(Washington, DC) –Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to introduce the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, a bill that makes it a federal felony to attend animal fighting activities. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Scott Brown (R-MA) are original cosponsors of the legislation.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said, “Animal fighting is a cruel and inhumane criminal enterprise perpetuated by the spectators who fund it. This bill seeks to extinguish the horrific treatment of animals and risks to public safety associated with animal fighting. Exposing innocent children to animal fighting as spectators unconscionably continues the vicious cycle of cruelty and abuse."
“By making it a crime to knowingly attend an animal fight we deny event organizers the revenue that funds future events," Senator Mark Kirk (D-IL) said. "This legislation is consistent with state animal fighting laws and closes the final loophole to ending the inhumane practice of animal fighting. Just last month in Illinois, a Cook County judge found a South Holland resident guilty of running a dog fighting ring following a 2007 raid on a compound that rescued 37 dogs and found materials consistent with dog fighting. This bipartisan legislation would prevent large dog fighting rings like this from operating."
“Enacting tough penalties is an important step to ending the cruel practice of animal fighting,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “We’ve made great progress already in disrupting animal fighting by making it a federal crime to transport animals for fighting across state lines. This bill would build on that success by giving law enforcement new tools to crack down on those who attend and participate in illegal animal fighting.”
“I am proud to help lead a bipartisan effort which will give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to combat animal cruelty. Animal fighting events are barbaric and cesspools of gang and other criminal activity,” said Senator Scott P. Brown (R-MA)
While Congress has passed laws against animal fighting, and the transport, possession, and training of fighting animals, many states only charge spectators with a misdemeanor. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would make knowing spectators subject to federal law and meaningful punishments – putting a stop to the problem at its source. Nearly every state in the country has some form of spectator statutes at the state level that make it illegal to attend animal fights.
Animal fighting is associated with other criminal activities such as gangs, gambling, narcotics, and weapons possession. A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70% of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies.
The bill is supported by numerous animal welfare groups, including The Humane Society of the United States.