Advocates for animals from shelter dogs to wild burros are being welcomed in federal agencies, Congress and even the Oval Office thanks to their new friend and secret weapon, Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a lifelong champion of critters.
Animal groups credit Trump’s advocacy and connection to the White House for reversing euthanasia plans for horses and burros on federal lands, policing puppy mills and speeding approval of a “pets for vets” program to team shelter dogs with ailing war veterans.
“She’s been an invaluable advocate in raising issues at the highest levels of the White House and with the executive agencies and she has given the issue considerable credibility with major decision makers,” said her key ally, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
“To be able to use her profile has been great,” added Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, author of the bipartisan PAWS Act of 2017 to link vets with pets. “She’s genuinely interested in this.”
Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, has moved quickly to establish herself as key animal advocate on the federal level, meeting with officials at the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs. Since meeting Pacelle through a mutual friend, they’ve teamed up to advance their issues.
Her role emerged this month when she and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway hosted a West Wing meeting to push the pets for vets issue with Congress and federal agencies. During the meeting, she advocated for a public-private partnership, which the Humane Society is set to lead in a deal with VA.
Good @WhiteHouse round table on #PetsforVets w/ @LaraLeaTrump, @RepDeSantis, @SecretaryZinke, @HumaneSociety, @KellyannePolls & many more. pic.twitter.com/yUD4GfmPbC— Dr. David J. Shulkin (@SecShulkin) October 19, 2017
“If we can do it at no or little cost to the taxpayer due to the approach of creating public-private partnerships and new synergies, then all the better,” she told Secrets. “Our Pets-for-Vets concept is designed to connect pets with vets and to scale it in a way that promotes mental health and animal welfare,” she added.
She has also met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on saving some 70,000 horses and burros on Bureau of Land Management land in the West. He told Secrets, “The humane and ethical treatment of our iconic wild horses is a big concern, and last month Interior hosted the first of its kind meeting with animal rights advocates. This forum allowed all parties to come to the table to start a dialogue so we can all work together to address the challenges faced by both wild horses and our public lands.”
Pacelle said that Trump isn’t just pushing the easy issues, like pets for vets. “While this issue itself is among the least controversial, she has waded into other issues where there are definitely opponents of what we are trying to do,” he said.
“She’s very real about it. She’s got a passion and this is the mark that she wants to leave,” added Pacelle.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com