News from Capitol Hill

Brought to you by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Time to Crack Down on Animal Fighting

In an effort to deter barbaric animal battles such as dogfighting and cockfighting, federal legislation has been introduced to establish felony-level jail time for anyone who violates the Animal Welfare Act's provision outlawing animal fighting and prohibit the interstate and foreign commerce in torturous tools such as knives and gaffs used in cockfighting.

All 50 states ban dogfighting; 47 of them consider it a felony. The federal Animal Welfare Act, however, only has a one-year misdemeanor penalty for such offenders.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1532) by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and in the Senate (S. 736) by Senator John Ensign (R-NV), doubles the current prison time for those who engage in animal fighting from one to two years. The Act further makes it "unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, buy, transport, or deliver in interstate of foreign commerce a knife, a gaff, or any other sharp instrument attached, or designed or intended to be attached, to the leg of a bird for use in an animal fighting venture."

Senator Ensign said on the Senate floor, "This legislation targets the troubling, widespread, and sometimes underground activities of dogfighting and cockfighting where dogs and birds are bred and trained to fight to the death. This is done for the sheer enjoyment and illegal wagering of the animals' handlers and spectators…."

Antifreeze Deaths Leave a Bad Taste in Congressman's Mouth

Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY), alarmed at the idea that as many as 10,000 animals may die annually after ingesting automobile antifreeze containing ethylene glycol, has introduced H.R. 1563, legislation to "require engine coolant and antifreeze to contain a bittering agent so as to render it unpalatable."

According to the National Safety Council, ethylene glycol is a colorless, sweet-tasting liquid, which was used in World War I as a substitute for glycerol in explosives.  Used in antifreeze today, it can have deadly consequences.  Congressman Ackerman notes that consumption of spilled antifreeze "poses a danger to our youngsters playing outdoors, dogs being walked by their owners, cats being let out of the house, and even stray animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc." "The Antifreeze Safety Act" calls for all engine coolants or antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol also to "include denatonium benzoate at a minimum of 30 parts per million." Denatonium benzoate is considered by many to be the bitterest substance known to humans. Animals would not ingest a liquid containing this unpalatable substance, which is already used as a bittering agent to repel deer from consuming plants in one's yard. Antifreeze spills may be inevitable, but animal poisonings as a result can be minimized dramatically with enactment of this modest but vital legislation.



—Urge both of your Senators to cosponsor S. 736, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act.

—Urge your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 1532, the House version of the Animal Fighting bill; and H.R. 1563, the Antifreeze Safety Act.

Address Senators as:

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510.

Address Representatives as:

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

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