A few years ago, I was visiting a friend of mine in San Diego and we decided to attend a bull fight in Tijuana, Mexico. It was certainly an experience to say the least. I tried to appreciate the event from a cultural standpoint but as an animal lover, it was difficult to watch the bull fight. It reminded me a lot of an American baseball game: there were venders selling cheap coldbeer, nachos, and cheap hats with a bull head. Before the event, there was tailgating with barbecue and cervazas. Like American baseball, there were cheapseats at the bull fight and expensive boxed seats down below in the heart of the action (although, the bull has jumped into the crowd before so I would feel uneasy sitting that close). All we were missing was the 7th inning stretch and “the wave.”
I found myself rooting for the bull. It is not a fair fight. They stab the bull with tranquilizer ahead of time and during the course of the fight. However, the bull fighter is profound symbol of their heritage and in many ways made them feel proud to be Mexicans. Also, to their defense they do eat the meat from the bull after the fight.
In the United States, these types of “blood sports” are illegal and both spectators and participants can be prosecuted. For example, in New York, N.Y. Agric. & Mkts Law § 351(1) proscribes animal fighting between cocks, dogs, bulls, bears, or any other animal, or between any such animal. It is a felony punishable by four years of imprisonment and/or $25K fine for those who:
1. Cause any animal to engage in animal fighting “[f]or amusement or gain;”
2. Train animals to fight “for amusement or gain;”
3. Breed, sell, or offer for sale animals with the intent that such “animal engage in animal fighting;”
4. Permits any of the above to occur on his/her premises under his/her control; or
5. Own, possess or keep any animal trained to engage in animal fighting on premises where there will be an exhibition of animal fighting.
See N.Y. Agric. & Mkts Law § 351(2). Furthermore, it is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not to exceed one year and/or $15K fine to own, possess, or keep any animal with the intent that such animal “engage in animal fighting.” See N.Y. Agric. & Mkts Law § 351(3). It is also a misdemeanor in New York to be a knowing spectator at such an event. See N.Y. Agric. & Mkts Law § 351(4)-(5). Finally, pursuant to section 375, officers may lawfully seize animals used for animal fights.
This is not a problem among the agriculture industry in the United States but dog fighting is still alive and well. The most well-known example of this is Michael Vick. I do not understand the attraction of watching dogs fight to the death. If you have a desire to see animals kill each other, go on a hunting trip in the great wild and observe it in nature.
Though bull-fighting is a revered cultural affair in Mexico, in the United States, it is very much a crime to even attend such an event. Folks should think twice before getting involved in this industry in any way. In the United States, there are serious criminal implications from doing so.
"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."