05/07/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/07/2021 18:16
SCHAUMBURG, IL - Today, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi announced his plan to reintroduce the bipartisan Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act (AWEIA) this month. The legislation would improve Animal Welfare Act (AWA) enforcement by strengthening the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) licensing process for animal dealers and exhibitors.
Animal dealers and exhibitors - including commercial dog-breeders, circuses, zoos, educational displays, petting farms/zoos, animal acts, wildlife parks, marine mammal parks, and some animal sanctuaries - are required to obtain a license and comply with the AWA. Dealers and exhibitors must renew their licenses each year. However, the current process relies on self-certification, and USDA's stated policy is to rubber-stamp renewals, even in cases where the licensee is committing ongoing violations that endanger animals. This system currently has a lack of oversight and accountability that leads to risks to animal safety and welfare, like those seen on the Netflix show Tiger King. The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act strengthens AWA enforcement and the licensing process to hold dealers and exhibitors accountable.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi announced the legislation this morning as a part of National Pet Week during his virtual panel event on animal protections. The event was hosted alongside The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Animal Welfare Institute with experts discussing the main issues and policy priorities for animal welfare.
'The Animal Welfare Act is a crucial piece of legislation, but it can't achieve its goals if we don't close frequently abused loopholes, which is why my Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act is necessary,' Congressman Krishnamoorthi said. 'I worked closely with the organizations present at our event today to develop a bill that would best protect animals and end the rampant abuse. These animals don't have a voice, and many of the people who come across them don't realize the nature of their suffering. But we have a voice, and we have a responsibility to take compassionate, justice-drive action in Congress.'
Key provisions of the legislation include:
The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act has been endorsed by the Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Wellness Action, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Legal Defense Fund, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.