ARL Urges USSC to Impose Higher Guidelines for Animal Fighting Cases

The proposal would protect animals like Turtle from becoming “bait dogs”

animal fighting

BEFORE: Turtle was found severely injured and cruelly abandoned on the side of the road in 2009. AFTER: Today, Turtle is happy, healthy, and loving life with her new family!

Animal fighting is not a crime that just happens ‘someplace else’.

Sadly, the brutality and suffering that result from animal fighting are all too familiar to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL). Each year, ARL’s law enforcement department, rescue team, and shelter veterinarians and staff are called in to help domesticated animals and wildlife in Massachusetts found in these extreme situations.

One of the most inhumane cases that we’ve encountered was that of Turtle, the Pit Bull-type dog who had been left for dead on the side of the road.

In December 2009, the ARL responded to a call about an injured dog in Hyde Park, MA. Turtle was discovered lying curled up and motionless in the bitter cold. Her body was covered with old bite wounds that had been inexpertly stitched, as well as dozens of new bites on her face and underbelly, and a fractured leg. All of these were classic signs of a “bait dog” used in dogfighting.

Turtle received emergency medical attention and surgery to stabilize her condition. Afterward, she underwent months of long and strenuous physical and behavioral rehabilitation at the ARL.

The ARL proposes higher guidelines for animal fighting cases…

It’s because of dogs like Turtle, and so many other animals used for blood sports, that the ARL recently sent a letter to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) urging higher guidelines for individuals found guilty of federal animal fighting crimes.

Although the maximum penalty for animal fighting was raised to 5 years in federal prison in 2007, the guidelines used to determine the actual sentence length had not changed. This means that those convicted for animal fighting may not have received any jail time at all.

Turtle fully recovered and listening intently to ARL's President Mary Nee at the State House during Lobby Day 2014!

Turtle fully recovered and listening intently to ARL’s President Mary Nee at the State House during Lobby Day 2014!

Based upon our own experience, as well as that of other law enforcement agencies, the ARL has proposed that the USSC:

  • Consider adding additional penalty levels for animal fighting crimes where guns and/or drugs were involved.
  • Urge the sentencing judge to consider other factors to impose a higher sentence, such as extreme cruelty or failure to provide adequate shelter, food, and medical care.

The ARL believes that these new proposals would result in longer sentences and appropriately punish a current offender and possibly deter any potential offenders.

Turtle was lucky that she was found in time to save. Her recovery is a testament to her own strength and courage, as well as the wonderful veterinary and rehabilitative care she received at the ARL.

It is for Turtle and so many other animals like her that ARL continues to fight and urge that those who are responsible for such harm and cruelty are brought to justice.

TAKE ACTION FOR ANIMALS! Learn the 7 most common warning signs of animal cruelty and report any suspicious activity to your local authorities.