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Monday, April 27, 2009

Boots on the Ground for Animals

As everyone knows, money talks. Whether an animal welfare law will be effective often turns on whether it gets adequately funded. And that spending is vital even when it comes in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Our fortunes are intertwined with those of animals, and proper enforcement not only helps these creatures but also helps to improve food safety, public health, disaster preparedness, and other social concerns.

Pitbullstill Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong bipartisan group of 135 representatives—nearly one-third of the U.S. House—has submitted a letter to the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee requesting funds to improve enforcement of key animal welfare laws in Fiscal Year 2010. These funds are critically needed to implement and enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the federal animal fighting law, 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.

Now, Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and David Vitter (R-La.) are leading a parallel effort in the U.S. Senate. Please urge your two senators to co-sign the Senate animal welfare funding group letter being circulated by Senators Levin and Vitter, or make their own individual requests, before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s deadline of May 8th. Click here to find your two U.S. senators and their phone numbers.

This is just the latest installment in a multiyear effort. The HSUS and HSLF have 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 ten years, we’ve succeeded in boosting the annual funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act by 135% (a cumulative total of $71 million in new dollars to the program). Today, there are 111 USDA inspectors, compared to about 60 inspectors during the 1990s, to help ensure basic humane treatment at thousands of puppy mills, research laboratories, zoos, circuses, and other facilities.

If your U.S. representative signed the House funding letter, please take a moment to call and express thanks. It's important to give positive feedback to those who take action on behalf of animals. You can reach your representative through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or click here to look up the office phone number. And please be sure to ask your two U.S. senators to sign onto the Senate letter before May 8th.

Thanks to your work, Congress can put more boots on the ground to protect animals from cruelty and abuse. It’s an investment in the animals’ future—and our own.



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