"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Rep. Tom Lantos Announces His Retirement

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection this year because he has cancer.

Lantos, who was first elected in 1981, is the chair of the House's Foreign Affairs Committee. He is widely known for his dedication to human rights issues. "The central focus of my life, obviously, is human rights, because I am convinced that this is really the path of a more civilized world," said Lantos in the documentary The Last Days, which discusses his and others' stories of survival in Hungary during the Holocaust.

"But he has also made his mark in the realm of animal rights, both on the Peninsula and nationwide," pointed out an article in the San Mateo County Times this week. Lantos is a founding member and cochair of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus and is also known for taking his dog to work with him. The article went on to say:

Ken White, president of the Peninsula Humane Society, meets with Lantos several times a year and calls him "a true stalwart on animal rights issues."

Lantos believes that caring for those who cannot care for themselves, whether animals or human beings, is part of "what makes us the kind of society we want to be," White said.

Moved by the plight of animals following Hurricane Katrina, Lantos authored legislation [the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Act], passed in 2006, that requires states to develop emergency plans that account for the evacuation of animals when disasters strike.

The society's planned $15 million animal adoption center in Burlingame will be named the Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.

"Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us," said Lantos in November.

I'll always remember Lantos for two personal connections as well. He was one of the speakers at the Save Darfur rally I attended in Washington, D.C., in April 2006. And when I won HSUS' Student Genesis Award a few years ago, Lantos and Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus cochair Rep. Christopher Shays had a letter in the program that noted:
Each year, it is our privilege to commend the dedicated individuals who have committed themselves to educating the public on animal welfare issues. As co-chairs of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus ... we share our cause with the Humane Society of the United States and its notable award recipients. By working together, we will continue to increase public awareness and gain public support for animal welfare issues. Thank you for joining us in the fight to protect animals. Please accept our most heartfelt congratulations on receiving the Genesis Award.


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