U.S. House bill seeks to create animal cruelty crimes unit in DOJ

A screenshot of undercover video captured of a cockfighting ring in Midville, Ga. before...
A screenshot of undercover video captured of a cockfighting ring in Midville, Ga. before Saturday's raid.(Georgia DNR)
Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 5:43 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Roosters forced to fight to the death while a room full of spectators place their bets on the sidelines. Scenes like that investigators say played out in Midville, Ga. during a federal raid in June.

Cockfighting rings have grabbed headlines over the years as investigators pursue criminal charges. Now with bi-partisan support, some lawmakers want to take enforcement to the next level.

Among them, U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-Georgia) introduced HR 8052 this week, known as the ACE Act. It would create an animal cruelty crimes unit within the Department of Justice to provide resources to enforce crimes, like animal fighting.

“Congress has made important strides to prevent animal cruelty recently,” Rep. Carter said. “Now we need to ensure the laws are enforced. This legislation will provide the resources necessary to combat animal-fighting and other barbaric practices. I thank my colleagues for the bipartisan work on this bill.”

Joe Neguse, (D-Colo.), Matt Gaetz, (R-Fla.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) co-sponsored the legislation. The PACT act, signed last year by President Donald Trump, bans animal cruelty - specifically cockfighting. But animal rights advocates say the enforcement piece is still missing, which is why the ACE Act is needed.

“The Department of Justice actually going after these people and prosecuting these people really says a lot more. The average cockfighter would think twice if they had the Department of Justice at their door versus the USDA,” said Marty Irby, executive director, Animal Wellness Action.

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