Legislation Would End Rubber-Stamping of License Renewals for Animal Welfare Act Violators, Among Other Measures
For Immediate Release:
August 29, 2019
David Perle 202-483-7382
Washington – Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced the PETA-approved Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act, which would end the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) policy of automatically renewing federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses even when the applicants are in violation of the AWA. The bill would also ensure that the USDA seeks license revocation when violations that adversely affect animals’ well-being aren’t remedied and would provide private citizens with a role in ensuring enforcement of the law.
“The USDA’s failure to enforce even the most minimal animal protection laws has hit rock bottom, but this legislation would help alleviate the suffering of animals in roadside zoos, circuses, and other such places,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA and all compassionate people are cheering Rep. Krishnamoorthi for being animals’ ally in Washington.”
“The Animal Welfare Act only works when it’s actually enforced,” says Krishnamoorthi. “I worked closely with the nation’s leading animal welfare advocates on this proposal to close longstanding loopholes and make sure the law is properly enforced. My constituents are compassionate, and they expect businesses that mistreat the animals in their care to be held accountable and prevented from doing further harm—that’s why this legislation is so important.”
The USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General condemned the agency’s automatic license renewal policy more than 25 years ago, yet the practice continues to this day—and animals continue to be abused and neglected because of it. The policy keeps animals in wretched conditions. For instance, an Asiatic black bear named Dillan is caged at Union County Sportsmen’s Club—a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania—where he suffers from arthritis, morbid obesity, a skin condition, and severe dental disease. USDA inspectors have seen him rocking back and forth—a sign of severe psychological distress—and have cited the club multiple times for failing to give him nutritious and appropriate food and for failing to seek veterinary care for rotting, broken teeth. But the agency also just keeps renewing the facility’s license as Dillan’s condition deteriorates without treatment.
In May 2018, PETA filed suit against the USDA over its policy of rubber-stamping AWA license renewal applications, specifically challenging the license renewal for several chronic AWA violators, including Wilson’s Wild Animal Park.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is the human-supremacist view that other species are nothing more than commodities. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
Note: PETA supports animal rights and opposes all forms of animal exploitation and educates the public on those issues. PETA does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.