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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Focus on Enforcement of Dog and Cat Fur Law

Congress returns today for the lame-duck session, and one of the first items on the House agenda is final passage of H.R.4194, the Government Reports Elimination Act. In May, the Washington Post published a report titled “Unrequired reading,” on the thousands of agency reports mandated by Congress, some of which are as thick as “doorstops” and are just “gathering dust.”

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Liz Bergstrom

The argument is that the reports take agency time and resources away from other duties, and no one is actually reading or using them. Even in a dysfunctional Congress, it’s easy to generate bipartisan support for the idea of cutting pointless bureaucratic paperwork.

But caught up in this larger effort to make government more efficient is the elimination of one report that has value on an issue of concern to the American public: the sale of dog and cat fur.

When Congress passed the Dog and Cat Protection Act in 2000, banning the sale and import of dog and cat fur products, it also asked Customs and Border Protection to submit an annual report on its enforcement activities.

That agency is doing important work to crack down on the illegal sale of dog and cat fur in the United States. After a tip from The Humane Society of the United States in 2012, for example, Customs and Border Protection shut down a New York company that was selling dog fur.

We are still seeing real problems in the marketplace, including a website openly peddling cat fur products. Fourteen years after the passage of the federal law, it’s still in need of focused enforcement, and the brief annual report helps to ensure that the agency is focused on the issue. These efforts are valuable and consistent with the American values of protecting pets from cruelty.

In this case, if Congress does away with the annual reports, it should redirect those savings toward strengthening inspection and enforcement. Americans are horrified by the idea of dogs and cats being killed for fur trim and trinkets. Strong enforcement of the federal law reflects these values—whether it’s put into a report or not.

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