Rewards for arrests, convictions for animal fighting

Published 5:49 pm Monday, February 8, 2021

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The Animal Wellness Action (AWA) and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) announces a $5,000 reward for information resulting in successful prosecution of any individual for violating state or federal law (7 U.S.C. § 2156) against animal fighting. The announcement follows an extensive investigative report into cockfighting released last month. The investigation reveals widespread trafficking of fighting animals from North Carolina to all points around the world.
The two organizations developed detailed dossiers on 12 individuals, including eight in the Western District of North Carolina alleging deep involvement in activities related to cockfighting. Several allegedly shipped cockfighting birds to Mexico, the Philippines, Guam and other distant locations, according to the report.

The shipping records revealed that North Carolina was among the top five shippers in the nation to Guam, trailing only Oklahoma, California, Hawaii and Alabama when it comes to the volume of birds transported to this long-time hotbed of cockfighting. The AWA and the AWF presented the information to relevant law enforcement agencies and officials, including the U.S. Attorneys representing three jurisdictions in the state.

“Federal agencies and officers have a duty to enforce our laws against the barbaric practices of cockfighting and dog fighting,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “But, their good works depend on the cooperation and alertness of citizens. We ask people who know about illegal animal fighting activities to help us stop these forms of cruelty.”

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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 use 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.
  • 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.

Penalties for each violation of any one of these provisions allows for a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for perpetrators, except for an adult attending an animal fighting venture. Penalties for an adult attendee are one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
“Cockfighting breeds a cesspool of other illegal activities, such as gambling and drug use,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “We will make our communities safer when we root out this criminal cruelty.”

An “animal fighting venture “ involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least two animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.

This reward offering follows a rash of high-profile cockfighting activity last week in Las Vegas and Elko County, Nevada, in Los Angeles, California and in Chickamauga, Georgia.

Anyone with information about illegal cockfighting activities can send information to

Residents can also contact the appropriate U.S. attorneys, the state attorney general or county sheriffs’ or district attorneys.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C. based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. The organization champions causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife and advocate for policies to stop dog fighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation.

To prevent cruelty, the organization promotes enacting good public policies while working to enforce those policies.

The organization says that to enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t.

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. The Foundation organizes rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver.

The organization advocates assisting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. The Foundation also supports policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering.

The organization says it believes that helping animals helps us all.