IFAW: Keep Big Cats Wild and Your Family Safe; Pass Haley’s Act

February 22nd, 2007 1:56 pm by Kelly Garbato

UPDATE, 8/5/07:

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From: Gretel Going – gretel [at] rosengrouppr.com
Date: Jul 19, 2007 1:48 PM
Subject: Haley’s Act: New bill seeks to protect the 10,000 big cats that are captive in the U.S. and reduce the large number of big cat attacks that occur here annually

Hi Kelly,

I know you’ve mentioned Haley’s Act in the past. Here’s some more information for you. Please feel free to post if you would like.

A zookeeper is attacked and visitors watch on as a lion eats her arm … At a child’s birthday party, a 62-pound cougar mauls a 4-year old guest … An escaped thirteen-month old bobcat, living in a residential community, assaults three dogs … There were 103 big cat attacks in 2005, 44 in 2006, and 12 so far this year …

The U.S. represents 4% of the global population yet 78% of ALL captive cat incidents happen in the U.S. Florida represents lass than 6% of the total US population yet 11% of ALL captive cat incidents in the U.S. occur in FL.

In the past couple of weeks alone, big cat attacks have made headlines, with maulings in Texas and Arkansas, just as IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare) pushes ahead with initiatives to nationalize “Haley’s Act,” a bill designed to protect both the public and big cats from further senseless tragedies.

An IFAW representative is available to discuss:

* There are more than 10,000 big cats in captivity in the U.S., many of whom are in facilities licensed by the USDA (some are even kept as pets in homes). Although a USDA license might seem reassuring, the harsh reality is that a USDA-licensed facility can be anything from a fenced-in backyard to a roadside zoo.

* “Haley’s Act,” This bill, which prohibits the direct contact between the general public and big cats, came in response to the death of a 17 year-old who was attacked and killed while taking a graduation photo with a big cat at a USDA-certified wildlife facility.

* Even USDA certified facilities are not safe. IFAW stresses the fact that although a facility is certified, big cats are dangerous, and should not be treated as domestic animals. Not only is the public at risk when coming into contact with these animals, but many of these facilities barely meet the minimum welfare conditions for big cats who are forced to live a life behind cages and in chains.

* Legislative Efforts: In April 2007, Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) introduced Haley’s Act. If passed, the law would crack down on illegal animal dealers and create humane care standards for the cats.

* What can YOU do: Find out how you can get involved at: http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw/general/default.aspx?oid=474&aid=7199. Write your Federal representative and urge him or her to cosponsor Haley’s Act, H.R. 1947. Specific initiatives include: North Carolina: http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw/general/default.aspx?oid=186263; Washington: http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw/general/default.aspx?oid=186263.

To schedule an interview with an IFAW representative, to receive more headlines, or for more information on IFAW and “Haley’s Act”, please contact me at 212-255-8455 or Gretel [at] rosengrouppr.com.

Best,
Gretel

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UPDATE, 5/8/07:

See also: Federal: Urge Your Representative to Protect Big Cats and the Public! Support Haley’s Act!, via the ASPCA.

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Via the International Fund for Animal Welfare:

Keep Big Cats Wild and Your Family Safe; Pass Haley’s Act

One year ago 17-year old Haley Hilderbrand went to a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) licensed facility in Kansas to have her senior picture taken with two tiger cubs. Just before the shoot, a 550-pound Siberian tiger was substituted for the cubs. During the photo shoot, Haley was tragically attacked and killed by the tiger and the tiger was then shot. Unfortunately, attacks by big cats are not rare or isolated, nor are USDA licensed facilities that allow direct contact between these dangerous wild animals and the public. More recently, a four year old boy was scratched by a tiger while he sat in an adjacent cage during a photo shoot with a kangaroo. The tiger reached through the bars and sliced the child’s head.

There are more than 10,000 big cats in captivity in the U.S., many of whom are in facilities licensed by the USDA. Although this license might seem reassuring, the harsh reality is that a USDA-licensed facility can be anything from a fenced-in backyard to a roadside zoo. The USDA lacks authority when it comes to public safety. Not only is the public at risk, but many USDA facilities barely meet the minimum welfare conditions for big cats who are forced to live a life behind cages and in chains.

Thankfully, there is now an effort underway to improve conditions for these wild animals and protect the public from big cat attacks. Soon Haley’s Act, named in honor of Haley Hilderbrand, will be reintroduced into the 110th session of congress. Haley’s Act is a needed bill that will give the USDA the authority it needs to prohibit direct contact between the public and big cats. Haley’s Act will also significantly increase penalties for violations of the animal welfare act.

Please email your Federal representative and urge him or her to become a cosponsor of Haley’s Act which will soon be introduced by the Kansas delegation.

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