TRENTON – Ringleaders who lead dog fighting networks will now be in the ring themselves, that is the judicial loop, because of a newly passed legislation to break up the dog fighting networks in New Jersey.
Governor Chris Christie signed off on the bill S736 on August 10, which was led up with several primary sponsors including Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) who spearheaded it and, Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20), Assemblyman Bob Andrezejczak (D-1), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21), Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-38), Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33), Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-20), Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26). Co-sponsors were: Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16), Senator Anthony R. Bucco (R-25), Senator Nellie Pou (D-35), Senator Joseph Kyrillos, Jr. (R-13), Senator Robert Gordon (D-38), Senator Fred Madden Jr. (D-4), Senator James W. Holzapfel (R-10), Assemblywoman Bonnie Coleman Watson (D-15) and Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-5).
The bill was introduced to the senate in January 2014 at which time it was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was passed in the Senate on May 18, 2015 and passed in the Assembly on June 25.
In addition to establishing dog fighting and its ringleaders as part of a crime network, it adds as RICO charge to it (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations), making it an organized crime. RICO crimes falling under the umbrella of some other crimes including murder, gambling and kidnapping.
Kean said, “As authorities have attested and recent cases have shown, dog fighting is a barbaric crime that often extends far beyond animal murder or cruelty. Weapons and narcotics are frequently found at the scene of a fight, posing a threat to the safety and security of the community at large.”
The industry has become an unfortunate and underground profit-making venture for these ringleaders, who receive bets in the tens of thousands to watch the dogs fight. The kidnapped dogs have been starved and succumb to their fatal injuries under horrific conditions. Under the new law, those who engage in dog fighting are punished under a third-degree crime and could receive up to five years prison time and a $15,000 fine. Those who lead the network are bumped up to the second-degree crime category, may face up to 10 years in prison and could face a fine of $150,000.
Part of the legislation also offers conditions for protection of the survivors of the dog fights. That could include restitution pay for medical treatments and boarding costs to the animals who are maimed during the dog fights. There may be limitations imposed to those engaging in dog fighting to prevent them future animal ownership.
Those who engage in or ring lead dog fights may also face seizure of their property.
Kean has especially been instrumental in heading up legislation that provides further protection to animals from abuse and neglect. He was the primary sponsor behind Patrick’s Law that increased penalties for those who commit acts of animal cruelty and neglect. Patrick’s Law was named in honor of a severely emaciated and near-death Pit Bull found in a garbage bag in Newark and being launched down a garbage chute, who was nursed back to health.
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