New law gives police more tools to stop animal fighting

Photo courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that allows judges to issue an electronic surveillance warrant for the investigation of animal fighting.

This bill (S.611/A.2806) makes animal fighting a designated offense for the issuance of a video surveillance or eavesdropping warrant.

Animal fighting often requires that multiple individuals use phone and web-based communication devices.

Under the previous law, law enforcement was not able to obtain electronic surveillance warrants to investigate dog fighting activities.

“This is a particularly cruel and heinous crime, and we must use every tool at our disposal to stamp out these despicable acts once and for all,” said Cuomo. “This legislation will give law enforcement new powers to crack down on these rings, protect animals from harm and bring these criminals to justice.”

This legislation was introduced in January by Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, and Assemblyman Charles Lavine, D-Glen Cove.

Violence against animals has long been linked to violence against humans.

There are also often links between animal fighting, especially dog fighting, and other forms of organized crime such as narcotics and weapons trafficking.

Dog fighting alone is estimated to be a billion dollar underground industry in the United States which accounts for a third of the global dog fighting economy.

“Animal fighting fuels some of the most violent enterprises that corrupt our neighborhoods, and many people did not know that animal fighting was not eligible for a warrant to conduct electronic surveillance,” said Boyle. “Apart from the well-established social science link between violence against animals and violence against people, law enforcement throughout the state has seen first-hand that vigorous investigations and prosecutions of animal fighting exposes gang networks, narcotics rings, weapons trafficking activity, and other sophisticated and violent criminal enterprises. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this measure into law.”

Lavine also praised Cuomo for signing the legislation he introduced.

“Those who profit from cruel animal fighting must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, and with the crime dependent on organized networks, the use of wiretaps and surveillance video is absolutely necessary to protect the public,” said Lavine. “This legislation will help end this barbaric practice, and we should all be very appreciative that Governor Cuomo is signing this into law.”