State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe, on Tuesday announced that he has introduced legislation designed to help district attorneys investigate and prosecute illegal gambling operations involving animal fighting.

Under current law, $2 million is transferred from the State Gaming Fund annually to the Gaming Control Board to be used as grants for local law enforcement agencies to investigate illegal gambling. Yudichak's Senate Bill 1154 would require that $250,000 of the $2 million appropriation be transferred to the attorney general to issue grants to local district attorneys to investigate, prosecute and enforce laws relating to illegal gambling that involves animal fighting.

"The culture of violence around dog fighting is almost always directly linked to gangs and drugs two areas that we have taken direct aim at here in northeastern Pennsylvania," Yudichak said. "This legislation would ensure that adequate state funding is available to help law enforcement protect animals by ending illegal and violent animal fighting rings in our communities."

Last week, Yudichak participated in a dog fighting seminar in Hazleton that drew attention to the growing problem in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The city of Hazleton is currently training its officers to recognize the signs of dog fighting and deploying its special operations group to arrest those involved, thanks to an $85,000 grant to stem illegal gambling operations.

Yudichak said that with the funding made available under Senate Bill 1154, more communities will have the resources like Hazleton to offer specialized training to their officers to end animal fighting.