Representative and Mrs. Tom Lantos Leaving Congress

Friday, January 4, 2008

Humanitarians dedicated to reducing the suffering off both human and non-human animals throughout the world

AWI regrets to announce the passing of Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) who died February 11, 2008 after a battle with cancer. Chairman Lantos, born in Budapest, Hungary, was the only survivor of the Holocaust to serve in the US Congress. For 14 terms, Mr. Lantos was known for his staunch defense of human and animal rights among other important social issues. Our sincere condolences to Annette and the entire Lantos family.

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) wishes to recognize U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) with its "Profiles in Compassion" award for his uncompromising leadership on animal welfare issues throughout his 14 terms in the U.S. Congress. As the founder and co-chair of Congressional Friends of Animals, he created a valuable forum to discuss and further legislative initiatives on behalf of animals.

During his long career, Representative Lantos and his wife Annette championed many animal welfare bills, including efforts to protect pets from sale to research laboratories, end the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and ensure a peaceful retirement for chimpanzees previously used in federally funded research.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Representative Lantos and Christopher Shays (R-CT) introduced the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, H.R. 3858, to address the fate of companion animals in the case of natural disasters requiring local authorities to adopt pet evacuation plans for future emergencies if their governments wanted to receive federal aid. The law was adopted in October 2006. Most recently, he spoke out against dog fighting, China's cruel methods of dealing with its dog populations, and the Canadian seal hunt.

"Killing baby seals echoes the torture and cruel killing of so many other animals around the world," Representative Lantos said on the House floor. "As co-chairman of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, I will continue to bring the world's attention to such practices wherever they exist."

True to his word, Representative Lantos assisted AWI's efforts to protect whales last spring by signing a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, instructing them to fight harder for whale conservation and against commercial whaling at the May 2007 International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

Representative and Mrs. Lantos are perhaps best known for their dedicated work supporting human rights, but their efforts on behalf of non-human animals will always be remembered. In their home state of California, the Peninsula Humane Society has announced it will name its planned $15 million animal adoption facility the Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion. President Ken White explained that Lantos believes caring for those who cannot care for themselves is part of "what makes us the kind of society we want to be."

AWI and many others will sincerely miss Representative and Mrs. Lantos' presence on Capitol Hill. Not only were they true animal advocates, but they were personable to boot, with both husband and wife nearly always accompanied by their beloved dog Maxco making every effort to engage younger generations in the fight to end animal cruelty.

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