Dog fighting bill would strengthen existing penalties - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Dog fighting bill would strengthen existing penalties

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Dog fighting is a felony in Mississippi, just as it is in every state, but advocates say our state laws don't have enough teeth to deter it.

The most recent case is out of Wayne County where authorities located a possible dog fighting ring.

READ MORE: Man charged in connection to Wayne Co. dog fighting ring, more suspects sought

There are two different bills directed specifically to dog fighting, one in the House and one in the Senate, but it's the Senate bill that would make the biggest changes and hold perpetrators even more accountable.

The community was outraged when more than 50 dogs were found on a property in Adams County last November. Animal advocate Doll Stanley says it's cases like that grabbing the attention of lawmakers.

READ MORE: Adams Co. suspect charged with 50 counts of dog fighting, aggravated animal cruelty

"We tend to address things when they become a crisis," explained Doll Stanley, Animal Advocacy of Mississippi board member. "And so, having these very critical events taken place shows legislators that we're not just going oh what if this happens? It's happening."

Senator Bob Dearing knew legislation, once again, needed to be filed if that was going to change.

"Mississippi's dog fighting law is very weak," said Senator Dearing. "And as a result, people that do this dog fighting, they don't do them in Louisiana where it's strong law or Alabama or Arkansas or even Tennessee. They come into Mississippi to do their dog fighting."

Current law only allows a fine between $1,000-$5,000 or 1-3 years prison time. Spectator can get $500 to $5,000 in fines or a year in jail.

"The bottom line is if you get rid of the spectators, you may get rid of "the sport"," added Stanley.

Senate Bill 2934 would increase the fine to $1,000 per dog involved and include at least a year of prison time per dog, with a max prison sentence of 25 years.

It also increases penalties for those who watch the fighting, but advocates hope the bill gets tweaked.

"The $1,000 per count and 1 year in jail per count up to 25 counts," noted Stanley. "That's wonderful, but what happens when there's two dogs or three dogs and the person sponsoring the fight has less of a conviction or less of a penalty than a person who is spectating?"

As the proposal is currently written, spectators would get from $1,000-$5,000 in fines and up to two years in prison.

The Senate Judiciary A committee is expected to take up this bill Tuesday morning. 

Something to note, it is a deadline day, so it would have to be moved out of the committee in order to stay in play the remainder of the session.

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