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The state Senate today approved legislation aimed at curbing the illegal practice of cockfighting.

Senate Bill 425, by Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon, would increase the minimum fines for both cockfighting ring participants and spectators.

Calderon said the crackdown is intended to curb what animal welfare advocates and law enforcement officials say is a growing problem in the state. While cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, California does not categorize many related violations as felonies.

"California is basically a welcome mat for this kind of activity because we have relatively weak laws," the Montebello Democrat said.

Supporters, including bill sponsor Humane Society of the United States, say increasing the fines will help deter spectators and participants. There was no formal opposition to the bill, though one critic told The Bee in March that the measure would disproportionately affect low-income spectators, not organizers of larger rings.

The bill was approved on a 36-1 vote. It now heads to the Assembly.


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