After passing of Farm Bill, it’s now a federal crime to attend an animal fight

AL Dogfighting Raid
Photo c/o Chad Sisneros (

The Farm Bill has had it’s share of controversies, but a lesser known and laudable provision was added to the bill that is a victory for animal welfare.

Last Friday President Obama signed the final Bill, which includes a provision that makes attending or bringing a child under the age of 16 to a dog fight, cockfight, or any animal fighting event a federal crime. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has been credited for her efforts in getting this legislation approved in the Farm Bill.

While it’s already against the law to host animal fighting events, lawmakers rallied to close what they called the spectator loophole in animal fighting legislation. Many organizers of animal fighting events have used this loophole in order to escape prosecution, claiming to merely be spectators. This proves especially difficult for law enforcement since raids on fighting rings can be chaotic.

Additionally, spectators contribute to animal fighting rings by funding them and making these events desirable for the organizers to continue. In a letter to The Columbian, Michael Markarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer for The Humane Society of the United States explains that:

“The spectator admission fees and gambling dollars finance these criminal operations and make dog fighting and cockfighting profitable. Each time two animals are placed in the pit, spectators shout out bets, gambling on which animal will kill the other.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who introduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act in 2013. In regards to spectators who bring children to animal fighting events Senator Blumenthal stated that, “Such compelled attendance is not only a form of child abuse, but also leads to psycho-social conditioning that encourages a child, at best, to ignore a living creature’s suffering or at worst, to enjoy it.”

The Humane Society of the United States offers tips to anyone who wants to report animal cruelty, a puppy mill, or an animal fight ring at 1-877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787) or on their website,

Thank you Senator Maria Cantwell for working to pass this important legislation.

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