36 members of Congress call for crackdown on shipments of fighting animals to Guam

(Photo courtesy Animal Wellness Action)

Animal Wellness Action (AWA) and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) applauded Members of Congress for pressing the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the law enforcement arm of the service, to crack down against illegal animal fighting shipments that continue to be uncovered by AWA in their ongoing investigations. The lawmakers specifically call out the shipment of thousands of fighting birds shipped through the U.S. mail from cockfighters in the states to the U.S. territory of Guam.

The letter, led by Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services & General Government (with an important role with the operations of the U.S. Postal Service), and Nancy Mace, R-S.C., the Ranking Member of the relevant House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee, was signed by 36 Members of the House including 24 Democrats and 12 Republicans.

“According to a review of shipping records obtained by Animal Wellness Action,” the lawmakers wrote, “the Guam Department of Agriculture allowed more than 500 shipments of fighting birds into the territory from state-based cockfighters.” There were more than 10,000 animals in these shipments from 2017 – 2021, the vast majority of them male birds destined for fighting pits. AWA has obtained records of all of the shipping documents through Freedom of Information Act requests.

“It is shocking to place live animals in a box with no food or water and send them on a long, multi-flight journey – in some cases an 8000-mile journey from North Carolina to Guam – to end up in a cockfight,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “We are not sure what’s worse – the flight or the fight.”

“We need to stop the shipment of animals, for fighting purposes, via the U.S. Post Service,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. “This barbaric and cruel practice needs further investigation and those responsible need to be held accountable. I urge the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to work more aggressively to interdict illegal trafficking of fighting animals through U.S. mail.”

“The U.S. has banned any interstate or foreign transport of animals for fighting purposes for nearly 20 years, yet the problem still persists. We must take action to better enforce our laws and end this immoral practice,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. “With evidence pointing to the U.S. mail as the primary means of transport for these animals—it is past time for the USPS to treat the illegal shipment of fighting animals as a high priority and work to end this once and for all.”

Cockfighting has been banned everywhere in the United States since December 2019, yet shipments of fighting animals to Guam and to all other parts of the United States has been outlawed since 2002.

Members who signed the letter include: Reps. Alma Adams, D-N.C., Collin Allred, D-Tex., Don Bacon, R-Neb., Julia Brownley, D-Ca., Buddy Carter, R-Ga., Troy Carter, D-La., Jim Cooper D-Tenn., Angie Craig, D-Minn., Madeline Dean, D-Pa., Peter DeFazio, D-Oreg., Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Mike Garcia, R-Ca., Michael Guest, R-Miss., Lance Gooden, R-Tex., Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., Sara Jacobs, D-Ca., John Katko, R-N.Y., Ted Lieu, D-Calif, Zoe Lofgren, D-Ca., Lucy McBath, D-Ga., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Chris Pappas, D-N.H., Scott Peters, D-Ca., Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Kurt Schrader, DVM, D-Oreg., Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Norma Torres, D-Ca., and Fred Upton, R-Mich.

The letter comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari from political leaders in Puerto Rico seeking relief from a federal law that bans cockfighting there and in every other part of the United States. The federal law against animal fighting has been consistently upheld by the U.S. courts., including by a U.S. District Court on Guam.

Animal Wellness Action has conducted detailed investigations on cockfighting in Alabama, Guam, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

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. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver.

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.