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Support Citizen Suits to Help Enforce Animal Welfare Act

Support Citizen Suits to Help Enforce Animal Welfare Act 

Name: Federal Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act

Bill Number: HR 4211

junkyard_dog_cropped.jpgThe recent release of animal welfare enforcement data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) revealed the underreporting of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations, a trend that has been growing in the past few years. Moreover, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, APHIS announced that they are cutting back on inspections unless there is a report of “serious” AWA violations. This further reduces confidence that animals in the laboratory are receiving even the most basic protections required under the AWA.

The Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act, HR4211 has the potential to strongly affect the welfare of animals used for research thanks to “citizen suits” provision that would allow any person to bring a civil suit on his own behalf to stop any person—including the United States and any other governmental body—alleged to be in violation of any provision of the AWA. While individual citizens do not ordinarily have authority to bring a case against a licensee for wrongdoing, a citizen suit gives ordinary people the right to enforce the law even though they have no ownership right to the animals involved.

The use of citizen suits has been sparse in U.S. law, but provisions of law affecting animals, like those impacting the environment, require extraordinary measures to ensure that government agencies and licensees of those agencies are following the law. Allowing citizens to bring civil lawsuits would provide better compliance across multiple industries affecting millions of animals.

Passage of this bill helps the issue of transparency in animal research and helps to ensure that the AWA’s provisions are enforced with public oversight of government and other agencies. In addition, it would amend licensing provisions of the AWA to prevent the licensing of or renewal of a license for dealers and exhibitors who have violated local, state or federal laws relating to animals.

Now, more than ever, we need pubic involvement, oversight and authority to ensure that animals have better protection under the Animal Welfare Act.

  

Call to Actions:

  1. Please contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to support this important legislation.
  2. Spread the word! Share this page with your social network.

 

 

Recipients

  • Your Representative

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Message

Please support AWA amendments for more accountability by the government

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask your support for HR 4211, the Federal Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act, which would amend licensing provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to prevent the licensing of, or renewal of a license for, dealers and exhibitors who have violated local, state or federal laws relating to animals.

Moreover, this bill would allow any person to commence a civil suit on his own behalf to enjoin any person, including the United States and any other governmental body, who is alleged to be in violation of any provision of the AWA. The use of citizen suits has been sparse in U.S. law, but provisions of law affecting animals, like those impacting the environment, require extraordinary measures to ensure that government agencies and licensees of those agencies are following the law. Allowing citizens to bring suit is a lesser expense than paying for the large number of inspectors necessary to ensure compliance across multiple industries affecting millions of animals.

While the USDA has recently released new data on enforcement actions by the agency, the information provided is inadequate for gaining a full understanding of animal welfare. Moreover, the data provided demonstrates a lack of active enforcement when it comes to activities by licensees under the Animal Welfare Act. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when APHIS inspectors are significantly reducing their oversight of AWA licensees, this is the time to give citizens the ability to bring civil enforcement actions against commercial animal enterprises violating the AWA.

Please give your full support to this legislation so that it can move forward this session. Thank you.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]