WASHINGTON – This past week, Congressmen Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced H.R. 1016, the Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act, alongside Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02) and Steve Cohen (TN-09). The bipartisan bill would establish a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes section within the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to aid in the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of felony animal cruelty crimes. The billwould also require DOJ to report annually to Congress on the progress made on enforcing animal cruelty statutes.
Studies show that there is a close link between animal cruelty and violence toward people, especially children. By supporting the DOJ’s efforts to bring charges against perpetrators of animal cruelty crimes, the ACE Act aims to prevent individuals with a propensity for violence from causing further harm to animals or turning that violence against people in their communities.
“As a life-long pet owner who considers our dog Winnie to be a member of our family, I was proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to ensure that there is proper enforcement for crimes against animals,” said Joyce. “As a life-long pet owner, I want those who commit crimes of animal cruelty brought to justice and as a former prosecutor, I want to make sure the criminals who commit these crimes can’t escalate to committing violence against other people. By creating a dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes section within the Department of Justice, the ACE Act will improve the federal government’s ability to crack down on animal cruelty crimes and hold perpetrators accountable in a timely, efficient manner.”
“Proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws will protect animal welfare and help keep our communities safe from the violence so often linked to these crimes,” said Neguse. “The Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which I am proud to have introduced with my bipartisan co-leads, seeks to bolster the prosecution of these crimes by providing the necessary resources and staffing for efficient enforcement.”
“Enforcement of laws already on the books, including those banning dog fighting and other cruel practices, is critical to ending these barbaric practices, which is what this measure aims to do,” said Cohen. “I’m proud to support the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act because inflicting harm on defenseless animals has no place in a civilized society.”
In recognition of the increasingly large body of research that closely links violence against animals with violence against humans, several prominent animal welfare statutes have been signed into law the last few years – such as the Pet and Women Safety Act– that vastly expanded the breadth of federal animal cruelty laws. This expansion has increased the need for a specific animal crimes enforcement unit within DOJ to help avoid delays and/or any lack in prosecutions. A dedicated Animal Cruelty Crimes Division, provided through the ACE Act, would meet this need by facilitating stronger enforcement of animal cruelty laws through specialized knowledge and a streamlined process for handling such offenses. You can read the full bill text here.