WASHINGTON - July 18 - Today, The Humane Society of the United States announced that it will sue online retailer Amazon.com Inc. in the District of Columbia based on Amazon's sale of two magazines -- The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior -- that promote illegal cockfighting activities in violation of federal law.
In a notice posted today, The HSUS notified Amazon of the suit, which is based on legal violations the animal protection organization first brought to Amazon's attention almost a year ago, including repeated violations of the criminal provisions of Title 7, section 2156, also known as the Animal Welfare Act.
In July 2005, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote to Amazon asking that these cockfighting magazines be removed from Amazon's website because the materials and advertisements in the magazines clearly violate the Animal Welfare Act, which provides that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly use the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service or any interstate instrumentality for purposes of promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the limits of the States of the United States." 7 U.S.C. § 2156(c).
To date, no response has been received, and cockfighting magazines continue to be one of the top sellers on the Amazon.com website, with The Gamecock ranking at number 501 on Amazon's list of 17,142 magazines for subscription sales. The Feathered Warrior ranks at 2,076.
"It is hard to understand why a legitimate retailer like Amazon would be selling federally banned animal-fighting materials," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "No one respects free speech more than we do, but inciting criminal cockfighting is not protected speech, and cannot be tolerated."
The lawsuit is based on reams of documentary and other evidence collected by HSUS investigators showing that The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior are published for the express purpose of promoting unlawful animal fighting. This includes the publishers' own statements that they have "no problem" with using the magazines to sell fighting birds in violation of federal animal-fighting laws, or to advertise fighting implements like specially designed gaffs and knives that have no use beyond cockfighting.
"Amazon can forestall this suit simply by complying with the law," noted Pacelle. "Eliminating these magazines is the right legal position, and it's also the right moral position. Cockfighting is a gruesome and barbaric practice, and no company should provide an opportunity for cockfighters to ply their gruesome hobby."
In today's notice, The HSUS again asks Amazon to remove unlawful materials from their website, and informs the online retailer of HSUS's intent to file suit pursuant to section 28-3904 of D.C. Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits corporations for selling goods contrary to a "requirement of federal law."
To view a copy of the letter sent to Mr. Jeffrey Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon, click here.
To read the HSUS web story on this issue and for more information on animal fighting legislation, go to www.hsus.org.