PHILADELPHIA – A reward program offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved in illegal dog and animal fighting was announced today by the Attorney General’s Office and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Attorney General Tom Corbett said that the program being offered is specifically designed to lead to valuable dog-fighting tips and arrests in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is not, and has never been immune to dog-fighting,” Corbett said. “It is a cruel and violent crime that impacts hundreds of thousands of animals every year, and despite the increased awareness, it continues to be on the rise across the country.”
In 2008, the Pennsylvania SPCA received more than 245 dog-fighting complaints. From January 2009 through June 2009 they received more than 400 complaints about dog fighting, with an average of more than 60 a month.
According to the HSUS, more than 40,000 people are involved in organized dog-fighting nationwide, and almost as many are involved in organized cockfighting.
“Animal fighters are criminals who force animals to mutilate each other for their own sick sense of entertainment,” said Sarah Speed Pennsylvania State Director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Attorney General Corbett for his support and dedication to cracking down on these criminals.”
“The reality of dog-fighting goes far beyond a single brutal match between two dogs,” Corbett said. “It is a blood-sport that promotes crime, not only cruelty to animals, but also violence against people.”
Animal fighting is closely associated with drug dealing, illegal gambling, gangs, guns and other violent crimes.
Corbett said that children are often present at dog-fighting matches and exposing them to this type of violence is just one of the many dangers associated with the subculture of animal fighting. Extensive research shows that people who abuse animals are more likely to abuse people.
“Young minds that are exposed to a culture of violence against animals often become desensitized to the cruel and vicious acts,” Corbett said. “Our job as law enforcement is to rid our cities and suburbs of this horrific crime and ensure that our children are not exposed to the brutality of animal fighting.”
The reward program has been implemented other states across the country over the past two years resulting in more than 50 rewards totaling nearly $160,000 paid to tipsters who reported animal fighting.
Corbett said that Pennsylvania ranks ninth among U.S. states for the toughest dog-fighting laws. Animal fighting is a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Individuals with information about animal fighting are encouraged to call their local law enforcement authorities or the HSUS at 877-TIP-HSUS. Financial rewards will be provided by The HSUS once it is confirmed that the information provided to law enforcement led to an arrest and conviction.
The HSUS reward program has been made possible through a grant by the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation.