The ACE Act iNTRODUCED IN THE U.s. HOUSE to Better Enforce the Horse Protection Act, Crackdown on Animal Cruelty
U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Dave Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act, a bill forged in cooperation with Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Horses For Life Foundation, American Horse Protection Society, and the Center for a Humane Economy to step up federal action against perpetrators of malicious cruelty. The bill would establish a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to aid in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of felony animal cruelty crimes.
The new DOJ section would concentrate on enforcing animal welfare criminal statutes such as the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 that was designed to stamp out the cruel practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses. The ACE Act was conceived in part to help better enforce the HPA after nearly a decade of failed attempts to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) regulations that would have eliminated the use of large-stacked shoes and ankle chains in the showring and revamped the industry’s corrupt self-policing program.
While all 50 states currently have laws in place to prohibit animal cruelty, enforcement of these laws across the U.S. and from the Department of Justice continue to see lengthy delays, with many crimes going unprosecuted completely. Dedicated staff at the Department of Justice, provided through the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, would facilitate much stronger enforcement of animal cruelty laws by providing specialized knowledge and a streamlined process for handling of these offenses.
“Proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws will protect animal welfare and help keep each of our communities safe from the violence often linked to these crimes,” said Rep. Neguse. “For too long the Department of Justice has missed the mark on providing timely and efficient prosecutions. The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which I am proud to introduce today, seeks to right this by providing the necessary resources and staffing for efficient enforcement of these laws, so animals and communities alike are protected and justice is served."
For three years in a row, Congressmen Neguse has successfully advocated for funding to support enforcement of animal cruelty crimes at the federal level, passing multiple bipartisan amendments to House Appropriations legislation that provided the USDA Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice with additional funding to enforce federal animal cruelty laws.
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.
MONTH / yEAR