Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House, for the second year in a row, has passed an amendment, led by U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and backed by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation, designed to upgrade enforcement of anti-cruelty laws by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The measure, passed by voice vote, and amended this week’s FY2021 DOJ funding package that passed the House this afternoon.
The Neguse-Gaetz provision instructs the Department of Justice to use $1 million from the Legal Activities account to enforce animal welfare crimes, and was sponsored by Reps. Neguse, Gaetz, Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Ben McAdams, D-Utah, Bill Posey, R-Fla., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., John Katko, R-N.Y., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon. The DOJ is obligated to enforce federal anti-cruelty laws — including the federal animal fighting laws, the Horse Protection Act, the Crush Video law, and the Animal Welfare Act — and a lack of vigorous enforcement puts vulnerable animals and communities at risk.
“Failure to enforce animal fighting laws leaves animals to suffer and puts communities at risk from the drug trafficking and other violence against people that goes hand-in-hand with animal fighting activities,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I’m proud to lead efforts to ensure safety and justice for animals, efforts that will lead to safer communities for our friends and neighbors as well.”
“Without enforcement, our laws are nothing but words, and vulnerable animals and communities are left to suffer,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Foundation. “We strongly encourage the Department of Justice to establish an Animal Cruelty Crimes unit with personnel focused solely on these issues to allow for efficient and effective enforcement.”
Language was also included by the House Appropriations Committee urging DOJ to make enforcement of animal cruelty laws a priority and encouraging the DOJ to establish a dedicated section to handle animal cruelty crimes.
The passage of this amendments comes on the heels of numerous pro-animal provisions in last week’s Agriculture and Interior spending package, and Animal Wellness’ recent cockfighting investigations in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee. The measure is supported by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation’s Animal Wellness National Law Enforcement Council (NLEC) co-chaired by former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and former Oregon District Attorney Josh Marquis; the Center for a Humane Economy; Horses for Life Foundation; and American Horse Protection Society.
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.