Cockfighters get their roosters ready for a fight in Dededo in this November 2017 file photo. Photo bby Pacific Island Times
Animal Wellness Foundation announces rewards system for information leading to prosecution of violators
Washington, D.C. - The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) today announced a rewards program to run for an indefinite time that provides a $2,500 reward for any individual who provides critical information that results in a successful federal prosecution of an individual or set of individuals who violate the federal law against animal fighting.
The rewards program will concentrate on the U.S. territories, where cockfighting is explicitly outlawed starting on Dec. 20.
The reward program is mentioned on the new campaign website, www.endcockfighting.org, which will serve as a comprehensive resource about the issue and call citizens to action to help.
AWF urges citizens to send tips and other information to email@example.com or to contact the U.S. Attorneys or state or territorial attorney general representing the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General at 1-800-424-9121, or the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I am convinced the people of Guam care about animals and want to see the winding down of cockfighting on our beautiful island,” said Chanel Cruz Jarrett, a former Miss Guam and the anti-cockfighting spokesperson for the Animal Wellness Foundation. “We are an appealing destination for people across the Pacific Rim and it’s time to remove the stigma of any form of animal cruelty on Guam.”
“Cockfighting does not represent the true values of Puerto Rico and it is a great relief that it will end on our island,” said Ana Maria Hernandez, an animal law attorney in San Juan and a spokesperson for the Animal Wellness Foundation. “The people of Puerto Rico abhor animal cruelty and want to see the end of cockfighting.”
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 us 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.
“I grew up on Guam, and I know the people of the territory care deeply about the well-being of animals and the rule of law,” said Marion Look-Jameson, a board member with Animal Wellness Action. “Our organization will pay the rewards as necessary, but my hope is that we don’t have to pay out a dime because every American will adhere to the law.”
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 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
An “animal fighting venture “involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least two animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.
Prohibitions on attending on selling, buying, possessing, training, transporting, delivering, or receiving an animal in an animal fighting venture; attending an animal fighting venture; or trafficking in knives or gaffs for use on a bird have long applied to all U.S. territories.
On Dec. 20, these prohibitions are effective in the U.S. territories: sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture or knowing using the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or advertising an animal for use in a fighting venture, to advertise a knife or gaff, or to promote an animal fighting venture.
“Federal agencies and officers have a duty to enforce our laws against the barbaric practices of cockfighting and dogfighting,” said Wayne Pacelle of the Animal Wellness Foundation. “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.”
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. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.
Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. 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. We believe helping animals helps us all.
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