MONTGOMERY, Ala. —George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and the Humane Society of the United States are raising public awareness of the newly enacted federal animal fighting law that makes it a felony to knowingly bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fight and a misdemeanor to knowingly attend an animal fight.
Since 2008, it has been a federal felony to sponsor, exhibit, buy, sell, deliver, possess, train or transport an animal for participation in an animal fighting venture. This crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of $250,000.
The newly enacted Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which was included in the final 2014 Farm Bill, makes it a federal felony to knowingly bring a minor under the age of 16 to a dogfight or cockfight, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend a fight as a spectator, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The HSUS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who worked together in the second-largest dogfighting raid in U.S. history, praise these upgrades, which provide law enforcement with additional tools to put an end to organized dogfighting and cockfighting.
George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, said: “Animal fighting is a cruel activity, it is not a sport. No one should have to watch such brutality, but it is particularly outrageous to expose children to these fights because it desensitizes them to violence and brutality. Criminals also use these animal fights to sell drugs and hide illegal profits. The enactment of this new law gives us additional law enforcement tools to crack down on this barbaric activity and the other crimes that go along with it.”
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “The recent upgrades to the federal animal fighting law mean that the entire cast of characters involved in these criminal enterprises is subject to arrest and prosecution, and these people face a brighter future if they give up their cruel hobby. We commend the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for taking on the scourge of organized animal fighting, and we look forward to providing whatever assistance federal law enforcement needs to uproot that criminal underworld.”
In August 2013, The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA ® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), at the request of the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted in seizing 367 dogs in coordinated raids across Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Thirteen people have been arrested as a result of these raids and trial is scheduled for May 2014.
The federal Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act had the bi-partisan support of Congress and was enacted into law as part of the Farm Bill in February. Since 2002, the federal law on animal fighting has been upgraded four times.