What are we working on now? Three initiatives to try to create conditions of reasonable safety for dogs and cats.
REGULATING PUPPY MILLS
The WOOF Act addresses a legal loophole that allows bad breeders who’ve lost their licenses to continue to operate with impunity by simply changing the owner of the breeding to facility to another family member or friend. This was never the intent of the law, and we need to prevent further abuse by amending the Animal Welfare Act to prevent breeders from getting around the law. Through poor enforcement of existing laws and gaps in regulations, many puppy mills breed animals in conditions of appalling neglect. Unscrupulous puppy mill operators run large-scale breeding farms of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dogs and cats who spend their lives in tiny cages without adequate food, hygenic conditions, and medical care. These animals are overbred and inbred without concern for the result, and the puppy mill operators sell these animals online and via pet stores to unsuspecting customers, who are buying expensive pets with genetic defects. Females spend their entire lives in cages between forced breedings until they can no longer produce, and are then killed.
MAKING ABUSE ILLEGAL
Animal abuse and torture is now a federal crime, thanks to the House of Representative and the Senate’s recent passage of the PACT Act (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture).
In 2010, Congress passed legislation prohibiting animal crushing videos, in which animals were purposely crushed and tortured on videos, and the videos were sold or disseminated through the internet. Sadly, the bill neglected to prohibit the acts of torture and cruelty themselves, and that’s what was changed with the PACT Act.
The bill was supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs Association; state and local law enforcement is the first line of defense in protecting animals, but a federal law was needed for those states that have insufficient or no animal cruelty laws, and in cases where animals being moved across state lines create jurisdiction barriers for police. After nine years of trying, this PACT Act was passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate in November, 2019.
CHANGING THE WAY WE PROTECT ANIMALS
If we can create a system now that will provide security for animals, and help to strike a balance in the numbers, we can build a happier world for the creatures who bring us so much joy. From the tireless efforts of great organizations and dedicated people, the number of animals killed in shelters has been going down steadily for years. Best Friends , a venerable no-kill animal shelter in Utah, has set a goal of achieving no-kill status nationwide by 2025.
People are changing their views about animals. They’re not possessions; our pets are living creatures dependent on us for their survival. They give us companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love; they deserve our protection.