The federal government, in the last few years, has increased coverage of and penalties for animal fighting activities under the Animal Welfare Act, but it is still lacking in one area: the spectator. Spectators are not innocent bystanders; they are active participants in and enablers of these bloody criminal enterprises and should be treated accordingly. Moreover, when a fight is raided, the organizers, promoters, trainers, and owners disperse and blend into the crowd to escape arrest. To address this loophole, Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Betty Sutton (D-OH) have introduced H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. Their bill makes knowingly attending an animal fight punishable by fines and up to one year in prison. Also, recognizing that exposure to animal abuse—epespecially the egregious brutality of animal fighting—can desensitize children to violence at an early age, the bill makes it a separate offense, with even higher penalties, to knowingly bring a minor to such an event.
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