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January 19, 2012

Indiana Senate Votes to Crack Down on Animal Fighting Spectators

Bill Awaits Action in House of Representatives

The Humane Society of the United States commends the Indiana Senate for passing S.B. 11, sponsored by Sen. James Arnold – District 8. This legislation will make it a felony to attend an animal fight since spectator admission fees and gambling dollars finance illegal dog fights and cockfights. This bill, which sat in the Senate Corrections, Criminal & Civil Matters Committee for the past 4 sessions, was approved by the Senate with a 38-10 vote. 

"After five attempts to get legislation heard and passed regarding these most heinous and barbaric events, I am truly ecstatic for every responsible animal owner in our state,” said Sen. Arnold. “I am indebted to Senator Steel who worked with me and played a very important part in this victory. There is much more to be done and the war is far from over, but this is a major step in the right direction."

Animal fighting is pervasive in Indiana. Neighboring states Illinois, Michigan and Ohio have made it a felony to attend an animal fight. Many animal fighters abandon their dogs or roosters at the first sign of a police raid. This allows them to claim they were attending just as spectators in hopes of avoiding a meaningful prosecution.  Closing this spectator loophole is essential to cracking down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal fighting. 

“This vote by the Indiana Senate brings us closer to stopping these cruel spectacles where animals fight to the death and suffer unimaginable injuries,” said Anne Sterling, Indiana state director for The HSUS. “We are grateful for the support of Sen. Arnold and encourage the House of Representatives to consider the fate of these animals and act quickly to pass this legislation.” 

In 2011, The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Lake County sheriff’s department and Lake County Animal Control in a Gary, Indiana dogfighting raid resulting in four arrests and the seizure of 20 dogs and suspected dogfighting paraphernalia. 

Facts 

  • Animal fighting is outlawed in all 50 states.
  • A poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. in Indiana in 2009 concluded that 81 percent of Indiana voters support legislation to make it a felony to attend a dog fight in Indiana.
  • Indiana can punish animal fighting as a felony, but state law does not ban being a spectator. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to charge most people caught in animal fighting raids.
  • S.B. 11 will make it a felony to be a spectator at an animal fighting contest.
  • The United States Congress is considering H.R. 2492 which would amend the federal animal fighting law to include spectators. This would allow for cases prosecuted in federal court to include the entire cast of characters that participate in animal fighting ventures.

Media Contact: Katie Jarl – 301-258-1483 – kjarl@humanesociety.org 

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