Statement for Press


Animal Wellness Action Applauds Federal Prosecutors for Dismantling a Dogfighting Ring that Stretched from Mississippi to Indiana

21 people were charged in state court in connection with illegal animal fighting and trafficking of meth, cocaine, and other narcotics.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Animal Wellness Action applauded federal authorities for making 21 arrests in a major, multi-state dogfighting and narcotics trafficking ring centered in Indiana. Law enforcement officers on Aug. 31 conducted sweeping raids at 25 locations in the region, leading to the arrests.

There is a warrant out for other individuals allegedly involved at the heart of this organized criminal enterprise.

“Dogfighting is a horror, and the people who engage in it tear at the fabric of a civil society,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “We have a federal law against dogfighting and cockfighting for a reason, and it’s been exercised to make our communities safer for animals and people. We applaud the network of federal law enforcement agents, including prosecutors, who put the federal law to work and apprehended these perpetrators of cruelty and mayhem.”

Animal fighting is typically bound up with illicit gambling, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and other crimes, and this case underscores that regular correlation. 

Animal Wellness Action is working with Senator John Kennedy, R-La., and Rep. Troy Carter, D-La., to advance the FIGHT Act in Congress. The authors of the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, S. 1529 and H.R. 2742, hope to include the provision as an amendment to the Farm bill. Both pieces of legislation were driven by concerns for the barbarism of animal fighting, other criminal behavior commingled with it, and disease threats to poultry posed by transporting fighting roosters.

The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning simulcasting and gambling of animal fighting ventures; halting the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) shipped through the U.S. mail (it is already illegal to ship dogs through the mail); creating a citizen suit provision, after proper notice to federal authorities, to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and enhancing forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes.

More than 275 organizations, businesses, and agencies have endorsed the FIGHT Act, including the American Gaming Association, the United Egg Producers, and the Small and Rural Law Enforcement Executives’ Association. The Indiana State Poultry Federation, the Seymour-based Rose Acre Farms, and other agricultural groups have endorsed the FIGHT Act because of their concerns about the care of animals and also worry about the spread of avian diseases from cockfighting birds to poultry flocks.

“If law enforcement wants to crack down on a wide range of crimes in the community, make a cockfighting or dogfighting bust,” added Pacelle. “These are venues where a cluster of people committing a wide range of crimes assemble.”

Thus far, no Members of the Indiana Congressional delegation are cosponsors of the FIGHT Act.

“We hope this case prompts all federal lawmakers from Indiana to support fortifying the federal law to allow law enforcement to address these violent crimes,” Pacelle said.

Animal Wellness Action provides rewards of $2,500 to individuals who report animal-fighting crimes that result in an arrest and conviction. Reports can be made to

Media Resources: Press release on introduction of Senator Kennedy’s legislation. A blog on murder and mayhem associated with animal fighting. Fact sheet on S. 1529/H.R. 2742. Blog on federal courts affirming national ban on animal fighting. Research paper on cockfighting and avian influenza and other infectious diseases.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News