We Need Your Help! Now’s Our Chance to #GetTough on Animal Fighting

January 28, 2016

Although participating in animal fighting is a crime in all 50 states and has been a federal felony for years, this shockingly brutal form of cruelty is still occurring in every part of the country and in every type of community. One would think that convicted animal-fighters would serve significant time behind bars…but sadly, that’s not always the case.

Although federal law allows this crime to be punished with prison terms of up to five years, the current federal sentencing guidelines—a reference for judges written by the U.S. Sentencing Commission—categorize animal fighting as a “gambling offense” and suggest a base level sentence of 6-12 months. In reality, about half of those convicted of animal fighting in federal courts only serve probation, and fighters who do get jail time receive an average sentence of six months.

To make matters worse, these low sentence recommendations often discourage federal prosecutors and law enforcement from taking on animal fighting cases to begin with. This leaves more animals vulnerable to becoming victims of this barbaric, illegal practice.

Fortunately, it’s time for the U.S. Sentencing Commission to update its sentencing guidelines, and animal fighting is on the agenda. The Commission is on the right track—it has proposed raising the base level sentence to 21-27 months—but we’d like to see the guidelines recommend higher sentences in exceptionally bad cases, such as when a large number of animals have suffered. Animal advocates like you can make a real difference!

Please urge the Sentencing Commission to get tough on animal fighting by visiting aspca.org/GetTough and submitting your comments by the March 21 deadline, and share this news on social media using the hashtag #GetTough. Together, we can ensure that people who force animals to fight are punished to the fullest extent allowed by law. Thank you for your support!