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Quigley Raises Animal Welfare Concerns During Congressional Hearing

May 19, 2021
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, questioned Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leadership about the safety and wellbeing of imported live animals, a problem that has dramatically escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, during a hearing on CBP’s Resource Management and Operational Priorities. Quigley’s questions came in light of an incident last year in which 20 dogs entered the U.S. on a flight from Jordan to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The dogs were later found severely neglected, covered in feces, and without food or water. After their discovery, Quigley successfully advocated for the dogs to remain in the U.S. to receive care.

Video of Quigley’s questions for CBP is available HERE and a transcript has been provided below:

QUIGLEY: Thank you, Madam Chairman. Welcome, sir, and good to talking to you the other day. As I mentioned, I'd like to go into a little more detail. On August 28th, 2020, 20 dogs entered the U.S. on a flight from Jordan to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Due to improper vaccination certificates, 18 of these dogs were denied entry and were held by Alliance Ground International LLC, a Customs and Border Patrol Bonded Warehouse where they waited CDC and APHIS approved review. These animals were later found in small cages covered in feces and urine, and had been without food or water for several days. Several of the dogs died—a clear and brazen violation of the Animal Welfare Act. During the pandemic live animal imports of pets increased significantly, and there is concern that this incident will repeat itself since CBP lacks adequate facilities and procedures to care for live animals at all the ports of entry.

At this time there's only one such facility known as ARC that is equipped to safely handle live animals during potential required quarantines, it is located in New York City which obviously doesn't help everywhere else in the country. Why is there only one CBP Bonded Warehouse facility in the U.S. that is well-equipped to care for live animals that are held for legally required quarantines, and can you commit to adding more facilities that will meet the standards for care for live animals at ports of entry? What resources do you need to do this?

MILLER: Sir thank you for the question, and number one we did work with our interagency partners in Chicago to address that issue, sent out what’s called a trade pipeline to ensure something like that doesn't happen again. Really, there's multiple agencies involved whether it's the Center for Disease Control, or whether there’s USDA APHIS. As you mentioned we do have a Bonded Warehouse in New York to cover such issues, so you know I am committed to working with you in the interagency to figure out what we can do to look at this issue and ensure that we have the proper carrying facilities at our other locations.

QUIGLEY: It's not that there aren't private-sector facilities that can't do this. We need to locate them, certify them, and pay them for their services. You know, can we commit to doing this, especially at the major ports of entry in the United States to start?

MILLER: Again you know, I have to talk to APHIS and CDC, and we'll look at that and certainly get back to you.

QUIGLEY: Right and there are currently no CBP practices in place to require everybody bonded warehouse to maintain the standard of care for live animals that exceeds the basic requirements to the Animal Welfare Act, and as we saw in this instance in Chicago--it was a major fail. Will you commit to updating the practices to ensure the safety and welfare of live animals in custody and the bonded warehouses that contact--contract with you?

MILLER: Again, yes, we will work on that with our partners.

QUIGLEY:  All right we appreciate that rather than going to a series that will take much longer, Madam Chairwoman I will yield back at this time, thank you