Protecting animals has never been a partisan concern – in fact, in our experience, it is a unifying cause on Capitol Hill. That’s why we’re pleased, as a Democrat and a Republican, to lead the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Our group is built on the principle of passing legislation to prevent cruelty and protect vulnerable creatures.
Though we represent different districts on opposite coastlines, animal protection is an issue that resonates strongly with our constituents, unites us as legislators, and reminds us of the shared purposes and values of our nation.
The passion of Americans for animals is driving Congress to act on a number of fronts and protect animals.
In the spirit of bipartisanship, we ask our fellow legislators to consider joining as cosponsors and working to enact the following reforms, which all enjoy bipartisan support:
The Big Cat Safety Act
This bill limits breeding and prohibits the possession of vulnerable big cats like tigers and lions. The bill would help protect public safety, global big cat conservation efforts, and the animals themselves, who are often subjected to abusive and inhumane conditions in private captivity. The bill was introduced by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).
Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act
One-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a violent situation out of fear for their pets’ safety. The PAWS Act would allow pets to be protected across state lines when restraining orders are issued in domestic violence cases and authorize grant money to help domestic violence shelters accommodate pets. The PAWS Act was introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act
This legislation would end the cruel practice of “soring,” in which unscrupulous trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds using caustic chemicals, sharp objects and other gruesome techniques to produce a pain-based, artificially high-stepping gait known as the “big lick.” This practice is deeply concerning, widely derided, and already subject to a congressional ban. This legislation would fill gaps in the existing law to fulfill the intent of Congress and save these animals from further abuse. The bill was introduced by Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act
This legislation would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the domestic slaughter, trade, and import of dogs and cats for human consumption, and to provide penalties for involvement in the dog or cat meat trade. It would serve as an important symbol of leadership for countries and regions such as South Korea and China that still engage in the trade. The United States should be a leader against this inhumane and unsafe industry. Passing this commonsense legislation will encourage other nations to follow suit. The Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act is sponsored by Reps. Buchanan, Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Dave Trott (R-Mich.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.).
Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act
This bill would better protect sharks from cruelty and preserve our oceans’ fragile ecosystems by strengthening federal laws against the bloody and wasteful practice of shark finning: cutting off sharks’ fins and tossing the mutilated animals back into the ocean to die. This bill would expand on the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and the Shark Conservation Act of 2010. While those laws banned shark finning and the transportation of any such fins on U.S.-flagged vessels, this bill would aid much-needed prevention by prohibiting the actual trade in shark fins. The bill was introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Island).
Humane Cosmetics Act
Today, more than 1.7 billion consumers live in countries that have banned cosmetics testing on animals and the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, including the European Union and India. These tests are not predictive of the human experience, painful to animals, and simply unnecessary. Congress can help the United States remain a leader in the sale of cosmetics by making it unlawful for anyone to manufacture or sell cosmetics that have been tested on animals. The Humane Cosmetics Act, sponsored by Reps. Matha McSally (R-Ariz.), and Don Beyer (D-Va.), had the bipartisan support of 174 House cosponsors in the 114th Congress, and would create an incentive for cosmetics to be tested with cutting-edge technologies that are more humane, faster to perform, and less costly to industry. They intend to reintroduce the measure soon.
Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act
There are federal penalties for animal fighting and for obscene video depictions of animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of cruelty. Unfortunately, gaps remain for other malicious acts of cruelty. The PACT Act would strengthen the law and prohibit extreme acts of animal cruelty in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether a video was produced. It is sponsored by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). A Senate version, introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), passed the Senate by unanimous consent last year.
All these bills are sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, and deserve the consideration of all members of Congress. Together, we can improve the lives of animals, and prove that our values as Americans will never take a backseat to party politics.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla) are the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, which has nearly 150 members. They are also senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
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