Stephens’ Bill to Combat Animal Fighting Signed Into Law
HARRISBURG -- Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to protect animals from being used for illegal fighting has been signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

“I want to thank the governor for understanding the harsh reality that while animal fighting in Pennsylvania is prohibited, there was no law banning the ownership or possession of the equipment used for animal fighting,” Stephens said. “This is critical as law enforcement cannot always arrive while an animal fight is in progress, but during the course of an investigation may find an offender to be in possession of equipment or implements of animal fighting.”

House Bill 164, now Act 24 of 2015, creates the offense of “possession of animal fighting paraphernalia.”

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.

Under the 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.

Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia will be graded as a third-degree misdemeanor, subjecting an offender to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

“Too often police will arrive after the animal fight is over and only find the tools of the crime,” Stephens said. “Now individuals caught with those weapons will face charges.”

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.

“This bill helps ensure people who commit these barbaric acts don’t escape punishment,” Stephens said.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
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