Although the coronavirus pandemic kept Congress more or less shuttered this spring, AWI nonetheless worked with legislators to get strong animal welfare positions on record. A bipartisan group of 78 representatives and 32 senators asked their respective leadership that any coronavirus-relief legislation include support for domestic violence survivors with companion animals. The congressional letters requested additional funding for the PAWS program, created in 2018 to provide grants for emergency shelter and transitional housing assistance for domestic violence survivors and their pets. This is especially critical now, as the stay-at-home orders and social isolation needed to break the pandemic have led to an increase in domestic violence incidents.
Meanwhile, a lack of slaughter capacity is causing some agricultural operations to consider killing and disposing of large numbers of farm animals. (See article on page 25.) Twenty members of Congress sent a letter to the US Department of Agriculture urging it to ensure farmers use only humane methods for depopulation of animals during the pandemic. The congressional letter stated that ventilation shutdown should not be used under any circumstances, and water-based foam (which drowns and suffocates birds) should “only be used when all other options have been exhausted.”