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New legislation would criminalize attendance at organized animal fights

Two U.S. representatives have introduced bi-partisan federal legislation that would make it illegal to knowingly spectate organized animal fights, and would impose additional penalties for causing a minor to attend such an event, the Humane Society of the United States reports.

Representatives Tom Marino, R-Pa, and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, have proposed the legislation to reduce the criminal culture surrounding dogfighting and cockfighting and the "damaging influence" it has on children, Marino told the news source. Sutton added that this legislation would bring the nation closer to ending the "barbaric activity" once and for all.

Animal fighting is defined as the deliberate pitting of two animals against each other to fight in lengthy contests that often end in death. The fights are conducted for the entertainment and gambling purposes of the audience, the news source reports. Animals are forced to fight even after they have suffered serious injuries.

Congress has strengthened the penalties for breaking the federal animal fighting law over the last 10 years, but has yet to address the issue of spectators. This legislation would impose federal misdemeanor penalties on spectators of animal fights and felony penalties for those who bring children to the events.
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