Vern Buchanan, Alcee Hastings switch tactics on bill banning slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption
By Kevin Derby
Two congressmen from Florida—Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and Democrat U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings—have revised their proposal to ban the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption.
Back in March 2017, Buchanan and Hastings unveiled the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act,” a proposal banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption. Currently, 44 states do not have those type of laws in place.
Last November, the resolution moved through the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. A majority of the Florida delegation backed the resolution with Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Matt Gaetz and Bill Posey and Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson serving as co-sponsors.
Over the summer, joined by U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Penn., Buchanan and Hastings wrote the chairs of the congressional Agriculture Committees—U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and U.S. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas—on the matter. They also wrote the ranking Democrats on the committees—U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn.
But, with little in the way of momentum and the clock ticking towards the end of session, the congressmen changed tactics. On Thursday, Buchanan and Hastings announced they had revised the bill, removing jail sentences from the proposal while raising the maximum fine from $2.500 to $5,000. They hope to get the bill passed by the end of the session.
“Dogs and cats provide important companionship to mill-ions of people and should not be slaughtered and sold as food,” Buchanan said on Thursday.
He hoped it would also send a message to other countries including South Korea and China. “The United States should be a leader against this inhumane and unsafe industry.”
“I am pleased to again work with Rep. Buchanan to advocate for banning the dog and cat meat trade in America. This bill is a reflection of our values and gives us a greater standing in urging all other countries to end this horrific practice once and for all. I look forward to working to ensure its swift passage,” Hastings said.
The issue is not a new one for either of the two congressmen from the Sunshine State who are the co-chairs of the Florida delegation. Hastings has been leading the charge on Capitol Hill in condemning the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China where 10,000 dogs are slaughtered each year for human consumption. Buchanan has also garnered national attention for his work on animal issues.
The Humane Society of the United States named Buchanan as its legislator of the year in 2016, the
first time a member of the Florida delegation has received the honor. Buchanan received a 100 core from the Humane Society and fought for some of the group’s top priorities. In 2016, Buchanan brought out the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act which bans exporting horses to Mexican slaughterhouses. Buchanan has also led the charge on Capitol Hill to stop domestic slaughterhouses from creating horse meat for human consumption.