H.R. 5244, the “Animal Freedom from Testing, Experiments, and Research (AFTER) Act of 2021” would amend the Animal Welfare Act to direct all federal research facilities to promulgate standards to facilitate the adoption of certain animals used in federal research, or their “non-laboratory placement” with an animal rescue organization, animal sanctuary, or animal shelter. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and is sponsored by Reps. Brendan Boyle and Nancy Mace.
Legislation Would Require Offering Animals Used in Federal Research for Adoption
APHIS Proposes Revisions to Animal Contingency Plan Rule
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has proposed revisions to the requirements for research facilities and dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, and carriers for contingency planning and training of personnel. By lifting an internal stay that has been in place since 2013, the agency states the revisions “would better ensure that entities responsible for animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act are prepared to safeguard the health and welfare of such animals in the event of possible emergencies or disasters.” The agency is accepting comments on the proposal until August 24, 2021.
ASPCA Files Suit Challenging USDA’s Non-Enforcement of Animal Welfare Act
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture challenging the agency’s failure to enforce standards for dog dealers under the Animal Welfare Act. According to the complaint, while there are approximately 2,000 commercial dog breeders and dealers licensed by the USDA, the agency “has imposed no statutory penalties against a licensed dog dealer since 2017.” The suit alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Congress Considers Banning Resale of Shelter Animals to Research Laboratories
11th Circuit Revives Lawsuit Challenging Lolita AWA Permit
The Eleventh Circuit has overturned a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by PETA alleging that the United States Department of Agriculture violated its own policy under the Animal Welfare Act when it added the non-compliant tank where orca whale Lolita is currently captive to the existing exhibitor’s license of the facility’s new owner.
ALDF Challenges USDA’s Renewal of Wildlife on Wheels’ AWA License
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture alleging that the agency’s renewal of Wildlife on Wheels’ Animal Welfare Act license was improper.
Legislation Would Require AWA-Covered Entities Develop Emergency Contingency Plans
House Bill 1442, the Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act, would require that entities licensed under the Animal Welfare Act develop and implement contingency plans to protect the animals in their care during emergencies. The full text of the legislation, previously introduced in 2019, is available here.
USDA Settles Lawsuit Challenging AWA Self-Reporting and “Teachable Moments” Rules
The United States Department of Agriculture has settled a lawsuit brought by Advancing Law for Animals on behalf of Stop Animal Exploitation Now and Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation challenging the agency’s promulgation of rules implementing the Animal Welfare Act. The settlement provides that the agency will remove a rule stating it will not issue a citation for noncompliance with the Act if self-reported in certain circumstances and will revise a rule that required citations only for violations that caused “noticeable pain or distress to an animal.”
Jeffrey Lowe Must Surrender Big Cat Cubs to Reputable Facilities
An Oklahoma federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against Jeffrey Lowe and Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, requiring that defendants immediately cease exhibiting animals protected by the Endangered Species Act and Animal Welfare Act without a license, retain a veterinarian and provide all veterinary records within 7 days, provide complete acquisition and disposition records for animals missing from their inventories, and surrender all big cats one year old or younger and their mothers to the United States government for placement in “reputable facilities” pending final resolution of the case.