Two senators are pushing for tougher laws against animal fighting after the FBI busted up the second-largest dogfighting ring in U.S. history.
Ten people from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi were arrested in the three-year federal/state investigation and 367 dogs — emaciated, crowded into outdoor pens in 90 degree heat with no water, wounded and scarred, and flea-infested — were rescued. Officials also seized guns, drugs and more than half a million dollars in dogfighting profits.
“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dogfight,” said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. “The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved this in case shows how extensive this underworld of dogfighting is. These dogfighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dogfight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in April introduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit any person from knowingly attending an animal fighting venture or causing a minor to attend such a venture.
Adults who attend an animal fight would face up to a year in jail per violation, and adults who bring a minor to a fight face a maximum of three years in prison for each violation.
The measure has 14 bipartisan co-sponsors; Republicans on board include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Thune (R-S.D.) and David Vitter (R-La.).
Blumenthal will push for the bill this afternoon at the New Haven Animal Shelter.
“This dramatic raid and rescue show that the tragic scourge of animal fighting is sadly still alive and spreading across the country,” Blumenthal said. “It shows that even stronger measures are needed to stop this scourge—a blood sport supported by spectator dollars, linked to illicit gambling, drug dealing and other criminal activity. I hope it will build momentum for such measures as I have introduced and advocated, banning spectators and increasing penalties. Animal fighting encourages the worst in the human condition, and members from both sides of the aisle have been vocal in their commitment to putting an end to this inhumane activity.”