U.S. House Committee Advances Strong Animal Welfare Provisions
There was significant progress for animals in the FY 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill that passed out of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee today. The bill included important protections for dogs in puppy mills, horses, and animals threatened with violence by abusive domestic partners. We are especially pleased to report that a critical provision affecting millions of animals was added at the last minute to help prevent the worst harms to pigs during slaughter.
We are grateful to the committee for including these crucial provisions for animals:
- Puppy Mills and Horses: Mandates that USDA repost all Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA) inspection and enforcement reports that were formerly available on its website, and post new reports going forward. Language in the Report accompanying the bill requires Animal Care inspectors to cite puppy mills, zoos and other regulated entities when they observe violations, instead of issuing slap-on-the-wrist warnings through the “teachable moments” program.
- Horse Slaughter: Prohibits funding for the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S.
- Horse Soring: Boosts funding of the HPA to help USDA enforce this law aimed at preventing the cruel practice of “soring,” the use of painful chemicals and devices to inflict pain in horses to compel an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.
- Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse: Includes new funding to implement portions of the PAWS Act and provide grants to help domestic violence victims and their at-risk pets.
Stepping up to enhance the bill’s protections for animals, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and David Price (D-NC) teamed up to offer an amendment to delay the USDA’s misguided and dangerous proposed rule to strip all speed limits at pig slaughterhouses and force transparency around its flawed process. This ill-advised rule would allow slaughterhouses to discard the already astonishing rate of approximately 1,100 pigs slaughtered per hour and allow unlimited speeds. Pigs already suffer at the current line speeds—they are rushed through the slaughter line and improperly stunned, or still conscious as they approach vats of scalding water meant to remove their hair prior to dismemberment.
The amendment blocks funding for implementation of the rule until the USDA addresses deficiencies related to concerns identified by the Office of Inspector General. Removing all speed limits for pig slaughter lines and handing over inspection duties to plant employees is inherently reckless.
Swift and reckless removal of protections for pigs, workers and even consumers was inevitable before the DeLauro-Price Amendment, and now we will fight for its inclusion in the final budget.
The ASPCA is deeply grateful for the leadership of Reps. DeLauro and Price on this vital amendment, and we praise Chairman Bishop for standing up to speak in favor of this common-sense animal welfare amendment.
The Agriculture Appropriations bill will soon be voted on by the entire U.S. House, so stay tuned for ways you can help. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to be alerted when Congress will be voting on this and other legislation affecting animals.