December 2012: The Humane Society of the United States applauded the U.S. Senate for approving S. 1947, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which closes loopholes in the federal animal fighting law related to spectator attendance at dogfights and cockfights.
Federal law already makes it a felony to organize animal fights, possess or train animals for fighting, or move animals or cockfighting implements in interstate commerce for the purposes of fighting them. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would prohibit attendance at organized animal fights, cracking down on the spectators who finance animal fights with their admission fees and gambling wagers, and further impose additional penalties for bringing a child to these bloody and illegal spectacles.
It is now illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight. A majority – 29 states – impose felony-level penalties on spectators. This legislation imposes federal misdemeanor penalties for knowing attendance and felony penalties for knowingly causing a minor to attend.
The law would not affect “innocent bystanders,” because organized animal fighting is a federal crime and illegal in all 50 states; this activity is highly clandestine and spectators don’t just accidentally happen upon a fight. They seek out the criminal activity at secret locations, often need passwords to enter, and pay admission fees for the opportunity to watch and gamble on the gruesome show – facts that a prosecutor might use as evidence to prove that a defendant knowingly attended.
The Humane Society of the United States