A Well-Deserved Tribute to Oregon’s Rep. David Gomberg

Gomberg shines brightly in his work for animal of all kinds

Rarely do we find a state legislator with both an uncommon commitment to animals and a gift for working with colleagues to get key policy reforms over the finish line.

Oregon’s David Gomberg, representing the stunning central coast of Oregon, embodies that rare combination.

Gomberg, a state representative for House District 10, has established himself as the leading champion for animals in the Oregon Legislature. In this past session alone, Gomberg secured five animal welfare bills that he introduced, which is impressive for any lawmaker.

“From puppies to primates, animals had a remarkable success in this year’s legislative session,” Gomberg said at the conclusion of the 2023 legislation session. “These bills are not often easy and legislators from around the state came together to support animal welfare and address abuse issues. Oregon can be proud.”

“I’ve worked on bills in all 50 state legislatures, including in Oregon’s capitol, and I’ve never seen this kind of serious-minded output on animal welfare,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “This is just a remarkable surge in lawmaking, and it’s a consequence of David Gomberg’s appetite to get big things done for animals.”

Most noteworthy was a bill requiring the Oregon National Primate Research Center — owned and operated by Oregon Health and Science University — to report on the use of primates in research, including deaths of these highly intelligent animals. This bill stemmed from the fact that this facility has by far the highest number of Animal Welfare Act violations in the National Primate Research Center system.

Animal Wellness Action worked closely with Gomberg on this bill, and we are immensely impressed by how he kept this facility on his radar for years, touring twice and zeroing in on the fact that primates here were being cruelly neglected and dying because of failure to exercise basic care and caution in handling live, sentient beings.

Examples include an infant rhesus macaque crushed to death by an enclosure door. The incident follows other egregious violations, including the 2020 deaths of two rhesus macaques who were scalded to death after being left in their cages and placed in an industrial cage-washing machine.

In this session alone, Gomberg also passed a bill naming shelter pets as the official state pet and a bill banning retail sales of dogs and cats from pet stores.

“Oregon’s dogs and cats, bears and cougars, wolves and farm animals, research primates and horses, all have David Gomberg to thank for the suite of animal protection laws passed since he stepped into the role of lawmaker in 2012,” said Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns for Animal Wellness Action, who has worked closely with Gomberg on advancing Oregon’s animal welfare agenda and who resides in Oregon.

“Rep. Gomberg understands the humane values embraced by a broad majority of Oregonians and has transformed those values into impactful and enforceable laws,” he said. “Now, as a veteran of so many hard-fought legislative battles to protect our state’s animals, he brings an unprecedented level of savvy and experience to the campaign for a kinder, more humane Oregon. I’m grateful for his strong, principled leadership, and proud to call him my friend.”

A complete list of Gomberg’s legislative accomplishments to advance animal welfare has to be seen to be believed. Here’s a list in reverse chronology: 

In 2023, bills sponsored by Rep. Gomberg and passed through the Oregon Legislature include:

  • HB 2904 addresses abuses at the Primate Research Center with more transparency and accountability.
  • HB 2915 prevents sales of puppy mill animals in pet shops.
  • HCR 8 designates shelter rescued animals as the State pet.
  • HB 3213 prohibits sales of cosmetics tested on animals.
  • SB 5535 challenged the Oregon Racing Commission to review online betting, animal welfare, and greyhound racing.
  • HB 3395 and HB 5511 brought $1 million for homeless and Domestic violence shelters to accommodate pets. 

Between 2013-2022, he was instrumental in these bills:

  • SB 1504 limits wagering on greyhound races in Oregon.
  • SB 580 prohibits cyanide-baited animal traps.
  • HB 2500 recovers expenses for veterinary care for abused domestic animals.
  • HB 4046 increases damages for unlawful taking or killing of wildlife.
  • HB 2693 creates the crime of encouraging sexual assault of an animal.
  • SB 835 prohibits horse tripping.

While that list is impressive, it doesn’t include all of the bills inimical to animal welfare that Gomberg helped thwart from passing. Of special note is how Gomberg used his legislative moxie to oppose continual bad-faith efforts to roll back Measure 18, the voter-approved law banning unsporting and inhumane hounding and baiting of bears and cougars. Not once have those bills advanced to the House floor in the last decade thanks to Gomberg’s skillful maneuvering.

Gomberg stands out by helping remind other lawmakers that animal welfare is a mainstream issue. He’s appealed to their conscience and used science and reason to advance his goals, working collegially with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He has long noted that animal welfare is a universal value and not a partisan concern.

We also appreciate how he lists among his “awards and accomplishments” being married to animal-advocate Susan Gomberg for 35 years.

When he is not championing animal causes, Gomberg may be found flying kites, and we love that he describes himself as a professional kite flier. His company designed and manufactured kites, produced large show kites, and operated web pages and retail stores. He has performed at Walt Disney, the Super Bowl, and the London Millennium Celebration, and in 40 different countries. In 2005, he was inducted into the Kite Hall of Fame.

We wholeheartedly agree with his constituents, who continue to praise him again and again in local media. One newspaper opinion editor captured our sentiments well in this headline: “We need Gomberg now more than ever.”

Julie Marshall is national communications coordinator for Animal Wellness Action. She has worked in print journalism for more than 30 years, including as a community and law enforcement reporter for the Orange County Register in California, an associate editor, and the opinion editor for the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado.