(Albany, New York) — Senator Todd Kaminsky’s legislation toughening criminal penalties for animal fighting (S.90) passed the State Senate yesterday, March 8. The measure increases maximum sentences and fines for animal fighting, creates a new crime for highly-organized animal fighting — punishable by up to 15 years in prison — and gives law enforcement officials stronger tools to pursue charges against individuals that promote animal fighting activities.
“Callous criminals who engage in dog fighting must be held accountable for their heinous acts,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky, a former prosecutor. “My bill would do just that, equipping law enforcement officials with the tools they need to go after this violent bloodsport, while sending a strong deterrent to those who consider committing these awful acts. In Albany, I will continue to do all I can to protect our four-legged friends from those who seek to do them harm in the cruelest of fashions.”
Senator Kaminsky worked with Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas on the legislation. Kaminsky’s bill increases maximum sentences and fines for felony animal fighting, creates a new crime of enterprise animal fighting to target organized criminal ventures that engage in such activities, and eliminates a loophole that prevents animal fighting from qualifying for repeat offender status.
“The despicable act of dog fighting is often part of large and organized criminal networks,” said DA Singas. “Current laws are woefully inadequate when prosecuting dog fighters. I thank Senator Kaminsky for helping us in the fight to eradicate this barbaric practice.”
In Nassau County, an individual was convicted for the fourth time for his role in illegal dog fighting schemes, yet the penalty remained the same due to a loophole in the law that prevents the application of repeat offender status in such cases. Senator Kaminsky’s legislation will specifically address the flaw in current law which does not increase penalties for defendants who repeatedly engage in dog fighting.
“The Nassau County SPCA commends Senator Kaminsky for his tireless effort and recognizing the seriousness of animal fighting in getting this bill passed,” said Nassau County SPCA President Gary Rogers.