Bill to ban animal fighting equipment passes PA House

A bill to ban the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia passed the House unanimously yesterday.

The bil, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R., Montgomery), gives law enforcement new tools to go after individuals engaged in dog fighting or cock fighting.

“Animal fighting is a felony of the first degree, but unfortunately police often find the tools of the trade rather than an animal fight in progress," said Stephens, a former prosecutor. "This bill ensures people who commit these barbaric acts don’t escape punishment."

Under the bill - which now goes to the state Senate - individuals could be charged with misdeameanor possession of equipment used in fighting or to train fighting animals. Among the equipment would be treadmills, drugs used in breeding, heightening aggression and increasing blood letting, such as razor sharp knives or gaffs, which are attached to the birds’ legs.

“This decisive vote shows that our state is serious about banning the instruments of torture used to make cruel fights even bloodier for entertainment’s sake," said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "Animal fighting is a depraved activity, and everything associated with it should be outlawed."

Animal fighting is illegal in every state, and all animal fighting that affects interstate commerce is punishable as a federal felony under the Animal Welfare Act.

In Pennsylvania, cockfighting and dog fighting are both punishable as felonies on the first offense. It also is a felony to be a spectator at an animal fight or to possess dogs or birds for the purpose of fighting.

Congress is considering legislation—the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act—to further strengthen the federal animal fighting law by making it a crime to be a spectator at a dogfight or cockfight, with additional penalties for bringing a child to the fight.