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Monday, April 07, 2008

Future Investment Will Go a Long Way for Animals

The slaughter of sick and crippled cows, Oprah’s exposé on puppy mills, a tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, research laboratories ignoring compliance requirements, the routine soring of horses in violation of the Horse Protection Act. Over the past few months, these high-profile events have illustrated one common theme—laws and regulations to protect animals are only as good as their enforcement.

Capitol For years, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund have worked in Congress to boost funding levels to implement and enforce key animal welfare laws. This year, we rallied the support of a strong bipartisan group of 46 Senators and 143 Representatives—nearly half the Senate and a third of the House—to request funds needed to improve enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law to combat dogfighting and cockfighting, and programs to help prepare for the needs of animals in disasters and to address the shortage of veterinarians in rural and inner-city areas and public health practice.

Thanks to the leadership of Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittees heard from nearly 200 lawmakers who signed group letters or made their own individual requests for animal welfare funding. You can read the Senate and House letters, and see if your legislators are on the list of members who joined this important effort.

This is just the latest installment in a multi-year effort. We’ve been steadily building the enforcement budgets for these laws, recognizing that laws on the books won’t do animals much good if they’re not enforced. For example, over the past nine years, we’ve succeeded in boosting the annual funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act by 123% (a cumulative total of $59 million in new dollars to the program). Today, there are 105 USDA inspectors, compared to about 60 inspectors during the 1990s, to help ensure basic humane treatment at thousands of zoos, circuses, puppy mills, research laboratories, and other facilities.

If your elected officials are standing up for the enforcement of animal protection laws, please thank them for their help. This investment of critical resources will go a long way to help animals in the future.

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