Animal Wellness Action

Helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty Animal Wellness Action (AWA) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission to champion the enactment and enforcement of legal standards forbidding cruelty to companion animals, farm animals, and all other animals at risk so that we can prevent abuse before it happens. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Animals have always been at the center of the human experience, and never more so than now. Pets live in our homes, wild animals inhabit our communities, and animals are used in a wide variety of major industries, from food and agriculture to science and testing to a variety of forms of entertainment.

Long-standing forms of animal exploitation are falling out of favor, and that process has been accelerated by innovations that allow us to eat well, conduct rigorous science, and solve human- wildlife conflicts without sacrificing the quality of our lives or compromising the workings of business or government.

Animal Wellness Action believes in enshrining humane treatment standards in the law to shield animals from cruelty and to accelerate the shift toward business and government practices that are respectful toward animals. With meaningful government and private standards that provide a framework for animal care and human conduct, businesses can thrive and prosper, generating wealth and meeting the needs of people without sacrificing the well-being of animals in the process.

In every recent Congress, lawmakers of both parties introduced a wide range of bills to improve the lives of animals. There are also some worthy policy concepts that have not yet taken the form of legislation. We’ve identified a set of issues below and explain them in brief and ask that you indicate whether you generally support the legislation. We realize that there may be amendments to current bills or pertinent information that comes to light that would require additional examination of these issues.


Puppy Mills:
There are millions of healthy and adoptable dogs looking for homes, yet a national puppy mill industry continues to operate without sufficient federal controls, flooding our communities with dogs and mistreating the animals, particularly the breeding females who are kept in small cages they can barely turn around in for years as they are repeatedly bred. Will you support the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 2840 and S. 1385) to upgrade standards of care for dogs (e.g., forbidding the stacking of cages and allowing the animals some occasional outdoor access and requiring some level of regular socialization and veterinary care)?

Animal Cruelty Crimes:
The Congress has enacted a series of federal anti-cruelty measures, including a national anti-cruelty law and a ban on animal fighting throughout the United States, but now these laws need to be enforced. H.R. 1016 would authorize the creation of a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes section at DOJ would allow for robust and effective enforcement of these crimes by designating personnel focused on these issues. DOJ already has dedicated sections on other important societal concerns, such as environmental protection, wildlife, and organized crime. Will you support efforts to have a small section at the Department of Justice focused on enforcing our federal laws against animal cruelty?

Greyhound Protection Act:
Commercial dog racing is occurring in just a handful of states, with the last track Alabama shutting down in April 2020 and a month later the tracks in Texas ceasing operations. The closure of racing in those states came just months after Arkansas’s last track announced will phase out operations in 2022. In the 2018 general election, Florida voters adopted a greyhound racing ban by an overwhelming margin, with that measure taking final effect in December 2020. Dogs spend up to 23 hours a day in extreme confinement where they can barely turn around, according to GREY2K USA Worldwide. The federal government has authority on this subject because dogs are bred and transported across state lines for racing and races are broadcast to numerous states for simulcast gambling. H.R. 3335, the Greyhound Protection Act bans live racing, simulcasting of racing, and outlaws the use of animals as live lures. Will you support ending this cruel activity?


Horse Soring:
The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST), introduced eight years ago seeks to stop the torment of Tennessee Walking horses, bans the use of action devices and stacked shoes on horses in competition, seeks to eliminate a failed industry self-regulation program, and establishes felony-level penalties for violators. That legislation and a compromise with industry has been developed. The compromise bill 1) makes soring a crime, not just the sale or showing of a sored horse; 2) eliminates industry self-regulation and the current inspection system and replaces it with a system overseen by the Secretary of Agriculture and a seven-member Organization with a majority of members recommending by anti-soring organizations; 3) bans chains, rollers, or other action devices; 4) reduces the size of the “shoe assembly” by more than half, with the maximum height of the shoe at 1.5 inches at the toe; 5) reduces the weight of the shoe, with shoes made from steel or aluminum or lighter materials; 6) bans metal bands to attach the shoe to the foot; bans tail braces; 7) forbids possession of mustard oil, croton oil, or salicylic acid; 8) outlaws distracting devices used to avoid detection by causing injury to the horse on another part of the body; 9) establishes felony-level penalties for violators; and 10) increases the authorization for enforcement from $500,000 to $4 million. Would you support the end of horse soring?

Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption:
Americans don’t eat horses, but tens of thousands of American horses are shipped to North American horse slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico, after enduring miserable transportation conditions, for slaughter, sale, and then human consumption. The horse slaughter industry is a predatory, inhumane enterprise, with “kill buyers” frequently buying young and healthy horses, often misrepresenting their intentions, and killing them to sell the meat for foreign markets in Europe and Asia. Because horses are not raised for human consumption, they are often given drugs and medications throughout their lives that should not enter the food supply. Will you support the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (HR 3355 and S.2732) to ban exports of horses for slaughter in other countries, and prevent horse slaughter plants from reopening in the U.S.?

Managing Wild Horses and Burros:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has controlled populations of wild horses and burros principally through roundups and removals from the range, and then placing the horses in short- and long-term holding pastures and corrals. BLM has also worked with partners to adopt out some horses to private citizens. But for years, this strategy has failed, with massive roundups that far exceed adoption capacity. The result is, there are now 50,000 horses in short-and long-term government-funded holding facilities. Two-thirds of the BLM program budget for wild horses and burros goes to captive management of horses. It makes much more sense, from a fiscal and humane perspective, to use fertility control—the PZP vaccine—as a core population control strategy to keep horses on the range and out of government-funded holding facilities. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences deemed PZP as the best and most cost-effective method to manage wild horses, finding that removals actually result in increased birthing rates on the range, only exacerbating the very issue that BLM claims it is trying to solve. Will you support the Restore Our American Mustangs Act to limit roundups and support efforts to encourage the BLM to use more cost-effective and humane management of wild horses such as fertility control?


Commodity Checkoff:
The Congress authorized commodity checkoff programs to serve as funding mechanisms for commodity promotion and research. But major commodity trade organizations have repeatedly acted beyond the scope of the statutory mandate of the checkoff programs. Lax oversight by the USDA and trade industry opportunism has resulted in collusion between government and private industry. Checkoff funds are being used to fund the operations of private trade associations and to influence legislation and government action despite a broad statutory prohibition against these activities. Many farmers, who are obligated to pay checkoff fees, feel like they are financing their own destruction, especially as the trade associations push anti-competitive practices. Will you support the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act (HR 4291) to prohibit certain practices relating to commodity promotion programs and require greater transparency in those programs?

Organics Standards in Animal Agriculture:
In May 2018, bowing to the wishes of the factory farming lobby, the USDA repealed the Organic Livestock and Poultry Protection (OLPP) rule that the department had finalized just 15 months earlier, after more than a decade of examination and public comment. The OLPP rule established practice standards for organic livestock and poultry production—clarifying standards that have been inconsistently applied, bringing organic standards more in line with consumer expectations, and leveling the playing field for organic producers. It prohibits cruel practices such as de-beaking (painful mutilation performed to minimize stress-induced feather pecking), tail docking, transport of sick and injured animals, and certain methods of euthanasia. It amounted to the first federal animal welfare standards for animals on the farm. Will you support re-issuing this rule or the Congress codifying the elements of the rule in federal legislation?

Antibiotic Overuse:
Large commercial agribusinesses feed the vast majority of all antibiotics used in the United States to healthy farm animals. This regimen occurs to spur physical growth and to keep the animals from getting sick in overcrowded, unsanitary, and inhumane factory farms. This practice is a prop for the factory farming industry, but more importantly, it is one of the most serious threats to public health. Our limited class of life-saving antibiotics is less effective because of overuse and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Will you join the American Medical Association and other public-health groups in support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act to phase out routine non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals?

