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Pennsylvania House of Representatives Cracks Down on Animal Fighting

The HSUS urges Senate to respond in kind.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 199-0 to outlaw the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia. The Humane Society of the United States supports HB 164, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, which provides law enforcement in the state with additional tools to crack down on the barbaric bloodsport of dogfighting and cockfighting.

Rep. Stephens said: “Animal fighting is a felony of the first degree, but unfortunately police often find the tools of the trade rather than an animal fight in progress. This bill ensures people who commit these barbaric acts don’t escape punishment.”

Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The HSUS, said: “This decisive vote shows that our state is serious about banning the instruments of torture used to make cruel fights even bloodier for entertainment’s sake. Animal fighting is a depraved activity, and everything associated with it should be outlawed. We thank Rep. Stephens for his leadership on this important bill, and we urge the Senate to pass it swiftly.”

The law defines animal fighting paraphernalia as any device, implement or drug intended to be used for animal fighting or to train an animal for animal fighting. This includes instruments and drugs used in breeding, heightening aggression and increasing blood-letting, such as the razor-sharp knives or gaffs, which are attached to the birds’ legs. HB 164 makes possession of such items a misdemeanor.


  • Animal fighting is illegal in every state, and all animal fighting that affects interstate commerce is punishable as a federal felony under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • In Pennsylvania, cockfighting and dogfighting are both punishable as felonies on the first offense. It is also a felony to be a spectator at an animal fight or to possess dogs or birds for the purpose of fighting.
  • Congress is considering legislation—the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act—to further strengthen the federal animal fighting law by making it a crime to be a spectator at a dogfight or cockfight, with additional penalties for bringing a child to the fight. 

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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