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June 1, 2011

The HSUS Praises New York Senate for Cracking Down on Dogfighting and Cockfighting

Nation’s largest animal protection organization urges Assembly to follow suit

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its more than 800,000 supporters in New York, commends the state Senate for passing S. 3237. New York currently has some of the weakest animal fighting laws in the nation and this legislation will close major loopholes in the law that allow dogfighters and cockfighters to get a free pass.. S.3237 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and the Assembly companion bill, A.4407 was introduced by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn.

"Causing animals to fight and betting on the outcome is horrible and inhumane,” said Sen. LaValle. "My bill, adopted by the Senate, provides law enforcement and prosecutors with a stronger tool with which to combat these terrible acts."

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. When law enforcement raids dogfights and cockfights, the participants often blend into the crowd and claim they were only spectators, thereby evading any meaningful punishment. S.3237/A.4407 will upgrade the law, establishing felony penalties for those who possess animals for the purpose of fighting, and misdemeanor penalties for the spectators who fuel the economy of animal fighting with their admission fees and gambling wagers.

“We commend Sen. LaValle and Assemblyman Lentol for championing this commonsense legislation to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal fighting,” said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. “Throughout New York, animals are being forced to fight to the death and tear each other apart. Now that legislation has passed the Senate again, we are hopeful for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s leadership to ensure its prompt passage in the Assembly.”

In the 2009/2010 New York state legislative session, the bill also passed unanimously in the Senate under the sponsorship and leadership of Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, D-Whitestone, but did not pass the Assembly before the session ended.

Facts

  • More than 60 state legislators are sponsors of S.3237/A.4407.   
  • Ranked 48th in the nation, New York’s weak anti-dogfighting laws make it a magnet for criminals from surrounding states where penalties on spectators are significantly more severe.
  • 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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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

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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