RS22493 - The Animal Welfare Act: Background and Selected Legislation
8-Dec-2009; Geoffrey S. Becker; 10 p.
Update: Previous releases:
August 6, 2008
March 15, 2007
January 3, 2007
August 10, 2006
Abstract: The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was first passed in 1966 to prevent pets from being stolen for sale to research laboratories, and to improve the treatment and well-being of animals intended for research. Congress periodically has amended the act to strengthen enforcement, expand coverage to more animals and activities, or curtail practices viewed as cruel, among other things. Farm animals are not covered by the AWA, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
In the 110th Congress, 2007 legislation (H.R. 137; P.L. 110-22) was aimed at strengthening provisions against animal fighting, the sixth time that Congress has amended the act. It was amended again in 2008 when AWA provisions were included in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246). These provisions ban the importation of puppies under six months of age for resale, tighten prohibitions on dog and other animal fighting activities, and increase penalties for violation of the act.
Other AWA bills that were pending at the close of the 110th Congress included H.R. 1280/S. 714, to restrict where research facilities could obtain their dogs and cats; H.R. 1947, to make it unlawful for animal exhibitors and dealers (but not accredited zoos) to allow direct contact between the public and big cats such as lions and tigers; H.R. 2193, to prohibit the use of animals in marketing medical devices and products; and H.R. 6949/S. 3519, to require an AWA license from USDA of those who raise more than 50 dogs in a 12-month period and sell directly to the public.
Only one of these proposals—to restrict where research facilities could obtain their dogs and cats—was reintroduced in the first session of the 111th Congress. This proposal, the Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2009, was introduced October 22, 2009, into the House as H.R. 3907 and into the Senate as S. 1834.