TRENTON, N.J.  – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz that revises and expands the state’s animal cruelty laws to criminalize animal fighting was signed in law on Monday. The bill increases the level of crime for certain offenses, establishes new criminal and civil offenses and increases criminal and civil penalties.

“Training, promoting and selling animals for the purpose of fighting for amusement or financial gain is despicable and extremely inhumane,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The injuries inflicted on these poor animals, especially dogs, are very severe, if not fatal. Those that lose the fight but survive are either tortured to death by their owners or left with debilitating injuries.

Specifically, the measure, A-3037/2547/3596/2422/S-736, criminalizes animal fighting and leading an animal fighting network. The latter will be considered “racketeering activity” under the state’s anti-racketeering law.

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“Animal fighting, in particular, dog fighting is a secret, underground activity, but it happens everywhere in towns all over New Jersey,” she continued. “It’s a highly profitable, sadistic blood sport and anyone who operates, promotes or in any way participates in this activity should be justly punished.”

Under the bill, assets or property used in animal fighting activities will be seized or forfeited.