This week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Act (S. 1947), a bill that will close a loophole in existing law and make it a crime to attend an animal fight and bring additional penalties for those who take a minor along.
There are already existing laws that prohibit staging an animal fight, keeping or training animals for fighting and moving the tools of the trade in interstate commerce, but nothing on a federal level addresses what happens to those who are caught as spectators – the ones who provide major funding through admission fees and gambling that help perpetuate these barbaric activities.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, Scott Brown, R-Mass., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
“Animal fighting is a cruel blood sport that involves maiming and torturing – and encourages other criminal wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this despicable activity continues to exist throughout the country, well-financed by spectators who enable the fighting and engage in illegality like drug dealing, extortion, and assault. Because these crimes often involve actors from a number of different states, local law enforcement simply lacks the authority to crack down and pursue animal fighting organizers,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
“My legislation not only prohibits all individuals from knowingly attending an animal fight, but also strengthens the penalties for those who bring children to animal fights – closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting law. I am grateful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have come together to pass this truly bipartisan bill, which will help put an end to this activity.”
Animal fighting is a crime in all 50 states and causes immense suffering for the animals involved, whether they’re trained fighters or bait animals. As many have already pointed out, it’s not like people just stumble on fights as unsuspecting innocent bystanders. This bill will address those who intentionally support animal fighting with fines and up to a year in prison, or worse if they bring kids, and will also help reduce other illegal activities that are often affiliated with fights.
Similar legislation passed as an amendment to the Farm Bill this summer with overwhelming support from the Senate. The House version (H.R. 2492), introduced by Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, currently has 227 cosponsors, but must still be passed.
If you haven’t already, please sign the petition asking your reps to support this important piece of legislation.
Photo credit: robswatski