May 29, 2023 3 min read


Indiana Bill to Better Address Cases of Illegal Animal Gambling

Senate Bill 423 will allow a better match between real costs and the bond value set in court and ease euthanasia requirements

New legislation in Indiana is aiming to ease the burden of caring for the evidence of illegal animal fighting rings in Indiana, covering expenses for caretakers while the cases wind down through the legal system.

Matching Bond to Costs

Indiana Senate Bill 423 seeks to expand the scope of “reasonable expenses” of bonds set by courts for the animals impounded during busts of illegal animal gambling rings by explicitly stating medical care, quarantine, shelter and food as costs covered by the bond.

The forthcoming legal changes are expected to facilitate the cooperation of gambling regulators with the different groups involved in the process of raiding an illegal animal gambling ring. Animal fights fall within the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC)’s oversight of every activity involving wagers.

And while such fights are illegal, they are not uncommon: over the past seven years, the IGC worked on 50 animal fighting cases, with illegal gambling rings being busted in Hendricks, Owen, Morgan, Montgomery, Wells and other counties, leading to about 2,000 birds and 20 dogs being seized.

According to IGC’s General Counsel, Dennis Mullen, the undercover Gaming Control Unit investigates, substantiates and works with Indiana’s Board of Animal Health, local police departments or sheriff’s offices, and local prosecutors while planning every sting.

“We’ll run down every tip — and it’s a really coordinated effort,” Mullen said, quoted by Indiana Capital Chronicle, explaining that due to the bond not covering the real costs on several occasions, organizations working with the regulator such as the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) ended up footing the bill.

Euthanasia Requirements Eased

Besides better matching the bond to costs, Senate Bill 423 also eases requirements for euthanasia which, according to regulators, are too limiting and present risks to other animals and humans at the moment.

The current law which specifies timelines during which animals cannot be put down and allows euthanasia only for animals suffering from extreme pain is seen as very limiting, and the amendments brought by the bill will provide an additional level of discretion.

The bill allows euthanasia at any time in cases where an animal is found to present a serious threat to other animals or people by a licensed veterinarian, or if euthanasia is seen as in the animal’s “best interest.”

The new bill will also provide civil immunity to the private professionals that make those decisions, without exonerating them from adhering to ethical standards under veterinary practice legislation and regulation.

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