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American Humane Association: Cruelty to Animals Is NOT Free Speech or Entertainment

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The American Humane Association urges Congress to act immediately to protect animals from abuse, in light of Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to invalidate federal law that prohibited videos, photographs and other depictions of acts of cruelty to animals for commercial gain. The law, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, was intended to prevent the creation and sale of dogfighting, other animal fighting, and “crush” videos that show real and intentional harm to animals for “entertainment” purposes.

“Congress must take immediate action to pass legislation that protects animals from the type of horrific cruelty this law was meant to prevent,” said American Humane’s interim president and CEO, George C. Casey. “Deliberately killing animals for entertainment has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Americans are within their right to keep blatant animal torture and killing out of the marketplace, and the Supreme Court should have made that the priority over the supposed protections of those who take sick pleasure in this material.”

“We are extremely disappointed that the Court felt it necessary to throw out a law that so obviously was intended to stop criminals from using the First Amendment to defend their horrendous and illegal behavior,” Casey said. “Now we call on Congress to act quickly to remedy this unacceptable situation.”

American Humane’s deep concern about this ruling directly relates to the organization’s mission to protect both children and animals. The connection between violence to people and violence to animals is undeniable, and many studies indicate that animal maltreatment is part of a complex constellation of family violence. While not all children who harm animals go on to become violent adults, and not all adult animal abusers necessarily harm their partners or children, there is compelling evidence to view animal abuse as a signal for potentially more, and even more violent, antisocial behaviors.

American Humane urges Americans to learn about The Link® between violence to people and violence to animals and to demand that Congress pass new legislation making it unlawful to produce, sell or own videos and other entertainment materials showing illegal acts of animal cruelty.

The case addressed by the Supreme Court’s ruling is the United States of America v. Robert J. Stevens. Stevens was convicted of selling videos of dogs fighting each other and attacking other animals. The section of the law in question states: “Whoever knowingly creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.” The exceptions are “any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.”

About American Humane Association

Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty and abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at today.

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