U.S. House Passes Legislation with Major Advancements for Animal Welfare!

June 25, 2019

two small dogs

For several months, the ASPCA has been working steadfastly to inject key reforms for animals into the federal appropriations process. Today, we’re pleased to report that the U.S. House of Representatives made huge strides to protect our nation’s animals by passing a package of appropriations bills that contains major victories for puppies, wild and domestic horses, pigs, and victims of animal fighting. 

The Agriculture, Interior, and Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bills all contain important provisions that will prevent cruelty and promote stronger enforcement of existing laws. They include the following provisions:

Agriculture Division:

  • Pig Suffering: A critical directive championed by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and David Price (D-NC) to thwart pig slaughterhouses from implementing unlimited increases in pig slaughter line speeds. Faster slaughter would lead to greater animal suffering and endanger worker safety and our food supply.
  • Puppy Mills and Horses: Requirements that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (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.
  • Horse Slaughter: A prohibition on funding for the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S.
  • Horse Soring: Increased funding to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA), a law aimed at preventing the cruel practice of “soring,” the use of painful chemicals and devices to inflict extreme pain in horses to compel an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.
  • Pets and Victims of Violence: New funding to implement the PAWS Act, which will help domestic violence victims and their at-risk pets.

Interior Division:

  • Protections for Wild Horses: A prohibition on funding for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to kill healthy horses and burros or sell them to slaughter. The bill also includes a new provision to prevent the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) from killing healthy horses and burros or selling them to slaughter.
  • Non-Lethal Wild Horse Management: Adoption of a long-term, humane management approach that will shift the BLM’s focus to on-range fertility control and reiterate Congressional opposition to lethal methods, such as the killing of horses and burros for population reduction or selling them to slaughter. First the first time ever, this language specifically requires the BLM to follow comprehensive welfare rules during all management actions expected to provide additional layers of protection for our nation’s wild herds. 

Agriculture & Commerce, Justice, and Science Divisions:

  •  Cracking Down on Animal Fighting: Two amendments offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, encouraging the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division to investigate and prosecute more animal cruelty crimes, including animal fighting crimes. These amendments passed easily (one by voice vote and one by a vote of 381 to 50), signaling the U.S. House’s commitment to enforcing animal cruelty laws. The DOJ has demonstrated its desire and commitment to prosecute animal fighting and other animal cruelty crimes at the federal level, putting animal abusers behind bars and rescuing hundreds of animals. It is critical that the DOJ and USDA’s OIG have the resources required to handle these very serious crimes.

Now is the time to celebrate this progress and to thank your U.S. representative for standing up for animals, but these meaningful changes for animals will take effect only if the Senate includes these provisions in its version of the bill and it is signed into law.  

We need your help! Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to be alerted when we need you to contact your U.S. senators and ask them to support these important animal-protection provisions in their version of the 2020 Appropriations bill.