New anti-pet theft bills introduced in House

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1996:

WASHINGTON D.C.––Two bills
to crack down further on pet theft for laboratory
supply were introduced into the House of
Representatives in early May.
The pair are among the first of an
anticipated series of proposed amendments to
the Animal Welfare Act sections pertaining to
pets and the pet trade, discussed in April during
four days of hearings that were held in St.
Louis and Kansas City.
The Family Pet Protection Act of
1996, introduced on May 6 by Representatives
John Fox (R-Pa.) and Tom Lantos (DCalif.),
was reportedly drafted by In Defense
of Animals. It would abolish all Class B animal
dealers, an Animal Welfare Act permit
category which currently includes about 1,600
pet dealers as well as about 75 suppliers of
random-source animals to laboratories.

The Pet Safety and Protection Act of
1996, introduced on May 14 by Representatives
George Brown (D-Calif.) and Charles
Canady (R-Fla.), was drafted by an 11-group
coalition led by the Animal Welfare Institute.
“The Canady/Brown bill clearly and
concisely ends Class B dealers’ ability to sell
dogs and cats for medical experimentation,”
explains Last Chance for Animals executive
director David Meyer. “The Fox/Lantos bill is
very similar, but has expanded the regulations
for local pounds to a point that seems a bit
unrealistic. It may also leave open a loophole
that could allow Class B dealers to continue
operation by contracting with a municipality
and essentially becoming a pound.”
Adds Adele Douglass of the
American Humane Association, “The
Fox/Lantos bill sounds great, but has no
chance of going anywhere and just confuses
Congress. The Canady/Brown bill is similar to
what the USDA wants, my understanding is
that biomedical research will not strongly
oppose it, and may have a chance in this
Congress; if not in this Congress, definitely
in the next Congress.”
Douglass was principal author of the
successful Pet Theft Act of 1990. Since it took
effect in January 1992, pet thefts for laboratory
use have dropped from 85% of thefts where
the fate of the animals is known to just 16%.
Another Douglass bill, endorsed by
most major humane organizations, cleared the
House late on May 9 as an amendment to the
pending federal housing bill, which itself must
clear both the House and the Senate before
going to President Bill Clinton for a signature.
Said Douglass, “The amendment expands the
right of pet ownership to all senior citizens and
persons with disabilities living in public housing
and other federally assisted developments.
Current law states that such people can keep
pets, but only if their housing is specifically
designated for the elderly and handicapped.”
Other topics expected to be
addressed in pending bills include Animal
Welfare Act amendments pertaining to animal
housing standards for breeders; possible
restrictions on how often dogs and cats may be
bred; veterinary care standards; and animal
transport. Hearing participants from all major
interest groups were reportedly in broad agreement
that whatever rules are eventually adopted
should apply to hobby and show breeders as
well as commercial animal suppliers.

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