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Congress Proposes to Amend Animal Welfare Act with Stricter Standards for Commercial Animal Facilities

Paws Up! To Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi for introducing legislation that would improve the effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act.

May 26, 2021

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed in 1966 with the intention to protect laboratory animals by holding their masters accountable. While it has helped shape the animal welfare movement for over fifty years, many people–like Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi–believe there is much room for improvement. The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act intends to raise the bar for captive animal care across the United States, whether they be research facilities, zoos, circuses, wildlife parks, or even commercial dog breeders.

While animal dealers and exhibitors are required to obtain a license from the USDA according to AWA standards, few applications for licensing or renewal are challenged or even investigated. Even in cases where dealers have made multiple violations, their applications for renewal are generally accepted and pushed through.

This lack of accountability can often result in animal neglect and abuse when caretakers cut corners to turn a greater profit. It is the USDA’s job to enforce the AWA in order to hold these license holders to a higher standard so that they do not have the opportunity to foster atmospheres of abuse and neglect in their facilities.

The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act (AWEIA) will rectify this pervasive problem by requiring unannounced inspections prior to certification and recertification. Also, exhibitors and dealers with a history of noncompliance and violations will not be approved again, even if they try to apply under a new business name. Finally, the AWEIA would demand the USDA to publish all of their inspection records online without redactions–a practice that was halted during the Trump Administration.

Take Action: Rep. Krishnamoorthi has just introduced H.R. 3277 The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act in the House. Please contact your representatives today and ask them to support this crucial legislation!

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