Press Release

U.S. House Agriculture Funding Package Provides Tremendous Victories for Animals and Animal Wellness Led Enforcement Campaign

House Bill Scheduled for Markup Fully Funds PAWS Act, Doubles HPA Funding, and Maintains Horse Slaughter Ban

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released its FY2021 Agriculture Appropriations package scheduled for votes by the Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations and the full Appropriations Committee this week. The package includes $3 million in funding for the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act that Animal Wellness Action worked to successfully get signed into law in the 2018 Farm Bill, and $2 million in funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970. The HPA amount represents a doubling in funding for enforcement of the law against horse soring. The FY2021 bill also maintains the current ban on horse slaughter in the United States by defunding the inspection of horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil — a provision that’s been regularly maintained by the Congress since the last U.S. based plants were shuttered in 2007.

“We applaud Reps. Sanford Bishop and Jeff Fortenberry for their leadership of the subcommittee and for providing additional funding to enforce the 1970 law that made it a crime to intentionally sore the feet of horses at Tennessee Walking Horse shows,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We’re also pleased that their bill maintains the ban on the slaughter of our iconic American horses for human consumption in the U.S. The Congress must pass a ban on exports of live horses for slaughter, but the ban on U.S-based slaughter plants is a key part of the larger effort to stop horse slaughter throughout North America.”

“No one should ever be forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their pets, and full funding of the PAWS Act is a strong step to ensure domestic violence survivors are not separated from their pets,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at the Animal Wellness Foundation. “Furthermore, the continued ban on horse slaughter plants in the U.S. should be a clear sign to the industry that it has no future here.”

Starting early in the year, Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation pushed enhanced spending to enforce our federal anti-cruelty laws. In addition to funding the PAWS Act and HPA, the organizations are also pushing for enhanced enforcement at the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to enforce the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act that AWA and AWF worked to pass in the 2018 Farm Bill and took effect in December of 2019 that outlawed all forms of animal fighting in the U.S. Territories. AWA and AWF are also seeking to create an Animal Cruelty Crimes section at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, to ensure enforcement of all federal anti-cruelty laws, including the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act that President Trump signed into law in November of last year.

AWA and AWF have also led the charge to eradicate the painful practice of soring – intentionally injuring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses’ legs to achieve an artificial high-step known as the “big lick” that’s prized in the Southeastern U.S., and worked to successfully pass the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act through the U.S. House in July of 2019. The increase in HPA enforcement funding will also help fund the PAST Act if the Senate approves the House bill and it becomes law.

The PAWS Act was enacted to help address the issue of domestic violence against pets and the lack of ability to accommodate pets in domestic violence shelters. The measure authorized $3 million yearly until Fiscal Year 2023 to establish a grant program to provide emergency and transitional housing assistance so that more victims can flee an abusive situation with their pet. The PAWS Act also amended federal domestic violence laws to prohibit an abuser from killing, injuring, harassing, stalking, or engaging in conduct that places a victim in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to their pet. In the FY2020, Congress included $2 million to fund this grant program.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness 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.