Today, Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act, sweeping bipartisan legislation to protect animal welfare and keep our communities safe.
The bill would establish a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at the Department of Justice to aid in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of felony animal cruelty crimes. Studies repeatedly show that there is a close link between animal cruelty and violence toward people. By bringing charges against perpetrators of animal cruelty, we can prevent individuals with a propensity for violence from further harming animals or turning that violence on people.
Congress has made important strides to prevent animal cruelty recently,” said Rep. Carter. “Now, we need to ensure the laws are enforced. This legislation will provide the resources necessary to combat animal-fighting and other barbaric practices.
A few weeks ago, Congressmen Neguse and Gaetz were also successful in passing two amendments to the House Appropriations Minibus to provide the USDA Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice with $1,000,000 each in funding to enforce animal cruelty laws. This is the 2nd year in row they have led amendments in the House to ensure robust funds for enforcement of animal cruelty crimes. They also secured language in the base Appropriations bill to encourage enforcement of animal cruelty crimes and to instruct the Department of Justice to study the creation of a dedicated animal cruelty crimes unit through a letter signed by 45 other Congressmembers.
Today, the U.S. House passed the FY20 spending bill, H.R. 3055, which included two crucial animal welfare provisions that allocate dedicated funding to the enforcement of our federal anti-cruelty laws to stop animal fighting, horse soring, and other malicious acts of cruelty.
Amendment #85, passed by a roll call vote of 381 to 50, instructs the U.S. Department of Justice to use $2 million from the Legal Activities account to enforce animal welfare crimes. The amendment was sponsored by Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Peter King (R-NY), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Cindy Axne (D-IA). The amendment was offered for the purpose of directing the Department of Justice to allocate resources to enforce federal criminal statutes to stop animal cruelty, including the federal animal fighting laws, the Horse Protection Act, and the Animal Welfare Act.
Amendment #116 passed by a voice vote en bloc, provides $1 million dollars for the enforcement of the animal fighting law through the USDA’s Office of Inspector General. The amendment was sponsored by Reps. Joe Neguse (D-CO), Peter King (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Ron Estes (R-KS). Congress has upgraded the federal law against animal fighting (7 U.S.C. § 2156 and 18 U.S.C. § 49) five times in the last two decades, and this amendment signals to USDA that it should aggressively crack down on federal statutes passed to protect animals.
I would like to make the intent of this amendment clear that Congress is directing the DOJ 's Environment and Natural Resources Division to allocate $2 million to enforce our nation's animal welfare laws. Congress has taken meaningful steps over the past several decades and especially in the past few years to improve animal welfare and rid this country of heartless cruelty towards animals.
— U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens
I was honored to lead this bipartisan, commonsense amendment to secure funds for USDA investigations of animal fighting. Enforcement by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which is responsible for investigating these crimes, has badly lagged. With adequate funding moving forward, the OIG can better identify and intervene in these horrific crimes, and ultimately bring these cruel activities to an end. Addressing these crimes will not only help prevent the suffering of animals, but will also deter the drug trafficking, gang violence, and other violence against people that goes hand-in-hand with animal fighting activities.
— U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse
The amendments, #85 and #116 to H.R. 3055, were championed by Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, the Center for a Humane Economy, the American Horse Protection Society, and Horses For Life Foundation.
USDA Animal Care has created a new, online form for members of the public to submit their concerns about animals that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.
The form is on our website here: It is a quick and efficient method to notify us of animal welfare concerns so we can look into those concerns. Complaints can be made anonymously; however, providing your contact information will allow us to contact you if we need additional information.
We will continue to take complaints by phone, email or regular mail. You can find contact information here.
We take all animal welfare complaints seriously and will continue to look into each one thoroughly, regardless of the method used to submit the complaint.
The Animal Welfare Act and its associated regulations set the federal standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain warm-blooded animals that are: exhibited to the public; bred for commercial sale; used in biomedical research; or transported commercially. Facilities engaged in these regulated activities must provide their animals with adequate housing, nutrition, water and veterinary care, and they must protect the animals from extreme weather and temperatures.
The Horse Protection Act and its associated regulations seek to put an end to soring by preventing sored horses from participating in exhibitions/shows/sales/auctions. Soring is an illegal practice in which horses are subjected to chemical and/or mechanical irritants in order to enhance their gait. USDA Animal Care’s ultimate goal is to end this inhumane practice completely.
Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service
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