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Sequestration: Impacts on Animals

How the federal budget cuts could negatively affect animals—plus five meaningful ways to reduce government spending

  • Budget cuts could mean fewer inspections of puppy mills and reduced enforcement of laws designed to protect dogs in puppy mills. The HSUS

  • Immunocontraception is a humane, effective, and more economical alternative to government-funded wild horse roundups. Kayla Grams/The HSUS

  • Ending invasive biomedical research on chimpanzees could save up to $25 million per year. The HSUS

  • The cuts may result in reduced enforcement of humane-handling laws at slaughterhouses. Ending agriculture subsidies would be a better way to save taxpayer dollars. iStockphoto

  • Myriad wildlife protections could be affected, ranging from decreased enforcement of poaching laws to cuts in programs that protect endangered species. NOAA

On March 1, 2013, an automatic spending cut called "sequestration" went into effect, requiring mandatory across-the-board budget cuts to many government programs. While it's still unclear exactly what programs will be affected, the consequences for animals could be disastrous.

We've compiled the following list of some of the negative impacts sequestration could have on animals—as well as suggestions for how Congress could save more than $1 billion per year in the federal budget.


How the sequestration could affect animals


  • Cuts to inspections and enforcement actions against puppy mill dealers
  • Less money for tests used to detect dangerous toxins found in dog food and treats


  • Fewer funds for immunocontraception, leading to increased roundups of wild horses
  • Less money for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to prevent illegal horse soring.


  • Fewer funds for innovative grants that focus on animal alternatives and human models.
  • Less money for ensuring the humane treatment of animals used in research and for setting up permanent sanctuaries for chimpanzees retired from invasive biomedical research.

Farm Animals

  • Cuts to enforcement of humane-handling laws at slaughterhouses.
  • Less funding for the first humane-handling Ombudsman, to whom employees and stakeholders can report concerns regarding inhumane treatment.


  • Cuts to the enforcement of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
  • Less money for protecting species under the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act.
  • Fewer funds to rescue marine mammals stranded or entrapped in fishing gear.
  • Decreased funds for inspectors who ensure the humane treatment of exhibited animals.

Protect animals from sequestration »

How Congress could save more than $1 billion per year

Cutting wasteful government programs that harm animals would also save taxpayer money.

Removing Agriculture Subsidies: $1.25 billion

Exorbitant agriculture subsidies go to a small number of large-scale, wealthy producers in an effort encourage the development of massive factory farms. This includes the USDA’s purchase of excess pork for fiscal year 2012, at a cost of $170 million to taxpayers. The Obama Administration’s deficit reduction commission recommended cutting $10 billion in mandatory agriculture programs from 2012 to 2020, which works out to approximately $1.25 billion in savings a year.

Ending Invasive Biomedical Research on Chimpanzees: $25 million

Invasive biomedical research on chimpanzees has been found to be scientifically unnecessary and a massive drain on taxpayer funding. Ending the use of chimpanzees in federally-funded invasive research would save as much as $25 million annually.

Stopping Roundups of Wild Horses and Burros: $16 million

The animals are rounded up, removed from federal lands, and then kept at costly government holding facilities. The Bureau of Land Management would save more than $16 million annually by using immunocontraception to manage wild horse and burro populations.

Stopping Lethal Predator Control: $11 million

The lethal predator-control program uses inhumane methods to kill predator species but often kills non-targeted animals, including beloved pets and threatened and endangered species. In fiscal year 2012, Wildlife Services spent $69 million on operations to address conflicts with wildlife. USDA would save money if they stopped killing wildlife as a subsidy for ranchers and other special interests. Unfortunately, the USDA fails to keep track of how much it spends on lethal methods. The agency should start to keep track of this information and cut $11 million from its budget, which includes the amount Congress used to provide in earmarks.

Replacing Animal Testing with Alternatives: $4 million

Testing on animals to assess the safety of chemicals and drugs is a waste when there are economic alternatives that do not require the use of hundreds of animals. Evaluating the cancer-causing potential of a single chemical in a conventional rodent test takes up to 5 years, 800 animals and $4 million.

Total estimated annual savings = $1.306 billion
Ask your members of Congress to support these money-saving measures »

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