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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro speaks at the Young Leaders Conference 2019 in Georgia on Aug. 16. Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced Monday a comprehensive animal welfare plan that would seek to strengthen the Endangered Species Act, which has just been weakened by President Trump's administration.

Why it matters: Castro is the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to release a plan for animal welfare with his "PAW Plan" (Protecting Animals and Wildlife.").

Details

Euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats in shelters would be outlawed if Castro were elected president in 2020. And the former Housing and Urban Development secretary has pledged to improve federal housing policy relating to pets. Other initiatives:

Cruelty to animals would become a federal crime and the testing of cosmetics on animals would be banned.

Wildlife conservation initiatives include a crackdown on trophy hunting to protect animals including elephants, lions and rhinoceroses. Castro plans to end the import of big-game trophies — which NBC News notes is a favorite past-time of the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

"Protecting these majestic animals must first start with repealing the Trump administration’s NRA loopholes that allow trophy hunting and enforcing strict penalties on the domestic ivory trade. We must go further and ensure that animals in the process of receiving a designation under the Endangered Species Act are covered under anti-trophy hunting import restrictions."
— Castro's election pledge

A $2 billion per year National Wildlife Recovery Fund would be introduced for state and tribal governments, to protect, maintain, and strengthen wildlife populations.

Animal welfare standards in factory farms would be improved and the unlicensed private ownership of big cats, such as lions and tigers, would be banned.

A $40 million Local Animal Communities grant program would be created to expand spaying, neutering and vaccinations for low-income pet owners.

The use of federal land for fossil fuel exploration would be outlawed, Castro said, as he pledged to clean up "Trump's environmental disaster" — accusing the president of "privatizing public land to appease big oil and gas corporations at the expense of conservation and preservation."

"Trump values profits over people, individual fortunes over our collective future, and he is the most anti-animal president in our history."

Go deeper: Julián Castro on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 4 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
7 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.