Neguse Town Hall 2019

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, talks with constituents after a town hall on Oct. 7 in Boulder. The freshman lawmaker won the Town Hall Project's "Spirit of Service" award for the service town halls he pioneered in 2019.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse has introduced a bill to establish a division of the U.S. Department of Justice that would investigate and prosecute felony animal cruelty crimes.

“Proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws will protect animal welfare and help keep each of our communities safe from the violence often linked to these crimes,” said Neguse. “For too long the Department of Justice has missed the mark on providing timely and efficient prosecutions.”

Earlier this year, Neguse and one of the bill’s other co-sponsors, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., passed two appropriations amendments that provided $2 million to the justice and agriculture departments to enforce animal cruelty statutes.

The Washington, D.C.-based Animal Wellness Action spoke favorably of the bill, indicating that it keeps with existing practice of focusing resources on specific crime categories. “DOJ already has dedicated sections on other important societal concerns, such as environmental protection, wildlife, and organized crime,” it noted.

Violence against animals, notes The Humane Society of the United States, is correlated with other types of crime. That is especially true of dog fighting or cockfighting, although hoarding behavior within one’s home can constitute animal neglect as well. In 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation revised its National Incident-Based Reporting System to allow law enforcement agencies at all levels to report animal cruelty offenses.

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