Today, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and David Vitter (R-LA) hailed Senate passage of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. This legislation would establish a federal prison sentence or fine for spectators who knowingly attend an animal fight. The legislation would also strengthen penalties for spectators who knowingly bring children to an animal fight.
Currently, federal law against animal fighting has one remaining loophole: Attendance at an animal fight is not a federal crime. This legislation would close that loophole. Spectators of animal fights pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in admission fees and gambling bets, which allows this blood sport to continue to exist and remain profitable.
This legislation was passed 88-11 as an amendment to the Farm Bill. Blumenthal and Kirk introduced this bill last December, and offered it as an amendment to the Farm Bill last week.
"Despite efforts by Congress to put an end to animal fighting, this cruel sport continues to exist throughout the country, and is financed by thousands of dollars from spectators who contribute to this blood sport. When animal fighting involves players from a number of different states, local law enforcement simply lacks the power to deal with it and to root out the entire operation," said Blumenthal. "This legislation would prohibit knowingly attending an animal fight, and extend stricter penalties for any individual who knowingly brings a child to an animal fight -- closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting legislation. These crimes are a federal matter and the federal response ought to be as strong as possible. Animal fighting encourages the worst in the human condition, and members from both sides of the aisle have been vocal in their commitment to putting an end to this inhumane activity. I am pleased that my legislation passed the Senate today with strong bipartisan support, and I will fight to ensure it becomes law."
"By making it a crime to knowingly attend an animal fight, this bill is consistent with state animal fighting laws and would deny event organizers the revenue that funds future events," said a spokesperson for Kirk. "Just last year in Illinois, authorities made 76 arrests involving a cockfighting ring after being tipped off on one incident. This bipartisan legislation will help prevent events like this from occurring and closes the final loophole to end the inhumane practice of animal fighting."
"We've made great strides in outlawing the cruel abuse of animal fighting, but I'm honored to have worked with Senators Blumenthal and Kirk to also make it much more difficult to attend these garish spectacles as well -- especially with a minor," said Vitter.
"Spectators are participants and accomplices who enable the crime of animal fighting, make the enterprise profitable through admission fees and wagering, and help conceal protect the handlers and organizers," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Federal investigators that raid large-scale animal fighting operations may soon be able to indict the entire cast of characters that sustain dogfighting and cockfighting."