End Cockfighting Press Release

U.S. House Passes Measure for DOJ to Crack Down on Animal Cruelty

For Immediate Release:

Marty Irby • 202-821-5686

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.

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