Senate Majority Imposes Greater Penalties On Animal Fighting

June 23, 2010

Law holds owner and spectators of inhumane & illegal activity accountable

The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation (S3926A/Stavisky) which significantly strengthens the penalties against those who participate in, and profit from, the inhumane and illegal activity of animal fighting. Under current law, the penalty for animal fighting is similar only to a minor vehicle infraction.
Increasing the Penalty for Owners & Spectators

This legislation holds the “owner” of the animal accountable, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine up to $25,000. The owner can be found guilty if engaged in any of the following behaviors with their animal:

  • Causes animal to engage directly in animal fighting, for amusement or gain.
  • Trains any animal, under any circumstance, with the intent of animal fighting.
  • Breeds, sells, or offers for sale any animal with the intent of animal fighting.
  • Permits animal fighting on any property under their control.

Those knowingly in the presence of animal fighting will now face a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.
Additionally, to ensure those participating in animal fighting can be fully prosecuted under the law, this bill removes the arbitrary standard within current law that says tickets for animal fighting are the basis for evidence that illegal activity is taking place.  As the Humane Society of the United States notes, “People do not accidently wander on a fight. Fights are not Broadway shows where tickets are presented. There is no paper evidence for those who are the life-blood of animal fights – the spectators. The bill deletes the need for this type of imaginary evidence.”
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone), lead sponsor of this legislation said, “There are many misconceptions about animal fighting, and who is behind it. In truth, animal fighting is a well-organized and  well-profited criminal industry. And though media reports have focused on dog fighting, animals of all shapes and sizes are subjected to this cruel pastime. But not only is the damage done to animals physically, but psychologically as well. When an animal has been trained to fight, through no fault of its own it becomes a danger to everyone. My legislation accomplishes two objectives: first, it empowers law enforcement to hold owners and spectators accountable and, second,  it imposes penalties strict enough that animal fighting cannot be a profitable activity.”
For more information about this legislation visit:
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck), co-sponsor of this legislation said, “Bringing innocent animals together to fight one another for amusement or financial gain is the very definition of cruelty.  This legislation will significantly increase the criminal penalties for engaging in this reprehensible practice.”
Senator Liz Krueger
(D-Manhattan), co-sponsor of this legislation said, "This bill should leave no doubt in peoples' minds as to where New York State stands on animal fighting and animal cruelty, it will not be tolerated. Through this legislation we make it clear that anyone involved in animal fighting, down the line from breeders to trainers, can and will be punished for their cruel and inhumane actions towards animals."