By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division
Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) reintroduced legislation on Jan. 23 that would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit people from knowingly attending, or causing a minor to attend, an animal fight. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act (H.R. 366), which AVMA actively supported in the last Congress, would also impose criminal and civil penalties on people who violated it, should the bill become law.
Animal fighting has severe consequences—resulting in serious injuries or death for the animals involved. While most states have recently adopted stricter laws to prohibit animal fighting, enforcement of these laws has been a challenge, proving the need for a combined federal and state effort to effectively address the issue. By not only targeting those who participate in the events, but also those who are attending them, the newly reintroduced legislation aims to put animal fighting organizers out of business.
Late last year the U.S. Senate passed a similar piece of legislation. Unfortunately, the bill died at the end of the 112th Congress because it did not receive a vote in the House—despite having the support of more than 200 co-sponsors. The Senate has, once again, moved in support of this legislation this year by including similar language to H.R. 366 in its newest version of the farm bill (S. 10), which it reintroduced on Jan. 22.