dog in pet store window

Washington DC Considers a Major Animal Protection Bill



The DC Council is considering a major animal bill that would provide critical protections to animals living in DC and beyond.

With the passage of the Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2021, DC would ban pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and aquatic turtles unless the animal was obtained from a shelter or rescue, joining more than 300 other cities and counties, and five states, that have taken a stand against cruel animal mills.

The bill would also:

  • Authorize the District’s animal control vehicles to use emergency lights and sirens when responding to life-threatening animal-related emergencies
  • Allow DC’s animal shelter – the Humane Rescue Alliance – to recover costs it spends while caring for animals seized during criminal proceedings
  • Ban painful cat declawing except when medically necessary
  • Ban dogfighting tools
  • Empower courts to consider the best interests of the animal (as opposed to treating them as a couch or car) in divorce cases involving companion animals, recognizing animals are living beings and not mere property
  • Close the loophole on sexual contact with animals

Retail Sale Bans Protect Animals

The vast majority of animals sold in stores come from mills. In addition to protecting dogs and cats, this bill would be a huge step forward for the countless aquatic turtles bred in cruel reptile mills or captured from the wild to be sold in stores.

Investigations at reptile mills have revealed extreme cruelty and neglect. Overcrowded reptiles and amphibians are forced to fight for limited food and water, sometimes fatally injured in the process. Animals at these mills have been found packed into dirty plastic bins and denied water and veterinary care. Sick and severely injured animals may be ignored, gassed, or frozen to death.

Help End the Sale of Animals in Stores

If you live in DC, please send a brief email to your council members asking them to support the Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2021. You can find their contact information online

If you don’t live in DC, consider working to pass a law that would ban the retail sale of animals in your city or county. We have a new toolkit that guides advocates through the process of working with local legislators on a retail animal sale ban, with a special emphasis on wild animals. Download a copy of the toolkit today!

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