Veterinary officials are keeping a close eye on various bills that could strengthen protection for animals across the country.
“Individual bills have the best chance of becoming law if they are attached to the massive Farm Bill, which Congress is under pressure to approve by Sept. 30,” said Whitney Miller, an assistant director in the Governmental Relations Division. “Failure to approve the Farm Bill, which Dr. Miller said contains “tons of programs very important to agriculture,” would mean an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, leaving the smaller pieces to fend for themselves.”
Five pieces of legislation that veterinary officials are pushing for passage of include:
• The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would ban people from attending events such as cockfighting and dogfighting.
• The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would amend the Horse Protection Act to strengthen penalties and improve enforcement regarding the use of action devices and performance packages. The equipment is designed to inflict pain in Tennessee Walking Horses, spotted saddle horses and racking horses to produce a high-stepping, unnatural gait.
• The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which would allow veterinarians to transport and dispense controlled substances away from their registered offices. The legislation would fix what one sponsor, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, has called a “confusing interpretation of existing law” that technically criminalizes the everyday actions of mobile and ambulatory practitioners. Schrader teamed up on the legislation with a fellow veterinarian, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho.
• The Animal and Public Health Protection Act, which would authorize $15 million in funding to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
• The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, which helps repay the student loans of veterinarians who agree to practice in shortage areas.