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February 17, 2011

The HSUS Praises Utica, N.Y. Mayor for Support on Closing Loopholes in State Animal Fighting Law

Nation’s largest animal protection organization urges Assembly and Speaker Silver to support recently re-introduced bills A.4407 and S.3237

The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its more than 800,000 supporters in the Empire State, commends Utica, N.Y., Mayor David Roefaro for his support of  Assembly Bill A.4407 and its Senate companion S.3237 which would close loopholes in the state’s animal fighting laws – some of the weakest in the nation. 

In a recent letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, the mayor offers to provide testimony before the Assembly and urges the speaker to support the proposed legislation introduced by Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, and Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R– Suffolk. 

“Many fans of these bloodsports bring illegal weapons, illegal drugs and illegal gambling and even murder into family neighborhoods who are terrified of these criminals,” said Mayor Roefaro. “The current unenforceable law needs to be changed. It’s unfair to ask law enforcement to risk their lives in these dangerous situations unless the penalty is commensurate with the crime.”

The current law is practically unenforceable as it requires knowledge by the spectator that they are attending an animal fight and payment of admission or placing of a bet. However, these events leave no paper trail to prove that element. Assembly Bill A.4407 and S.3237 will make the misdemeanor penalty applicable by removing the statutory language regarding proof of an admission fee or wager, while still retaining the requirement of a “knowing presence.” 

“Throughout New York, animals are being forced to fight to the death and tear each other apart,” said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. “We offer our sincere thanks to Mayor Roefaro for his support of this commonsense legislation to help end animal fighting and the violent crimes associated with this extreme cruelty that are threatening New York’s communities.” 

Facts 

  • Ranked 48th in the nation, New York’s weak dogfighting laws make it a magnet for criminals from surrounding states where penalties on spectators are significantly more severe.
  • While dogfighting and cockfighting are felonies in New York, possessing animals for the purpose of fighting is only a misdemeanor, and attending an animal fight is just a traffic-ticket style violation.
  • Under current law, dogfighters or cockfighters can claim they were only present at an animal fight as spectators, thereby avoiding any meaningful punishment.
  • Animal fighting spectators, with their admission fees and gambling wagers, fuel these undeniably cruel and criminal industries.
  • Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection between animal fighting operations and narcotics distribution, illegal firearms and other illicit activities.  

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.  

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