February 17, 2021

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Animal Cruelty

Washington D.C.—Today, Representative Joe Neguse (CO-02), alongside Representatives Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure better protection of animals and to keep our communities safe. The bill would establish a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at the Department of Justice to aid in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of felony animal cruelty crimes. 

Studies repeatedly show that there is a close link between animal cruelty and violence toward people. By bringing charges against perpetrators of animal cruelty crimes, we can prevent individuals with a propensity for violence from further harming animals or turning that violence against their fellow human-beings.  

While all 50 states currently have laws in place to prohibit animal cruelty, Department of Justice enforcement of these laws continues to see lengthy delays, with many federal crimes going unprosecuted completely. A dedicated staff at the Department of Justice, provided through the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, would facilitate stronger enforcement of animal cruelty laws by providing specialized knowledge and a streamlined process for handling these offenses.

“Proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws will protect animal welfare and help keep our communities safe from the violence so often linked to these crimes,” said Congressman Neguse. “The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which I am proud to have introduced with my bipartisan co-leads, seeks to bolster the prosecution of these crimes by providing the necessary resources and staffing for efficient enforcement.”

“As a life-long pet owner who considers our dog Winnie to be a member of our family, I am proud to introduce the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act alongside Congressman Neguse, to ensure that there is proper enforcement for crimes against animals,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “As a former prosecutor, I know we can do more to crack down on criminals who abuse animals, and as a Member of Congress, I feel obligated to provide the tools necessary to do just that. The ACE Act will improve the federal government’s ability to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes by creating a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes section within the Department of Justice, so that perpetrators of these heinous crimes will be held accountable in a timely, efficient manner.”

“Enforcement of laws already on the books, including those banning dog fighting and other cruel practices, is critical to ending these barbaric practices, which is what this measure aims to do,” said Congressman Steve Cohen, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and co-lead of this legislation. “I’m proud to support the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act because inflicting harm on defenseless animals has no place in a civilized society.”

“Our nation has an epidemic of rampant dogfighting and cockfighting, bestiality, the sale of animal crush videos, horse soring, and other forms of extreme exploitation,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “There are major U.S.-based cockfighters and dogfighters shipping animals for fighting to destinations across the world, and the scale of these enterprises is beyond the capacity of our local enforcement authorities to interdict.”

“Establishing a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division within the Department of Justice is an essential step towards fully investigating and prosecuting individuals that prey on animals,” said Allondra Stevens, founder of Horses For Life Foundation. “We fully support the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act and hope to see its swift passage into law this Congressional session.”

For three years in a row, Congressmen Neguse has successfully advocated for funding to support enforcement of animal cruelty crimes at the federal level, passing multiple bipartisan amendments to House Appropriations legislation that provided the USDA Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice with additional funding to enforce federal animal cruelty laws.