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Law Will Broaden and Strengthen Existing Dog Fighting Prohibitions in Animal Welfare Act

New York—The American Kennel Club® has urged Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Ranking Member Saxby Chamblis (R-GA) to include in the Senate farm bill an amendment to be proposed by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) which would increase penalties for those who sponsor, attend or engage in animal fighting ventures.  The amendment expands and strengthens the current prohibition in the federal Animal Welfare Act against sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture.

For decades, the AKC has strongly condemned dog fighting, and has urged rigorous enforcement of statutes prohibiting it.  The organization has now carefully analyzed the language of Senator Kerry’s proposed amendment and is confident that it will advance the AKC’s policy objectives on this issue.

While federal law already prohibits dog fighting, the proposed farm bill amendment would expand and strengthen the current prohibition to include those who knowingly “sponsor” or “attend” a dog fight.   Additionally, it would make it unlawful to buy, sell, possess, train or transport any dog or other animal for the purpose of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture.   The Amendment defines a “dog fighting venture” as an event that involves a fight between at least two animals, including at least one dog, which is conducted for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.   It includes language assuring that hunting can not be construed as an animal fighting venture.

“Our constituency feels that this amendment is a vital part of the farm bill,” said Noreen Baxter, AKC’s Vice President of Communications. “By adding the words ‘sponsor’ and ‘attend’ to the amendment, it declares that those who consider themselves harmless spectators or who financially invest in the crime of dog fighting will no longer be insulated from the punishments.  Toughening these laws and issuing maximum sentences for criminals like Michael Vick who perpetrate these heinous acts will hopefully make people think again about the consequences of their actions.”