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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ask Your Lawmakers to Cosponsor Key Animal Protection Bills

A new HSUS investigation released last week exposed Purebred Breeders LLC (PBB), thought to be the nation’s largest online seller of puppies, peddling sick dogs to unsuspecting consumers. The company owns nearly 800 Web domains for the purpose of leading online shoppers to believing that they are dealing with responsible local breeders. But the dogs often come from large-scale commercial puppy mills around the country, where they are stacked in cramped wire cages, with no exercise, veterinary care, socialization, or human companionship.

Puppy millPuppy mills selling directly to the public, such as through Internet brokers like PBB, exploit a loophole in the federal Animal Welfare Act regulations to avoid being licensed or having to meet basic standards of care under federal law. It’s past time that the federal government close this loophole, and crack down on the worst puppy mill abuses in the country.

That’s one reason HSLF has made the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act one of our top congressional priorities, and it’s one of the bills we are counting for cosponsorship in the 2011 Humane Scorecard. As the first session of the 112th Congress comes to a close, we will evaluate lawmakers on their performance on animal protection issues by scoring a number of key votes, but also their support for adequate funding for the enforcement of animal welfare laws, and their cosponsorship of priority bills. Building the number of cosponsors on a bill is an important way to show that there is a critical mass of bipartisan support for the policy, and it provides much-needed momentum for these bills to move forward in the second session in 2012.

There are just a couple weeks left in 2011, and I am asking you to call your U.S. senators and U.S. representative and urge them to cosponsor the three animal protection bills in the Senate and four in the House whose cosponsors we're counting, in order to receive credit on the 2011 Humane Scorecard, which is mailed to all HSLF members and distributed online. (The animal fighting bill was just introduced last week in the Senate, so it won’t be counted on the scorecard this year, but it’s still a great idea to ask your two senators to cosponsor this new bill.) You can look up your federal legislators here, and then call the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to ask them to join as cosponsors of the following animal protection bills. If they’re already cosponsoring all these bills, you can thank them for their strong support.

Puppy Mills—Cosponsorship of S. 707 and H.R. 835, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act – introduced by Sens. Durbin and Vitter, and Reps. Gerlach, Farr, Bill Young, and Capps – to crack down on abusive “puppy mills” in the United States, where breeding dogs are often stacked in wire cages for years to produce litter after litter. The legislation will close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act regulations by requiring that commercial breeders who sell 50 or more puppies per year online and directly to the public be licensed and inspected, just as breeders who supply to pet stores already must be.  It will also require that dogs used for breeding at commercial facilities be provided the opportunity to exercise daily.
 
Chimpanzees Warehoused in Laboratories—Cosponsorship of S. 810 and H.R. 1513, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act – introduced by Sens. Cantwell, Collins, and Sanders, and Reps. Bartlett, Israel, Reichert, Langevin, and Towns – to phase out use of chimpanzees in invasive research, retire the approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary, and make the current NIH moratorium on government-funded breeding of chimpanzees statutory.  Chimpanzees have proven to be poor research models for human diseases, so at any given time, about 80-90% of chimps in U.S. labs are not used in research, but simply warehoused in barren and costly laboratory cages at taxpayer expense.  It’s much less expensive to care for chimpanzees at sanctuaries (where they live with other chimps in a natural setting) than to warehouse them individually in labs; this legislation is estimated to save American taxpayers $300 million over ten years.  
 
Animal Fighting Spectators—Cosponsorship of S. 1947 and H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act – introduced by Sens. Blumenthal, Kirk, Cantwell, and Brown, and Reps. Marino and Sutton – to establish misdemeanor penalties for knowingly attending an organized animal fight and felony penalties for bringing a minor to such a fight.  While Congress has strengthened federal animal fighting law in recent years, this bill will close a remaining gap:  prohibiting spectating, as 49 states have done, and helping take the profit out of animal fighting.  Spectators are more than mere observers at animal fights.  They are participants and accomplices who enable the crime, paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in admission fees and gambling wagers, and helping conceal organizers and handlers who try to blend into the crowd when a raid occurs.  
 
Horse Slaughter—Cosponsorship of S. 1176 and H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act – introduced by Sens. Landrieu and Graham, and Reps. Burton and Schakowsky – to prohibit the transport (including export) of horses for slaughter for human consumption.  More than 103,000 American horses have been purchased so far this year by “killer buyers,” who often outbid legitimate adopters and rescue groups.  They are then trucked long distances to a cruel death in slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada that cater to the palates of European diners.

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