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Farm Bill Would "Fortify" MD Animal-Fighting Laws

PHOTO: The Humane Society of the United States is trying to build support for legislation to make it a crime to attend an animal fight. Photo credit: HSUS
PHOTO: The Humane Society of the United States is trying to build support for legislation to make it a crime to attend an animal fight. Photo credit: HSUS
July 29, 2013

WASHINGTON - No spectators, no fighting. That's the message from animal-welfare groups trying to make it a federal crime, punishable by jail, for being a spectator at an animal fight. Both the U.S. House and Senate versions of the farm bill, under negotiation now, include prohibitions against attending animal fights.

According to Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, spectators are not innocent bystanders, and federal law enforcement should be able to go after them.

He said they authorities need to have the power "to crack down on people who are bringing children to cockfights and dog fights, and for people who are just there to watch and to gamble on the outcome."

Pacelle said the spectator prohibition act, co-sponsored in the Senate by Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, would fortify the law in Maryland, and hopefully eliminate incentives for dog-fighting and cockfighting across the nation.

"Maryland, Virginia have made all forms of animal fighting a felony, although there are still people in these states who illegally raise birds for fighting and transport them to states with weaker laws, like Kentucky," the Humane Society head declared.

Even though animal fighting is a felony in Maryland, the Humane Society of the United States says the state has some of the weakest laws in the country when it comes to dog fighting, primarily because of minimal penalties for spectators.

Link to the legislation at GovTrack.us.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD