Less than a month from Election Day, the gubernatorial race isn’t the only statewide contest that sometimes feels like a dog fight. Today, announcing his endorsement by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, state Sen. Mark R. Herring, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, lashed out against his rival, state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, for his voting record on animal welfare issues in a way that may lead animal lovers to believe that the Republican takes pleasure in killing puppies.
Subtitled “Tea Party AG candidate Obenshain’s egregious record on humane treatment of animals exposed,” a newsletter mailed out by Herring’s campaign today blasts Obenshain for being one of three senators to vote against regulating puppy mills, increasing penalties for cockfighting and requiring veterinarians and shelter employees to notify law enforcement officials if a dog showed signs of being forced into a fight. The letter also states that Obenshain voted against a bill to end competitive fox penning, “an action so heinous that opponents call it barbaric.”
Doubling-down on the attack on Obenshain, Laura Donahue, Secretary of the Board with Humane Dominion, a nonpartisan group that endorsed Republicans and Democrats who advocate for the humane treatment of Virginia’s animals, said that “anyone who has a pet or believes that common sense precautions should be taken to keep animals safe should vote for Mark Herring. It’s that simple.”
Obenshain has a record that is simply indefensible, Donahue said. ”It really makes you wonder what motivated Mark Obenshain to vote this way so consistently. He may tell voters one thing, but the truth is Mark Obenshain has long record of voting in a way that puts animals, including dogs and other pets, in serious danger.”
Obenshain spokesman Paul Logan said that the Republican has always supported animal welfare laws and that the Obenshains themselves have taken in and cared for neglected animals. “One of Mark Obenshain’s public safety proposals in the campaign has been to expand the use of courthouse dogs to comfort child victims, as has been done in Stafford County,” Logan said.
While Obenshain’s voting record is fair game in an election, Herring may be barking up the wrong tree. Maybe he should ask family dog Jessie - a Golden Retriever rescued by the Obenshains several years ago.
Read Humane Dominion’s endorsement of Herring here