The Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263/S 1210) received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on May 12. This bill would prohibit private ownership of big cats and outlaw direct public contact such as cub petting and photo ops—benefiting both animals and public safety. Sheriff Matthew Lutz of Muskingum County, Ohio, testified about his department’s response to the 2011 tragedy in Zanesville when dozens of big cats (and other species) kept as “pets” were set loose in the community—with nearly all killed by emergency responders. His powerful and harrowing story reinforced the point that no community should have to fear lions or tigers running through its streets, no first responder should be forced to come face-to-face with a dangerous big cat in the line of duty, and no animals should be kept under conditions that could lead to their escape and possible death.
As the success in Ohio demonstrates, speaking out on behalf of animals can make a difference! A hearing was an important first step toward enactment, but getting the Big Cat Public Safety Act to the president’s desk will take putting pressure on Congress to act. Please urge your representative and senators to cosponsor this bill through AWI’s online Action Center (awionline.org/supportbigcats).
Prefer paper and pen? For senators, address Big Cat Public Safety Act letters to the following: The Honorable [full name], US Senate, Washington, DC 20510. To urge your representative to sponsor the bill—as well as the Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act and the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act—use the following address:
The Honorable [full name]
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515