Spectators at dog fights now subject to criminal charges - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Spectators at dog fights now subject to criminal charges

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Spectators at dog fights can now receive criminal charges. (Source: MGN) Spectators at dog fights can now receive criminal charges. (Source: MGN)

Call it a one two punch for thosewho prosecute dog and cock fighting. 

Tucked inside the 2014 Farm Bill,the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act makes it a misdemeanor to attendan animal fight, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000penalty. 

The real teeth of the act is ifsomeone brings a minor, 16 and younger, to an animal fight it will become afederal felony carrying a fine of $250,000 and up to 3 years behind bars. 

Alabama director of The HumaneSociety of the United States, Mindy Gilbert, says children witness thesehorrific bloody acts often.

"It is not at all unusual to see children atthe pit, handling birds, handling money, laying bets," Gilbert said.

As for spectators, they drive thesport. Federal dog fights typically bring in crowds as large as 200,paying at least $100 in admission not including wagers.

First Assistant for the U.S.Attorney in Alabama's Middle District, Clark Morris, is the lead prosecutor onthe country's second largest dog fighting bust, which is set for trial in May.

"It gives people a location toget together and commit crimes whether its gun crimes, drug crimes or they aremaking their connection for drug crimes," Morris said.

Advocates of the act say it'sshort of extraordinary the measure passed without being greatly amended oraltered during its passage. Gilbert believes it will make a massive impact,especially in Alabama where animal fighting is prevalent.

"If you want to take the risk of participatingin criminal activity, then you have pretty much accepted the risk that you mightbe the next person arrested." Gilbert said.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.


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