Federal Animal Welfare and Veterinary Practice Legislation Progresses

May 26, 2014

Dr. Angie Lingl examines a horse for evidence of soring at the stables of well-known Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell. The investigation led to felony criminal indictments for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.
Lance Murphey for The HSUS

In November, we profiled three pieces of federal legislation that would impact the welfare of equines and other species and would affect practice parameters for mobile and ambulatory veterinarians. Two bills have moved forward, and we encourage HSVMA members to join us in supporting their passage. One measure has been dropped—a positive step because it was not drafted with the best interests of animals in mind.

Prevent All Soring Tactics Act

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406/H.R. 1518) would protect Tennessee Walking horses, Racking horses, and Spotted Saddle horses from the cruel and inhumane practice of "soring," the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ hooves and legs by unscrupulous trainers in order to gain unfair competitive advantage in the horse show ring by performing an exaggerated gait called the "Big Lick." The PAST Act would also strengthen the Horse Protection Act of 1970 by banning action devices and stacked shoes associated with soring, increasing penalties for violations, and ending industry self-policing, a practice which has proven to be ineffective.

The PAST Act is endorsed by all 50 state veterinary medical associations, the AVMA, AAEP, AHC, HSVMA, horse industry professionals, and numerous animal protection organizations. The bill currently has 279 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 54 co-sponsors in the Senate. The bill was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in April and is now waiting to go to the Senate for a full vote.

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (VMMA) (S. 950/H.R. 1528) would allow licensed veterinarians to transport and dispense controlled substances outside their registered locations in order to treat animal patients in the course of providing mobile or ambulatory medical services. Passage is essential for veterinarians practicing under field conditions, conducting house calls or mobile spay/neuter clinics, and in some agricultural and/or wildlife scenarios.

All 50 state veterinary medical associations have endorsed the bill, and HSVMA submitted a statement in support of it. We also joined a coalition of 130 organizations advocating for passage. In January, the Senate unanimously passed its version of the VMMA, and in April the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved identical language. There are 186 co-sponsors of the bill in the House. The bill is currently awaiting floor time in the House, and if passed will be on its way to President Obama for his signature.

Join HSVMA by adding your individual voice in support of the PAST Act and the VMMA—contact your federal legislators and express your support for these bills as both a constituent and a veterinary professional. Veterinary voices will be crucial to passage of both these important pieces of animal welfare legislation.

King Amendment Dropped

We were relieved to learn that the final version of the FARM (Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management) Bill, which was signed into law February 7 this year, omitted the harmful King amendment. Proposed by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the amendment threatened to erase many state laws concerning puppy mills, horse slaughter, food labeling and more. The King amendment would also have limited the ability of states to determine how best to protect their citizens and animals. HSVMA submitted an organizational letter opposing the amendment in August.