Helping to Protect Man’s Best Friend

By Senator Patty Ritchie

Whether a dog or a cat, when you take a pet into your home, it becomes a part of your family.

It would be hard for me to imagine life without our yellow lab. That’s why I’m helping to take steps to safeguard man’s best friend.

Last week, two important bills were passed in the Senate to protect animals.

The first could put anyone found guilty of stealing a pet behind bars. According to the American Kennel Club, the theft of pets has become more and more common in recent years, and many of the stolen animals wind up in dog fights, abandoned, or victims of abuse.

Currently, the theft of a pet is a misdemeanor. Under this new plan, stealing a pet would become a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Going hand in hand (hand in paw?) with this legislation is a bill I sponsored to help crack down on animal fighting in New York state.

The measure would make it a crime to possess dog fighting equipment like “breaking sticks,” “cat mills,” and other tools used to train dogs for fights, or in actual dog fighting events.

Anyone found guilty would be punished with up to 90 days in jail.  Repeat offenders within five years would serve a one year jail sentence.

Dog fighting is a cruel and senseless use of animals that’s already illegal in all 50 states, with a major problem: it’s almost impossible for law enforcement to witness an actual event, and catch offenders.

This bill will give police and prosecutors a new tool to stop dog fighting and the violence that usually accompanies it.

Both bills have been sent to the Assembly.

From playing catch to constant companionship, the bond we share with our pets is like no other.

I’m hopeful that by passing these two bills, we can protect pets in New York state, and show them the same unconditional love they show us each and every day.