More States Take Action in 2011 to Stop Animal Fighting


Update Oct. 8, 2011: CA Gov. Jerry Brown has signed S.B. 425 into law. 

Original report: California state Sen. Ron Calderon has introduced a bill, S.B. 425, to improve penalties for cock fighting and other animal fighting crimes. 

Under the bill minors who attend cockfights and those who give them access to a cockfight are subject to a fine of up to $500 instead of $100 though the jail time would remain the same at the maximum of 25 days.

The bill would also set minimum fines for other animal fighting crimes. A $2,500 fine and a 6 months jail sentence could be imposed under this bill for anyone convicted of the misdemeanor crime of tying or attaching or fastening "any live animal to any machine or device propelled by any power for the purpose of causing that animal to be pursued" by dogs. 

The provisions that allow forfeiture of property used in dog fighting would under S.B. 425 be extended to include cockfighting crimes. Rescues that take in victims of cockfights would be eligible for proceeds from such forfeitures.  

For a look at the new Texas cockfighting law…..

A number of bills were introduced nationwide in 2009-2010 to crack down on cockfighting; a number passed. Go here for information.  And go here for yet more animal fighting bills introduced in the last 2 years that also targeted cockfighting. In 2010 a bill and resolution to honor cockfighting as a "cultural activity" failed even to get a vote in the Hawaii legislature. Indeed, cockfighting is now a crime in all 50 states.  

Hawaii House Bill 1171 would make it illegal to attend an animal fight or buy a ticket for one. The penalty on a first offense would be $500 or 80 hours of community service; a second offense would mean a $750 fine or 150 hours of community service, and a third or subsequent offense would result in a $1,000 fine or 200 hours of community service.   

Update: The Hawaii bill, H.B. 1171, did not get out of committee this session.

An Indiana bill, S.B. 377, not only proposes to toughen penalties for animal fighting but would make some animal fighting crimes racketeering activity and allow authorities to seize and obtain the forfeiture or condemnation of property used in animal fighting crimes.

S.B. 377 also adds a definition of "baiting" defined to mean: (1) attacking an animal with violence; (2) provoking an animal; or (3) harassing an animal with another animal; for the purpose of training the animal for or causing the animal to engage in an animal fighting contest.

The bill would make it a Class C felony (1) to breed, transfer, or possess an animal for the purpose of baiting the animal or using the animal in an animal fighting contest. (2) to promote or stage a baiting or an animal fighting contest, (3) to allow property to be used to conduct a baiting or an animal fighting contest, (4) to use an animal in a baiting or an animal fighting contest, or (5) to attend a baiting or an animal fighting contest.

The possession of animal fighting paraphernalia would be: (1) a Class A misdemeanor if the possession is for the purpose of baiting an animal or with the intent to commit certain animal fighting offenses; and (2) a Class C felony if the possession is with the intent to commit certain animal fighting offenses and while also possessing a dog, cock, fowl, hog, or bird bearing an injury consistent with participation in or training for a baiting or an animal fighting contest.

S.B. 377 would require a court to order anyone convicted of certain offenses concerning animal fighting to refrain from: (1) owning, harboring, or training an animal; or (2) residing in a dwelling with another person who owns, harbors, or trains an animal; for ten years after the person is sentenced.

Update: This Indiana bill, S.B. 377, did not get out of committee this legislative session.

Tennessee H.B. 910/S.B. 785 would make cockfighting activities a Class E felony instead of a misdemeanor and would raise the penalty for spectators at any animal fight to a Class A misdemeanor.

Update: The Tennessee bills, H.B. 910/S.B. 785 did not survive this session.

In West VirginiaCommittee substitute version of Senate Bill 334 has passed the state Senate and is now pending in the House of Delegates Agriculture Committee. (The original House version, H.B. 2443 remains pending).

The Senate version would add a new section to the code making it a crime to bet on an animal fight or "conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, lease or own all or part of a business or premises" with knowledge that there is betting or wagering on an animal fighting venture occurring. The crime would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony as in the original bill with a fine ranging from $1,000-$5,000 and jail time up to 1 year per violation.

Update: S.B. 334 did not get out of committee in the House of Delegates prior to the end of the session.

In New York A.B. 4407/S.B. 3237 would make it a felony to own or keep an animal for fighting instead of a misdemeanor, the current law. Also being a spectator would be a misdemeanor but there would be no requirement that the violator could only be charged if he or she had made a wager or bet on an animal fight or been previously convicted of an animal fighting crime.

Update Aug. 4, 2011: A.B. 4407A/S.B. 3237A has been signed into law. The final version makes it a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 3 months in jail and/or a fine up to $500 to be present where an animal fight is taking place. A second conviction within 5 years would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.  

For more on other New York bills relating to animal fighting, go here. Find information at these links about animal fighting bills in New Jersey here and also here.

South Carolina’s bear baying bill, H.B. 3678/S.B. 201 would make bear baying illegal animal fighting and allow possession of bears only by permit from the state Dept. of Natural Resources. The Dept. would have the authority to seize any bear believed to be used for bear baying and must make every effort to place the animals in a "suitable environment" which the bill says would include zoos and animal parks.  

Bear baying is the practice of chaining a bear and allowing dogs used for hunting to bark, snap and run at the bear, forcing the animal to stand to defend himself.  The goal is for the dogs to learn to force a bear in the wild to stand. Once standing, the bear is then easily shot and killed. 

Update: S.C. bills, H.B. 3678 and S.B. 201 did not get out of committee this session. 

Alabama‘s current law provides only a fine of $20-$50 for anyone caught keeping a cockpit or fighting cocks. §13A-12-4 Current legislation would change that: H.B. 74, H.B. 342, and S.B. 124 would outlaw a number of activities associated with cockfighting and make these a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense and a Class C felony for second and subsequent offenses. This could mean fines  up to $10,000 for a Class A misdemeanor and up to $20,000 for a Class C felony as well as imprisonment for up to 1 year for a misdemeanor and 1-10 years for a Class C felony.

Offenders would also face seizure and forfeiture of property associated with cockfighting including profits. The birds would be required to be taken to a veterinarian or an animal shelter and kept there at the owner’s expense. The birds would also be subject to forfeiture. There are provisions for euthanizing them under certain circumstances. 

Similar bills, H.B. 245S.B. 146, would make a number of cockfighting activities Class C felonies on the first offense while being a spectator or present for cockfighting activities would be a Class A misdemeanor. Additional civil monetary penalties would range from $1,000 per day or 3 times the gross receipts during the period cockfighting took place.   This bill would also provide for seizure and forfeiture of property associated with cockfighting including profits. Other provisions regarding seizure and forfeiture as well as care and euthanasia of cocks would be the same as H.B. 74.

Yet another bill, H.B. 758, would simply increase the current fine for owning or operating a cockpit to a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $10,000. Any spectator or person in attendance would be fined $1,000.   

H.B. 115/S.B. 194 would allow a court to order the owners of dogs seized and held in connection with dog fighting activities to post a bond to cover the cost of their care. A failure to comply would mean forfeiture of the dog. A civil forfeiture action could also be initiated against the owner at any time after seizure of the dog to obtain ownership. The bill also provides that owners charged with dog fighting crimes can surrender dogs without triggering a presumption of guilt.   

Update June 10, 2011: H.B. 115 has become law. The other Alabama bills did not survive this session.

In 2008 and 2009 a record number of dog fighting laws were passed. Find more here!

Cock fighting and animal fighting generally were the focus of a number of bills passed in 2009 and some in 2010.  Find more here.