When it comes to animal protection legislation, we are at an unprecedented point in history.
The Humane Society of the United States has already celebrated a major victory this year with the passage of H.R. 137, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. This legislation will enact meaningful felony-level penalties for the tens of thousands of people involved in this criminal, underground blood sport.
As we move forward to take advantage of this historic opportunity, I would like to offer a look at some of the other issues The HSUS is working on in the 110th Congress – a permanent ban on the slaughter of American horses, prohibiting primates as pets, and strengthening the laws that cover commercial breeding facilities.
More than 100,000 American horses are cruelly slaughtered each year, but two recent victories bring us closer to permanently banning horse slaughter in the United States. On April 25, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) cleared a critical Senate committee by a decisive 15-7 vote. This bill would ban the sale and transport to slaughter of all American horses. And on April 26, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to restore a 34-year-old ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of America's wild horses and burros (H.R. 249).
The HSUS is also pushing for the introduction of a bill to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in nonhuman primates for the pet trade. Monkeys, chimpanzees, and other nonhuman primates belong in the wild, not in our backyards and basements. These animals are dangerous, they spread diseases, and they cannot be kept in private homes humanely. During the 109th Congress, similar legislation passed the Senate unanimously, but was stalled in the House under the jurisdiction of Resources Committee Chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), who was not reelected.
Third, The HSUS plans to reintroduce the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS) to extend existing laws to the high volume animal dealers who sell hundreds of thousands of puppies and kittens each year. Currently, all commercial breeders of dogs and cats who sell animals directly to the public avoid Animal Welfare Act licensing and humane handling requirements. PAWS would close this loophole.