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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357

Attorney General Gansler, Humane Society of the United States, Local Law Enforcement Officials Announce Animal Fighting Reward Program

BALTIMORE, MD (July 17, 2008) - Attorney General Douglas Gansler, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and local law enforcement officials have teamed up to announce that the HSUS is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Cockfighting and dogfighting are felonies in Maryland, punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and/or a maximum $5,000 fine.

“Animal fighting is a vicious crime that often has direct ties to other illegal activity like drugs and gangs,” said Attorney General Gansler. “My office is pleased to partner with the Humane Society of the United States to help increase reports of animal fighting and decrease the number of animals harmed or killed by this inhumane activity.”

“Cockfighters and dogfighters are criminals who train animals to fight to the death — for nothing more than to gamble and to feed their own sick sense of entertainment,” said John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Attorney General Gansler for his support in cracking down on animal fighters in Maryland.”

Animal fighting “contests” are abhorrent spectacles in which animals are pitted in bloody duels — often to the death — for human entertainment. These cruel and illicit encounters are spawning grounds for other criminal activities, including drugs and violence, dragging down entire communities. Credible studies and law enforcement experts agree that people who engage in this kind of violence against animals are likely to exert violence against people.

“Dog fighting is a cruel and inhumane activity that poses a danger not only to the dogs involved but also to the general public,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger. “Dogs that are trained and conditioned to fight pose a threat to innocent members of the community, particularly children. That is why programs like this one being launched today are so important.”

“This new effort is a perfect example of the importance of partnerships in effective law enforcement,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson. “In this effort, the Humane Society of the United States, state government, and local government are working jointly to tackle a serious crime. Together we are taking an important step forward in our communities.”

This reward program is made possible by a grant from the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation.

Animal Fighting Reward Program Instructions:

  • If you have information about illegal animal fighting in Maryland, call your local law enforcement or animal control agency. If you wish to remain anonymous, let the agent whom you give your tip to know that you do not want your identity released to the public, but are interested in The HSUS’ reward.
  • If the 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 of the convicted animal fighter and should be mailed or faxed to:

    Animal Fighting Reward Program
    C/O Ann Chynoweth
    The Humane Society of the United States
    2100 L St. NW
    Washington, DC 20037
    FAX: 301-721-6414

About Dogfighting:

  • Dogfighting is a criminal industry; more than 250,000 dogs are placed in dogfighting pits each year.
  • The HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dogfighting circuits across the U.S. while an additional 100,000 meet on neighborhood streets, alleys and hideaways.
  • A Chicago Police Department study showed that 65 percent of people charged with animal abuse crimes — including dogfighting — were also charged with violent crimes against people.

About Cockfighting:

  • Tens of thousands of people are involved in cockfighting nationwide.
  • Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression, and fitting their legs with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling ice picks on their legs.
  • Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed that cockfights, which are frequently attended by children, often involve gambling and — as a result of the large amount of cash present — firearms and other weapons are also often present.
  • Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.
  • Breeding and transporting fighting roosters for cockfighting is implicated in the spread of diseases such as Exotic Newcastle Disease, which can decimate the poultry industry.


Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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