public service. Sen. Byrd gave a powerful voice to those with none of their own. His passionate and inspiring dedication to helping animals will be sorely missed.

Written by Alisa Mullins

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  • Larry says:

    Even with all of his responsibilities and duties he always found time to defend and legislate for animals….Thank you Senator and may you rest in peace.

  • Saucy says:

    A wise old Bird. So sorry to see you go. Your wise words will be remembered on earth and in Heaven. Rest in Peace Beloved Senator Byrd!

  • Karen Allred says:

    Wow what a wonderful soul..on so many different levels. I knew you were a poet often quoting long passages during Senate meetings from memory and stood up against the Iraq war and turned your heart around for civil rights. But until now I had no idea that you loved animals so much stood up for them for their protection and humane treatment. This dear soul will truly be missed. May you exist in a wonderful place always.

  • Tucker says:

    MR. BYRD WAS THE MAN!!!!!!!!! WE THANK HIM FOR EVERYTHING HE DID IN HIS LIFE TIME FOR ANIMALS AND CERTAINLY THE ANIMALS DO TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HERES TO MR. BYRD MEOWWOOFMOOBAAAOINKCLUCKNEY CHIRP ROAR HOWL HOOT AND ALLL THE REST OF THE ANIMALS IN AROUND AND OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gloria taber says:

    Thank you Senator Byrd for your protection of our nonhuman friends. I am an animal lover and didn’t know of your great service to them until now. Please continue helping them in spirit from above.

  • Barbara says:

    I did’nt know about this great man he really is a hero! Thank you for all you did for animals! Hopefully there will follow more and more people like you!

  • Alli says:

    A senator of my former home state and I never knew how involved he was with animal rights. So proud of his service.

  • Mary Ann says:

    We lost a good man and friend to all animals lets hope someone just as dear steps up to the plate to fight for them shortly…GOD bless him!

  • Julia says:

    Mr. Byrd was an amazing person with an amazing heart.

  • Kim says:

    Wonderful comment Elizabeth. You took the words right out of my and I’m sure lots of others’ mouth. God Bless You Rest In Peace Senator Byrd

  • Elizabeth says:

    The powerful words of Senator Byrd remind us that compassion for one another cannot begin until we show mercy and compassion for animals. Rest in peace Senator.