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April 23, 2009

Federal Court Orders Postal Service To Reconsider Mailing Illegal Animal Fighting Magazines

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to reconsider whether the mailing of certain animal fighting magazines should be banned by the Postal Service because they violate the federal Animal Welfare Act. The ruling comes in response to a case brought by The Humane Society of the United States challenging the Postal Service's denial of The HSUS' 2006 legal petition seeking to block the mailing of advertisements for illegal fighting animals, knives and other animal-fighting paraphernalia. 

"We are delighted the Court has ordered this review of the Postal Service's bizarre open-door policy for the animal-fighting industry," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president & chief counsel of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "The advertisement and sale of fighting animals and weapons is a federal felony, and American taxpayers should not have to subsidize animal cruelty."

The magazines at issue are frequently packed with advertisements for fighting birds and the implements of illegal fighting such as gaffs and knives (sharp instruments strapped to the birds' legs). Although illegal in all 50 states, cockfighting remains a multi-million dollar business in the United States, thanks in large part to these publications that facilitate the commerce of the illicit industry.

Magazines like The Feathered Warrior are regularly sent in the U.S. mail to subscribers across the country, and at a special reduced rate subsidized by American taxpayers. Not only do these magazines frustrate federal law enforcement officials' efforts to enforce laws against cockfighting, but they also plainly violate the newly enhanced provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.

Section 2156 of the Animal Welfare Act bans the use of the mail service "for purposes of advertising an animal, or an instrument described in subsection (e) [cockfighting knives and gaffs], for use in an animal fighting venture, promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal fighting venture." In the course of strengthening this provision in 2007, Congress noted that the "animal fighting industry continues to thrive within the United States" and that "[n]umerous nationally circulated animal fighting magazines still promote these cruel practices, and advertise fighting animals and the accouterments of animal fighting." 

In its decision, the Court noted that "[p]ublications like The Feathered Warrior are recovered in seventy-five percent or more of law enforcement raids of illegal animal fights," and that The HSUS is entitled to challenge the Postal Service's continued mailing of these materials because "[t]he Humane Society has spent decades trying to reduce illegal animal fighting in the United States," and "the need to care for animals on an emergency basis is increased by USPS's circulation of The Feathered Warrior . . . ."

To view the decision, please click here.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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