Today, Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and John Katko (NY-24) introduced the Helping Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act, which would expedite the rehabilitation process of abused animals that are seized under federal law by the government. The HEART Act would also place the burden of paying for the cost of caring for these animals to the person claiming an interest in the animal, rather than local animal shelters. Reps. Chu and Katko released the following statements:
“Animal cruelty is a heinous crime against defenseless creatures,” said Rep. Chu. “Our government is rightfully vigilant and active in shutting down crime rings, but when the animals are seized, the cost and care falls on local shelters. Given that court proceedings can take over a year, those shelters, taxpayers, and other nonprofit entities pay millions of dollars to care for these animals. The bipartisan bill that I introduce with Rep. Katko would rightfully place the burden of cost on the individuals who cause the actual harm. Most importantly, the bill would allow shelters to begin rehabilitation services before the court case concludes, which would reduce the time animals are held in shelters by more than half. I look forward to working with my colleagues to keep animals safe and place responsibility where it belongs.”
“As a former federal prosecutor, I’ve long-recognized that our system unfairly places the cost of care for abused animals on the American taxpayer, local municipal shelters, and nonprofit organizations,” said Rep. Katko. “I am greatly appreciative for the many animal advocates, like the ASPCA, who are committed to ending animal fighting and providing quality care and shelter for abused animals. I’m proud to have worked in a bipartisan manner with Representative Chu to streamline the process so that our local shelters can more quickly provide rehabilitation services and find loving homes for victimized animals.”
The HEART Act would accomplish the following:
• Accelerate the disposition process by reducing the period the Government has to notify interested parties following the seizure of animals under the federal animal fighting or gambling statutes from 60 days to 30 days, thus prioritizing the animals’ care;
• Provide judges the discretion to require a claimant to post a bond to cover the cost of care for animals seized under the federal animal fighting and gambling statute during the period of seizure;
• Require the immediate forfeiture of the animals to the seizing agency if a court ordered bond is not posted; and
• Require the full bond be returned to the claimant should they prevail in the forfeiture proceedings.
The bill language can be found here.