New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle was honored by the New York State Humane Association today for sponsoring and passing a bill last year that increased the penalties for spectators at animal fights. The bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The new law closed a major loophole in New York’s animal fighting laws that previously allowed some dogfighters and cockfighters to escape punishment by masquerading as spectators.
“Causing animals to fight and betting on the outcome is inhumane,” said Senator LaValle. "This new law provides law enforcement and prosecutors with a stronger tool with which to combat these terrible acts."
While dog fighting and cockfighting are felonies in New York, attending an animal fight was only a violation. The new law upgraded the penalty for the spectators who fuel the economy of animal fighting with their admission fees and wagers to a more meaningful misdemeanor crime. It also stops dogfighters from escaping prosecution by blending into the crowd and pretending to be spectators when raided. Under the new law, knowingly attending animal fights is punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.