A state trooper pulls over a vehicle on the highway, in the back seat he can see sponges, buckets, betting slips, large pieces of wood and magazines filled with burly dogs. A couple of leashes and collars are on the front seat but there aren’t any dogs in the vehicle. Because the officer recently attended a training on animal fighting he suspects that this car is on its way to a dog fight.
Officers are called to the scene of a cockfight in progress, but someone got wind of their arrival and by the time the officers arrive the location is empty. Left at the scene is a bloody ring, there are syringes and feathers strewn across the ground, tracks from many cars, and a couple of small cages.
A man is stopped at the boarder of Ohio, in the back of his truck he has four cages with medium sized dogs, all carefully separated from being able to see one another. The officer checks the car carefully but he sees no evidence that these dogs are being used for fighting in the vehicle, so after some questioning, he reluctantly lets the driver pass.
On Friday July 10th Governor Wolf signed HB 164 which will take effect on September 10th and help law enforcement crack down on scenarios like these. Under current PA law, there is no ban on the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, and animal fighters know that. So they will transport dogs and their fighting equipment separately, knowing that unless the animals are at the same scene, it is nearly impossible to prove an animal is used for fighting.
On September 10th, Pennsylvania will no longer be a safe haven for animal fighters! If law enforcement finds evidence of a fight, mere possession of the paraphernalia is a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Pennsylvania has made a great stride in cracking down on fighting animals. Now we must turn our attention to the last benefit for animal fighters, lack of a statewide law banning tethering. Animal fighters commonly tether dogs outside as a main means of confinement and we know that in jurisdictions that enact tethering ordinances, animal fighters move on. Let’s make Pennsylvania a model state for zero tolerance for animal fighting!