The Assembly Judiciary Committee released a bill establishing crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network; amends state racketerring laws to add leader of a dog fighting network.
Bill A2379, would establish the new crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network. Current statutes prohibit animal fighting in general. However, this bill would also add the crime of leader of a dog fighting network to the list of offenses considered “racketeering activity” under New Jersey’s anti-racketeering law, known as RICO.
The bill states that dog fighting would be a third-degree crime, punishable by up to five year in prison and a $15,000 fine.
person would be guilty of dog fighting under the legislation if he/she knowingly:
(1) keeps, uses, or is connected with or interested in the management of, or receives money for the admission of a person to, a place kept or used for the purpose of fighting or baiting an dog;
(2) owns, possesses, keeps, trains, promotes, purchases, breeds or sells a dog for the purpose of fighting or baiting that dog;
(3) for amusement or gain, causes, allows, or permits the fighting or baiting of a dog;
(4) permits or suffers a place owned or controlled by that person to be used for the purpose of fighting or baiting a dog;
(5) is present and witnesses, pays admission to, encourages or assists in the fighting or baiting of a dog; or
(6) gambles on the outcome of a fight involving a dog.
An amendment was added that would make it a crime to bait any animal and not just dogs.
This bill would also require the court to order the seizure and forfeiture of any dogs used for dog fighting or baiting. The bill would also permit, in certain circumstances, the court to seize other animals or property in the person’s possession, and prohibit the person from possessing animals in the future.
Debra Thresh of the ASPCA said she “wholeheartedly” supports the bill, saying it would deter involvement in Oregon.
New Jersey State Bar Association’s Nancy Halpern supports the bill, saying there are some 2 million dogs in New Jersey and the bill would eliminate a lot of cruelty.
Assemblyman Peter Barnes wondered if the crime in beyond the scope of the original racketeering law. Halperan believed it’s advisable and reasonable, adding that it adds another law enforcement tool.
“I think it is fair.”
Holly Schepisi asked how widespread the problem is.
It definitely exist. It’s an underground industry.”
Kathleen Schatzmann of the New Jersey Humane Society also expressed support the bill
“This is organized crime,” she said. “It does happen frequently.”