1006, S. 269
enormous "Thank You" to Senators Jim Jeffords
(I-VT), John Ensign (R-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Carl
Levin (D-MI) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), and to Rep.
Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. George
Miller (D-CA) for their efforts in getting this very
important legislation passed.
Captive Wildlife Safety Act, H.R. 1006, passed the
House Committee on Resources in July, after Tippi
and others testified in Washington in favor of the
bill at a committee hearing on June 12. It passed
the full House on November 19, 2003. As S. 269, it
UNANIMOUSLY passed the Senate on October 31, 2003.
And it was signed into LAW on December 19, 2003 by
President George W. Bush!!!
THANKS TO MY FRIEND TIPPI
By Wayne Pacelle is a senior vice president at The Humane
Society of the United States, www.hsus.org.
those people who don't think one person can make a difference,
I offer just two words to disprove the theory: Tippi Hedren.
one week after the tragic death of a 10-year-old North Carolina
boy who was mauled by his aunt's 400-pound pet tiger, President
George W. Bush on December 19th signed into law the Captive
Wildlife Safety Act, a new federal law to outlaw the interstate
transport of big cats for the pet trade. Tippi played a critical
role in its introduction and final enactment, and at phase
in between. It's a measure that should dramatically combat
the alarmingly widespread problem of private citizens keeping
the great cats in backyards, basements, and even closets.
was little more than a year ago and a half ago that Tippi
and I agreed to spearhead a federal legislative campaign to
crack down on the trade in big cats for use as pets. With
30 years of experience in dealing with big cats and the people
that have owned them, Tippi was just the ambassador the big
cats needed on Capitol Hill. From her first-hand experiences,
she could provide chilling details about why keeping big cats
as pets is inhumane for the animals and dangerous for people.
has been much beloved on Capitol Hill for years, and is well-known
as both an actor and animal advocate. She's been calling for
the adoption of public policies on this issue for years, and
together we developed a strategy to complete the task in 2003.
crucial step was enlisting her own Congressman, Buck McKeon
(RCA), to introduce the Captive Wildlife Safety Act in the
House along with Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a long-time animal
advocate from northern California. On one of her many lobbying
visits to Washington, D.C., Tippi asked Rep. McKeon to introduce
the bill, and I was a witness to the fact that she's a hard
person to turn down. At the same time, we enlisted two outstanding
pro-animal Senators, James Jeffords (I-VT) and John Ensign
(R-NV), to introduce the companion legislation in the Senate,
and we were off and running.
and I worked closely with these legislators at every turn,
and they all did a fantastic job in advocating for the bill
and moving it through the process. No meeting was more important
that the one we had with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the
powerful chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee,
who promised Tippi that he'd help to get the legislation passed.
at every turn, it seemed like there was another serious
big cat incident that was capturing headlines, whether it
was 400-pound Ming languishing in a Harlem kitchen or the
600-pound Montecore who severely injured legendary Las Vegas
performer Roy Horn. Each incident underscored the practical
importance of enacting the legislation, and the insanity
of keeping these powerful and dangerous animals as pets.
June, Tippi testified before the House Resources Committee,
and captivated the members of the committee. At the hearing,
she gained commitments from Representatives Wayne Gilchrest
(R-MD) and Elton Gallegly (RCA) to help to move the legislation.
She also spoke to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard
Pombo (RCA), who also agreed to support the bill.
the fall, both committees had approved the legislation, and
we were awaiting final action on the floors of the House and
Senate. In the end, lawmakers responded to the pleas and demands
of animal welfare groups to crack down on the interstate trade
in big cats. Both the House and Senate passed the legislation
without dissent, even though some exotic animal owners claimed
it was their right to possess any animal they wanted.
the passage of this legislation is precedent-setting, our
work is far from complete. We must ensure that the new federal
law is enforced, and we have to redouble our efforts at the
state level to ban keeping dangerous exotic animals as pets.
Only 19 states ban keeping big cats as pets, and it is estimated
that there are 15,000 big cats in private hands in the United
States â€ most being kept as pets.
Humane Society of the United States, with the indispensable
cooperation of the Roar Foundation and other like-minded organizations,
will work to establish bans in the states that have no prohibition
on keeping big carnivores as pets. Among them is North Carolina
where the latest tiger tragedy occurred.
the exotic pet trade is criminalized, we hope to see people
turn to domestic dogs and cats as pets and turn away from
exotic wildlife as pets. If this occurs, fewer tigers and
other big cats will be dumped on the struggling network of
overwhelmed sanctuaries. While Tippi's Shambala Preserve has
set the highest standards for humane care of abandoned big
cats, many other so-called "sanctuaries" are little
better than miserable roadside zoos. There simply are not
enough reputable sanctuaries to house the animal refugees
discarded by the pet trade.
also go to all animal advocates who wrote letters and made
phone calls to urge Congress to act and pass this long-overdue
federal legislation. When we work in unison, as we did in
this circumstance, we can achieve results that save lives.
And thanks especially to Tippi for her wonderful leadership