WASHINGTON (June 23, 2010) — The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund commend the House Judiciary Committee for approving H.R. 5566 today to provide law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on traffickers of animal crush videos. The committee voted 23 to 0 in favor of the bill, which is now poised for full House approval.
This narrowly crafted statute, introduced by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. and Gary Peters, D-Mich., with more than 200 original cosponsors, will ban interstate and foreign commerce in obscene videos of extreme acts of animal cruelty, including the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling of puppies, kittens, and other animals for the sexual titillation of viewers.
H.R. 5566 was introduced in response to the April Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Stevens. The Court ruled that a l999 law on depictions of animal cruelty was "overbroad" because it might criminalize some Constitutionally protected speech.
“By enacting H.R. 5566, Congress can instantaneously dry up a merciless subculture that profits from some of the most extreme forms of animal cruelty I have ever seen,” said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Congress should act swiftly to make sure the First Amendment is not used as a shield for those committing barbaric acts of cruelty, and then peddling their videos on the Internet.”
“Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue,” Rep. Gallegly said. “Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence.”
“Animal torture videos are heinous, barbaric and completely unacceptable and we’re going to stop them once and for all,” said Rep. Peters. “It’s hard to believe that this sort of thing even exists, and that a new law is needed to prevent it. Animal torture is outrageously disturbing and common decency and morality dictates that those engaged in it shouldn’t be profiting from it, they should be in prison.”
The HSUS and HSLF express their strong gratitude to Congressmen Gallegly and Peters for working to protect animals from malicious acts of cruelty. The groups also thank Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., Ranking Member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., for their leadership in addressing this problem swiftly, and Congressmen Jim Moran, D-Va., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., for their help on this issue.
In 1999, an HSUS investigation uncovered an underground subculture of animal crush videos in which puppies, kittens and other small animals are stomped, smothered and pierced to death, often by women wearing high-heeled shoes, to cater to those with a fetish for viewing this cruel behavior.
Legislation originally introduced by Rep. Gallegly and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999 banned the creation, sale, or possession for interstate or foreign commerce of depictions of illegal and often extreme acts of animal cruelty.
Before the 1999 law was enacted, there were approximately 3,000 horrific animal crush videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece.
That market disappeared soon after Congress enacted the 1999 law with overwhelming bipartisan support, but since a federal appellate court declared the law unconstitutional in July 2008, crush videos have once again proliferated on the Internet.
Media contact: Heather Sullivan: 301-548-7778, email@example.com
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at www.hslf.org.
HSLF is a nonpartisan organization that evaluates candidates based only on a single criterion: where they stand on animal welfare. HSLF does not judge candidates based on party affiliation or any other issue.