Sep. 22, 2015

HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) joined Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania state director of the Humane Society of the United States, and Amy Kaunas, executive director of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc., to remind Pennsylvanians that a new law is in place to protect animals from being used for illegal fighting.

“While animal fighting in Pennsylvania has been prohibited, we had no law banning the ownership or possession of the equipment used for animal fighting,” Stephens said. “Since law enforcement cannot always arrive while an animal fight is in progress, police will be able to arrest the perpetrators when they find the animal fighting equipment left behind.”

House Bill 164, now Act 24 of 2015, creates the offense of “possession of animal fighting paraphernalia.” Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia is graded as a third-degree misdemeanor, subjecting an offender to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. It took effect Sept. 8.

Relying on his experience as a prosecutor, Stephens carefully drafted the law to help ensure anyone involved in animal training or other legitimate, otherwise lawful, uses wasn't wrongfully prosecuted under this new law.

“I want to thank Rep. Stephens for giving law enforcement this critical tool in combating animal fighting and apprehending those who might otherwise avoid arrest,” said Tullo. “Animal fighting is a secretive industry and very difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate. This new law will be a big step forward in prosecuting those who engage in this heinous crime.”

“Now that we have the law, I urge law enforcement throughout Pennsylvania to use it,” said Kaunas. “This bill is designed to prevent people who commit these barbaric acts from escaping punishment. But it must be enforced.”

Under the new law, animal fighting paraphernalia is defined as any device, implement, object, facility, space or drug used, or intended to be used, for animal fighting or to train an animal for fighting. An example of such an object is a razor-sharp gaff that is attached to a rooster’s legs to cause greater damage to its opponent in a cockfight.

The bill had the strong support of the Humane Society of the United States, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Pennsylvania State Police.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster