Protection Needed for Animals
Support the Better CARE for Animals Act!
Although tasked by Congress to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to uphold the law and protect animals. Instead, it has been apparently bowing to pressure from the very entities it is supposed to regulate, leaving animals in labs, breeding facilities, and roadside zoos at an increased risk of suffering. Further exasperating this situation is that the USDA only has three administrative law judges to handle enforcement actions for the entire agency, allowing facilities that violate the AWA to continue to harm animals. But the Better Collaboration, Accountability, and Regulatory Enforcement (CARE) for Animals Act could help alleviate the case backlog and strengthen AWA enforcement.
The Better CARE for Animals Act would amend the AWA to require a memorandum of understanding between the USDA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to encourage collaboration for better animal welfare protection and more frequent criminal penalties for AWA violators. The USDA would be allowed to share violation information with the DOJ, which could then bring cases to federal court faster. The DOJ would also have the authority to revoke licenses, impose civil penalties, and seize animals from facilities where animals are harmed.
The DOJ showed its effectiveness last May after it filed a lawsuit against a large-scale breeding company called Envigo that supplied beagles for research. That resulted in a settlement agreement that closed the facility and released 4,000 dogs, many of whom were sick, injured, and suffering. USDA inspectors first documented critical AWA violations in 2021, but the agency took no meaningful action. Thankfully the DOJ was able to step in for this incident, but its enforcement power is currently limited to just asking the court to issue injunctions to help stop the mistreatment of animals.
Passage of the Better CARE for Animals Act would allow the DOJ to act sooner than the USDA may be able to, and strengthen AWA enforcement to save animals from more suffering or even death.
Please contact your legislators and ask them to support the Better Care for Animals Act, which would strengthen enforcement of the AWA by giving the DOJ the authority to take legal action against facilities that harm animals. Tell them that animals should not continue to suffer just because the USDA cannot adequately do its job.