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April 26, 2013

Florida Senate Unanimously Passes Animal Cruelty Bill

Measures address animal fighting and ban of dyeing fowl or rabbits

The Florida Senate voted unanimously to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty law, including its animal fighting provisions. Endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States, the bill sends a clear message to animal abusers that they will face vigorous prosecution for animal fighting. HB 851 also passed unanimously in the Florida House.

“Animal fighting is an inhumane, barbaric activity that the public strongly opposes, and Florida lawmakers recognized that in passing these tougher penalties,” said Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The HSUS. “We thank them, including Representative Jared Moskowitz, (D-Coral Springs), and Senator Jeff Brandes, (R-St. Petersburg), co-sponsors of this important legislation.”  

The bill adds animal fighting and baiting as a racketeering offense to the state’s organized crime statute and allows prosecutors to charge offenders with multiple counts of animal abuse when multiple animals are involved.

The bill also reinstates a ban on dyeing fowl or rabbits, an unnecessary practice sometimes seen during holidays.

Animal Fighting Facts:

  • Animal fighting is also closely associated with other criminal activities such as gangs, narcotics, illegal weapons possession, public corruption and various violent crimes. A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies, including domestic and aggravated battery, illegal drug trafficking and sex crimes.
  • Under state law, it is illegal to attend a dogfight in 49 states and illegal to attend a cockfight in 43.
  • Over the past decade, the U.S. Congress has closed major loopholes and strengthened penalties in the federal animal fighting law, but has left the issue of spectators unaddressed. H.R. 366, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, would outlaw spectators’ willful attendance at organized animal fights and impose additional penalties for bringing a minor.

Media Contact:  Rebecca Basu: 240-753-4875, rbasu@humanesociety.org

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