August 14, 2020

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Animal Cruelty Crimes and Stop Violence in Our Communities

Washington D.C.—Today, Representative Joe Neguse (CO-02), alongside Representatives Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Buddy Carter (GA-01) introduced the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act, sweeping bipartisan legislation to protect animal welfare and 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, we can prevent individuals with a propensity for violence from further harming animals or turning that violence on people. 

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

“Proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws will protect animal welfare and help keep each of our communities safe from the violence often linked to these crimes,” said Rep. Neguse. “For too long the Department of Justice has missed the mark on providing timely and efficient prosecutions. The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which I am proud to introduce today, seeks to right this by providing the necessary resources and staffing for efficient enforcement of these laws, so animals and communities alike are protected and justice is served." 

“I am proud to join Mr. Neguse and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce the ACE Act, an important step forward in the fight against animal cruelty,” said Rep. Gaetz. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill will help protect animals and bring bad actors to justice nationwide, and I look forward to its swift passage.”

“I’m proud to support the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act. Intentionally inflicting harm to defenseless animals, including through competitive dog fighting and other inhumane practices, has no place in civilized society. Enforcement of measures already on the books is critical to ending these barbaric practices, which is what this measure aims to do,” said Rep. Cohen.

“Congress has made important strides to prevent animal cruelty recently,” said Rep. Carter. “Now, we need to ensure the laws are enforced. This legislation will provide the resources necessary to combat animal-fighting and other barbaric practices. I thank my colleagues for the bipartisan work on this bill.”

“If there is one thing all Americans agree on, it’s that strong enforcement is needed to address heinous acts of cruelty like animal fighting where spectators bet on animals that are forced to fight to their deaths, and crush videos where innocent animals are tortured for fetishes. Congress has passed a number of laws to protect animals from cruelty, but these laws are only effective if enforced,” said Holly Gann, Director of Federal Affairs for Animal Wellness Foundation and Animal Wellness Action.

A few weeks ago, Congressmen Neguse and Gaetz were also successful in passing two amendments to the House Appropriations Minibus to provide the USDA Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice with $1,000,000 each in funding to enforce animal cruelty laws. This is the 2nd year in row they have led amendments in the House to ensure robust funds for enforcement of animal cruelty crimes. They also secured language in the base Appropriations bill to encourage enforcement of animal cruelty crimes and to instruct the Department of Justice to study the creation of a dedicated animal cruelty crimes unit through a letter signed by 45 other Congressmembers.