Latest federal spending bill makes enforcement of cockfighting ban a priority

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(Photo courtesy Animal Wellness Action)

The $1.4 trillion federal spending bill signed Friday by President Trump includes language urging federal agencies to enforce the ban on cockfighting that took effect Friday.

According to Wayne Pacelle, the founder of Animal Wellness Action, there is “unambiguous report language” in the spending package that urges the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to enforce federal animal laws, including the one that took effect on December 20.

That language states (page30) that the Justice Department “shall make it a priority to investigate and prosecute violations of animal welfare laws.”

In addition the Justice Department is required to “report to the Committees not later than 120 days after enactment of this Act on the specific steps the Department is taking to enforce such laws,” including case development and prosecutions based on referrals from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, and other Federal agencies.

Multiple federal agencies will enforce the ban

In response to an inquiry from the Pacific News Center, Pacelle said multiple federal agencies are tasked with enforcing the ban against animal fighting.

He cited a December 16 2019 release from the  U.S. Attorney’s office in California which  announced a major raid of a cockfighting farm and the indictment of its operator.

The release states that the indictment was the result of a joint investigation involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the IRS Criminal Investigations office, and the U.S. Marshal Service, among others.

The suspect in that case is facing a penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine as to each count.

Cockfighting birds shipped to Guam

On his blog, Pacelle writes that Animal Wellness Action has obtained hundreds of shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture that reveal shipments of birds to Guam residents from known cockfighting operators in the states.

He also states that he was on Guam in September and went to The Dome in Dededo to witness a cockfight. The Dome was shut down Friday as a result of the new law banning cockfighting.