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Tareq Salahi Switches to a Pets-First Footing for Congressional Bid

Aspiring lawmaker Tareq Salahi didn’t seem to get much traction out of the pro-business, anti-regulatory positions he built his failed gubernatorial bid around. For this next act, he’s going to the dogs.  

(Warren Rojas.CQ Roll Call)
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Salahi, who has tossed his hat into the ring to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., now wants to be the animal lover’s candidate of choice.  

“When I am elected to Congress, I plan on introducing a bill to create a national animal abuser registry,” the former reality TV personality announced Tuesday.  

The corresponding news release suggests the sudden policy shift was at least partially predicated on the impending arrival of Love Your Pet Day (Feb. 20) — though Salahi certainly appears to have strong feelings about the issue.  

“Study after study shows that violent criminals often begin their downward spiral by abusing animals and eventually escalating to abusing humans,” the House hopeful charged.  

How best to institute the pet project remains a work in progress.  

“Once Mr. Salahi becomes Congressman, he would like to work with a nationally recognized animal welfare nonprofit, like HSUS or the ASPCA, to ask their input,” a campaign aide told HOH, referring to the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  

Team Salahi might be better off hooking up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Chris Green, the San Francisco-based group’s director of legislative affairs, was unaware any congressional candidate had rallied to the cause (“This is definitely an interesting and positive development,” he suggested), but stressed that there is plenty of work to do.  

Animal activist Tony Richards petitioned lawmakers to adopt a National Animal Abuser Registry nearly two years ago . And Green said a handful of states — including Illinois, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Rhode Island, Arizona and New Jersey — are currently considering some form of record-keeping at the local level.  

The ALDF, however, is done waiting.  

Per Green, his organization has almost completed crafting its “National Do Not Adopt” list, a rogues’ gallery of those who’ve been convicted of harming animals.  

“Every shelter we’ve talked to is sort of dying for this information,” Green said of the exhaustive database, which is expected to be unveiled in the coming months. Interested states need only opt-in to access the information reservoir, rather than expend resources to populate their own.  

Might Salahi finally have seized upon a winner?  

Michigan state Rep. Harvey Santana, a Democrat and registry bill co-sponsor, sure seems to think so.  

“There are no Republican dogs or Democratic cats,” he told Green earlier this month . “The issue of animal abuse reaches across party lines and concerns people on both sides.”

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