Friday, January 1, 2010

Increased Penalties for Dog Fighting in California

In this article there has been an increase in the penalties for watching a dog fight.
Stella from the large Missouri dog fighting raid seen in this pic fabulously blending in with the pack wants to know what your views are on these new penalties.
Do you think someone should spend time in jail or be fined for watching a dog fight?


  1. It was already illegal to be a spectator at a dog fight in California. For the past several years, legislators have attempted to make being a spectator a felony-level crime OR, at least a wobbler (meaning first time it's a misdemeanor, next time it's a felony).

    This past session AB 242 passed. It originally made it a felony-level crime, then reduced it. It's still a misdemeanor but instead of a $1,000 fine, max fine is now $5,000 and instead of a max of 6-mos in jail, max time is 1-year. Pretty pitiful, really.

  2. Thanks for that info....and it is pitiful. I see the spelling errors in the blog too! Oops!

  3. Rinalia that is clear in other articles but not in this one.

  4. Oy, I'm going to disagree [pulls on flame-retardant Snuggie]. Given that a number of spectators at dogfights are always found to be fencing stolen goods or dealing guns/drugs or are - surprise! - already in violation of parole, I think the law has all the power it needs to go after the hard-core spectators.

    In a perfect world, a law making it a felony to be present at a dogfight would punish only cruel SOBs that deserved prison time and a felony rap.

    But in the real world, people who are NOT cruel SOBs will be arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they'll wind up in prison with a felony record instead of out and at work supporting their families. The burden of this law will fall disproportionally on the poor, the uneducated, recent immigrants... way to add to a permanent underclass, California legislators. It's not like we don't have enough people in prison already, or anything like that.

    I'm totally not the first to say this, but until we really tackle the causes of social ills [poverty, unemployment, poor schools, etc.], we can legislate against the symptoms [dogfighting, for example] all we want, but the problem won't go away.

    Years ago I knew a woman whose husband had once been a backyard dogfighter. [You teach in the public schools, you meet everybody.] He stopped fighting dogs because his family hated it, and the last two pit bulls he owned became his family's pets. A better outcome, I think, than putting him in prison for a few years and putting his family on welfare.

    I think Leo, Hector and others visiting classrooms will do more to put the brakes on dogfighting than a slew of laws, but that's just me.

  5. That should be "disproportionately." [cringes with shame]

  6. Oh I definitely agree it was a very vague article, that's why I was adding the missing information! :)

    Luisa: You bring up some good points. I don't agree with not criminalizing cruelties, including enjoying them as a spectator. I do think cockfighting and dog fighting are more like reinforcing agents (rather than symptoms) of the social ills you bring up. Removing them can make alleviating more "symptoms"and improving welfare a lot easier if the infrastructure is there.

  7. Luisa

    I understand your point but thinking people would be wrongly punished for "stumbling" into a dog fight is a bit naive. The secretive culture of these things would probably not allow such things.

  8. I am all for criminalizing animal cruelty. But in an urban environment, especially, some people will be arrested simply for being in the same house or alley when they are not,in fact, enjoying a dogfight as a spectator.

    Also, as you indicate, it's already illegal to be a spectator at a dogfight, with penalties involving fines and jail time. I don't believe that putting people in prison for years because they were present at the scene of a dogfight does the individuals [now saddled for life with the label of felon] or the community any good.

    Disclaimer: my dad grew up in California when cops hassled and beat up poor Mexican-American kids with absolute impunity. Policing is better now, but far from ideal. It scares the crap out of me to imagine a good, smart Mexican kid like my dad [who loved dogs and would have abhorred dogfighting] getting arrested and sent to prison because he made the mistake of visiting a friend's house on the wrong night and staying a minute too long. And then trying to find a decent job with that "felon" label. In 2010, is that the best we can come up with?

    Up in Canada, Calgary has an awesome pet care education program for every grade level, and it isn't optional: it's part of the school district curriculum. I wish California would establish something like that -- I honestly believe it would do more good that the "tough on crime" effort to make penalties worse and worse.

    I once heard the great horse trainer Ray Hunt say, "We Americans are funny. If a horse doesn't respond to the bit, we always think we should try a more severe bit. Maybe what we should try is a gentler method."

  9. Absolutely a felony. If an "innocent bystander" is in the vicinity of a dog-fight, calling the police is the only acceptable option. Law, Order & Justice works at it's best when "we the people" take responsibility into our own hands, and don't stand idly by, waiting for the "other man" to do do the job. Individual integrity depends on this attribute, America was built on values such as these. And yes, no one wants to see a truly innocent man or woman put into the "slammer" unjustly, but that is what we have the courts for, and why jury's are assembled...

  10. correct spelling: juries, not jury's...

  11. "....and it isn't optional: it's part of the school district curriculum."

    I've thought about this so many times.....I wish we had this too. I feel that the lack of humaities etc in education is one of the main problems.

  12. I am concerned about reoffenders + I think a clandescent operation of "concerned citizens" should be formed to "keep an eye on these people" for the rest of their lives (and to locate the ones who haven't been caught yet: i.e. inspired by Simon Wiesenthal, "hunter of Nazi War Criminals" and author of such books as "Murderers Among Us".