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Issue Position: Energy / Environment / Climate Change: Animal Rights

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Issue Position: Energy / Environment / Climate Change: Animal Rights

In 1966, Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to set and enforce standards protecting animals used in biomedical research, bred for commercial sale, exhibited to the public, or commercially transported from inhumane treatment. Despite the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce the AWA, it has failed to provide reliable protection against the actions of some unethical animal dealers.

That is why I am a cosponsor of the Pet Safety and Protection Act (H.R. 1280) , which would ensure that all dogs and cats used by research facilities are obtained legally. Prohibits dealers from selling or otherwise providing a research facility with random source dogs or cats unless specified certification requirements are met.

Opposes animal fighting

In the United States, dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states and cockfighting is illegal in 48 states. Additionally, the interstate transportation or export of dogs and cocks for fighting purposes is prohibited under the federal Animal Welfare Act. To close existing loopholes in federal animal fighting law, I voted in favor of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (H.R. 137) which would make it a felony to transport animals across state lines for fighting purposes. On March 26, 2007, it passed the House by a vote of 368 to 39 and the Senate passed the bill on April 10, 2007. The bill was signed into law by the President on May 3, 2007.

Objects to the inhumane treatment of downed animals

According to the USDA, downer animals are non-ambulatory animals or animals that cannot stand or walk unassisted. Currently, ill or injured animals in stockyards are often left on the ground to be brought to slaughter at a later time. In some cases, the downed animals die in the stockyard. I have cosponsored H.R. 661, the Downed Animal Protection Act that would make it unlawful for any stockyard owner, market agency, or dealer to transfer or market non-ambulatory cattle, sheep, swine, horses, mules, or goats. The Downed Animal Protection Act would also require that the downed animals be humanely euthanized at stockyards.

Opposes the inhumane slaughter of horses and burros

On December 8, 2004, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2005 into law. This bill included a provision that repealed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Public Law 92-195) that Congress passed in 1971. For over thirty years, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act protected wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands from capture, branding, harassment and slaughter. You will be pleased to know that on April 26, 2007, I voted in favor of H.R. 249 , which would restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros. The bill passed in the House by a vote of 277 to 137 and it has been sent to the Senate where it awaits further action.

I am also a cosponsor of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503), which would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection and the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry where it awaits further action.

Animal welfare funding

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. These laws require basic protections for millions of animals at more than 13,000 sites across the country, including medical laboratories, zoos, commercial breeding facilities, and slaughterhouses. In addition, the National Veterinary Medical Service Act (NVMSA) was created to provide loan forgiveness for veterinary students and new graduates who agree to work in underserved areas, in underserved population groups, and in underserved disciplines of veterinary practice. I have signed a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies requesting sustained funding for these key animal welfare laws, $1 million to continue funding the pilot program authorized by the NVMSA, and $1 million for public health practice addressing disease outbreaks and disasters for fiscal year 2008.


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