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senate Bill S. 513

Should Animals Freed From Fighting Rings be Available for Adoption Sooner?

Argument in favor

The cost of caring for animals seized in animal fighting cases is currently a barrier to investigating and prosecuting these crimes. Additionally, the length of time that animals need to be held in shelters is detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Kodiwodi's Opinion
···
05/05/2019
The only chance for true rehabilitation for many of these bait and fighting animals is to quickly get them into loving homes after they have spent some time being trained to be nonaggressive. Best Friends took in the Vicktory dogs from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring and had good success with them. I do feel it is important to normalize the situation for these animals as quickly as possible with the caveat that for the sake of the animal and future owner, they receive appropriate behavior modification training prior to release. I especially like the idea of offenders paying the bill for the animals Freeing up funds for federal prosecution and investigations and would like for them to never be allowed to own an animal again. This bipartisan bill applies to stolen bait animals not just the fighters. Get them out quickly and safely. For those of you saying this is a local issue your correct. This will reduce the costs of shelters which are paid for by your taxes. For those saying the federal government should not be involved, you’re wrong. Explain to me how these cases can be federally prosecuted (it is an interstate crime) if the Feds aren’t involved and don’t have the money to pursue these felons as all money is tied up in bordering these animals.
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Robert's Opinion
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05/05/2019
And the people involved in dog fighting must be charged as felons and jailed a minimum of 5 years in prison
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Glowurm's Opinion
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05/05/2019
Aren’t dog-fighting rings already banned EVERYWHERE? If they aren’t, they should be. They are man’s BEST FRIEND! How can we allow this? You have to be a really sick individual to accept this. Psychologists have said that children who abuse animals are more likely to become abusers and murderers. What does this say about anyone who participates and accepts this? To me, it says that they have a serious problem! I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to such a person! There are thousands of better things to focus on than this! Make this a crime with serious jail time and be sure they get a psych evaluation while you’re at it!
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Argument opposed

There’s already a federal fine of up to $250,000 for interstate animal fighting. The proceeds these fines can be used to defray the costs of caring for animals seized in animal fighting cases.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
05/05/2019
Although I hate to say it, for the most part the animals should be put down. Dogs have long memories and hold trauma all their life. While it may seem like kindness to give them to people to love, most of the dogs don’t really recover if they were there for very long. Really unfortunate situation but you have to try and not be overly emotional about it. You can’t just think about gratifying your own sense of pity or guilt. It’s sad and we should definitely work to stop it from happening in the first place, but the fighting and bait dogs are badly maimed, not just physically but emotionally too. It’s kinder to put them down and work hard to ensure the practice ends so more dogs don’t suffer. We won’t run out of dogs anymore than we will run out of the human capacity for greed and cruelty. Put the people in jail for 15 or 20 years and put the animals down.
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KansasTamale's Opinion
···
05/05/2019
I’m all for adopting out those poor animals, BUT the mental & physical health of these animals needs to be evaluated & possible recuperation of the animals is very important. The fines that should & must be charged to those involved in this horrible crime can take care of these animals.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
···
05/05/2019
These Animals Have Been Trained To Be Attack Animals & Dangerous. There’s already a federal fine of up to $250,000 for interstate animal fighting. The proceeds these fines can be used to defray the costs of caring for animals seized in animal fighting cases. SneakyPete..... 👎🏻👎🏻NO👎🏻👎🏻. 5*5*19.....
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 14th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 513?

This bill — known as the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act of 2018 — would expedite the disposition process for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases, hold offenders financially responsible for the care of animals in custody, and allow courts to take animals’ welfare into account when considering legal delays.

Specifically, this bill would:

  • Accelerate the disposition process by reducing the notice period following the seizure of animals under federal animal fighting or gambling statutes from 60 to 30 days;

  • Require courts to consider animals’ welfare and costs to the government when seeking to extend the notice period;

  • Require claimants to reimburse the costs of caring for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases when the government prevails in civil forfeiture proceedings; and

  • Give judges to discretion to allow the consideration of the claimant’s culpability, financial condition, and other factors when requiring and determining the reimbursement.

Impact

Animal fighting rings; animal rescue organizations; animal shelters; federal prosecutors trying animal fighting cases; abused animals; and defendants in animal fighting cases.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 513

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) reintroduced this bill to expedite the disposition process for animals seized in federal animal fighting cases, hold offenders financially responsible for the care of animals in custody, and let courts take animals’ welfare into account when considering legal delays:

“Abusing animals and intentionally provoking them is wrong. When our government saves animals that have been victims of cruelty and abuse, we must do everything we can to ensure their welfare. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill to streamline the process of getting these animals the care they need and ensuring that they are properly cared for in the future.”

When she introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Sen. Harrris made similar arguments:

“All animals must be treated humanely, free from cruelty and abuse, as they often become extended members of our families. We must do all we can to ensure that the welfare of these animals who have been victims of cruelty is a priority, and remove any red tape that prevents them from being properly and safely cared for.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), sponsor of the House version of this bill in the 116th Congress, calls dog fighting a "particularly heinous crime" that must be stopped: 

“Dog fighting is a particularly heinous crime that must be stamped out, but, unfortunately, when the animals are seized, the cost and care often falls on local shelters. Court proceedings can take over a year, which means the cost of doing the right thing can total millions of dollars. Additionally, shelters are unable to rehabilitate these animals until the proceedings have completed, which leaves animals stressed. It’s unjust that taxpayers and local shelters are picking up the tab for the care of these animals. This bill would help remedy that by allowing courts to consider animal welfare when determining trial expediency and requiring responsible parties to reimburse taxpayers and shelters for the cost of caring for animals. I am so pleased to be able work bipartisanly to help keep animals safe and place responsibility where it belongs. And today’s introduction of the HEART Act brings us one crucial step closer.”

Last Congress, original cosponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who has cosponsored this bill in both the 115th and 116th Congresses, added that this bill is based on recommendations from the DOJ’s Animal Cruelty Roundtable:

“Animals who have been rescued from cruelty and abuse deserve to be placed in loving homes as soon as it is safely possible. Our legislation, which is based on recommendations by the Department of Justice’s Animal Cruelty Roundtable, would reduce the minimum amount of time animals must be held in shelters and alleviate the financial burdens that fall on those who care for seized animals. I have long advocated for policies that improve the welfare of animals, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to help protect animals that have experienced inhumane treatment.”

Last Congress, the ASPCA, which supports this bill, says:

“When the ASPCA assists law enforcement during dogfighting raids, we often find dogs—even puppies—tethered to heavy chains, living without food, water or proper shelter, and horrifically wounded and scarred. After medical attention and rehabilitation, many dogs rescued from these cruel situations can go on to enjoy happy lives in loving homes. But sadly, in many instances animals can suffer in limbo while the abusers’ court cases progress through an often slow-moving legal system. The lengthy holding periods in federal animal fighting cases can result in debilitating stress and health problems for the animals involved, even when shelters provide high-quality care. Also, the astronomical cost of holding and caring for seized animals for long periods unnecessarily burdens animal protection groups and local shelters. These problems can discourage future animal fighting investigations, meaning fewer animals get saved. The HEART Act seeks to address these issues by requiring the owners of animals seized in federal animal fighting cases to be responsible for the cost of their care. The bill will also expedite the processes to get these animals rehabilitated and adopted into safe and loving homes faster.”

Richard Patch, vice president of federal affairs for ASPCA Government Relations, adds

“Dogfighting is a brutal ‘blood-sport’ in which innocent animals are forced to train, fight and suffer for the entertainment and profit of spectators. These animals have suffered enough at the hands of their abusers, and the red tape of the federal forfeiture system should not be a barrier to their adoption. We are grateful to Senators Harris and Collins, and Representatives Chu and Katko, for championing the HEART Act to streamline the process to give these victims of cruelty the chance they deserve to find safe and loving homes.”

This bill has 4 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two each from the Democratic and Republican parties, in the 116th Congress. A House companion bill in the current Congress, sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), has 37 bipartisan cosponsors, including 23 Democrats and 14 Republicans.

Last Congress, there were 10 bipartisan Senate cosponsors of this bill, including one Republican and nine Democrats, and it didn't receive a committee vote. The House version of this bill, sponsored by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) with the support of 83 bipartisan cosponsors, including 48 Democrats and 35 Republicans, also didn't receive a committee vote.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Humane Society, National Sheriffs’ Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and National Humane Education Society also supported this bill in the 115th Congress. In the current session of Congress, ASPCA Government Affairs and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have again expressed their support.


Of NoteAnimal fighting is a staged fight between two or more animals, or between a human and an animal, for the purpose of human entertainment, wagering, or sport. In some instances, one of the animals may be a “bait animal” used for sport or training. In the U.S., the three most common types of animal fighting are dogfighting, cockfighting, and hog-dog fighting. In recent years, the most prominent animal fighting case in the U.S. was that of former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, who ran a kennel called “Bad Newz Kennels” that housed and trained over 50 pitbulls, staged dog fights, killed dogs, and ran a high-stakes gambling ring with purses up to $26,000.

In organized animal fighting cases in which law enforcement seize the animals in a raid, there are usually many animals that must be cataloged as evidence, provided with medical treatment, and sheltered for the duration of the court case. Recent dogfighting raids have resulted in the seizures of anywhere from one to nearly 500 dogs, with an average of 35 dogs per case. Often, animals seized in dogfighting raids have specific medical and behavioral needs, and their housing, assessment, and disposition can be complicated and expensive. Additionally, security precautions may be necessary at the shelter due to the risk of animals from “champion bloodlines” being stolen.

For animals held as evidence, lengthy forfeiture cases leave them in shelters for months, unable to be rehabilitated or put up for adoption. Due to the amount of time they spend in shelters, chronic stress leads to greater serious physical and behavioral deterioration for these animals.

Currently, the costs of caring for animals rescued from abuse are rarely, if ever, reimbursed by those who abused the animals — they’re paid by nonprofit animal protection organizations and local and federal funds. The financial responsibility local municipalities take on to pay for the care of abused animals discourages future animal abuse investigations and seizures.

There’s an existing federal statute, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (2007), that imposes federal penalties for interstate commerce, import, and export relating to commerce in fighting dogs, fighting cocks, and cockfighting paraphernalia. Each violation of this Act can result in up to three years in jail and a $250,000 fine.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Zoran Kolunzidja)

AKA

HEART Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to civil forfeitures relating to certain seized animals, and for other purposes.

    The only chance for true rehabilitation for many of these bait and fighting animals is to quickly get them into loving homes after they have spent some time being trained to be nonaggressive. Best Friends took in the Vicktory dogs from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring and had good success with them. I do feel it is important to normalize the situation for these animals as quickly as possible with the caveat that for the sake of the animal and future owner, they receive appropriate behavior modification training prior to release. I especially like the idea of offenders paying the bill for the animals Freeing up funds for federal prosecution and investigations and would like for them to never be allowed to own an animal again. This bipartisan bill applies to stolen bait animals not just the fighters. Get them out quickly and safely. For those of you saying this is a local issue your correct. This will reduce the costs of shelters which are paid for by your taxes. For those saying the federal government should not be involved, you’re wrong. Explain to me how these cases can be federally prosecuted (it is an interstate crime) if the Feds aren’t involved and don’t have the money to pursue these felons as all money is tied up in bordering these animals.
    Like (102)
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    Although I hate to say it, for the most part the animals should be put down. Dogs have long memories and hold trauma all their life. While it may seem like kindness to give them to people to love, most of the dogs don’t really recover if they were there for very long. Really unfortunate situation but you have to try and not be overly emotional about it. You can’t just think about gratifying your own sense of pity or guilt. It’s sad and we should definitely work to stop it from happening in the first place, but the fighting and bait dogs are badly maimed, not just physically but emotionally too. It’s kinder to put them down and work hard to ensure the practice ends so more dogs don’t suffer. We won’t run out of dogs anymore than we will run out of the human capacity for greed and cruelty. Put the people in jail for 15 or 20 years and put the animals down.
    Like (68)
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    And the people involved in dog fighting must be charged as felons and jailed a minimum of 5 years in prison
    Like (47)
    Follow
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    Aren’t dog-fighting rings already banned EVERYWHERE? If they aren’t, they should be. They are man’s BEST FRIEND! How can we allow this? You have to be a really sick individual to accept this. Psychologists have said that children who abuse animals are more likely to become abusers and murderers. What does this say about anyone who participates and accepts this? To me, it says that they have a serious problem! I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to such a person! There are thousands of better things to focus on than this! Make this a crime with serious jail time and be sure they get a psych evaluation while you’re at it!
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    I’m all for adopting out those poor animals, BUT the mental & physical health of these animals needs to be evaluated & possible recuperation of the animals is very important. The fines that should & must be charged to those involved in this horrible crime can take care of these animals.
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    Abusing innocent animals by forcing them into 'fighting rings' should be firmly outlawed. Period. Full stop. The end. Amen.
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    As long as they are healthy and are deemed non aggressive. If they are timid or aggressive then I think they should get more time to be treated before being put up for adoption. I do not think they should be put down. They were brutalized enough.
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    These Animals Have Been Trained To Be Attack Animals & Dangerous. There’s already a federal fine of up to $250,000 for interstate animal fighting. The proceeds these fines can be used to defray the costs of caring for animals seized in animal fighting cases. SneakyPete..... 👎🏻👎🏻NO👎🏻👎🏻. 5*5*19.....
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    They need to be evaluated and determined whether or not they can be adopted. What I hope happens is the people found responsible a imprisoned forever.
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    FREE THE ANIMALS FROM ABUSIVE DETENTION !
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    This sounds like a great idea for the “fighter”, but maybe not so great for the adopter. How many times have we heard how sweet and gentle a pit bull acts until little baby Johnny has been mauled or grandma was savaged in her garden?
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    Adoption sooner? I rather have the evaluators evaluate the families or whoever who want to adopt to see whether their backgrounds are free from animal cruelty, domestic violence, etc.
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    It is true, that animals held in facilities, no matter how good/nice of a facility it is, become "institutionalised"....We adopted a cat three years ago and it took several months for him to transition to home life.....Baxter is one happy little boy now but, it took a lot of love and understanding on our part to make it so.
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    Mrs. Harris as useless as usual comes up with a bill that is a waste for tax payers money. There already is in place laws for this situation at the local levels. This is a State and a local government issue. As s true Democrat she is pandering for voters. These poor animals need years of help. If they can be helped at all. Most unfortunate fact is they are put down.
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    ABSOLUTELY.
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    Any humanitarian or caring person would do this without a law saying so. But the inept Congress continues wasting time and ducking the real issues of the American people.
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    Are you kidding me? Is this the priority for congress? Do we really need to have the federal government involved in this? What a joke. The federal government is bankrupting the nation but clowns like Harris are focusing on things that the federal government shouldn’t even be involved with.
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    Just the kind of business the Senate needs to be focusing on. Another dog bill...... people are starving, homeless and without healthcare and we get this kinda thing. I’m not paying them for this.
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    We need to take into account the safety of people who adopt animals before we considering accelerating the process for adoption. Animals that have been involved in fighting will likely need serious rehabilitative services and some may never again be suitable as a pet. Animal abusers need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but the process for adoption should not be streamlined.
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    Again money is already available from the fines. The people that cause the problems should pay for the problems. Innocent tax payers pay for everything no one else wants to pay for. Diverting funds from supporting illegals, sending money to people that hate us and god knows what else COULD be used for these animals but that is still tax payer money being spent where it shouldn’t be. Much like the slush fund used to pay off government indiscretions. WE pay for everything. Time for personal responsibility.
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