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  • Gina Scrofano

These 4 Steps Could End Illegal Dog Fighting In NH


Imagine you’re an animal control police officer. You have been an officer for several years and have dedicated your life to the protection of the animals and residents of your state. As part of your work, you have investigated the underground animal fighting industry and have seen first hand the horrific results of the violent blood sport, which some criminals use for profit and consider their entertainment.


After several months of investigative work into a particular case, you finally get a legitimate tip on a dog fighting location. After going through the necessary legal channels, you head to the location with your team.


You arrive at the location, which is eerily quiet and your gut tells you something isn’t right. Upon observation, you quickly realize that all the dogs are gone. Any spectators that may have been there, who shouted at the dogs as they fought, are gone. The only sound heard now is the deep thumping of your heart as it sinks to your stomach. The criminals relocated the dogs before you arrived. Left behind is a fighting pit, where you know some dogs have likely broken bones, suffered deep wounds, lost limbs, and lost their lives. You find treadmills with heavy chains attached to them made to hold the dogs tight, forcing them to run. You find breaking sticks, stained red from prying the dog's jaws open as they bleed. You know what this what all this evidence adds up to, but there are no dogs currently fighting, nor are any dogs present.


There is no dog fighting occurring at that moment and the dogs are now gone, but the criminals can still be prosecuted because you found evidence right?


Wrong.


Although animal fighting is a felony in NH, to have a solid prosecution, the dogs must be present. If not, regardless of what evidence is found, the case often just doesn't hold up...


Enter NH House Bill 1571-FN


What is House Bill 1571?

A bill that would prohibit the possession, purchase or sale of equipment used for animal fighting.


After its introduction into the NH State Legislature, HB 1571 was opposed by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, but it will now be voted on by the entire house of representatives on March 9th or 10th.


If the house were to pass the bill, there would be a different ending to the above story. Not only would the evidence you found legally allow you to arrest the criminals involved in the disturbingly violent crime of animal fighting, but that arrest could also contribute to the prevention of many other crimes in NH.


The following crimes are often linked with and committed by those who are involved with animal fighting:

Gambling

Gang Violence

Drug Offenses

Weapon Offenses

Simple and Serious Assault

Childhood Exposure to Violence

The Intentional Harm and Torture of the Animal Victims


Why did the NH Environment and Agriculture committee vote against the bill?

It was reported that the committee voted against the bill due to the incorrect argument that no dog fighting occurs in NH and the fear that people owning similar equipment that do not use it for dog fighting could be at risk.


However, those two arguments could not be furthest from the truth and quite frankly, seem a bit uneducated and naive. The bill is receiving strong support from the NH Association of Chiefs of Police, NH animal shelters, rescue groups, cruelty investigators, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. These are the experts who are on the front lines investigating illegal animal fighting and have seen it first hand. Those supporting the bill wouldn’t do so if they felt it wasn’t necessary.


What Exactly Is Animal Fighting Equipment?


Treadmills: Homemade or electric. Used to condition the dog for fighting. Usually has a heavy chain or harness to tether the dog to it.


Fighting Pit: Often constructed out of plywood or chain-link fencing. Usually have ‘scratch lines’ drawn on the opposite corners, which the dogs are held behind before they are released to fight.


Washtubs: Sometimes people attempt to cheat by applying poisonous substances to their dog’s fur, so handlers will wash and examine their opponent’s dog prior to the fight.


Vitamins & Drugs (commonly steroids & antibiotics)

Breaking Sticks: Used to pry dogs’ jaws open


Springpole: Knotted rope, tire or other material suspended by a beam or tree branch. Created for a dog to bite and hold on to, which strengthens the neck and jaw muscles.


Dog fighting Publications: Underground flyers and/or magazines which keep track of winning dogs and blood lines.


Razor-sharp steel blades or "gaffs": Resembles 3-inch-long, curved ice picks and are tied to the legs of birds for cockfighting.


Jenny Mill / Cat Mill: This equipment has a rotating center shaft with spokes projecting out from that center. A small bait animal, such as a rabbit or cat, is tied to one of the spokes. The dog is harnessed to a spoke behind the animal and provoked to chase the bait. This encourages prey drive and conditions the dog.



The use of jenny mills is not the only method in which live animals are used as bait for dog fighting. Often the trainers will render a weaker dog defenseless and throw them in the fighting pit with the other dogs.

Difference Between Animal Fighting Use and Normal Use of Equipment

It is important to note that House Bill 1571 protects those who own any similar equipment, such as a treadmill or prescription pet medication, if it is not intended to be used for the purpose of animal fighting.


Do you know someone who has a treadmill for their dog? Okay, that could be completely normal. However, do they also inject their dog with non-prescription steroids, have blood stained breaking sticks and an animal fighting pit? That clearly, is not the norm. Of course there might be more investigative work and other factors involved with each particular case, however most often it requires none other than simple logic to differentiate between when equipment is used for animal fighting and when it is not.


Legal justifications would also be required for animal control officers to search a person’s property to begin with. I find it highly unlikely that someone witnessing their neighbor gently and simply cleaning their dog off in a washtub on a sunny day, would warrant any investigation.


THE FOUR STEPS:

1. Open Here

2. Click on Your County

3. Click on Your City/Town

4. Call the Representatives on the List Shown (please note phone numbers are personal, so be sure to call during appropriate hours)


What Do I Say? - The Following are some talking points:

1. House Bill 1571-FN is going to be up for vote by the house on or around March 9th.

2. HB1571-FN would prohibit the possession, purchase or sale of equipment used for animal fighting.

3. Animal fighting is currently a felony in NH. However, the authorities cannot prosecute the criminals if the animal fighting equipment is found separate from the animals themselves, which most often is the case, as the locations of the dogs and the fights are extremely secretive. This bill would remove that loophole, therefore assisting our police officers and prosecutors.

4. Because animal fighting is highly underground there seems to be the misconception that it does not occur in NH. However, those that investigate dog fighting and rescue animals from dog fighting in NH, such as the NH Association of Chiefs of Police, NH animal shelters and rescue groups, cruelty investigators, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States, support that it does.

5. Equipment intended to be used for animal fighting is easily distinguishable from normal and everyday veterinary prescribed pet medication or equipment, and the bill protects those who do not intend to use any such equipment for animal fighting.


Bashful? This might help

1. Your call could mean the difference between a violent criminal continuing to commit multiple felonies and a criminal facing the consequences for them.

2. Legislators are people just like you and me. Getting a call from someone about a bill might make them just as nervous as it makes you to call them.

3. Many representatives may not know about House Bill 1571 and might be more prone to vote against it unless they hear from us, learn about it and know it matters to us.


It’s time for us to show criminals that animal fighting will Not be tolerated in New Hampshire.


Click Here to Learn More About Dog Fighting

Click Here to Learn More About Cockfighting

Click Here to Review HB1571-FN



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