Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) will co-chair a group intended to raise awareness of animal welfare issues among their Congressional colleagues.

Originally formed in 2009 as the Friends of Animals Caucus, the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC) sponsors non-partisan forums and briefings to inform Congress members about how prospective legislation impacts animal welfare. The group also supports bills that pertain the animal welfare issues, including those designed to prohibited horse slaughter in the United States. During the last Congress, more than 120 lawmakers from both parties were CAPC members.

“Stopping animal cruelty and protecting endangered wildlife should be a bipartisan issue important to all of us,” Buchanan said. “I’m looking forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer and the caucus to help protect endangered species and animals at risk of being abused.”

Blumenauer added, “We have a moral obligation to our fellow creatures. Fortunately, animal welfare is a unifying issue on Capitol Hill, and we’ve been able to make progress.”

Buchanan said eliminating soring—the deliberate injury to a horse’s feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait—in the training and exhibition of Tennessee Walking Horses would be among CAPC’s priorities during this session of Congress. Other priorities will include preventing the deaths of small animals in “fetish videos,” ending the use of dogs and rabbits in cosmetic and other experiments, and eliminating illegal wildlife trafficking, he said.