Bill Would Increase Dog Fighting Penalties

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. March 14, 2013

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New Jersey Humane Society director Kathleen Schatzmann testifies at Assembly Judiciary Committe hearing (photo by Phil Gregory)

New Jersey lawmakers are acting to get tougher on dog fighting.

Animal fighting in general is already prohibited in New Jersey. 

A bill that’s been advanced by the Assembly Judiciary committee would explicitly criminalize dog fighting with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Leaders of a dog fighting network could be prosecuted under the state’s anti-racketeering statue and get up to ten years behind bars.

Kathleen Schatzmann is the New Jersey director of the Humane Society. She says dog fighting is an organized crime activity.

 “Not only is this about gambling, but this also brings other illicit activities such as drugs, illegal weaponry. So you’re going to find unfortunately a multitude of issues at dog fights.”

Since dog fighting is an underground business, there are no statistics on how often it occurs in New Jersey.

Debra Bresch with the ASPCA says it is prevalent and tougher penalties can make a difference.

 “By increasing the array of available charges and penalties, law enforcement is likely to take this crime more seriously, and I think you’re more likely to deter involvement in dog fighting.”


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