$2,500 reward for reporting cockfighting even as Guam gets set to ignore federal law

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A Washington D.C.-based foundation is offering a bounty for every violation of the federal cockfighting ban reported on Guam.

This as the Legislature announced that it will all but ignore the federal government’s cockfighting ban mandate, which is set to take effect on Dec. 20.

The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) said all citizens in the U.S. territories must comply with the new federal law forbidding animal fighting,

AWA has announced a rewards program to run for an indefinite time that provides a $2,500 reward for any individual who provides critical information that results in a successful federal prosecution of an individual or set of individuals who violate the federal law against animal fighting.

According to AWA, the publicizing of the rewards program will concentrate on the U.S. territories, where cockfighting is explicitly outlawed starting on December 20, 2019.

The reward program is mentioned on the organization’s new campaign website, www.endcockfighting.org, which according to the group will serve as a comprehensive resource about the issue and call citizens to action to help.

The Guam Legislature has already declared that the local enforcement of the federal cockfighting ban, set to take effect in Dec. 20 of this year, would not be prioritized by the government of Guam.

Last year, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed in the U.S. Congress banning cockfighting in the territories. However, no input from Guam was ever received.

The latest budget passed by the Legislature indirectly supported and defended the culturally significant practice of cockfighting on Guam thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Amanda Shelton.

Shelton’s amendment to the budget act makes the local enforcement of the federal cockfighting ban as the lowest priority of the government of Guam.

Shelton said the federal ban on cockfighting was not enacted by the people of Guam or its representatives and is being done against the people’s will.

“With the cash-strap on our budget, we cannot and should not be on the hook to pay for another federal unfunded mandate with our public safety dollars. Our taxpayers’ representatives could not vote on this ban, our taxpayers did not approve of this ban and our taxpayers do not want this ban. To use our taxpayer money to enforce this federal law would be taxation without representation,” Shelton said.

Spokesperson

The AWA news release mentions Chanel Cruz Jarrett, a former Miss Guam and the anti-cockfighting spokesperson for the Animal Wellness Foundation, who said: “I am convinced the people of Guam care about animals and want to see the winding down of cockfighting on our beautiful island. We are an appealing destination for people across the Pacific Rim and it’s time to remove the stigma of any form of animal cruelty on Guam.”

Under the federal anti-animal fighting law, it is a crime to:

* Knowingly sponsor or exhibit in an animal fighting venture;
* Knowingly attend an animal fighting venture, or knowingly cause an individual who has not attained the age of 16 to attend an animal fighting venture;
* Knowingly buy, sell, possess, train, transport, deliver, or receive any animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture;
* Knowingly use the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or any “written, wire, radio televisions or other form of communications in, or use a facility of, interstate commerce,” to advertise an animal for use in an animal fighting venture, or to advertise a knife, gaff, or other sharp instrument designed to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture, or to promote or in any other manner further an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the U.S.; and

* Knowingly sell, buy, transport, or deliver in interstate or foreign commerce “a knife, a gaff, or any other sharp instrument” designed or intended to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture.

Hope

“I grew up on Guam, and I know the people of the territory care deeply about the well-being of animals and the rule of law,” said Marion Look-Jameson, a board member with Animal Wellness Action, in the news release. “Our organization will pay the rewards as necessary, but my hope is that we don’t have to pay out a dime because every American will adhere to the law.”

Penalties for each violation of any one of these provisions allows for a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for perpetrators, except for an adult attending an animal fighting venture. Penalties for an adult attendee are 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

An “animal fighting venture” involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least two animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.

Prohibitions on attending on selling, buying, possessing, training, transporting, delivering, or receiving an animal in an animal fighting venture; attending an animal fighting venture; or trafficking in knives or gaffs for use on a bird have long applied to all U.S. territories. On December 20, 2019, these prohibitions are effective in the U.S. territories: sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture or knowing using the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or advertising an animal for use in a fighting venture, to advertise a knife or gaff, or to promote an animal fighting venture.

“Federal agencies and officers have a duty to enforce our laws against the barbaric practices of cockfighting and dogfighting,” said Wayne Pacelle of the Animal Wellness Foundation. “But their good works depend on the cooperation and alertness of citizens. We ask people who know about illegal animal fighting activities to help us stop these forms of cruelty.”

The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. It also supports policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. It advocates for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation.

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