Five thousand dollars can buy many things; can do a lot of good and sometimes save lives. The Humane Society of the United State will pay up to $5000 for a tip that will lead to the arrest and conviction of people who put on dog fights, and or animal abuse.
There are people in El Paso County and nearby communities, who know of people who put on dog fights or raise dogs, usually pit bulls, bred specifically for dog fights and then there are just folks who like to attend dog fights and make a wager or two on these dog fights. Often “bait” animals are stolen pets, puppies, kittens, rabbits, small dogs and even stock (pit bulls acquired by the dog fighting ring which appear to be passive or less dominant). Bait dogs are literally torn apart.
Since 2008, it has been a federal felony to sponsor, exhibit, buy, sell, deliver, possess, train or transport an animal for participation in an animal fighting venture. This crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment of, five years and a fine of, $250,000.
It used to be that spectators at a dog fight did not face fines or jail for supporting dog fights however that is no longer the case. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “The newly enacted Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which was included in the final 2014 Farm Bill, makes it a federal felony to knowingly bring a minor under the age of 16 to a dogfight or cockfight, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend a fight as a spectator, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.”
When asked for input on the issue of organized dogfights, Sheriff Richard D. Wiles gave the following response:
Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states. In 2007, Congress passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act which provides for felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export relating to commerce in fighting dogs, fighting cocks and cock fighting paraphernalia. Each violation can result in up to three years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Residents should always be aware and alert to criminal activity to include dog fighting. Besides obvious signs, the following could indicate dog fighting:
- Pit bulls on heavy chains
- Scarred dogs, especially pit bulls
- Fighting pit
- Vitamins, drugs and vet supplies
- Dog fighting publications
- Breaking sticks — a hammer handle-sized piece of sturdy material (usually wood, but sometimes fiberglass) with a handle end and a flat, wedge-shaped end. This tool is used to break a Pit Bull off of another dog during a fight
- Jenny mill, treadmill, cat mill or spring pole — used to exercise and strengthen dogs. Dog fighting is clearly one of the worst forms of animal abuse.
Often “bait” animals are stolen pets, puppies, kittens, rabbits, small dogs and even stock (pit bulls acquired by the dogfighting ring which appear to be passive or less dominant. Callers can ask to remain anonymous and/or have their identity remain anonymous.
The Humane Society of the United States Has a Dog Fighting Hotline 1-877-847-4787 – open 24/7 Calls may be anonymous. All information is kept confidential. Your identity will be protected. Reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dogfighter. You can leave a message, talk to an investigator, or get their e-mail address and leave your own. If you witness a dogfight in progress, immediately call the police, 9-1-1. Then call the hotline.
If you see an animal that appears to be neglected outside of involvement in dog fighting, please contact your local humane society, animal control or law enforcement agency.
For cruelty convictions involving depriving an animal of food or water, abandoning an animal, transporting an animal in a cruel manner, injuring someone else’s animal, and overworking an animal, the defendant will be punished with a Class A misdemeanor, which may include a fine up to $4,000, jail time up to a year, or both. If the conviction is a third offense involving these actions, the state may punish the defendant with a state jail felony. Under Texas law, a state jail felony may include jail time ranging from 180 days to 2 years and a fine up to $10,000
For the first time ever, the FBI began collecting data on animal cruelty crimes through its National Incident-Based Reporting System. Data collected this year will be available for public review in 2017. The move to track the crimes reflects research that shows a connection between animal abuse and violence against people. A study from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, for instance, revealed that 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse someone in their family.
Note: In order to qualify for the rewards program, this must be an open case. Additionally, law enforcement officers (including ACOs and humane officers) are not eligible for the HSUS’s rewards program. Get a letter from law enforcement. If the puppy mill operator or suspected animal fighter is convicted, ask the law enforcement agency involved in the case to write a letter to The HSUS. The letter should state that your tip helped lead to the arrest and prosecution. The letter should be mailed, faxed, or emailed to:
Animal Fighting Reward Program c/o Adam Parascandola
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street NW Washington, DC 20037
Call The HSUS for more information.
If you have questions about the reward program, call 202-452-1100.
If you have information about an animal fighting operation, here are the steps to take: Call your local police department or animal control agency. Give them as many details as you can about the suspected animal fighting operation or illegal puppy mill situation. You do not need to give your name to law enforcement to report your information. Tell the law enforcement agency about The HSUS’s reward program. Call 911. Callers can ask to remain anonymous. You can also call The HSUS’s puppy mill tip line at 877-MILL-TIP with information about a puppy mill in your area, or the animal fighting tip line at 877-TIP-HSUS with information about possible animal fighting activity.
EL PASO ANIMAL SERVICES SHELTER
5001 Fred Wilson Ave (915) 842-1000
Humane Society of El Paso
4991 Fred Wilson, El Paso, Texas 79906
915 532 6971, Fax: 915 566 0723
Mon-Fri 11am-6pm Sat/Sun: 11am-5pm