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Farm Bill Would "Fortify" VA Animal-Fighting Laws

PHOTO: The Humane Society of the United States is trying to rally 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 rally 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 an animal fight.

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."

It's already a felony in Virginia to attend an animal fight, punishable by fines and a maximum of five years in jail.

Pacelle said the spectator prohibition act would fortify the law in Virginia, and hopefully eliminate incentives for dog fighting and cockfighting across the nation.

"Maryland (and) 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 House and Senate have each passed their own versions of the farm bill. Now, negotiators are in the process of working out the differences.

The legislation is available at GovTrack.us.


Alison Burns, Public News Service - VA