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Reps. Chu and Katko Reintroduce HEART Act to Help Animals Rescued by Federal Government

January 11, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and John Katko (NY-24) introduced the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act, which would expedite the rehabilitation process of abused animals that are seized by the government under federal gambling and animal fighting statutes. The HEART Act would also ease the burden for local animal shelters who often pay the cost of caring for the injured animals. It does so by allowing the government to cover the costs of housing and care for animals who have been seized. And, should the government’s case prevail, the person claiming an interest in the animal would be required to pay for the animal’s care. This bill has been endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Reps. Chu and Katko released the following statements:

“Animal cruelty such as dog fighting is a particularly heinous crime against a defenseless creature. Our government is rightfully vigilant and active in shutting down these rings, but when the animals are seized, the cost and care often falls on local shelters,” said Rep. Chu. “Court proceedings can take over a year, which means the cost of doing the right thing can total millions of dollars. Additionally, shelters are unable to rehabilitate these animals until the proceedings have completed, which leaves animals stressed. It’s unjust that taxpayers and local shelters are picking up the tab for the care of these animals. This bill would help remedy that by allowing courts to consider animal welfare when considering trial expediency. I am so pleased to be able work bipartisanly with my colleague, Representative Katko, to help keep animals safe and place responsibility where it belongs.”

“It is my pleasure to once again partner with Rep. Chu to introduce the HEART Act,” said Rep. Katko. “Throughout our country, local shelters and nonprofit organizations – like the ASPCA – work tirelessly to provide safety, shelter, and care for abused animals seized by federal officials in fighting and gambling cases.   However, the significant cost associated with providing such care is often placed on shelters and on the taxpayer.  This bipartisan measure will alleviate that burden by shifting the cost of care to the individual responsible. I’m proud to reintroduce this measure and will continue fighting to make it law.”

The HEART Act would accomplish the following:

  • Accelerate the disposition process by reducing the time 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;
  • Allow for courts to consider animal welfare when considering trial expediency;
  • Require the government to pay for the cost of care of seized animals while they are awaiting trial or dispensation
  • Require the person claiming interest in the animal to reimburse the government for the cost of care, should the case be resolved in favor of the government.

The bill language can be found here