Animal fighting is illegal in all 50 states, but penalties for spectators vary widely from state to state. It only makes sense to prosecute spectators because they drive the demand for these heinous events, which often host other dangerous and illegal activities that threaten public safety (including illegal drugs, gambling, sex trafficking and violence). Equally disturbing, many of those attending animal fights consider these events to be “family entertainment,” and they bring children to watch, promoting insensitivity to animal suffering, enthusiasm for violence, and disrespect for the law. Spectators do this will little fear of penalty.
Tennessee House Bill 2120 sets out to change that.
HB 2120, a bill that would increase the penalty for attending an organized animal fight, has cleared two committees with overwhelming support. Unfortunately, the bill is now in jeopardy because some influential House members are trying (and having some success) in derailing it, member by member.
Animal fighting exists for one reason: the spectators. Spectators seek out the fights, pay admission fees, and gamble on the life and death of every animal forced into the ring. Spectators are active participants in animal fighting and should be punished accordingly.
Tennessee’s current penalties for those caught at animal fights are so insignificant they do little to deter their behavior. Spectators face a $500 fine for attending dog fights, and only a $50 fine for cock fights. These people are attending animal fights to gamble on the lives of living, feeling creatures, and spectators stand to win thousands at each and every fight — fights that would not be staged if it weren’t for them. Because of this, Tennessee is known to be one of the friendliest states for animal fighting. This black eye on Tennessee makes our state highly attractive to the criminals who conduct animal fights and for the spectators who derive pleasure from watching animals suffer as they’re forced fight one other to the death.
Both the ASPCA and HSUS have issued action alerts to make it quick and easy for you to contact your legislators. The links to both those alerts are below.
TENNESSEE RESIDENTS: Please also CALL the House Representative for your district and let him or her know you support this bill, and that its extremely important to make Tennessee a state where those who attend, gamble on, and find pleasure in the pain of innocent animals, will go out of their way to avoid due to our tough stance on their actions and behaviors.
If you have already reached out to your legislators while HB 2120 was in committee, THANK YOU, but we need you to continue to put pressure on the House. This bill MUST pass in order to send a very loud and clear message to those who attend animal fights…if you watch and gamble on animal fights in Tennessee, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!
Tennessee residents can find their House Representative here.