House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act" (S. 3880) by voice vote Nov.13. The bill clarifies that it is a crime to damage or interfere with a legitimate, legal animal enterprise.

As defined by the bill, "animal enterprise" includes commercial and academic enterprises that use or sell animals or animal products for profit, food, agriculture, education, research, and testing. This definition also includes equine activities such as rodeo, horse shows, and similar lawful equine events.

Sponsored by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), this bill amends the Animal Enterprise Act of 1992. The American Horse Council was a major supporter of that legislation and worked hard with other industry groups to make sure that the final legislation protected horse events.

The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in September, just prior to the Congressional recess. A similar bill, H.R. 4239, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI). The Senate version of the bill will now be sent to President George W. Bushs.

The bill expands the monetary and criminal penalties for these crimes and requires restitution for certain economic losses. The bill contains a provision noting that this bill does not prohibit expressive conduct (including picketing or other peaceful demonstration), which is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

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