The New Jersey Assembly recently passed two laws to curtail the blood sport of dogfighting. Dogfighting occurs when two dogs that are bred and conditioned to fight are put into a pit to fight for spectators amusement. In addition, there is often gambling involved.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson told the Star-Ledger that New Jersey has seen many cases of animal mistreatment. Johnson and other legislators also noted that dogfighting is often connected to organized crime and often involves illegal weapons and drugs. Johnson believed the way to combat this was to strengthen the penalties for those involved with dogfighting.
The first bill, Assembly Bill 2379, makes dogfighting a third-degree crime. Under the new law, a person is guilty of dog fighting if he or she keeps, possesses trains or breeds a dog for the purpose of fighting. In addition, persons attending, gambling, witnessing or paying for admission to a dogfight can also be charged. Finally, under the law, persons who organize events can be prosecuted under the New Jersey RICO law, which is a law against organized crime.
Under the law, those who are involved in dogfighting face fines of up to $15,000 and can be incarcerated for three to five years. Leaders and organizers of dogfighting can be fined up to $150,000 and face a prison sentence of five to ten years.
The second bill, Senate Bill 1303, is also known as Patrick's Law. It was named for Patrick, a pit bull that was starved and left for dead. The law revises and increases some of the penalties for animal cruelty.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "N.J. Assembly passes bills to make dogfighting an organized crime, stiffen animal cruelty penalties," Ryan Hutchins, May 20, 2013