A provision in the Senate-approved Farm Bill that would impose tough sentences and harsh fines for attendees of dogfights or cockfights and extra penalties for bringing a minor passed with an overwhelming vote of 88-11.
“I applaud the Senate for taking an important step toward finally ending animal fighting activities,” said Rep. Tom Marino. “Although we have more work to be done to assure passage in the House, the strong bipartisan support in the Senate demonstrates the need for this legislation and I urge my colleagues’ support as the House Agriculture Committee begins consideration of their version of the Farm Bill.”
The amendment to the Farm Bill was introduced by Sen. David Bitter (R-LA) and is almost identical to the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which was previously introduced in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) and Scott Brown (R-Mass) and in the House by Tom Marino (R-PA) and Betty Sutton (D-OH), now has 196 cosponsors.
Under the current federal animal fighting law it’s a felony to train animals to fight, move them across state lines to fight or hold a fight in every state, but spectators are not addressed.
“Despite efforts by Congress to put an end to animal fighting, this cruel sport continues to exist throughout the country, and is financed by thousands of dollars from spectators who contribute to this blood sport,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “This legislation would prohibit knowingly attending an animal fight, and extend stricter penalties for any individual who knowingly brings a child to an animal fight–closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting legislation. These crimes are a federal matter and the federal response ought to be as strong as possible. Animal fighting encourages the worst in the human condition, and members from both sides of the aisle have been vocal in their commitment to putting an end to this inhumane activity.”
As the HSUS points out in a statement, it’s not like spectators accidentally stumble on fights. They seek them out and pay to get in just to gamble on the ensuing savagery.
“Spectators are participants and accomplices who enable the crime of animal fighting, make the enterprise profitable through admission fees and wagering, and help conceal and protect the handlers and organizers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Federal investigators who raid large-scale animal fighting operations may soon be able to prosecute the entire cast of characters who sustain dogfighting and cockfighting.”
Legislation to help stop animal fighting must now be passed by the House, which is still drafting its version of the Farm Bill.
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