Washington, D.C. -- Today, the president signed into law bipartisan legislation championed by U.S. Representative Tom Marino (PA-10) that will make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and will impose additional penalties for taking minors to such events.
Marino first introduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act in the 112th Congress, and again more recently in the 113th, along with 226 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
"As a formal federal prosecutor, I know the criminal culture that surrounds these types of events and I know the struggles our law enforcement officers face in having to rely on a patchwork of state laws," Marino said. "This was something that needed to be addressed at the federal level and I am pleased we were able to get this done with such a strong showing of support from Republicans and Democrats alike."
"Not everyone was supportive of our efforts to federally criminalize the heinous acts that take place at animal fights or lessen the ease with which organizers can deny culpability," Marino added. "I am grateful to Representatives McGovern, Campbell and Moran, as well as Senator Vitter, for joining me in pushing this to the finish line."
The bipartisan legislation, which was endorsed by a number of animal welfare groups and law enforcement organizations, faced significant opposition in the House Agriculture Committee. Despite the opposition, Marino's bill was included in the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act) by an amendment added to the bill during committee mark-up which passed by a bipartisan vote of 28-17.
President Obama signed the legislation into law earlier today.
Enactment of Marino's provision will amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit any person from knowingly attending -- or causing a minor to attend -- an animal fighting venture. Offenders will be subject to fines and potential imprisonment.