To Eradicate Animal Fighting, You Must Finish the Sentence

By on March 16, 2016 with 10 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

During my tenure at The HSUS – as CEO but also prior to that as our chief political advocate – I’ve made it a point to work to strengthen the nation’s legal framework against dogfighting and cockfighting. These are reprehensible, calculated crimes that result in protracted and sustained violence to animals.

We’ve upgraded the federal law against animal fighting four times since 2002, with the federal law now making it a felony to fight animals, possess fighting animals, sell fighting implements, or bring a child to an animal fight. It’s also a misdemeanor to be a spectator at an animal fight. (We’ve also worked to upgrade nearly every state statute against animal fighting, with dogfighting now a felony in every state and cockfighting outlawed in all those states, too.)

But the guidelines judges currently use when handing down sentences to the guilty are not in line with Congress’s intent, and fall way short of adequately dealing with these criminals, and we’ve been working with our friends at the ASPCA to correct this problem.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which establishes the guidelines, is now considering an amendment that would increase penalties for animal fighting. We are extremely pleased that the USSC has proposed an increased baseline for animal fighting crimes, but we are encouraging the commissioners to adopt our recommendations and recognize Congress’s intent in upgrading penalties for animal fighters.

Today, Chris Schindler, HSUS director of animal crimes and someone who has personally been involved in dozens of animal fighting rescues, made recommendations to the commission, asking it to consider three specific offense characteristics when handing sentences to animal fighters. We believe implementing these would bring sentencing guidelines more in line with Congress’s intent:

-When the offender intentionally and cruelly kills an animal, or subjects them to severe animal abuse.

-When the offender demonstrates an exceptional degree of involvement in the business of animal fighting.

-When the offender possessed a dangerous weapon.

We’re proud to be aligned with the ASPCA on this issue. We have had a front-row seat to the havoc animal fighters create for dogs and birds and for the communities in which they conduct their crimes. We have worked with federal and state law enforcement on hundreds of animal fighting cases across the country, including cases that involved not only animal cruelty but a range of other violent crimes.  A good share of the people involved are hardened criminals.

We’ve worked relentlessly to upgrade the legal framework against animal fighters and to give perpetrators no room to operate. But strong sentencing guidelines are a linchpin in our broader strategy to root out animal fighting where we see it, and we urge the commission to act in a way consistent with the wishes not just of Congress, but of the American people.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. MaryJo Luu says:

    Animal fighting has to stop, it is too cruel and inhumane. You have to be a sick person to enjoy watching these poor animals suffer.

    • Ityel Biletzky says:

      We all agree with you, we also need to organize conmcerned citizen groups, to stop it from happening, and arrest the ownners&spectators who’re sociopathic sadists!

  2. Lynne Richardson says:

    This Is a terrible crime. I used to live in a neighborhood that was teaching
    puppy’s to fight! I used to call the police every time I saw this. They really
    don’t want to do that. It should not be allowed!

  3. sandee brock says:

    i will stand on al efforts to end DOG FIGHTING AND cruel unecessary suffering !sandee b

  4. Ela Gotkowska says:

    be human

  5. Julie moore says:

    Poor dogs ,so cruel , this must stop now ! People who get caught should have heavy fines and never never allowed to keep dogs again , named and shamed.

  6. Joanne Hanson says:

    This is sick they are cruel inhumane jerks stop the cruelty

  7. Patsy Davis says:

    There MUST be stiffer sentences for those that fight dogs. This is one of the most inhumane, barbaric practices in our modern world. There is much pain and suffering involved. People who do this will not stop until they know that there is a high price to pay for doing this. Studies have shown time and time again that when somebody can harm or kill an animal, they are capable of hurting humans. I am asking you to please stand up for the voiceless, please protect them against these barbaric crimes. Please give those who participate in this disgusting practice the time they deserve and not just a slap on the wrist.

  8. Phyllis Fuse says:

    Animal cruelty must be stopped. Dog fighting participants should be severely penalized.

  9. Anthony Barnes says:

    I am speaking on behalf of all animals, I am against cruelty and abusing these beautiful creatures. They are unable to speak for themselves so I am doing this on their behalf. Please don’t harm animals if you do then I would like to see tougher sentence put in place and heavy fines in order to bring people to their senses. And protect the animals everywhere through out the world thank you. ☺ ?

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