Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 2492/S.1947 Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act


AVMA Position:

Active Pursuit of Passage

Summary:

Introduced by Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10th) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), this bill amends the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to prohibit any person from knowingly attending an animal fighting venture or causing a minor to attend such a venture. Sets civil and criminal penalties for violation. 

Background:

  • The AWA states, "'animal fighting venture' means any event, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, that involves a fight conducted animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment, except that the term 'animal fighting venture' shall not be deemed to include any activity the primary purpose of which involves the use of one or more animals in hunting another animal"

Justification:

  • The AVMA has consistently supported federal legislative proposals directed toward prevention of animal fighting during previous Congressional cycles.
  • H.R. 2492/S. 1947 is consistent with AVMA policy on Animal Fighting which states, "The AVMA condemns events involving animals in which injury or death is intended. The AVMA supports the enforcement of laws against the use and transport of animals and equipment for fighting ventures. Further, the AVMA recommends that animal fighting be considered a felony offense. The AVMA encourages veterinarians to collaborate with law enforcement with respect to recognition, enforcement, and education".
  • While most states have recently adopted stricter laws addressing animal fighting, enforcement is a challenge and combined federal and state efforts are most effective. Targeting not only those participating, but those frequenting these events is necessary to put their organizers out of business.
  • Animal fighting has severe consequences for the animals involved, with serious injury and/or death intended.
  • In addition to their consequences for animals, animal fights are frequently conducted in conjunction with other illegal activities (e.g., drug trafficking) and can incite violence among spectators coincident with that in the ring.

Current Status:

  • H.R. 2492: House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, and in addition to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
  • Passed Senate on December 4, 2012.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney L. Miller, Assistant Director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3211.