Opponents of cockfights and dogfights rally at a Wisconsin congressman's office Monday. Supporters of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act say Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is stalling a vote on a bill that would make animal fighting a federal felony and would increase penalties for transporting animals across state lines for the purpose of fighting. "This Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act is really important to stiffen penalties for people who fight animals," says Dezarae Jones Hartwig, education manager, Wisconsin Humane Society. She says, "Currently the misdemeanor penalty with a fine is the cost of doing business for so many of these people who fight animals."
Jones Hartwig says the bill has widespread support, including 324 cosponsors. She says animal fighting is very common. "Oh, it's more common than people think."
Jones Hartwig says it's much more than just an animal welfare issue, it's a health issue. "When you start transporting animals that are not taken care of as well as they should, first of all, they could be harboring certain diseases, things like that. It becomes a public health issue, as well, when you start transporting animals like that."
Sensenbrenner had said that animal fighting is an abhorrent practice but is best handled by state and local officials. Jones Hartwig argues that it's a federal issue because of the transportation of animals across state lines. Jones Hartwig wants you to call your legislators and let them know you support this legislation.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, also known as H.R. 817, was introduced by fellow Republican Congressman Mark Green.