The Big Cat Public Safety Act was recently reintroduced in the Senate, and you have an important role to play in moving this bill.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit private ownership of big cats and restrict direct physical contact between the public and big cats, putting an end to "cub petting" operations and the vicious breeding cycles on which they depend. Ending pet ownership, as well as this pipeline for cubs to be sold into the pet trade, would not only protect big cats from abuse and neglect but would also protect public safety.
In West Virginia's Greenbrier County a few years ago, a hunter reported a 250- to 300-pound male African lion pacing within 15 feet of his vehicle in the woods. Big cats like this have escaped from private residences all over the country and put human lives in jeopardy.
Please urge your senators to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act.
TO: Constituent's Senators
SUBJECT: Please Support the Big Cat Public Safety Act
As a resident of [West Virginia/Georgia], I urge you to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This bill, which passed the US House of Representatives by a strong bipartisan majority last year and has received bipartisan support in the Senate, is an urgently needed solution to the problem of big cats kept as pets in unsafe and abusive circumstances.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit the possession of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, or any hybrid of these species by private individuals. Zoos, universities, and sanctuaries are exempt from this prohibition, and it would not prevent any zoo from operating normally. Current pet owners are grandfathered in and are simply required to register their animals to ensure that first responders and animal control officers are aware of the presence of such animals in their communities. This bill would also restrict direct contact between the public and big cats in order to end the "cub petting" and other handling operations that rely on incessant breeding and serve as a pipeline to the exotic pet trade and burgeoning population of captive big cats in this country.
Already in the United States, thousands of big cats are thought to be in private hands, and they pose a serious threat to the safety of private citizens and to the first responders who must risk their lives when these animals escape or attack. Since 1990, there have been at least 400 dangerous incidents involving captive big cats in 46 states and the District of Columbia. At least 20 adults and five children have been killed, and numerous others have been mauled, with severe injuries that include loss of limbs. In West Virginia's Greenbrier County a few years ago, a hunter reported a 250- to 300-pound male African lion pacing within 15 feet of his vehicle in the woods. Big cats like this have escaped from private residences all over the country and put human lives in jeopardy.
I do not want big cats to suffer in the hands of private citizens unqualified to care for such animals, and I do not ever want to encounter one of these animals on the loose in my community. It is time to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, and I hope you will support this legislation. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.