An advocate for common sense measures to protect animal welfare and crack down on the inhumane practice of animal fighting, Congresswoman Betty Sutton (OH-13) today called on Speaker Boehner to bring language introduced by Sutton to the House floor after it was passed this week by the House Agricultural Committee, and in the U.S. Senate on June 21, 2012
"This bill would strike a blow against illegal animal fighting and criminal elements that this abhorrent practice supports," said Sutton. "With approval from the Senate and the House Agricultural Committee, the finish line is within sight for ending this practice, and I hope that Speaker Boehner joins me in ending animal fighting by bringing this critical language to the floor immediately."
Co-authored by Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA), H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which has 200 bipartisan co-sponsors, will make it a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend an animal fight, and a federal felony to bring a minor to the same event. Cracking down on animal fight spectators is necessary as spectators drive demand for such fights and often conceal handlers and organizers.
"Spectators are participants and accomplices who enable the crime of animal fighting, make the enterprise profitable through admission fees and wagering, and help conceal and protect the handlers and organizers," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "We hope that federal investigators who raid large-scale animal fighting operations will soon be able to prosecute the entire cast of characters who sustain dogfighting and cockfighting."
A lifelong animal-advocate, Congresswoman Sutton has a strong record of standing up for animal rights. After the Michael Vick dog fighting case brought animal fighting to the forefront of national attention, Congresswoman Sutton introduced the Dog Fighting Prohibition Act, which toughened penalties for participants of dog fights. Passed as part of a larger bill, Sutton fought to ensure that the penalty for animal fighting offenses was raised from three to five years, and was considered a federal crime.