News from Capitol Hill - Spring 2006 Quarterly Articles
SUPPORT H.R. 503/S. 1915
With overwhelming public support, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) convinced Congress to pass an amendment to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that prohibits your tax dollars from being used to fund the federally mandated inspection of horses slaughtered for human consumption—thereby protecting America's horses from slaughter for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure was overwhelmingly approved in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law by the President. However, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a petition from the three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses in the United States that enables the horse slaughter industry to fund its own inspections—in direct contradiction to the law Congress just passed. SAPL and other humane groups filed a temporary restraining order in federal court to prevent the USDA from carrying out this scheme, but unfortunately, the judge claimed we lacked standing and ruled against our request. SAPL is pursuing further options in court, but we urge readers to ask their Members of Congress to cosponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 503 and S. 1915, the only permanent ban on horse slaughter.
The Pet Safety and Protection Act, a bill to stop the sale of dogs and cats to research laboratories by random source dealers, is being introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Philip English (R-PA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) as we go to press. A companion to S. 451, introduced in the Senate by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), the bill would ensure that beloved companion animals are not stolen and sold for experimentation—a laudable goal that Congress has sought to achieve since it passed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) 40 years ago. In writing your Representative, you may wish to mention that only 10 of these notorious dealers selling live dogs and cats remain, and six of them are currently under investigation by the US Department of Agriculture for failing to comply with the requirements of the AWA.
Senator Rick Santorum's (R-PA) Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS), S. 1139, has undergone a dangerous transformation in the year since its introduction to Congress. Bowing to pressure from the commercial puppy mill industry, Senator Santorum has proposed a modified version of PAWS that would permit industry self-regulation of large-scale commercial breeders who sell dogs or cats directly to the public. While we support requiring these retail breeders to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), giving them the option of industry oversight instead of regulation by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets a dangerous precedent.
The USDA has nearly four decades of experience enforcing the AWA, and its inspectors are trained professionals. By requesting data through the Freedom of Information Act, the public is able to obtain inspection reports and monitor the job being done by the agency. However, if the pet industry is allowed to regulate any portion of its own dealers under the Act, this transparency will be lost, and files on individual licensees subject to industry oversight will not be available to the public.
>Bias is inherent to systems that permit an industry to assess its own constituency. This is not just a theory; there are clear examples. The practice of industry-run accrediting bodies is just one, as facilities accredited by either the American Zoo and Aquarium Association or the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care have been cited by USDA inspectors for failure to meet AWA requirements. These bodies do not conduct routine, unannounced inspections the way that the agency does, and they have a broader mandate than remaining focused on compliance with the Act.