The U.S. Sentencing Commission announced new guidelines to significantly increase the penalties for both dogfighting and cockfighting, bringing the penalties more in line with the 2014 Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. The commission also established a new sentencing guideline for anyone who attends an animal fight with a minor.

In making its decision, the USSC noted that they received nearly 50,000 letters from the public in response to the animal fighting proposal—more than any other issue in the commission’s history.

Chris Schindler, director of animal crimes for the Humane Society of the United States, testified before the panel last month in favor of strengthening the proposed guidelines. He made the following statement:

“Working with law enforcement on cases across the country, we’ve seen first-hand the brutal cruelty involved in both dogfighting and cockfighting. Increasing the penalties for these crimes will make the business of animal fighting less desirable, which is good for both animal and community welfare. We applaud the commission for significantly increasing their suggested penalties for this crime.”

The USSC last considered animal fighting in 2008, following the passage of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. Since then, Congress has passed stronger legislation that contained stiffer penalties for animal fighting. These new changes to the guidelines are now more reflective of the seriousness of the crime of animal fighting.

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