Washington, D.C. Today, Representative Lucy McBath (GA-06) joined Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08), a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and Representatives Fred Upton (MI-06) and Young Kim (CA-39) to introduce the bipartisan Bring Animals Relief and Kibble (BARK) Act, to provide liability protections for pet suppliers donating food and supplies to animal shelters. By eliminating a current donation deterrent, the BARK Act would help recover millions of pounds of food waste for animal shelters in need.

“While the last year and half saw increased pet adoption activity nationwide, it also revealed a critical need to bolster pet food supplies for these animal shelters,” said Rep. McBath. “In the face of COVID-related challenges, the BARK Act will eliminate barriers, mitigate waste, and direct surplus pet food to shelters in need. I am proud to support bipartisan legislation that will nurture America’s shelter animals as they await adoption to their forever homes.”

“No shelter pet should go hungry, especially not when pet stores nationwide are throwing away surplus food,” said Rep. Raskin. “We can empower pet stores to instead donate to animal shelters by removing bureaucratic disincentives. The BARK Act will give pet stores the same protections that grocery stores and markets already have when donating to food banks. This is a commonsense, bipartisan way to increase efficiency, reduce waste and promote charity for animals. I’m thankful to Reps. Upton, McBath and Kim for joining me in this effort.”

“Animal shelters are a real lifeline for the tens of thousands of dogs, cats, birds, and other pets that would otherwise have no home,” said Rep. Upton. “During the COVID pandemic, these shelters faced major food shortages – particularly as donations plummeted due to virus-related restrictions – but other reforms must be made to shore up pet food supplies. That’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will lessen restrictions on crucial donations, easily allow folks to deliver pet food to shelters, and benefit animals nationwide.”

“Nearly 8 million animals currently in shelters are struggling due to increased food shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, millions of pounds of useable pet supplies are wasted each year that could be going to animals in need,” said Rep. Kim. “I’m glad to help lead this commonsense, bipartisan effort to reduce waste in landfills and support animal shelters in need.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, there is a tremendous need for innovative, flexible and resilient supply chains. For community animal shelters and rescues located across the country, that includes critical resources like pet food,” said Katie Kraska, director of federal legislation for the ASPCA. “The ASPCA applauds Rep. Jamie Raskin and the bipartisan leadership team for introducing the BARK Act to create more options for commercial pet food donations for agencies that care for dogs, cats, and other vulnerable animals in need.”

“Some animal shelters are juggling finances to ensure rescued cats and dogs have all they need to thrive and find their permanent homes. We applaud Representatives Raskin, Kim, McBath and Upton for sponsoring the BARK Act to encourage pet stores to donate food and supplies to shelters to help those animals to be adopted,” said Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Americans love their pets and this will help all of them to have a fighting chance at a forever family.”

“The Animal Welfare Institute is grateful to Reps. Raskin, Kim, McBath, and Upton for acting so quickly to respond to a genuine crisis for animal shelters,” said Nancy Blaney, Director of Government Affairs at the Animal Welfare Institute. “By removing a barrier to donations of surplus pet supplies from pet stores, the BARK Act will make it easier for shelters to continue their important work of caring for animals and helping them to find their forever homes.” 

“Thank you, Representatives Raskin, Kim, McBath and Upton for sponsoring the much-needed BARK Act, encouraging pet stores to donate food and supplies to shelters in need,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “This infusion of resources means budget strapped shelters can divert those dollars to other critical lifesaving programs. Every animal deserves a second chance at life when entering a shelter, and the BARK Act will make that dream a closer reality."

Every year, pet stores throw away tons of expired pet food instead of donating to animal shelters out of fear that they can be held legally liable by the shelters. And in recent months, animal shelters around the country have reported overcrowding, concerns about running low on pet food and a drop-off in charitable donations during the pandemic. The BARK Act would help mitigate the food shortages facing shelters, while also helping to reduce the millions of pounds of pet food that end up wasted in landfills each year.

The BARK Act amends the bipartisan Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 (Emerson Act), which provides criminal and civil liability protections to people and businesses that make good faith donations of food to nonprofits serving needy individuals, to include donations of pet food and supplies to animal shelters.

The BARK Act has the support of 20 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and has been endorsed by the Animal Welfare Institute, the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society and the Humane Society.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.