Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson sent the following letter to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chair in support of the lifesaving Big Cat Public Safety Act. If you are a U.S. citizen, click here to ask your representative to vote YES.
The Honorable Raul Grijalva, Chair
House Natural Resources Committee
1324 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C., 20515
RE: Support for H.R. 263 (Quigley, et al.) Big Cat Public Safety Act
Dear Chair Grijalva and Committee Members:
On behalf of Alley Cat Allies and our 800,000 supporters, I ask you to support H.R. 263, also known as the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This act will combat the breeding, trade, private ownership, unsuitable captivity, and exploitation of big cats in our country while also protecting the public.
Alley Cat Allies is the leading advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of all cats. We have promoted sound and compassionate programs for cats since our founding in 1990. We regularly work with lawmakers, shelters, and the public to change attitudes and advance lifesaving laws and policies that serve the best interests of cats and the public.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, will make it “unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase…or to breed or possess, any prohibited wildlife species,” which would include big cats and big cat hybrids, and prohibit the public from having direct contact with these animals.
For too long, the disreputable industry that trades in the lives of big cats has been allowed to operate in the shadows, uninhibited, because our existing laws are not strong enough to stop it. Big cats have been stolen from their natural habitats, shipped to our country, and bred to the point that an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 tigers live in captivity in the United States alone, most of whom do not live in accredited zoos or sanctuaries. Sadly, fewer tigers live in the wild than in captivity. Only an estimated 3,900 tigers remain in the wild worldwide.
Cubs are ripped from their mothers as newborns and sold like objects for profit. The cats are shipped to people to become “pets” kept in inhumane conditions, used as photo-op props, and manhandled in cub-petting schemes, which has detrimental effects on the cubs’ wellbeing.
Though many cubs are purposefully underfed to keep them small, like all babies, they eventually grow up. An adult big cat can no longer be easily handled, so they are packed up and passed around again. The luckiest of these cats find a permanent home in one of the few reputable big cat sanctuaries. The others are crammed in small, dingy cages as pets or attractions in rundown roadside zoos. Even more are discarded and killed, their skins, teeth, and claws sold on the black market.
Not only is this measure critical to protect tigers, lions, leopards, and other big cats from abuse and death, it will save the lives of people, too. Big cats are wild animals and are not suitable to be owned as pets. Confining them in unsuitable and highly stressful conditions has led to tragic outcomes for their “owners” and for the officers who are called in to respond. This is a matter of upholding public safety, and swift action is paramount.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act is our chance to further our country’s commitment to animal protection and end the unacceptable practices that put both animals and the public at risk. I ask you to please sponsor and vote in favor of H.R. 263. Thank you for your time and consideration.
President & Founder, Alley Cat Allies