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December 05, 2012

Closing the Loophole for Animal Fight Spectators

Animal fighting is, in terms of global industries that cause harm to animals, among the most morally indefensible and corrupt practices — with trade in animals and implements in the hundreds of millions of dollars; wagering in the billions; international competitions; and a phalanx of web sites, magazines, and other communications platforms.

Michigan dogfighting raid
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act will give
law enforcement the tools they need to end animal fighting. 

We are turning our attention to the problem in other nations where the activity is widespread. But we are not done dealing with the problem in the U.S. It wasn’t long ago — just five years — that some states permitted legal cockfighting. The HSUS led the way to criminalize that practice in every state, and to build a strong federal law to deter and root out illegal cockfighting and dogfighting.

Last night, the U.S. Senate passed legislation by a voice vote to make it a crime to attend or bring a minor to an animal fight, thanks to the tremendous leadership of Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Scott Brown, R-Mass., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and David Vitter, R-La. If enacted, this legislation will allow the federal government to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved, since spectators represent the vast majority of people at these spectacles, and it’s their participation that fuels the industry and makes it profitable. Yesterday, Michigan took it a step further, making it a racketeering crime to be involved with animal fighting and allowing the seizure and forfeiture of all property involved in animal fighting. If Gov. Rick Snyder signs that bill, as he’s expected to, it will make Michigan among the most inhospitable states for animal fighters.

Regarding the federal bill, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, we have one more major hurdle to clear in Congress: passing the House. The House companion bill, H.R. 2492, has 228 cosponsors — a majority of the House. We just need House leaders to bring up the Senate-passed bill and allow a vote.

Please take a moment to call your U.S. Representative at 202-225-3121 and urge him or her to speak to leadership to get the bill on the House calendar this week or next.

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