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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
5 December 1999 Issue

Where Are the Regulating Bodies?
By SavingLife@aol.com

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) has been delegated the responsibility of regulating the care and treatment of captive performing animals. While we would expect the AWA to protect performing animals, they merely set minimum housing and maintenance regulations and nothing more. In addition, while the AWA requires that animal exhibits be licensed by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), there are approximately 8,000 facilities in the US which use live animal entertainment and only 85 APHIS inspectors and 64 AWA inspectors. The USDA determined in 1992 that "APHIS cannot ensure the humane care and treatment of animals as required by the Act. APHIS did not inspect facilities with reliable frequency, and it did not enforce timely corrections of violations during inspections."

In addition to insufficient regulations, the major reason that the pitiable living conditions for, and inhumane treatment of, circus animals has been allowed to continue is due to a serious lack in federal funding for the AWA. With only 64 inspectors representing the AWA, annual inspections have dropped 40 percent since 1991. In fact, there are many organizations that have gone without inspection for years at a time. When these companies are inspected, they are found to be in violation of the AWA's very minimal standards 45 percent of the time!

For the first time in almost a decade, the Animal Care Program budget has received an increase of $1 million! While this is definitely a positive step in the right direction, in light of other budget spending, this is a fairly small increase.

The HSUS is calling on all citizens concerned with the welfare of circus animals to contact the Clinton Administration and request a $5 million increase for the USDA's Animal Care Program with the next budget proposal, so to be submitted to Congress. Since this is a time sensitive subject, it is important that you send your letters today!

Contact:

Honorable Jack Lew, Director
Office of Management and Budget
Old Executive Office Building
Washington, D.D. 20503
Fax: (202) 395-1005

Honorable Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture
14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Fax: (202) 720-2166
Email: lynne.finnerty@usda.gov

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