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Animal-Fighting Bill Gains Attention of National Group

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Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, will be honored Wednesday night by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund at an awards reception in Washington.

Marino will receive the Legislative Leader award for his leadership on animal protection legislation in 2011. The award will be presented at a reception at the U.S. Capitol.

There are 29,584 supporters of The Humane Society in the 10th Congressional District, according to the national organization.

"We commend Rep. Marino for taking the lead and calling attention to these humane concerns," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said. "We're grateful to have such a steadfast supporter on animal protection."

Marino, along with U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, OH-13, last year introduced legislation that makes it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and imposes additional penalties for taking minors to such events. HR 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011, complements state laws that address spectators at animal fights and takes it a step further by penalizing adults who expose children to these heinous acts.

Organized animal fighting is a federal crime and illegal in all 50 states but the issue of spectators at these barbaric events is not addressed on the federal level. It is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at animal fights; 28 states impose felony-level penalties on spectators.

The Marino-Sutton bill is a bipartisan effort (Marino is a Republican, Sutton a Democrat) that imposes federal misdemeanor penalties for knowing attendance and felony penalties for causing a minor to attend. The law would not apply to individuals who are not aware that they are attending an animal fight or to situations where two animals fight without provocation by animal fighting organizers.

Every year, the Humane Society Legislative Fund compiles a federal Humane Scorecard to provide a snapshot of animal protection issues considered by Congress and to give animal advocates a tool to assess the performance of their senators and representatives. The scorecard tracks key votes as well as co-sponsorship of important pro-animal bills.

"It is heartening to see again how animal protection issues bring members of Congress together across party lines," Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said. "We thank Rep. Marino for his outstanding work to ensure that our federal laws reflect the core humane values and attitudes of American society."

Marino said he was honored to be acknowledged by the national groups. He introduced the legislation to "make sure that law enforcement has all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers and profiteers of these horrific events from receiving the support they need to continue this activity."


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