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The Felony Offense of Dog Fighting

In the United States, dogs are considered man’s best friend. For many, a dog is a furry friend whose sole purpose is companionship. For others dogs provide assistance; they serve as emergency responders, provide assistance for those with disabilities or other health conditions, or work as dogs for those who need emotional support. However, others purchase these animals so that they may train them to fight against other dogs. One breed of dogs commonly purchased for dog fights are pit bulls.

Dog fights are considered a particularly heinous form of animal cruelty. Although it is looked at unfavorably, it happens regularly in many communities throughout the United States. Law enforcement officers are permitted to arrest any individuals who engage in dog fighting. If you or someone you know has been charged with dog fighting, there is a possibility for serious consequences.

Pursuant to New York State law, dog fighting is outlined under provisions relating to animal cruelty. Very simply, animal fighting is defined as a fight between two animals, including dogs.

What actions may lead to a felony charge?

There are many laws that seek to control any connection to dog fighting. However, not every action results in a felony charge. The following conduct may result in a felony dog fighting charge:

  • Allowing dog fighting for amusement or gain. Amusement can be equated to entertainment. In addition, the statute does not limit the gain to a financial gain. Any benefit can be considered gain under the statute.
  • Training an animal in such a way that indicates the person intends to fight the animal for pleasure or for gain. The facts and circumstances of each case will determine whether there is an intent to fight an animal. This may include the living conditions of the animal, treatment of the animal, and overall health of the animal, including steroid use and diet.
  • Breeding an animal, sale, or attempted sale of an animal under circumstances that indicate the animal will engage in dog fighting.

Not only does the statute prohibit certain direct conduct which evidences an intent to fight an animal, certain omissions or indirect conduct may result in a felony charge. This includes:

  • Permitting dog fighting on the premises. Permitting a dog to fight on your premises will lead to a felony charge. Permitting other conduct on your premises including the breeding, sale, or attempted sale of dogs on premises you control which evidence an intent to fight said animals will also result in a charge for violating the act prohibiting animal fighting.
  • Having a dog on any premises where dog fighting occurs. An individual may also be charged for having a dog on the premises where dog fighting is occurring and where there is an indication of an intention to have the dog engage in dog fighting. The statute is intended to encompass those individuals who did not actually have their engage in fighting but the circumstances are sufficient in which the officer may conclude it was intended for the dog to fight at the event.

Need Legal Help?

If you or someone you know has been charged with animal fighting, contact Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law in Rockland and Bergen County. If convicted for a felony offense due to a dog fight, the individual faces up to 4 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. You need a lawyer who can discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and determine a strategic plan. Contact attorney Murphy today to discuss your options.

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