Howl to the Hill: Goldie’s Act Being Pushed to Amend the 1966 Animal Welfare Act

In case you missed it, last week, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hosted “Howl to the Hill” on Capitol Hill to rally support for Goldie’s Act, a bill requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to report and punish instances of physical or psychological suffering of animals more proactively than they have in the past.

If the bill passes, it would amend the 1966 Animal Welfare Act (AWA), requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to undertake yearly inspections of federally licensed facilities like commercial dog breeders and step-up the issuance of penalties accordingly for violations.

Photo: ASPCA/YouTube

Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Government Relations Nancy Perry noted in 2022 the USDA documented more than 800 violations of the AWA at dog breeding facilities but that they failed to take action against any of the breeders identified.

“That included dogs suffering from untreated illnesses and injuries, dogs living outdoors without any protection from the oppressive heat,” Perry stated.

Pointing to the 80-degree temps rally-goers and the many rescue dogs that attended were enduring, Perry added, “This is how they live. When it’s 105 degrees, and the humidity is 100 percent, they’re outdoors suffering. They’re also out in the rain and in the cold. That’s not allowed by law, but these violations occurred, and USDA did nothing about it.”

Photo: ASPCA/YouTube

Speakers referenced two blatant examples of inaction that included a commercial dog breeding business operated by Daniel Gingerich in Iowa and the now notorious research facility known as Envigo.

If the latter sounds familiar, that’s because they were connected to the 4,000 beagles that were rescued by the Humane Society of the United States, which reported that it had officially removed every single dog from Envigo’s premises during a six-week evacuation mission. Envigo was cited for numerous Animal Welfare Act violations.

Malina, one of the beagles rescued there, made an appearance at the rally. But a golden retriever known as No. 142 died at the Gingerich puppy mill (the USDA purportedly knew of her decline for months yet failed to intervene) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped in to hammer out a plan to release hundreds of other canines being kept there. The proposed bill gets its name from that poor animal.

Photo: ASCPA/YouTube

Sheriff Keith Davis, from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa, worked with animal welfare agencies to rescue dogs from the Gingerich properties. He alleged that while the USDA inspectors were aware the Gingerich facility wasn’t compliant with the AWA and had been documenting the living conditions, his office wasn’t alerted until the situation had “spiraled out of control.”

Davis proclaimed, “Had the USDA notified my office as the law enables them to do right now when they first learned of this licensee, we could have investigated state cruelty violations. We could have prevented hundreds of dogs from suffering.”

Goldie’s Act includes a provision requiring the USDA to alert state, local, or municipal animal control or law enforcement of any AWA violations within 24 hours of the initial inspection.

shepherd dog
Photo: ASPCA/YouTube

“Goldie’s suffering was documented for months and never reported, which is unconscionable,” Bellamy Young, a television actress and animal advocate, told The Hill. “Things have to be reported within 24 hours because then we can get a local vet there, we can do a triage, and we can save a life.”

Goldie’s Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March. The bipartisan bill (H.R. 1788) has been co-sponsored by 46 members that include Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), and Zach Nunn (R-Iowa). The plan is to include it in the upcoming farm bill, which is currently being drafted.

According to the ASPCA, “Currently, 250,000 dogs are languishing in USDA-licensed puppy mills. The USDA is turning a blind eye and failing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, allowing dogs to suffer in cruel facilities.” If this touches a nerve with you, contact your political representatives and tell them what you think.

Help Rescue Animals

Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free!