Senator Mike Braun and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse have introduced the bipartisan Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act to ensure that the federal government has a dedicated office for the enforcement of animal cruelty statutes.

Senator Braun and Senator Whitehouse are joined on this bipartisan bill by original co-sponsors Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act: 

  • Creates by statute a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at DOJ to aid in the investigation, enforcement, and subsequent prosecution of felony animal cruelty crimes; and
     
  • Requires DOJ to report annually on the progress made enforcing animal cruelty statutes.

The bill is companion legislation to H.R. 8052, introduced by Representatives Neguse (D-CO-2), Gaetz (R-FL-1), Cohen (D-TN-9), and Carter (R-GA-1).

“America has recently taken big steps to crack down on animal cruelty with new laws to protect animals from torture and abuse, but we need further action to ensure these laws are being enforced across the country and track our progress in eradicating animal cruelty,” said Senator Mike Braun. “The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act would create a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Section at the Department of Justice to help bring those who abuse animals to justice and includes reporting measures to track our progress.”

“I’m pleased to join my colleague Senator Braun to introduce this legislation to protect animal welfare.  We need to make sure laws related to serious negligence and cruelty toward animals are clear and enforceable, and that the Department of Justice has the dedicated resources it needs to prosecute them.” - Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

“People who abuse innocent animals often turn their violence on innocent people. The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act would help better prevent and prosecute animal cruelty, and I’m proud to partner with Sen. Braun and my colleagues to keep our communities safe from sick people who target helpless creatures.” - Senator John Kennedy.

“There is no place for animal cruelty in this country,” McSally said. “Our bill will help stamp out animal abuse by creating a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at the Justice Department. The division will focus on the investigation and prosecution of federal animal cruelty crimes, and be responsible for reporting their progress annually to Congress.” 

“I’m proud to have led recent federal efforts outlawing the barbaric torture of animals, but our fight is not yet over. We must swiftly enact the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act to put those laws into effect, hold animal abusers accountable, and track our country’s progress in eliminating this heinous crime. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this done and to put a stop to animal cruelty once and for all.” – Senator Richard Blumenthal

BACKGROUND:

Within the last two years, several prominent animal welfare statutes signed into law have vastly expanded the breadth and depth of the animal cruelty laws on the federal books. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, and the Pet and Women Safety Act have added significant new laws to the federal code. These laws were passed with significant bipartisan support for the purposes of addressing animal cruelty issues head-on, recognizing the increasingly large body of research that closely links violence against animals with violence against humans.

To ensure that these laws are adequately enforced across the country, the federal government must have dedicated staff to ensure adequate enforcement across the board. Over the past several years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken steps to invest significant amounts of attorney time into reviewing reports of animal cruelty and investigating cases. However, given the significant influx of laws on the books, it is important that a dedicated section be established.

Issues