U.S. House Package To Combat Animal Fighting

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Animal Wellness Applauds U.S. House Passage of Appropriations Package with $3 Million to Combat Horse Soring and Animal Fighting

Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation Leading the Charge on Enforcement of Our Federal Anti-Cruelty Laws

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Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House concluded final passage of the H.R. 3055 Approriations Package that includes five FY 2020 spending bills: Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The legislation included pro-animal wellness provisions that attracted broad bipartisan support and seek to dedicate funding to the enforcement of our federal anti-cruelty laws to stop animal fighting, the soring of Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses, and other malicious acts of cruelty.

“Animal abusers should know we will continue to take action at every turn to end the horrific practices of soring Tennessee Walking Horses and animal fighting,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “Fighting roosters or dogs and soring the feet of horses is illegal, and the Dept. of Justice and USDA should enforce the Horse Protection Act, and animal fighting laws with an iron fist. We applaud the U.S. House for including Reps. Haley Stevens and Joe Neguse's provisions to combat soring and animal fighting and are grateful for their tremendous leadership."

“I would like to make the intent of this amendment clear that Congress is directing the DOJ is Environment and Natural Resources Division to allocate $2 million to enforce our nation's animal welfare laws,” said U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens. 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.”

“I was honored to lead this bipartisan, commonsense amendment to secure funds for USDA investigations of animal fighting,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse. “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.”

Amendment # 85, which passed on June 20,  by a roll call vote of 381 to 50  instructs the Department of Justice to use $2 million from the Legal Activities account to enforce animal welfare crimes. The amendment is 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 that was intended to wipe out the scourge of soring – the intentional injuring of Tennessee Walking Horses’ front limbs to produce and artificial high-stepping gait known as the “big lick,” – and the Animal Welfare Act. With the exception of Reps. John Rose (R-TN), James Comer (R-KY), and Thomas Massie (R-KY), the entire House delegations from Tennessee and Kentucky (where the majority of soring occurs) voted in support of the amendment.

Amendment #116, which 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 is 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). The 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 dogfighting and cockfighting, including in the U.S. territories.

Each of these amendments to H.R. 3055, are championed by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation, who are advocating on Capitol Hill to ensure that animals have a voice in the U.S. Congress, and are also supported by the Center for a Humane Economy, Karner Blue Capital, the American Horse Protection Society, and the Horses for Life Foundation.

The advancement of these amendments comes on the heels of the announcement made last week by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation regarding the establishment of the Animal Wellness National Law Enforcement Council (NLEC) co-chaired by former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and former Oregon District Attorney Josh Marquis.

The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

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