USPS won't stop mailing animal-fighting paraphernalia

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The Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia in June challenging the US Postal Service's refusal to implement portions of a new federal law that prohibits the mailing of animal- fighting paraphernalia, including trade magazines that advertise fighting animals, knives and other implements used in illegal dogfights and cockfights.

The lawsuit is being filed as a companion case to an action the HSUS filed earlier this year against Internet retailer Amazon.com and other parties for shipping the same animal-fighting trade publications in violation of the federal animal-fighting law.

In May 2007, President Bush signed the federal Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which strengthened the federal law against dogfighting and cockfighting. One provision of the law makes it a felony to send any "commercial speech for purposes of promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal- fighting venture" through the mail.

The lawsuit alleges that the USPS is violating the law by knowingly accepting animal-fighting materials for mailing, and by issuing discount, bulk mail permits to two animal-fighting trade publications - The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock, both published in Arkansas.

"The Postal Service should not be in the business of shipping illegal animal-fighting paraphernalia around the country, and it certainly shouldn't be giving criminals a discount rate," said Wayne Pacelle, president/CEO of the HSUS, in a statement. "Congress has spoken, and now it's time for the Postal Service to stop looking the other way when it comes to the cruel and illegal practice of staged animal fighting."

The HSUS alerted USPS officials to the new animal-fighting law the same day it was enacted, and asked them to halt the mailing of two trade magazines that are essentially mail-order catalogs for illegal cockfighting weapons and fighting birds.

The society said Congress was explicit in its intent to halt mailing of these magazines, including by noting in the Congressional Record that the new law "prohibits the Web sites and the magazines where fighting animals are advertised for sale."

Nevertheless, the group said the USPS recently issued a "terse ruling permitting the continued mailing of these illegal items."

Gerry McKiernan, media relations manager at the USPS added: "We have given thorough consideration to the material provided by the Humane Society and determined that the magazines in question are still mailable."

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