Animal Law Review

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The 116th Congress, second session, began January 3, 2020, and ended January 3, 2021. While Congress voted on key animal-related legislation, such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed -- or even halted -- proposed legislation at the federal and state levels. Despite the slowdown, local voters proposed and enacted several key initiatives, including the California Ecosystems Protection Act and Orange County, Florida's Right to Clean Water initiative.9 In addition, federally enacted COVID-19-related legislation, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, also addressed animalrelated issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled COVID-19 as a "public health emergency of international concern." COVID-19 first surfaced in December 2019, and, as of January 5, 2021, had killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide and more than 471,000 people in the United States. While the world struggled to adjust to a new normal, the pandemic also affected animals. Shutdowns in U.S. slaughterhouses led to the mass "depopulation" of farmed animals, and various animals were killed out of fear of further COVID-19 spread. Legislation introduced at the federal level in response to COVID-19, such as the Safe Line Speeds Act, considered issues regarding the U.S. food system and the treatment of farmed animals. COVID-19 raised concerns related to society's close interactions with and disruption of wildlife and the environment.

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