Tougher Cockfighting Penalties Proposed in CaliforniaPosted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on May 10, 2012
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and Senator Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, recently addressed state legislators on SB 1145, which was introduced by Sen. Emmerson. The California bill seeks to increase the fines levied against participants and spectators of illegal cockfights, according to the district attorney’s office.
The San Bernardino County Sun quoted a Ramos statement that read, "Right now, the penalties and fines for those who engage in cockfighting are not strong enough to discourage this type of behavior. The bottom line is we need to make it clear that animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and that those who take part in this so-called ‘sport,’ whether as a participant or spectator, will be held accountable for their actions.”
After a cockfighting bust in the city of Fontana in April, a city spokesman said community tips were vital in stemming these types of activities. The Sun article also mentioned that “Although prosecutors are concerned about animal abuse, they say highly profitable cockfighting rings also bring other types of criminal activity into communities, including gangs, drugs, guns, and prostitution.” Thus this bill is needed to help protect animals and communities in numerous ways.
Under current California law, the crime of cockfighting is only a misdemeanor and the fine for a participant and event organizer are $5,000. SB 1145 would double the fine to $10,000. In addition, the spectator fines would also increase from $1,000 to $5,000. These changes would come on the heels of a new law that became effective on January 1, 2012. That law is California Penal Code §598.1, and it allows for asset forfeiture in certain cases, meaning authorities now have the power to seize any property interest, whether tangible or intangible, that was acquired through cockfighting and/or dogfighting. That law is a definite step in the right direction. No one should be allowed to profit from such atrocities.
Unfortunately, Fontana Animal Services Officer Jamie Simmons was noted in the Sun report as saying that “despite changes in laws and tougher sentences for offenders, a slow economy has not had much impact on cockfighting locally.” That is indeed regrettable news. As such, we need to continue to do more to prevent and curtail this abuse.