In a unanimous vote of 7 to 0 on Monday in Tallahassee, Senate Bill 504 moves forward to two more committees before it comes to a vote on the Senate floor. The bill would expand animal cruelty charges making acts of fighting and baiting individual charges.
"Specifying that a person who commits multiple acts of animal cruelty against one animal or acts of animal cruelty against multiple animals may be charged with a separate offense for each such act of animal cruelty; providing criminal penalties; providing factors that may be used in determining whether an object is animal-fighting or animal-baiting paraphernalia; including illegal animal fighting or baiting as an offense within the definition of the term “racketeering activity” for purposes of the Florida RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act, etc."
Introduced by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), the bill would make each act of cruelty a separate offense. For instance, if 25 dogs were involved in dog fighting, there would be 25 animal cruelty counts levied against the offenders. The law would also be extended to animal abusers engaged in "racketeering" as is common in dog and cockfighting.
According to the newsherald.com, Senator Brandes stated:
“This really speaks to — are these animals actually being abused?” Brandes told the Criminal Justice Committee. “So, if they’re not feeding 100 chickens or if there’s 100 dogs dying, then potentially each individual act is a charge. If somebody didn’t feed their five kids, we would charge them for each individual of those five kids.”
The bill is supported by the National Rifle Association and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
House Bill 851 passed unanimously.
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