Earlier today, U.S. Representative Tom Marino (R-PA), along with Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Campbell (R-CA), and Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced H.R. 366, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2013, making it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and imposing additional penalties for taking minors to such events.
Organized animal fighting is a federal crime and illegal in all 50 states but the issue of spectators at these events is not addressed on the federal level. Instead, law enforcement must rely on a patchwork of state laws: it is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at animal fights; 28 states impose felony-level penalties on spectators. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2013 would apply federal criminal penalties to any individual who knowingly attends or knowingly brings a minor to these acts of animal cruelty. Penalties will be up to one year in prison and fines for attending a fight, and a penalty of up to three years in jail and fines for bringing or causing a minor to attend.
"It is an honor to join with several of my colleagues, in a bipartisan manner, to make sure that law enforcement has all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers and profiteers of these horrific events from receiving the support they need to continue this activity," said Marino. "As a former state and federal prosecutor, I've seen first-hand the criminal culture that surrounds animal fighting events and the damaging influence this environment has on our children. We must ensure there are consequences for those adults who take impressionable children to witness these heinous acts."
During the previous Congress, this legislation gained broad bipartisan support and was endorsed by a number of animal welfare groups as well as approximately 300 law enforcement organizations. The legislation passed the Senate by voice vote and was included by the House Agriculture Committee in their version of the Farm Bill.
"I look forward to building on the momentum we gained during the last Congress and seeing that this important legislation is signed into law," Marino added.