posted June 1, 2005
Congress is once again trying to strengthen restrictions on animal fighting. In April, the Senate unanimously passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act reintroduced earlier this year by veterinarian and Nevada Sen. John Ensign.
The legislation (S. 382) makes the transportation of animals for fighting a felony, establishes a penalty of up to two years in prison, and bans the transportation of tools specifically designed for animal fighting.
The proposal is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce and protects states' rights where weak federal law is compromising their ability to keep animal fighting outside their borders.
Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states and a felony offense in 48 of them. Cockfighting is banned in every state except Louisiana and New Mexico and is a felony in 31 states.
"Animal fighting is a cruel and disgusting practice that should have no place in our society," Ensign said. "Not only is animal fighting itself gruesome, but it often involves illegal gambling, illegal narcotics, and human violence."
Police and sheriffs' departments across the country support the act, as do the Department of Agriculture, National Chicken Council, Humane Society of the United States, and AVMA.
In a letter to senators seeking support for the bill, the AVMA explained how cockfighting has been linked to the spread of exotic Newcastle disease in the United States and a deadly strain of avian influenza in Thailand.
Wisconsin Rep. Mark Green has introduced the same legislation (H.R. 817) in the House, where it currently is under consideration by the Judiciary Committee and the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture.