We assume to be the "masters or caretakers" of this planet. It's about time we take that responsubility seriously and stand up for those who haven't a voice of their own or can defend themselves effectively.

Dear Mrs Obama,

The vast majority of Americans are law-abiding animal lovers, including yourself and your family, yet while organized dog fighting activity seemed to decline in the 1990s, many law enforcement and animal control officials feel there has been a substantial increase in recent years. Estimates based on fight reports in underground dog fighting publications, and on animals entering shelters bearing evidence of fighting, suggest that the number of people involved in this hideous blood sport in the U.S., alone, is in the tens of thousands.

The diversity of people who promote or participate in dog fighting cuts across all demographics—not every dogfighter is economically disadvantaged. Those actively involved also include lawyers, judges, teachers, law enforcement officers and other upstanding community leaders attracted by the excitement, the thrill of the fight, and the easy money to be garnered at the expense of the animals used.

While there are many reasons for people being attracted to dog fighting, the most basic is greed. Major dog fight raids have resulted in seizures of more than $500,000. Dogfighters and many spectators arrested at fights often face additional charges related to drug, alcohol and weapons violations. Many major dog fighting rings supplement their activities with operations extending into drug and gun trafficking.

As of 2008, dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In most states, even the possession of dogs for the purpose of fighting is a felony offense. Being a spectator at a dog fight is illegal in all states except Montana and Hawaii. As with almost all laws, dog fighting laws and their penalties vary widely—see a chart of current dog fighting state laws and penalties.

The Federal Animal Welfare Act of 1966 prohibits certain animal fighting-related activities when they have involved more than one state or interstate mail services, including the U.S. Postal Service. In 2007, Congress passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act with strong bipartisan support. The Act amended the Animal Welfare Act and provides felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export relating to commerce in fighting dogs, fighting cocks and cockfighting paraphernalia. Each violation can result in up to three years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

There is a growing groundswell among animal lovers, dog lovers especially (among whom we would like to include yourself and your family), who strongly believe that the penalties and fines associated with dog fighting are woeful. Considering the amounts of money gambled at most dog fights, and major events in particular, the maximum fines could be regarded as a pittance and certainly not a deterrent.

The United States is the world leader for the rights of the individual, we believe we should also set an example for other nations to follow in the fight for the rights of poor innocent animals who offer us so much and expect so little in return—only our love.

Dog fighting is an abhorrent and serious crime that needs far stronger federal penalties. It is our hope that you will join us in this fight for change. Thank you for your consideration of this important issue. 



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