Animal Protection Harvests Major Gains from Farm Bill
Washington, D.C. – Animal Wellness Action applauds the inclusion of several broadly supported animal protection bills that informed sources confirmed today, including the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act, and the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act. These important pieces of legislation were adopted as amendments to the Farm Bill, and their enactments mark the biggest gains for animal protection advocates in the 115th Congress. What’s more, an overreaching and dangerous attack on states’ rights, in the form of an amendment from Steve King, R-Iowa, is expected to be jettisoned from the final omnibus agriculture policy bill.
“This is the richest harvest of animal protection policies in the entire 115th Congress,” notes Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “Every one of these animal welfare provisions has broad bipartisan support, and it is the right move for Congress to crack down on animal fighting, the dog meat trade, and domestic violence. And it is an enormous relief to kill the King amendment and preserve the rights of states to enact animal welfare and food safety policies.”
The PAWS Act, led by U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) and U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV), will provide protections for pets of domestic violence, and authorizes a grant program to allow domestic violence shelters to accommodate pets. Currently, only 3% of shelters nationwide have the ability to accept pets, presenting a significant barrier that prevents victims from fleeing an abuser. Abusers often harm or threaten to harm a pet as a way to maintain control over a victim.
The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act bans the slaughter and import/export of dogs and cats for slaughter. The measure was led by U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and also passed the U.S. House as a standalone bill in September. In the Senate, the effort was led by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). This is the most extreme form of dog exploitation on the planet, with perhaps more than 30 million dogs butchered for their meat, mainly in Asia. Passage of the legislation sends an important message condemning the practice and sets an example for the global community as we urge South Korea, Vietnam, and other nations to end this practice.
The PACE Act, led by U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) in the House, and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate, ensures that long-standing federal restrictions on dogfighting and cockfighting apply to U.S. territories. This is the fifth time the federal animal fighting law has been upgraded in the last 16 years, and these new provisions will allow for a crackdown on cockfighting and dogfighting in American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The King Amendment would have preempted state laws that imposed any standards on agriculture and gutted state protections for animals, the environment, food safety, and worker protection. That provision never gained traction in the Senate, and was broadly opposed in the House, too.
“We commend Congress for passing these important animal protection bills, and we especially thank the Agriculture Committee Chairs Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their valuable work to advance animal welfare in the United States,” said Holly Gann, Director of Federal Affairs at Animal Wellness Action.
Animal Wellness Action’s team has worked on this Farm Bill from start to finish to ensure that these critical animal protection reforms were included.