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From 10 October 2004 Issue

Increase the Penalty for Cruel Dogfighting and Cockfighting
From Animal Protection Institute - info@api4animals.org

H.R. 4264, the Animal Fighting Enforcement Act, has been introduced in Congress to increase enforcement of anti-animal fighting laws. H.R. 4264 received approval from the House Judiciary Committee on September 30, 2004, and the bill now moves to the entire U.S. House of Representatives for a vote. Your help is needed to ensure the passage of this key legislation.

Contrary to popular myth, cockfighting is not an accidental or natural sparring of two roosters. Instead, cockfighting is a deliberately staged bloodsport in which two roosters are placed in an enclosed pit to fight. Roosters raised for fighting are specifically bred for their aggressiveness and they then are trained to fight. Their natural spurs are cut off and replaced by steel razor blades ("slashers") or by curved metal spikes measuring up to 3 inches in length ("gaffs"). Stimulants and/or blood clotting agents often are fed to the birds prior to the fights to make them more aggressive and harder to kill. This activity is staged before spectators, who often wager on the outcome of the contest.

During cockfights, the birds can suffer serious injuries, including broken wings or legs, lacerations, and multiple puncture wounds. The dead and dying birds are discarded in trash bins or alongside the road. If the birds survive the fights, they are stitched up (presumably without anesthetics) to fight again. As a result, there is no meaningful "victory" for fighting roosters.

If passed, the Animal Fighting Enforcement Act would: (1) provide a two-year (felony) imprisonment penalty for animal fighting violations; (2) make it unlawful to buy, sell, transport, deliver, or receive an animal interstate (or import an animal from another country) for animal fighting; (3) ban the interstate or foreign sale, purchase, transport, or delivery of slashers and gaffs; and (4) prohibit the promotion of animal fighting ventures through the use of the U.S. mail.

Because the lobbyists who represent the cockfighting industry will work hard against this bill, your voice is urgently needed. Please contact your federal Representative today and ask him/her to co-sponsor and support H.R. 4264.

Address for your Representative:

The Honorable [Full Name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

To obtain a phone or fax number for your Representative, call the House switchboard at 202-224-3121. Telephone and fax numbers of individual members of Congress can also be reached by calling Federal Information at 800-688-9889.

If you do not know the name of your Representative, please call 202-224-3121 or go to http://congress.org/congressorg/home/ and enter your zip code and press "Go." The photo and name of your Representative will appear on the right side of the screen. You can then click on the photo for detailed contact information.

You can mention the following points to your U.S. representative:

<> During a typical cockfighting tournament, many of the birds are killed. Winners as well as losers suffer severe injuries, including broken wings, punctured lungs, and gouged eyes.

<> Roosters, like all other animals, have a nervous system and experience pain. The American Veterinary Medical Association considers cockfighting to be cruel and has recommended that the practice be banned and violations be considered a felony offense [which this legislation accomplishes]. The American Poultry Association also opposes cockfighting.

<> Cockfighting entertains spectators through the suffering and death of animals. It desensitizes young children who often attend the events to violence. To the vast majority of people, causing animals to fight to the death is not an acceptable "sport."

<> Cockfighting is not a natural activity. While it is true that game fowl have a fighting instinct, the natural purpose of the fighting instinct is to establish "pecking order" and it seldom results in serious injury. In cockfights, however, the birds are bred for aggressiveness, fitted with lethal instruments, and given drugs to maximize their aggression. Unlike birds in the wild, these animals cannot escape. They are placed in an enclosed pit and forced to fight until one quits, is severely injured, or dies.

For more information contact Barbara Schmitz at bschmitz@api4animals.org or 916-447-3085 x208.

The animals deserve a voice in Congress yours!

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