Bacon sponsors bipartisan bill to end animal trafficking, fight gambling

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) on April 20 led a bipartisan contingent of 19 lawmakers in introducing legislation that would amend the Animal Welfare Act to provide stricter penalties and to bolster protections for at-risk animals, including roosters.

Rep. Bacon sponsored the Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, H.R. 2742, with original cosponsors including U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Mark Amodei (R-NV), and Andrea Salinas (D-OR).

“It’s disgusting and inhumane that people profit off the cruel practice of forcing animals to fight for their lives,” Rep. Bacon said. “The FIGHT Act will embolden law enforcement to stop this inhumane and cruel animal abuse.”

H.R. 2742 would ban simulcasting of and gambling on animal fights; halt the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) through U.S. mail; create a citizen suit provision to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and improve forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Bacon’s office.

“Cockfighting, dogfighting, and other blood sports are inhumane and unsafe and Congress must intervene to protect innocent animals from such abuse,” said Rep. Salinas. “That’s why I’m proud to partner with Congressman Bacon as we introduce the FIGHT Act. This bill would strengthen our ability to hold those responsible for illegal animal fighting to account. It’s time to take a stand against cruelty.”

If enacted, the amendments in H.R. 2742 also would protect public health by helping to prevent diseases such as avian flu, according to the bill summary, which noted that a massive outbreak of the disease in 2018-2020 caused the deaths of 16 million birds and $1 billion in containment costs.

“This is not just an animal rights issue, but a public health safety issue,” Rep. Bacon said. “H5N1 bird flu emerged in Asia in the early 2000s and was spread and maintained by those who engage in cockfighting. There could be serious implications if it were to mutate into a strain of human-to-human transmission.”

The measure is supported by Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.