On Monday, Rep. Tom Lantos passed away. Lantos, a Hungarian Jew by birth and the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, announced last month that he was suffering from esophageal cancer. Lantos was widely recognized as a leading human rights advocate in Congress (read Amnesty International's press release
) as well as a champion for animal issues. Click here
to read my January 5 tribute to Lantos.
Lantos' dedication to animal issues has been prominently noted in obituaries, including ones in the Los Angeles Times
(second paragraph of the article) and The New York Times
(fourth paragraph of the article). The day after Lantos' death, the Chico Enterprise Record
published an article titled "Lantos a Fierce Defender of Animal Rights
major animal protection organization issued a statement or otherwise praised Lantos in the wake of his death. Links and excerpts are below. These excerpts show that Lantos did wonderful work on a wide range of animal issues. This man was a true hero.PETA (Letter to the editor by Kathy Guillermo, director of research, in J.: The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)
We at PETA came to know Rep. Lantos when he offered to help us with the Silver Spring monkeys, a group of animals that had been terribly abused in a Maryland laboratory. I had the honor of interviewing Rep. Lantos and his wife, Annette, about their efforts to send these animals to a sanctuary. They showed me a photograph of themselves from 1939, when they were happy childhood friends in Budapest, Hungary. But they were Jewish, and not long after the picture was taken, Annette went into hiding and Tom was sent to a forced labor camp. Their families were killed in the Holocaust. These traumatizing experiences, they told me, helped them understand what it was like to be victimized simply because they weren’t like others.PETA (Blog post on The PETA Files)
At PETA, we are profoundly indebted to Tom Lantos for his insistence that oppression should be fought wherever it exists, not just where it’s convenient, and we will always remember the important work that he did to help animals with gratitude and admiration. Tom Lantos will be deeply missed here at PETA, both by those of us who knew him personally, and by those of us, like me, who have been inspired by his example.The Humane Society of the United States (Press release)
Congressman Lantos was constant and steadfast in his leadership in championing the needs of pets such as his beloved dog Gigi and other animals in disaster planning. He worked to stop cruel seal hunts, call attention to the killing of dogs in foreign countries, and address animal fighting, horse slaughter, puppy mills, antifreeze safety, canned hunts, bear baiting, non-animal methods in chemical testing, marine mammal protection, downed animal mistreatment and other farm animal welfare issues.
"Today, as we mourn the passing of Representative Lantos, we remember him as a remarkable leader and advocate for the protection and defense of all animals," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "In recognition of his devoted work for animals, The HSUS will honor Representative Lantos with the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, its highest honor."Humane Society Legislative Fund (Statement by Michael Markarian, president)
At every turn, he insisted that animal protection was not only a just cause but an urgent one. His leadership was based on his deep personal conviction that every animal matters and deserves our consideration.
Lantos was the founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, along with Congressman Chris Shays (R-Conn.), which has held numerous briefings on the Hill to inform lawmakers and their staff about a wide range of animal issues from dogfighting to farm animal welfare.The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Statement by Ed Sayres, president and CEO)
Yesterday, we lost a great champion for America’s pets and grieve for a man who understood the important bond that exists between pet and pet owner. . . . Congressman Lantos’ legacy of support for our nation’s animals will be remembered for years to come. His drive and determination to pass the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act became a model of hope for pet owners after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, requiring federal emergency management officials to provide emergency pet shelter. More recently, he supported a public education campaign to combat the effects of the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal.International Fund for Animal Welfare (Statement by Jeffery Flocken, director of the U.S. Office)
As a great champion for both animals and people, he will be sorely missed. During his almost 30 years in Congress, Mr. Lantos worked tirelessly to promote conservation and end cruelty. ... Just last spring, Congressman Lantos introduced a resolution urging Canada to end the brutal commercial seal hunt in Canada, saying, "Killing baby seals echoes the torture and cruel killing of so many other animals around the world. As cochairman of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, I will continue to bring the world's attention to such practices wherever they exist."Farm Sanctuary (Press release)
Lantos was notably a proponent of the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (H.R. 661), which, if enacted, would require critically ill and injured animals to be humanely euthanized as well as prohibiting their slaughter for human food.
Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary added, “Representative Lantos was truly an extraordinary advocate for the most vulnerable among us. He will be remembered in exceptional esteem as a man with a passion for protecting animals.”In Defense of Animals (Web post)
Representative Lantos introduced and/or helped pass such legislation as the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (which requires inclusion of animal companions in state and local disaster planning), the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, the Downed Animal Protection Act, and the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, among many others.
In celebrating the life of Tom Lantos, we hope that his example will inspire others, especially his political colleagues, to take up the crucial causes for which he fought so passionately. His life serves as an example of how each individual can expand their circle of concern beyond themselves to those who are most in need of our help, both human and non-human.