While participating in animal fighting has been a federal felony for years, this brutal form of cruelty is still occurring in every part of the country. One would think that convicted animal fighters would serve significant time behind bars…but that’s not always the case.
Federal law allows this crime to be punished with prison terms of up to 5 years, but the current federal sentencing guidelines categorize animal fighting as a “gambling offense” and suggest a base level sentence of only 6-12 months. In reality, about half of the people convicted of animal fighting in federal courts get only probation, and fighters who do get jail time receive an average sentence of 6 months. That's just not enough.