Sending Office: Honorable Judy Chu
Sent By:


Request for Cosponsor(s)

Endorsed by the ASPCA, HSUS, and American Kennel Club

Current Cosponsors: Reps. Jackson Lee, Walter B. Jones, Jr., Donovan, Fitzpatrick, Bacon,
Lofgren, Shea-Porter, Lieu, Deutch, Dent, Peter King, Suozzi,
Beatty, Boyle, Tenney, McSally, Marino, Swalwell,
Hank Johnson
, Meehan, LoBiondo, Blumenauer, Cohen, Farenthold, Collins,
Cardenas, Kihuen, Barbara Lee, Yoho, Pocan, Poliquin, McCaul,
Jeffries, Quigley, Turner, Katherine Clark, Costello, Faso, Smucker, Gaetz, Brat, Royce,
McGovern, McNerney, Polis, Kuster, Hastings, Curbelo, Wasserman Schultz

Dear Colleague:

Animals seized under federal animal fighting and gambling statutes are currently treated as evidence by our legal system, held by the government until courts determine their disposition. Lengthy forfeiture cases leave these abused animals in shelters for
months, unable to be rehabilitated or put up for adoption, where chronic stress leads to even greater serious physical and behavioral deterioration.

The costs of caring for the animals rescued from abuse is rarely, if ever, reimbursed by those the animals were seized from. Instead, nonprofit animal protection organizations and federal funds must cover the bill for the care of these animals as court cases
drag on. The financial responsibility placed on local municipal shelters, taxpayers, and nonprofits to pay for the care of these abused animals is not only an unfair burden but also discourages future animal abuse investigations and seizures.

The HEART Act expedites the disposition of animals seized in animal fighting or gambling cases to reduce the length of time animals are held in shelters. The bill shifts the burden of the cost of care for animals seized under the federal animal fighting
and gambling statutes from shelters, nonprofits, and taxpayers to the individual responsible for the harm to the animal.

Specifically, H.R. 398:

  • Accelerates the disposition process by reducing from 60 to 30 days the amount of time the government has to notify interested parties following the seizure of animals under the federal animal fighting or gambling statutes
  • Requires the court to consider the animals’ welfare as well as the cost to the government when seeking to extend the notice period
  • Requires claimants to reimburse the costs of caring for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases when the government prevails in civil forfeiture proceedings
  • Gives judges the discretion to allow the consideration of the claimant’s culpability, financial condition, and other factors when requiring and determining reimbursement

H.R. 398 reduces the amount of time that abused animals are held in shelters and ensures the individuals responsible for the animals continue to be held responsible for the cost of their care.
For more information, or to sign onto the bill, please contact David Silberberg with Congresswoman Chu at or Jennifer Wood with Congressman Katko at



Judy Chu                                             John Katko                                   Jim Sensenbrenner

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress                    Member of Congress

Related Legislative Issues
Selected legislative information: Agriculture, Judiciary
Related Bill Information
Bill Type: H.R.
Bill Type: 398
Special Note:
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