The ASPCA Testifies for Stronger Animal Fighting Sentences
Update—March 22, 2016: The comment period to urge the U.S. Sentencing Commission to strengthen its animal fighting sentences is now closed. A record-breaking 50,000 of you made your voices heard on this important issue—that’s the most comments ever received by the U.S.S.C on a single issue! Thank you to all of you who responded to our call to action. The Commission will make a decision on their animal fighting guidelines in mid-April—stay tuned.
It was a big day for advocates of strong animal fighting guidelines! The ASPCA’s Vice President of Legal Advocacy, Jennifer Chin—along with representatives from the Department of Justice and the Humane Society of the United States—testified today before the U.S. Sentencing Commission about the brutality of animal fighting and the need for stronger sentences.
Participating in animal fighting has been a federal felony for years, but this horrific form of cruelty is still occurring in every part of the country. While it’s natural to assume those convicted of this exceptional cruelty would serve significant time behind bars, that’s not always the case.
Federal law allows this crime to be punished with prison terms of up to five years, but current federal sentencing guidelines categorize animal fighting as a “gambling offense” and suggest a base level sentence of only 6-12 months behind bars for offenders. The reality is that about half of those convicted of animal fighting in federal courts don’t do any time at all. Those who do get jail time are, on average, sentenced to only 6 months. That’s just not enough.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is updating its animal fighting sentencing guidelines, and we’d like to see the guidelines recommend strong and specific sentences for convicted fighters.
But we need to act quickly! The Commission is accepting public comments on this issue through Monday, March 21, which means we only have five more days to tell the Commission to strengthen animal fighting sentences. Animal advocates like you can make a real difference, so please urge the U.S. Sentencing Commission to get tough on animal fighting today.