Today, Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) hailed the final Senate passage of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act (S. 1947). This legislation, which was passed last night in the Senate by voice vote, 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.
"By making it a crime to knowingly attend an animal fight, this bill is consistent with state animal fighting laws and will deny event organizers the revenue that funds future events," Kirk said. "The passage of this bipartisan legislation closes the loophole that has allowed animal fighting to continue its vicious cycle. I thank Senator Blumenthal for his leadership on this bill."
Blumenthal said, "Animal fighting is a cruel blood sport that involves maiming and torturing -- and encourages other criminal wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this despicable activity continues to exist throughout the country, well-financed by spectators who enable the fighting and engage in illegality like drug dealing, extortion, and assault. Because these crimes often involve actors from a number of different states, local law enforcement simply lacks the authority to crack down and pursue animal fighting organizers. My legislation not only prohibits all individuals from knowingly attending an animal fight, but also strengthens the penalties for those who bring children to animal fights -- closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting law. I am grateful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have come together to pass this truly bipartisan bill, which will help put an end to this activity."
"I was proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that builds upon our progress in disrupting animal fighting. This bill gives local law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on illegal animal fighting. Enacting tough penalties is an important step to ending this cruel practice," said Cantwell.
"I'm proud to have been a leader on this important piece of animal welfare legislation," said Brown. "This bipartisan measure will close a loophole and give law enforcement the tools they need to end the heinous practice of animal fighting."
"Spectators 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 he Humane Society of the United States. "If we are serious about cracking down on the barbaric practice of animal fighting, law enforcement must have the tools to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in these criminal enterprises."
"The U.S. Senate has recognized the canine heroes who serve in our military as well as dogs victimized in underground animal fighting rings, passing legislation for both," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "The ASPCA applauds Senator Blumenthal's leadership in the twilight hours of this Congress, ensuring that animals in need will not be forgotten by federal lawmakers."