The U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill, a comprehensive reauthorization of farm and nutrition assistance programs, on Thursday. Thanks to an amendment offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the bill includes provisions nearly identical to H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Tom Marino and Betty Sutton (D-OH). The amendment passed by an overwhelming vote of 88-11.
H.R. 2492 imposes federal misdemeanor penalties for individuals who knowingly attend an animal fight and felony penalties for individuals responsible for bringing a minor to such an event. The legislation is supported by more than 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies including the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA).
"I applaud the Senate for taking an important step toward finally ending animal fighting activities," Rep. Marino said. "Although we have more work to be done to assure passage in the House, the strong bipartisan support in the Senate demonstrates the need for this legislation and I urge my colleagues' support as the House Agriculture Committee begins consideration of their version of the Farm Bill."
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act currently has 196 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. 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.