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April 21, 2010

The HSUS Calls on Congress to Enact New Law Aimed at Cracking Down on Cruel ‘Crush’ Videos

H.R. 5092 introduced with bipartisan support of more than 50 original cosponsors

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund urge Congress to work quickly to provide law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on traffickers of animal "crush" videos by passing H.R. 5092. Introduced on Wednesday by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., James Moran, D-Va., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and more than 50 other Representatives, this narrowly-crafted statute is designed to end the intentional crushing, burning, drowning and impaling of puppies, kittens and other animals for the depraved purpose of peddling videos of such extreme acts of animal cruelty for the sexual titillation of viewers.

H.R. 5092 was introduced immediately in response to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Stevens. The Court ruled that a law introduced by Rep. Gallegly and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, was "overbroad" and might capture depictions protected by the First Amendment. The Court acknowledged the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at "extreme animal cruelty."

Before the 1999 law was enacted, there were approximately 3,000 of these horrific videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece. That market all but disappeared soon after the law was passed, but since a federal appellate court declared the law unconstitutional in July 2008, crush videos have again proliferated on the Internet.

"Congress should act quickly to enact this legislation to prevent some of the most extreme forms of animal cruelty I have ever seen," said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Anyone who has seen the clips of women in high heels literally crushing small animals will understand the urgency in passing a bill to prevent the sale of these vile images."

"Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Rep. Elton Gallegly said. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."

"I refuse to stand by while people profit from the mutilation and torture of helpless puppies, kittens and other animals." said Rep. Jim Moran. "I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Gallegly to respond to this decision while preserving the constitutional freedoms all Americans hold dear."

"Animal cruelty is not something to celebrate and circulate online," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer. "On the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, we're taking immediate and bipartisan action to protect animals without infringing on the right to free speech. The bottom line is that we need to protect animals from being tortured or killed in a manner that is criminal or morally reprehensible. No one should be allowed to profit from so-called crush videos or other images of animal cruelty."

The following 56 Representatives are original cosponsors of H.R. 5092:

Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.

Mary Bono-Mack, R-Calif.

Kevin Brady, R-Texas

Henry Brown, R-S.C.

Dan Burton, R-Ind.

John Campbell, R-Calif.

Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Lois Capps, D-Calif.

Mike Castle, R-Del.

Howard Coble, R-N.C.

Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

Susan Davis, D-Calif.

Bill Delahunt, D-Mass.

Mike Doyle, D-Pa.

Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.

Sam Farr, D-Calif.

Bob Filner, D-Calif.

Randy Forbes, R-Va.

Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.

Jim Gerlach, R-Pa.

John Hall, R-Texas

Phil Hare, D-Ill.

Rush Holt, D-N.J.

Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

Dale Kildee, D-Mich.

Peter King, R-N.Y.

Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio

Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.

John Lewis, D-Ga.

John Linder, R-Ga.

Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.

Buck McKeon, R-Calif.

Gary Miller, R-Calif.

Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

Gwen Moore, D-Wis.

Jim Moran, D-Va.

John Olver, D-Mass.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

Steven Rothman, D-N.J.

Ed Royce, R-Calif.

Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.

Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.

Jan Schakowsky,  D-Ill.

Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Aaron Schock, R-Ill.

Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

Lamar Smith, R-Texas

Betty Sutton, D-Ohio

Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Diane Watson, D-Calif.

Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.

Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Frank Wolf, R-Va.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.

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