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The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Passes the House of Representatives

(Tuesday, November 14, 2006)

On Monday, September 13th the United States House of Representatives voted to approve S. 3880, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The bill will now proceed to President Bush’s desk to be signed in to law.

AKC Endorses the 'Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act'; Action Expected In Congressional 'Lame Duck' Session

[Monday, November 13, 2006]

The AKC has endorsed S. 3880, the “Animal Enterprise Protection Act” (AETA). The bill was introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and principal co-sponsor Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in early September, and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 30, 2006 just before the election recess. It is expected to be taken up by the House of Representatives early in the post election “lame duck” session. The AKC is asking all fanciers to contact their U.S. Representative to urge them to support the AETA.

The AETA amends the existing “Animal Enterprise Protection Act”, enacted in 1992 and also endorsed by the AKC, to provide additional authority to federal law enforcement officials to investigate, arrest and prosecute persons who use violence and intimidation in pursuit of animal rights or radical environmental goals. It protects “animal enterprises”, i.e. places where animals are housed or kept, as well as lawful commercial enterprises related to animal use. The definition of “animal enterprise” in the AETA specifically includes “lawful competitive animal events” such as dog shows, field trials and the like, and also includes animal breeders.

S. 3880 replaced several earlier bills on the same subject, and was the product of extensive negotiations between interested parties and Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. These negotiations included the American Civil Liberties Union, which had concerns about possible infringement of First Amendment rights of self expression. Most of the ACLU’s concerns are addressed in S. 3880. The ACLU recently wrote to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, stating that it would not oppose the AETA when the bill comes up for consideration on the House floor.

While the AETA continues to be opposed by many animal rights and animal welfare groups, it poses no threat to first amendment rights of free expression. The current version of the bill includes explicit language stating that nothing in the bill prohibits “expressive conduct,” including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration “protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution … .” The AETA also does not make it illegal to boycott or encourage a boycott of a company, organization or individual based on its use of animals, whether for food production, research, education, exhibition or entertainment.

The AKC is requesting that all fanciers contact their current member of the U.S. House of Representatives and strongly urge him or her to support S. 3880 as passed by the Senate when it comes up for consideration in the House. Immediate contact by e-mail or telephone is recommended, because the bill is expected to be taken up by the House early in the lame duck session which begins today, November 13th.

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