Last Friday President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law, including two extremely important victories for animal welfare and one for child protection.
The final Bill includes a provision making it a federal crime to attend or bring a child under the age of 16 to any animal fighting event. It also omits a controversial House-passed provision seeking to nullify state laws setting standards for agricultural production.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is credited with successfully working to pass this important legislation, which will provide a valuable tool in protecting children from being brought to events to watch animals goaded into deadly, bloody combats to death. The desensitization to the pain and suffering of animals makes it a much easier step to inflicting pain and death on humans.
It will also now be a federal crime to be a spectator at an animal-fighting event.
“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,” explains Mark Makarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer for The Humane Society of the United States.
“At the first sign of a raid many will blend into the crowd and claim to be spectators as a way to avoid prosecution,” he wrote in a letter to the Columbian. "Cantwell's legislation will fortify the federal law and help law enforcement…quash illegal dog fighting and cockfighting, and forbid adults from bringing children to these spectacles of violence.”
The Humane Society offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. The HSUS asks anyone with information about animal fighting criminals to call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Tipsters’ identities are protected.