Bill to Help Victims of Animal Fighting Reintroduced in U.S. House
The ASPCA’s ongoing work to stop the horrific cruelty of animal fighting is multi-faceted. Through our efforts supporting law enforcement, prosecutors, and veterinarians to combat this crime, we know firsthand that rescuing victims from animal fighting is just the first step in a long journey toward rehabilitation. Unfortunately, in federal animal-fighting cases, this journey can involve months-long stays for animals in shelters.
Since the animals caught up in such cases are considered “evidence”—much like a stolen car, or a bag of money—they can’t be rehomed until the related legal actions resolve. But unlike a car or other property, animals must be taken care of while they wait. Even with the highest quality shelter care, this waiting period often leads to the development of extreme stress and behavioral problems. Additionally, caring for and holding seized animals for long periods of time is expensive for shelters that partner with law enforcement. These costs can keep shelters from assisting in future investigations, which means fewer animals saved.
To better protect victims, U.S. Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY) have today reintroduced the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act to help cut through the red tape that leaves animal-fighting victims in extended and harmful legal limbo. This legislation, reintroduced in the 117th Congress with added language detailing the extensive federal efforts to combat this heinous crime, will expedite the court process and ensure responsibility for the costs of the animals’ care when the government prevails.
“I’m proud to be reintroducing the HEART Act with Rep. John Katko to ensure that victims of animal fighting are able to receive the care and rehabilitation that they deserve,” said Rep. Chu. “When terrible dog fighting rings are broken up, trials and legal proceedings can take months or years, during which rescued dogs must be cared for by the government.”
“Under this legislation, the disposition process is improved, animals spend less time in shelters, and individuals responsible for harming animals are required to pay the costs of the animals’ care," added Rep. Kakto. “Animal abuse and neglect has no place in our society. I am proud to once again sponsor this legislation and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to address this issue.”
The ASPCA is grateful to Reps. Chu and Katko for their continued leadership in championing the HEART Act to streamline the process to give these victims of cruelty the chance they deserve to find safe and loving homes.
We need your help to combat animal fighting and give victims relief: Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center today to urge your members of Congress to cosponsor and support the HEART Act, H.R. 2085.