The President Signs Landmark Animal Fighting Legislation

May 3, 2007

Today, President Bush signed into law a
bill that will help law enforcement rid the United States of dogfighting,
cockfighting, and other forms of animal
fighting.

Dogfighting and cockfighting
crimes are rampant in the United States, with individuals arrested every week in
scores of locations under state laws. The vast underground networks generate
pervasive animal cruelty, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, public corruption
and even violence and murder. The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act,
which passed Congress with large bi-partisan support, will give law enforcement
a stronger tool to crack down on this illegal activity.

“Animal fighting is a barbaric and inhumane
practice, and it is fitting and appropriate that we now have a national policy
condemning and criminalizing this form of organized animal cruelty,” states
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States,
which has led the national battle against animal fighting and been the primary
advocate for this federal
legislation.

The law takes effect
immediately. It provides felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and
export related to animal fighting activities, including commerce in cockfighting
weapons. It will make it much harder for criminals who engage in dogfighting and
cockfighting to continue their operations. Each violation of the federal law may
bring up to three years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine for perpetrators.

Cockfighting is outlawed in every state
except Louisiana, although there is mounting pressure in that state to ban the
practice. Many states still have misdemeanor penalties for cockfighting. The
federal law slaps felony penalties on interstate cockfighting trafficking, and
this should provide an enormous deterrent for the tens of thousands of people
involved in this criminal industry.

The
law will have a devastating impact on major breeders of fighting animals, who
depend on customers from all over the United States and abroad. Dog kennels rely
on transporting their fighting dogs across state lines and across the world to
customers. The new law should substantially curb the transport of fighting
animals across state and U.S. borders. The HSUS is already seeing some major
breeders of fighting roosters cutting back on
production.

The Animal Fighting
Prohibition Enforcement Act will help end the export of fighting animals to
other countries. Selling roosters to customers in the Philippines and other
nations can be lucrative for American cockfighters. The new law puts increased
pressure on the airlines to stop shipping roosters to cockfighting hot
spots.

The new law had been introduced by
Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Rep. Roscoe
Bartlett (R-Md.) in the House, and by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. John
Ensign (R-Nev.), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) in the Senate. It had also been endorsed by more than 500 groups,
including all major humane organizations, the American Veterinary Medical
Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Sheriffs’ Association,
and more than 400 local law enforcement agencies covering all 50 states.


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Posted: 05/04/2007 at 08:00 PM
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Posted: 05/04/2007 at 08:00 PM
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