Adding Poultry to Humane Methods of Slaughter Act:
Livestock such as cattle and pigs must be rendered insensible to pain before being slaughtered. But the USDA does not interpret the law to cover poultry, which represents a vast majority of the animals slaughtered for food. Chickens and turkeys are typically shackled upside down and shocked with electrified water; the majority are paralyzed but may not be rendered unconscious. Some miss the water tank and aren’t even paralyzed. Birds then have their throats cut, but according to the USDA, millions miss the blade and drown in tanks of scalding water while conscious and able to feel pain. Will you support efforts to include poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act?

Phasing Out Extreme Confinement of Breeding Pigs in Pork Industry:
Pregnant pigs spend the bulk of their lifespan in “gestation crates” that are so restrictive they cannot lay down, turn around, or freely extend their limbs. The mother pig is immobilized throughout her pregnancy. Due to increasing consumer awareness about gestation crates, almost every major food retailer in the United States—from McDonald’s to Costco to Aramark—has agreed to phase out all purchasing of pork from farms that confine female pigs in gestation crates, with most policies taking effect in 2022. Additionally, there are ten states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Oregon, that have banned or are phasing out the use of gestation crates. Voters have approved five of five state ballot measures forbidding their use by wide margins. Two states— California and Massachusetts—will forbid the sale of pork in their states if it comes from pigs confined in gestation crates. Would you support Pigs in Gestation Stalls (PIGS) Act to phase out the use of extreme confinement for pregnant pigs?

Ending Mink Farming and Buying Out the Remaining Struggling Farms:
MINKS are Super Spreaders Act, (H.R. 4310), seeks to authorize USDA to conduct a buy-out of the remaining mink farms in the U.S. This buy-out assists farmers in an industry that has lost its market share in the U.S. and in Europe and is in a downward spiral, with that circumstance made more dire by COVID-19 outbreaks at farms. Long a concern of animal welfare advocates because these semi-aquatic wild animals are maintained in cages in extreme confinement, the mink industry became a universal concern this year because the animals are highly suspectable to COVID-19 and mink farms could turn into super-spreader facilities. In April 2021, investigators, according to the CDC “found that mink from a Michigan farm and a small number of people were infected with SARS-CoV-2 that contained unique mink-related mutations. This suggests mink to human spread might have occurred.” Would you support legislation to end mink farming?


Eliminate Archaic Animal Testing Requirements for New Drug Development:
H.R. 2565 would update the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (21 USC §?355) to broaden options for drug developers for preclinical testing to include modern, innovative, human-relevant test methods. These modifications will allow drug sponsors to apply state-of-the-art tools to predict how humans will respond to their drugs in clinical trials, thereby reducing attrition, shortening time to market, saving millions of dollars, lowering drug prices, providing safer and more effective drugs for American consumers, and reducing the number of animals used for tests. The FFDCA expressly requires traditional animal testing based on the assumption that animal tests are predictive of safety and efficacy in humans. Test data show that the use of animals is not predictive of the human response to drugs, with 90 to 95 percent of drugs and vaccines found safe in animal tests failing during human clinical trials. . Would you support eliminating the requirement for animal testing in drug development and allow for safer, faster, cheaper methods of testing where available?

Animals in Military Training:
The Department of Defense uses more than 6,000 live animals each year to train physicians, medics, and other personnel on the methods of responding to battlefield injuries. The civilian sector has almost exclusively phased in the use of superior human-based training methods as opposed to using animals, which has been shown to increase patient safety and decrease errors. Will you support the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, to use only human-based methods for training members of the Armed Forces in the treatment of severe combat injuries?


Protecting Bears:
Trafficking bear gallbladders is similar to killing elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns: Poachers kill bears, even cubs, because the gallbladders are valuable and easily fetch prices exceeding $1,000 for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The trade is heavily centralized in China and South Korea, but as bear populations dwindled poachers began targeting American bears where the population was still healthy. While 40 states have laws to address this trade, these vary widely. Ultimately, the trade must be prohibited entirely to stop poaching of American bears for their gallbladders and to stop contributing to this cruelty globally. Will you support the Bear Protection Act (HR 2325) to address the trafficking of bear gallbladders, by prohibiting the trade of bear viscera (gallbladders) in interstate or foreign commerce (it does not restrict legal bear hunting)?

