Anti-cockfighting group to have ‘investigators’ on Guam

The federal ban on cockfighting took effect late in 2019 but the ban on transporting cockfighting birds across state and territorial lines has been in effect since 2007.

With the federal animal fighting law taking effect last Friday, a mainland anti-animal fighting organization has announced that it will be monitoring cockfighting on Guam and will actually have people on the ground on island to do this.

The Washington DC-based Animal Wellness Foundation, through its action arm Animal Wellness Action, said they will have “investigators” on the ground to document illegal cockfighting.

It is not clear, however, whether the organization will be sending their people to Guam or they will just recruit local people here to act as monitors or investigators.

Recently, AWA and AWF 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 (7 U.S.C. § 2156).

Given that Guam is “where America’s day begins,” AWF says Guam is also where the federal government’s new animal fighting ban begins.

“We know that feelings run deep in the cockfighting community about their sport,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of AWA, in a news release. “But let’s be clear: continuing to engage in staged fighting is dangerous because the federal felony-level penalties are so severe.”

According to Pacelle, AWA and AWF have obtained hundreds of shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture that reveal shipments of birds to the island from known cockfighting operators in the states to Guamanians.

“All of this – the shipments of fighting birds into Guam, the shipment of fighting birds from Guam to other territories and countries, the staged fights at established arenas, the backyard fights, the raising of fighting animals – must end as both a legal and moral imperative,” added Pacelle. “The overwhelming majority of people on Guam and the United States Government oppose staged fights between animals.”

He said Congress gave Guam and other territories one year to wind down this practice, and that day has come. 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.