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.").


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

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