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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Investing in Enforcement

Whether an animal welfare law will be effective often turns on whether it gets adequately funded. And seeking that funding is vital, especially when there are strong competing budget pressures as there are now. 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.

Animal welfare funding would help step up enforcement to combat
the cruel practice of soring on Tennessee Walking Horses.

Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.) are circulating letters to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which seek funds to improve enforcement of key animal welfare laws in Fiscal Year 2011. They are asking their colleagues to co-sign these letters, and 115 Representatives and 16 Senators have already agreed to lend their support. The funds requested in the letters are modest, but are critically needed to implement and enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection 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.

If you don’t see each of your federal legislators on the list of those who’ve already stepped up, they need to hear from you today. Click here to find your federal legislators and their phone numbers.

  • Please urge your one U.S. representative to co-sign the House animal welfare funding group letter being circulated by Representatives Blumenauer and Smith, or include these items among his/her own individual requests, before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s deadline of March 22nd. 
  • Please urge your two U.S. senators to co-sign the Senate animal welfare funding group letter being circulated by Senators Boxer and Vitter, or make their own individual requests for these items, before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s deadline of March 26th.

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. Over the past eleven years, for example, we’ve succeeded in boosting the annual funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act by 139.5% (a cumulative total of more than $84 million in new dollars to the program). Today, there are 115 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.

Thanks to your work, Congress can help sustain our efforts to protect animals from cruelty and abuse. It’s an investment in the animals’ future—and our own.


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