Bill Aims to Strengthen Federal Protections for Animals - 8 News NOW

Bill Aims to Strengthen Federal Protections for Animals

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LAS VEGAS -- Cases like Gloria Lee, the woman accused of starting a fire at her pet store while 27 puppies were still inside, are the fuel in the fight for stronger protection for animals.

Pet Store Owner in Solitary Confinement

On Wednesday, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., announced new legislation to strengthen federal protection for animals sold for profit, which is a cause that is personal to her.

"My mother has a couple of dogs, including a rescue. I have a rescue cat. My sister has like a farm practically," Rep. Titus said during an announcement about the bill Wednesday.

The new animal bill has two major components.

"We want to put pet shops under the Animal Welfare Act that was passed in the 60s. They've always had a carve out, but breeders are included and so that way they are licensed and inspected by USDA," Titus said.

The second component will cover how federal agents keep up with animal abusers.

"We want the FBI to now be responsible for tracking those kinds of crimes, setting up a national registry so people have access to information. You can't just do something bad in one state and cross over into another and get away with it," the congresswoman said.

While Titus pushes her legislation in Washington, D.C., on the state level, State Senator Mark Manendo wants to ensure Nevada can opt into this nationwide database.

"Folks that are actually convicted of a crime, of animal abuse and neglect, would then be put into that system," St. Sen. Manendo said.

If a criminal tries to adopt or to buy a pet, the shelter or organization can ask for a license and cross-reference the person in the database.

Meanwhile, on the local level, Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani vows to make sure the animal has a safe forever family.

"We need to also close the loophole, to make sure they are only getting these pets from licensed breeders. So, they we don't have people buying them from puppy mills or the Internet," Giunchigliani said.

Titus says Gloria Lee's arson case has certainly brought this issue to the forefront. However, Titus says she has been working on the bill with leaders and animal advocates for the past six months.

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