LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Clark County commissioners plan to toughen local animal cruelty laws to target illegal cockfighting rings in the valley after a federal animal cruelty law took effect.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, mandating felony penalties for severe animal abuse and distribution of videos of the cruelty.
County officials said the federal law will allow local jurisdictions to strengthen their laws on the books for a range of crimes against animals.
Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said cockfighting has been a problem in his district and surrounding rural areas. The federal law will allow Clark County greater leverage to punish more people involved in the illegal gambling rings, he said.
"Whether you're hosting, whether you're spectating, or whether you're betting-- this language here will give us the opportunity to take [penalties] to a higher level," Weekly said, hoping harsher penalties will be a deterrent for these crimes.
Over the past several years, Clark County Animal Control and LVMPD have conducted several large cockfighting busts, netting up to hundreds of birds on a single property.
Animal Control officers told the Clark County Commission that the valley is a "hub" for cockfighting rings to congregate, and hopes the federal law will allow federal agents to assist in taking down large rings outside their jurisdiction.
Depending on the crime, an animal cruelty charge can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, resulting in a fine or jail time.