WASHINGTON, July 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ –The U.S. House of Representatives just passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263) by a vote of 278 to 134. The bill would ban keeping tigers, lions, and other big cat species as pets, and would prohibit contact such as petting a cub. Sponsored and championed by Rep. Michael QuigleyD-Sick.be p. Brian FitzpatrickR-Pa, the bill is now going to the Senate.

Big cat ownership is an epidemic in the United States. Countless big cats in captivity live in shoddy roadside zoos or as house pets. Most often, these large, dangerous and wandering predators are kept in small, sterile cages where they can barely turn around. They are malnourished, do not receive proper veterinary care, and have no way to express their complex emotional and behavioral needs. Cubs are torn from their mothers to be offered to paying customers for feeding and petting sessions and for photo ops. Keeping big cats in these environments is not only inhumane, but also a serious public safety issue.

Since 1992, there have been at least 100 dangerous and cruel incidents involving big cats kept as pets or in private menageries. Among them, a juvenile tiger was wandering in a Houston neighborhood in 2021 and an escaped pet cougar was found lying in an alley in Park, Floridain 2019. In 2013, a 400-pound pet lion escaped to Fairfield Beach, Ohio. In 2009, a 330-pound tiger was discovered in a backyard in Ingram, TX. In 2008, a leopard approached a woman in her garden in Neosho, Missouri. In 2005, a tiger wandered for days before being shot and killed in Simi Valley, California.

This crisis is primarily the result of public contact activities in unsanitary facilities, such as those featured in the “Tiger King” series and also featured in the Humane Society of United States’ undercover investigations focused on Joseph Maldonado-Passage, or “Joe Exotic” and others.

Earlier this month, Carol Baskin of Big Cat Rescue spoke to hundreds of advocates at a conference organized by the Humane Society of United States in Washington, urging them to reach out to their members of Congress to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. As keynote speaker, she expressed to animal advocates that she sincerely hopes this year will be the year that we would do this bill. More than 100 of these advocates joined the Humane Society Legislative Fund to lobby their own members of Congress the following week, urging them to support passage of this bill.

kitty blockPresident and CEO of the Humane Society of United Statessaid: “The big cat and small animal farming industry creates an endless cycle of misery for the animals involved. In an effort to control the true wilderness of these poor captive animals, breeders and exhibitors abuse the cubs from the day they are born. One paying customer after another takes care of the cubs, day after day, until they get too big and dangerous. Then they have nowhere where to go. Sometimes they are sold to roadside zoos, where they pace the confines of their cages, or they end up in basements or backyards as “pets”. “Tiger King” has only shown a glimpse of why we need to quickly end the industry of breeding big cats and petting little ones in the United States. ‘scammers taking advantage of throwing vulnerable big cats to an uncertain fate.’

Sara AmundsonPresident of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “The House’s passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, HR 263, is a giant step toward solving a problem that has been brewing for years: the American surplus of captive tigers and other big cats. It’s the product of people like those in the “Tiger King” series, who breed big cats to make money, not to provide conservation value. While most ‘Tiger King’ breeders have been held accountable, as long as petting cubs remains legal, nothing will stop wannabe Joe Exotics from relentlessly exploiting, abusing and dumping big cat cubs. With more than half of the House co-sponsoring this bill, Congress should pass it without delay.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazarwho worked with the HSUS to bring Elsa the little one in San Antonio at the HSUS Black Beauty Ranch Sanctuary, said, “As we have learned from the experience of County of Bexar, private big cats pose a serious and significant threat to our communities. Law enforcement officers do not receive the training or resources to respond to these extremely high-risk, preventable incidents when owners inevitably fail to control their dangerous animals. The Big Cat Public Safety Act will provide a critical tool to address this issue and we urge lawmakers to vote yes.”

Noelle AlmroudSenior Manager of the Black Beauty Ranch at Texassaid: “Three of the tigers living in our Black Beauty Ranch sanctuary – Loki, Elsa and India– have been rescued from the cruel and dangerous exotic pet trade and will never again have to be pulled on a leash or confined to a cage or someone’s living room. To be clear, tigers do not make acceptable pets by any means. They are wild animals that can inflict serious injury, even death, on people who try to “tame” them. It is essential that the Big Cat Public Safety Act is passed so that the over-breeding and horrific treatment of captive exotic cats in United States is finally over.”

Sheriff Matt Lutz of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s office, where dozens of exotic animals were put down after their owners freed them from enclosures in Zanesville, Ohioin 2011, said: “The tragedy of Zanesville highlighted the grave threat to our communities when individuals are allowed to keep big cats in their backyards. Law enforcement does not receive any training on how to handle these dangerous incidents, but they are the ones called upon to respond to disasters. The Big Cat Public Safety Act will help solve this national crisis, and we urge Congress to pass this bill to help protect law enforcement and the citizens we serve. »

“Ultimately, this legislation is about public safety. Any American can imagine the danger that exotic cats can pose. They are predators, not pets. to first responders and the animals themselves,” said representing Michael QuigleyD-Sick. “I have been proud to work alongside law enforcement groups and animal organizations to ensure that this bill will make neighborhoods and animals safer. For too long, lax laws have allowed citizens deprived of owning big cats Animals subjected to these grotesque conditions deserve better I hope my colleagues in the Senate will quickly pass this legislation so that we can make a difference for communities across the country and save these animals from a life of confinement and restriction.

representing Brian FitzpatrickR-Pennsylvania.said, “As a member of the Congressional Bipartisan Caucus for Animal Welfare, I am committed to ensuring that our government does its part to promote animal welfare. For far too long, big cats have been abused, exploited and abused in private roadside zoos. Our Big Cat Public Safety Act will ban the private, unlicensed possession of big cats and restrict their direct contact with the public, and I am proud to once again join Congressman Quigley in advocating for this bipartisan bill. »

Full List of Big Cat Incidents

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Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of United States leads the great battles to end the suffering of all animals. With millions of supporters, we take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. Together with our affiliates, we rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year through the work of our animal rescue team and other hands-on animal care services. We fight against all forms of animal cruelty to realize the vision behind our name: a humane society. Learn more about our work at humanesociety.org. To subscribe to Kitty Block’s Blog, A human world. Follow HSUS Media Relations at Twitter. Read the winner All the animals magazine. Listen to the Human Voices Podcast.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund works to pass animal welfare laws at the state and federal levels, educate the public about animal welfare issues, and support human candidates for office. Founded in 2004, HSLF is incorporated under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code as a separate lobbying entity from the Humane Society of the United States. Visit us on the web athslf.orgread our blog at hslf.org/blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Humane Society of United States; Humane Society Legislative Fund