Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Vern Buchanan (FL-16) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) today led a letter with more than 100 Members of Congress asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to publish a rule to prevent the intentional harming of horses known as “soring” that the Obama Administration was days from publishing in 2017 when Vilsack previously served as Secretary.
The rule mirrors the industry endorsed Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by taking common sense measures to protect certain Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses from this type of mistreatment. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration suspended the HPA rule four years ago and never reinstated it.
In their letter, the Members noted that the rule has massive bipartisan support in Congress and generated more than 100,000 public comments in support. Efforts to strengthen Horse Protection Act enforcement are overwhelmingly popular with the public.
Efforts to pass federal legislation to end soring through the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693 came to a tipping point in 2019 when the bill passed the U.S. House by a landslide vote of 333-96. The companion bill in the U.S. Senate, S.1007, had the support of the majority of the upper chamber, with 52 Senators supporting the bill.
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.
DECEMBER 9, 2020
Today, Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Center for a Humane Economy, American Horse Protection Society, Join-Up International, and Horses for Life Foundation commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which was signed into law on December 9, 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon and authored by the late U.S. Senator, Joseph D. Tydings (D-MD). The intent of the HPA is to prohibit the showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of sored horses. However, loopholes in the law allow for horse soring to persist.
The 50th anniversary of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) is a reminder that good legislation often becomes outdated, which necessitates contemporary reforms. Such is the case with the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, which aims to finally end the horrific abuse of horse soring. Following the victorious passage of the bill in the U.S. House, its only path through the U.S. Senate is through modifications made to the language which include; a ban on chains and other action devices, prohibits barbaric tail braces, and raises penalties to a felony.
RECENT LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY
In July 2019, the House passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, by a vote of 333 to 96. But, more than 16 months after passage of the legislation, the Senate hasn’t taken even the first step of action. If the U.S. Senate does not act on the measure, it will mark 50 years of stasis on the issue.
In 2020, U.S. House Agriculture Appropriators increased funding for HPA enforcement from $1 million to $2 million thanks to the work of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY). The funding measure included language suggesting a failed 2017 Obama-era regulation to end soring should be implemented in 2021, thanks to the work of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). In addition, Cohen also championed a House floor amendment to provide $750,000 for a new USDA Office of Inspector General audit of its Horse Protection Program in 2021, yet not a single one of these initiatives has yet to be included in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations FY21 spending bill.
HOW TO HELP STOP HORSE SORING
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