Mayor Rawlings-Blake Introduces Bill to Ban Animal Fighting Paraphernalia

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Mayor Rawlings-Blake Introduces Bill to Ban Animal Fighting Paraphernalia

Proposed legislation would expand Baltimore City’s efforts to stop animal fighting

BALTIMORE, Md. (August 17, 2015)— Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today announced the introduction of legislation to the Baltimore City Council that would create a criminal charge for the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia.
“Animal fighting is not only cruel to animals, but we know that it is associated with other illegal and often violent activity,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Prohibiting the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia will help eliminate this vile practice from our city and make Baltimore safer and healthier.”
The legislation aims to make it easier to file charges against people involved in animal fighting if animal control or law enforcement officers enter a location that has clearly been used for animal fighting but find no animals present.
“Our responsibility is to protect the health not only of Baltimore’s human residents but of our animal residents as well,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Our Health Department’s Office of Animal Control has made significant strides to rid our city of animal fighting, and prohibiting the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia is critically important to support this effort.”
Items that would be prohibited in the legislation include:

  • Breaking sticks designed for insertion behind the molars of a dog to break the dog's grip on another animal or object;
  • Cat mills which rotate around a central support with one arm designed to secure a dog and one arm designed to secure a cat, rabbit, or other small animal beyond the grasp of the dog;
  • Springpoles which have a biting surface attached to a stretchable device, suspended at a height sufficient to prevent an animal from reaching the biting surface while touching the ground;
  • Fighting pits or other confined areas designed to contain an animal fight; and
  • Breeding stands or rape stands used to immobilize female dogs for breeding purposes.

While these items are not widely used by the general public and are directly linked to animal fighting, the proposed bill would protect those who may possess these items for a legitimate purpose. To be charged, the bill requires the item be possessed with the intent to be used in the training, preparation, conditioning or breeding of an animal for fighting.
This legislation would criminalize the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia with a $1,000 penalty and up to 90 days jail time.
A person accused under the law would have the opportunity to present evidence that the paraphernalia is possessed for a legitimate purpose. The ultimate judgment will be based on a totality of the circumstances present at a particular scene.

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