Animal Bills on the Hill

The 114th Congress has been an active one when it comes to animal welfare measures, both good and bad. A few of the most prominent good ones are summarized below. The outcome of the appropriations process, which is currently underway, will be reviewed in a later issue of the AWI Quarterly.

Visit AWI's Compassion Index to urge your federal legislators to support these and other bills to advance animal welfare.

Wildlife Trafficking
While many members of Congress are trying to undermine wildlife protection, some are actually trying to improve it. Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the Global Anti-Poaching Act (HR 2494). The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved this bill, with minor amendments, so it is ready for floor action. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act (S 27). Both HR 2494 and S 27 put penalties for wildlife crimes on a par with those for trafficking in drugs and weapons, by making wildlife crimes predicate (underlying) offenses under US racketeering and money laundering laws. The fines generated from penalties for those wildlife violations must be used for the benefit and conservation of the affected species. The House bill also addresses the expansion of wildlife enforcement networks and the professionalization of wildlife law enforcement.

Pet Safety and Protection Act
Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) have reintroduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act (PSPA, HR 2849) to prohibit Class B dealers from selling random-source dogs and cats to laboratories. Although few of these dealers remain, the USDA must waste valuable resources on the hyper-vigilance these dealers require. Rep. Doyle has called this system of supplying dogs and cats for use in research “an unmitigated disaster.” While the National Institutes of Health’s ban on using these random source Class B dealers as sources of dogs or cats helped dry up a significant portion of the market, some facilities have refused to change their ways. The PSPA is needed to cut off this cruel pipeline once and for all.

Humane Cosmetics Act
Unlike the European Union, the United States continues to rely on cruel, wasteful, costly, and inaccurate animal tests to evaluate the safety of cosmetics. The Humane Cosmetics Act (HR 2858), introduced by Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Joe Heck (R-NV), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), will phase out the use of animal testing for cosmetics manufactured in the United States and ensure that US companies utilize the most advanced, reliable, and cost-effective technology for achieving results that actually are relevant to human health.

Pet and Women Safety Act
Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) have introduced the Pet and Women Safety Act in the Senate (PAWS Act, S 1559). A companion to the House bill introduced earlier this year (HR 1258), the PAWS Act would assist agencies that help domestic violence survivors obtain housing for their companion animals. Domestic violence victims often refuse to leave their abusive situations because they fear retaliatory actions might be taken against their pets.

Captive Primate Safety Act
To address a problem of both animal and human welfare, Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John Larson (D-CT), and Peter King (R-NY) have introduced HR 2920, the Captive Primate Safety Act (CPSA). This legislation, aimed at the pet trade, prohibits commerce in nonhuman primates. Tens of thousands of these animals are kept as pets, a situation for which both the animals and owners are ill-suited. While some of the primates kept as pets may eventually wind up in sanctuaries and be given a chance at a better life, a vast number end up leading shortened, socially deprived, pain-filled lives.