Christmas Came Early in the Farm Bill

Doggy ChristmasAlthough the federal government doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to protecting animals, this week’s Farm Bill, which was signed into law on December 20, 2018, contains three important pro-animal rules, according to Vox:

One provision of the farm bill prohibits the import, export, and slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption. Even though consumption of dog and cat meat is uncommon in the US, there are no laws prohibiting it in 44 states.

The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act tries to address a problem for both humans and companion animals: Victims of domestic violence are often afraid to leave because they expect their abusive partner to abuse or kill their pets in retaliation. The PAWS Act commits more resources to housing domestic violence survivors with pets and changes law enforcement policy so these situations are a little more addressable in our current legal framework, which imposes only mild penalties for killing someone’s pet.

Finally, the farm bill closes a loophole. Animal fighting (such as cockfighting or dogfighting) is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but that leaves it legal in US territories like Puerto Rico and Guam. The bill extends the prohibition on animal fighting to US territories as well.

I am in the process of writing an article for our library about domestic violence and pets, so I’m glad to see this problem included in the omnibus. Equally important are the human consumption and fighting rules. We still have a long way to go in improving animal welfare in this country, but I’ll sleep at least a little better tonight.

The bill comes up for renewal every five years, so hopefully we will make more progress next time.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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