Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Nolan Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Combat Animal Fighting in United States Territories

Nov 2, 2017
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today introduced a bipartisan bill to combat animal fighting in United States territories. Though animal fighting has been prohibited in the United States for a decade, loopholes remain that create doubt as to whether animal fighting prohibitions exist in the United States territories. The introduced bill, The Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, H.R.4202, makes explicit that federal prohibitions against animal fighting apply in all United States jurisdictions, including U.S. territories.


“As a society, we have an obligation to protect those without a voice, including animals who are cruelly forced to fight one another,” Rep. Nolan said. “This legislation affirms and ensures that animal fighting has no place in any jurisdiction within the United States, and it will help safeguard our human communities from associated crimes such as drug dealing and violence.”


Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “We shouldn’t have one set of rules against animal cruelty for all 50 states and a different set of rules for U.S. territories. Dogfighting and cockfighting are barbaric practices, more widely criminalized than any other form of animal cruelty in the world, and the prohibitions should apply to every part of the country.”


During fights, the animals are often drugged to heighten their aggression and forced to keep fighting even after they’ve suffered grievous injuries such as broken bones, deep gashes, punctured lungs and pierced eyes. In cockfighting, birds have metal weapons attached to their legs and typically suffer slow painful deaths.


Animal fighting is also closely associated with other criminal activities, such as gangs, gambling, drug trafficking, illegal weapon dealing, public corruption and various violent crimes including homicide. Multiple federal investigations have also revealed animal fighting to be an intricate and organized criminal enterprise, responsible for moving multi-ton quantities of heroin and methamphetamines across the country.

Since 2002, Congress has upgraded the federal law against animal fighting four times. Under current federal law, it is a felony crime to sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting venture; to buy, sell, deliver, possess, train or transport an animal for fighting purposes; to use the Postal Service or other interstate means to promote animal fighting; to buy, sell, deliver or transport cockfighting implements; and to bring a minor to an animal fight. It is a federal misdemeanor to be a spectator at an animal fighting spectacle. The prohibitions include any animal fighting activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce. 


The PACE Act was introduced by Reps. Nolan (D-MN), Roskam (R-IL), Blumenauer (D-OR), R. Davis (R-IL), Buchanan (R-FL), Sherman (D-CA), Yoder (R-KS), Cardenas (D-CA) and Knight (R-CA) and is supported by the Humane Society of the United States.