Great news, animal advocates! Yesterday U.S. Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Campbell (R-CA) and Jim Moran (D-VA) reintroduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, an ASPCA-supported bill to strengthen our federal laws against animal fighting.
While it’s already a federal crime to actively participate in an animal fight, it’s the spectators who drive the enterprise and make it profitable. This bill would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to a fight.
The Senate passed this bill in the previous Congress, but even with over half the House in support, Congress was unable to pass a final bill. Reintroducing this bill in the early days of the new Congress gives us an opportunity to build on the momentum from the last Congress and help finally close the federal loophole for animal fighting spectators.
Ask your own House representative to support this important humane legislation! Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center right now to quickly email your U.S. rep in Washington and urge him or her to cosponsor the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act.
Guest blog by Deborah Dubow Press, Regulatory Affairs Manager, ASPCA Government Relations
The ASPCA believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The more prepared animal facilities are for emergencies, the better responders, like the ASPCA, can stretch our resources and focus our relief efforts when disaster strikes.
That’s why today we applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new regulation requiring all facilities licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act—this includes breeders, zoos, research facilities, dealers, and other exhibitors and intermediate handlers—to prepare emergency plans for protecting and caring for animals during disaster.
While the ASPCA will always provide zealous and expert response to imperiled animals, we believe that animal-related businesses should be prepared to protect their animals in emergency situations. Given the tireless efforts of theASPCA’s FIR Teamand other first responders, mandatory emergency planning is a small thing to ask and a reasonable cost of doing business.
We are hopeful that this new regulation will prevent animals from being harmed during man-made and natural disasters alike. To learn about establishing an emergency plan for your own pets, please visit our Disaster Preparedness page.
Guest blog by Ann Church, Vice President of State Affairs, ASPCA Government Relations
Thanks to the support of animal advocates like you, the ASPCA’s Government Relations team was able to expand greatly this year, increasing our ability to fight for better laws for animals in all 50 states. As 2012 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of this year’s legislative accomplishments on behalf of animals. Here is a small sampling of state-level victories that the ASPCA and our mighty Advocacy Brigade helped secure in 2012:
California—“Hounding” of Wildlife California has banned hounding, a form of trophy hunting in which radio-collared dogs are released in forests to chase and tree bears and bobcats.
Idaho—Felony Cruelty 2012 will be remembered as the year that Idaho, a long-time holdout, finally enacted a law making animal torture a felony offense. The state made cockfighting a felony as well.
Massachusetts—Animal Control Reform Among other achievements, this far-reaching, comprehensive new law creates a statewide spay/neuter program, prohibits breed-specific legislation, places restrictions on outdoor tethering, and allows pets to be included in domestic violence-related protection orders.
New Jersey—Horse Slaughter New Jersey banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption as well as their transport through the state—a very meaningful provision, given the continued problem of export of horses over the border for slaughter.
Ohio—Exotic Pet Ownership and Puppy Mill Regulations Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animal Act passed seven months after 56 exotic animals were released by their owner. (Most were killed.) Ohio was one of only a handful of states with virtually no regulations on wild/exotic animal pet ownership. In addition, the state passed its first-ever puppy mill law, which sets standards of care and requires annual inspections.
Tennessee—Felony Cruelty to Livestock While most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statues, Tennessee became one of the first to make extreme acts of cruelty to livestock subject to felony-level penalties.
It’s important to remember that these victories, as well as the countless others, could not have been achieved without collaboration among state legislators and humane advocacy groups. Let’s all continue to champion stronger laws protecting our nation’s animals and make 2013 an even better year!
Need a little extra good cheer? Well, the U.S. Congress just passed legislation that will help protect military dogs. Included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, the measure will help streamline the adoption process of retired military dogs and authorize a system of veterinary care at no expense to taxpayers. The Defense Authorization bill now moves to President Barack Obama for his signature.
“Military dogs are true heroes—they play a critical role in our nation’s defense,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “These amazing dogs have been loyal to us in extreme circumstances and deserve to be properly cared for and adopted into good homes after such unwavering service to their country. We thank Senator Blumenthal and Representative Jones for ensuring these heroic dogs’ health and well-being is properly cared for.”
This provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) through the leadership of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both legislators introduced similar legislation to assist military dogs, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, earlier this year.
Last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed three new laws that send a clear message to dog fighters: Bloodsports are not welcome in the Great Lakes State.
Animal fighting is a felony in Michigan, punishable by up to four years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines, and so is watching an animal fight. But these new laws crack down even further. Here’s how:
•SB 356 allows local authorities to seize homes and automobiles associated with animal fighting. •SB 358 adds animal fighting, shooting and baiting to the list of racketeering crimes. •HB 5789 gives law enforcement the ability to shut down any venue found to be associated with animal fighting and declare it a nuisance.
Dog fighting is widespread in parts of the state, and experts have identified regions of the state as national hotbeds for animal fighting. That’s why we’re so glad Michigan decided to arm its officials with these new legal tools.
“We thank Governor Snyder for signing these critical measures to improve upon the existing law, making Michigan one of the toughest states on animal fighting,” says Vicki Deisner, ASPCA State Director of Government Relations for the Midwest.
Way to go, Michiganders! We’re one step closer to ridding the U.S. of dog fighting for good. Ready to help? Visit the Advocacy Center.