ASPCA Celebrates Progress for Animal Protection in FY2020 Spending Bills Released for Final Passage

FY2020 spending bills include critical provisions to increase protections for horses, dogs and other pets
December 17, 2019

WASHINGTON – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including important victories for animals in the federal spending packages unveiled today. The animal welfare provisions in these bills include vital measures to restore transparency of the treatment of dogs in commercial breeding facilities, protect domestic and wild horses, and assist domestic violence survivors and their pets.

“The FY2020 Appropriations bills include groundbreaking new protections for wild horses, as well as critical language restoring transparency to the USDA’s oversight of animal businesses and important longstanding protections, marking major progress for animal welfare in our country,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA is grateful to Congressional leaders for finding common ground in providing meaningful protections for animals through the appropriations process.”

One major victory is the additional $21 million allocated for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse & Burro program aimed at instituting a nationwide fertility control program that would reduce future removals of horses and burros and enable them to roam the range freely into the future. Specific language mandates strong welfare guidelines in handling of horses and burros, the exclusive use of non-lethal strategies, and a clear prohibition against the sale of wild horses and burros for slaughter. This language documents a profound shift away from lethal strategies seriously considered just two years ago in favor of a long-term, proactive, and humane management approach.

The bill also includes a clear directive to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to restore the database of animal welfare records that the agency abruptly removed from its website in February 2017. Last year, Congress requested this action, but the agency did not comply, so this year’s bill mandates it. Reinstating these public enforcement records will ensure that consumers, law enforcement, policymakers and advocates can once again see whether puppy mills, zoos, and animal research labs are complying with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and whether the agency is properly enforcing legal requirements. The bill also instructs the USDA to end practices that conceal violations of care, requiring the USDA to document them in inspection reports.

The FY2020 bills also include the following additional protections for animals:

  • Maintains a long-standing ban on horse slaughter on U.S. soil by disallowing expenditures that would enable the legal operation of equine slaughter plants.
  • Preserves the ban on killing healthy, federally-protected wild horses and burros by prohibiting the Department of Interior from spending funds on killing wild horses or selling them to commercial slaughter.
  • New language prohibiting the U.S. Forest Service from spending funds to kill wild horses and burros or sell them to slaughter.
  • Report language that directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to inform Congress on how the DOJ is enforcing animal fighting crimes and other animal welfare statutes.
  • $2 million in appropriations to implement the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, providing resources for a much-need grant program that enables entities that provide shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence survivors and their pets.

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