Banning Lead Ammunition on Wildlife Refuge and Park Service Lands:
Lead ammunition left behind by hunters’ poisons millions of wild animals each year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service have a statutory duty to act to protect and conserve wildlife on these lands, and in 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Director’s Order to phase out the use of lead on these federal lands by 2022. However, the order was undone in 2017 by the new Interior Secretary without a critical examination of the policy change. Lead alternatives are readily available, and comparably priced copper and steel ammunition outperform lead and do not keep killing days, weeks, and months after leaving the gun. Would you support H.R. 405, the LEAD Act of 2021, legislation to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on national wildlife refuges and National Park Service lands?

Predator Killing on Refuges and Preserves:
The House and Senate, in spring 2017, invoked the Congressional Review Act and rescinded a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule to prohibit cruel, controversial, and scientifically unjustified predator-killing methods, such as denning, baiting, and aerial gunning of wolves and bears, on over 76 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. The National Park Service has proposed to repeal a similar rule adopted in 2015 that applies to national preserves. This amounts to the gratuitous killing of apex predators on the federal lands specifically designed for their protection. Alaska’s biggest industry is tourism, and so many people trek to the state to enjoy these lands and see wolves, grizzly bears, and other animals targeted by a small group of trophy hunters. Will you seek to restore these protections, either through future legislative action or, where it is permitted, new rulemaking actions by the appropriate agencies?

Poisoning of Wildlife by the Federal Government:
The USDA uses sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate to kill predators, often on our public lands, often without any evidence that the targeted animals had been involved in any incidents with people or livestock. California and Washington ban these poisons, and Idaho and Oregon have restricted their use as well. M-44s are terribly cruel and indiscriminate, killing people’s pets and endangered species as well as the intended targets. The use of such highly lethal agents also poses homeland security risks. Will you support the use of poisons as a wildlife management tool?

Big Cats as Pets:
In the last two decades, there have been hundreds of attacks by big cats, who retain their predatory instincts even when born in captivity and hand raised. Overbreeding to match the demand for tigers, lions, and other big cats costs millions of dollars when these animals are inevitably dumped on government agencies or non-profit sanctuaries. Not only do these animals suffer under abusive and unsafe conditions when kept by unqualified individuals, but they are a threat to public safety. Will you support the Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263 and S. 1210) to better address the exotic pet trade by limiting the breeding of lions, tigers, and other big cats to accredited zoos, and by preventing unqualified individuals and facilities from possessing these animals?

Shark finning is the barbaric practice of hacking the fins off sharks, often while they’re still alive and throwing the mutilated animals back overboard to die slowly in the ocean. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, mostly for use in shark fin soup, and many shark species are rapidly declining. Will you support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (HR 2811 and S. 1106)) to ban the trade in shark fins in the U.S.?

Protecting Kangaroos from Mass Slaughter in the Wild:
Australian commercial hunters annually kill nearly two million kangaroos, including almost half a million joeys, to sell their parts all over the world. The Kangaroo Protection Act prohibits importing or selling kangaroo parts in the U.S., including for athletic shoes. With the recent fires in Australia, which killed millions of kangaroos and hundreds of millions of other animals, it is time for a more precautionary approach to managing this species and to implement more robust protection efforts. Will you support H.R. 917, the Kangaroo Protection Act, to close off the U.S. market for these products and tamp down on what is now the largest commercial slaughter of mammals in the world in their native habitats?


Are there any relevant actions, from past legislative or business work, that reflect a particular sensibility to animals?

Do you care to comment on how your views align with the value system articulated above for Animal Wellness Action?

Will you post information on your campaign website and your Congressional website outlining your positions on animal protection issues?

Thank you
Thank you for your time.

Please either use the SUBMIT button below or return the completed questionnaire to:
Animal Wellness Action
611 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. #136
Washington, D.C. 20003