Position Statement - Animal Fighting
The SF SPCA opposes any spectator sports or activities which have the intention or likely occurrence of causing injury, pain, distress or death to an animal. This includes all forms of animal fighting. The SF SPCA strongly recommends the state of California make participation in or attendance at any form of animal fighting, as well as the possession of equipment or animals and the transportation of animals for fighting and all forms of animal fighting, a felony offense.
Animal fighting is broadly defined as any sport, exhibition or attraction in which humans induce, encourage or allow one animal to fight another, or to fight a human. Examples include dog fights, horse fights, cockfights, bullfights, bear wrestling and hog-dog rodeos. Often animal fighting operations are linked to other criminal activities such as animal trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and even violence and murder.
Animal cruelty as a sport can have a detrimental impact to a community if laws are not actively enforced. Children that are exposed to the cruelty of animal fighting can be conditioned to believe that violence is normal and they become systematically desensitized to the consequential suffering. Animal fighting not only encourages and furthers antisocial values and violence but also results in the anti-socialization of the animals themselves, thereby making them a danger to the community at large. As a result, police officers, firefighters, utility, and other municipal workers are at increased risk in the course of their employment on both public and private property.
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In May 2007, the president signed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007 which provides felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export related to animal fighting activities, including commerce in cockfighting weapons. The intent of this law was to give law enforcement a stronger tool to crack down on animal fighting activities.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, along with other nationally recognized animal welfare organizations recommend that animal fighting be considered a felony offense. The ways to limit animal fighting through legislation are generally shared amongst the states; however, the severity of the penalties and types of animals included in the laws vary from state to state.
The most common laws include:
- Prohibit all types of animal fighting
- Prohibit the possession of animals for fighting purposes
- Prohibit attendance at an animal fight as a spectator
California-specific legislation compared to other states
- Every state considers dog fighting a felony offense
- 39 states consider other types of animal fighting a felony offense – California does not
- 36 states consider being a spectator at a dog fight a felony offense – California does not
Charges carrying a misdemeanor offense in CA:
- All types of animal fighting (not including dogs). Second offense can be felony
- Possession of animals for purposes of fighting (not including dogs)
- Attending an animal fight as a spectator (applies to all animals)
- Possession of animal fighting implements (applies to all animals)
Charges carrying a felony offense in CA:
- Dog fighting
- Possession of dogs for fighting
- CA’s latest dog fighting law (Oct’09) allows law enforcement officials to seize property, profits, proceeds, and instrumentalities acquired through dog fighting operations
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- Animal fighting background
- Animal fighting background and federal legislation http://www.hsus.org/legislation_laws/federal_legislation/
- CA animal fighting legislation http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=81612027713+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve
- CA dog fighting legislation
- October 2009 CA dog fighting legislation http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0301-0350/sb_318_bill_20091011_chaptered.html
- AVMA support for felony offense (p7) http://www.avma.org/products/animal_welfare/welfare.pdf
- HSUS support for felony offense http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/dogfighting/facts
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