ANIMAL FIGHTING PROHIBITION ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2007
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Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
As you know, along with my good friend EARL BLUMENAUER and ROSCOE BARTLETT, we have been trying to federally criminalize this brutal, inhumane practice of animal fighting for the past several Congresses.
When Congress enacted legislation to tighten Federal animal fighting laws, we left in place weak penalties that have proven ineffective and allowed the barbaric practice to thrive, in spite of bans in virtually every State. Misdemeanor penalties simply don't provide a meaningful deterrent. Animal fighters consider misdemeanor penalties as a ``slap on the wrist'' or merely the ``cost of doing business.''
State and local law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about animal fighting not only because of the animal cruelty involved but because of the other crimes that often go hand in hand with animal fighting, including illegal gambling, drug trafficking, and acts of human violence. In the last 6 months, virtually every reported arrest in an animal fight has also led to additional arrests for at least one of these criminal activities.
Cockfighting has also spread diseases that jeopardize poultry and even public health. California experienced this firsthand when cockfighters spread exotic Newcastle disease in 2002 and 2003. That outbreak cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $200 million to eradicate, and the cost to the U.S. poultry industry was in the millions. Cockfighting has been identified as the major contributor to the spread of avian flu throughout Thailand and other parts of Asia, where the strain originated.
I want to express my sincere thanks to you, EARL BLUMENAUER, and to ROSCOE BARTLETT for their work on this legislation. I also commend and thank my good friend and neighbor Mr. JOHN CONYERS, the chairman of the committee; LAMAR SMITH, the ranking member; BOBBY SCOTT, the chairman of the subcommittee; and RANDY FORBES, the ranking member, for recognizing the importance of this issue and moving H.R. 137 through the Judiciary Committee so quickly.
Also I want to recognize COLLIN PETERSON on the Ag Committee for his assistance.
Finally, more important than all, is recognizing the 303-plus Members that have co-sponsored this legislation. It is hard to believe that we have that many people agreeing on something like this when it is not often that we have that many people in the House agreeing on what day of the week it is. So I want to thank all of them for their support.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join with all of us in passing this legislation when we bring it to a vote here in a couple of minutes.
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