One of the first items to be addressed by the newly convened 112th Congress was the 2012 budget. President Obama released his version on February 14, 2011. It includes $1 trillion in deficit reduction, two-thirds of which comes from budget cuts. Some increases, however, were recommended to support animal welfare-related activities. Included were a $3.3M increase for USDA-APHIS/Animal Care (to be used to improve compliance of problematic dog dealers with regulations under the Animal Welfare Act [AWA] in response to an audit by the Office of the Inspector General), a $6.6M increase to enhance inspection of dog breeders, and $900,000 allotted to APHIS to enforce the Horse Protection Act (a $400,000 increase from FY 2011).
The Governmental Relations Division (GRD) is tracking the progress of the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, H.R. 835. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 28 and currently has more than 50 cosponsors. It would amend the AWA to require licensing and inspection of dog breeders who sell directly to the public and who sell more than 50 dogs per year, and also require that dogs in commercial breeding facilities have appropriate space and opportunity for daily exercise. The AVMA supported this legislation in the 111th Congress.
The GRD also anticipates the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act will be reintroduced in the 112th Congress. This legislation, which the AVMA opposed in the 111th Congress, would impose a fine and/or prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering, or receiving any horse, horse flesh, or carcass with the intent that it be used for human consumption.
The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee works closely with the Animal Welfare Committee to craft recommendations to the AVMA Executive Board on animal welfare legislation. For more information, contact Dr. Gail Golab, Director, Animal Welfare Division or Dr. Whitney Miller, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations Division.
In the regulatory arena, USDA FSIS is requesting comments on two petitions for rulemaking submitted to the agency that raise issues associated with the disposition of nonambulatory disabled veal calves and other nonambulatory disabled livestock at slaughter. This proposal is now under review by multiple AVMA entities, including the Animal Welfare Committee, with intent to submit comments by the April 8 deadline.
In addition, USDA has been petitioned to amend US animal export regulations to include "fitness to travel" requirements for all farmed animals exported to any foreign country except those traveling overland to Canada or Mexico. The petitioners are recommending the USDA adopt the fitness requirements included in the animal transport standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
With 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in regular session, a plethora of bills have been introduced. Among them are:
- Iowa HF 431 and HF 589 would prohibit a person from tampering with property associated with an animal facility or crop operation, including producing or distributing certain audio or visual recordings. The bills also would prohibit obtaining access to an animal facility or crop operation by false pretenses.
- Nebraska LB 305 and 306 to implement a state inspection program for processing meat, poultry, or meat and poultry products for human consumption. LB 306 also would require a humane society, equine shelter or horse rescue operation to accept custody and provide care and shelter for any equine that is presented by its owner or a law enforcement officer or agency.
- New Mexico SB 348 and HB 319 to authorize the board of veterinary medicine to hold a hearing to determine if a veterinary practice falls within the "commonly accepted" exemption for animal cruelty.
- New York AB 3508 to allow a guardian to file a wrongful injury or death action on behalf of a companion animal, and provide for compensatory, noneconomic and punitive damages.
- Ohio HB 14 and HB 25 to remove pit bulls from the definition of "vicious dog" in state law, thereby repealing the only state law of this kind.
- Oklahoma SB 362 to allow breed-specific regulation of potentially dangerous or dangerous dogs and direct the State Board of Health to collect information on the number of animal attacks on humans.
- Oregon SB 805 would create the offense of unlawfully confining egg-laying hens. Exemptions include medical research and veterinary treatment or examination.
Numerous bills propose to regulate dog breeders and dangerous dogs or increase penalties for violations of animal cruelty laws and create animal abuser registries. Many states are also looking to restrict surgical devocalization procedures on dogs and cats. Promoting the use of service animals by disabled individuals is also on several states' agendas. And, the adoption of boards charged with establishing standards of care for livestock and poultry is being considered by more states.
Wyoming has already enacted amendments to W.S. 6-3-203, which define the offense of household pet animal cruelty, and amendments to W.S. 11-29-103, which clarify that livestock are the private property of their owner, but require that owner to provide the animals with sufficient water and food.
In the regulatory arena, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board has issued rules for acceptable euthanasia of livestock and civil penalties for livestock care violations. The state's Department of Natural Resources also approved 90-day emergency rules restricting and regulating private ownership of wild animals that are dangerous to human health and safety.
The AVMA State Advocacy Committee works closely with the Animal Welfare Committee in reviewing proposals addressing animal welfare. For more information on the latest bills and regulations pending around the country, view the legislative chart and other resources compiled by our Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. For more information about the State Advocacy Committee contact Mr. Adrian Hochstadt, Assistant Director, Communications Division (State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs).
« Back to AVMA Welfare Focus Newsletter Library