SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) announced today that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed his AB 242, the Dogfighting Prevention Act, which increases penalties for spectators at dogfights. “By approving this measure, the Governor has given law enforcement more tools to stop this vicious and heinous crime in California,” said Nava. “Spectators provide much of the profits associated with dogfighting. The money generated by admission fees and gambling helps to perpetuate this crime. And, because dogfights are illegal, and therefore not widely publicized, spectators do not merely happen upon a fight – they deliberately seek them out.”
AB 242 (Nava) will substantially increase the penalties for spectators caught attending a dogfighting event to up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
“Dogfighting is a barbaric and indefensible activity, yet it remains widespread in California,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Assemblyman Nava’s bill, now signed into law, will allow law enforcement authorities to crack down on spectators who fund and fuel these criminal enterprises.”
According to recent statistics, it is estimated that 40,000 people are involved in organized dogfighting and that more than 250,000 dogs die annually. Dogfighting is on the rise according to Pet-Abuse.com, a website that tracks dogfighting citations. Since 2005 there have been 572 reported cases in the United States. Just a few weeks ago, the national media highlighted a dogfighting ring operating out of a daycare facility on the outskirts of Chicago.
Dogfighting is currently illegal in all 50 states, and in 48 states it is illegal to be a spectator.
Said Eric Sakach, Senior Law Enforcement Specialist with The Humane Society of the United States, “With the Governor’s signature, AB 242 will serve as a more meaningful deterrent by giving law enforcement and the courts the teeth necessary to take a bite out of this despicable and indefensible crime. Upgrading the penalties for being a spectator at a staged dogfight will help to crack down on this vicious blood sport and curb its associated crimes including illegal gambling, weapons and drugs.”
Assemblymember Nava worked this year with humane organizations, public safety officials, and local governments throughout the state on this effort, which received overwhelming bipartisan legislative support.