Mississippi lawmakers vote to toughen dog fighting penalties

Mississippi lawmakers are giving more teeth to the state's penalties for dogfighting.

Posted: Apr 1, 2018 11:44 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers are giving more teeth to the state's penalties for dogfighting.

Senate Bill 2934 would make participation in dogfighting a felony offense, punishable by a fine up to $5,000. It was sent to Gov. Phil Bryant after Mississippi's House and Senate passed it Tuesday.

Those who promote or stage fights, bet on fights, own a dog with intent to enter it into a fight or own dogfighting paraphernalia could be sentenced to between one and five years in prison. Repeat offenses are punishable by a fine between $5,000 and $10,000, and prison sentences between three and 10 years.

Dogfight spectators could also face felony charges and fines, and prison sentences up to one year.

The move comes months after a November bust of a dogfighting operation in the southwestern Mississippi city of Natchez. The bust garnered national attention after police recovered 54 injured and starving dogs that were fought.

According to The Natchez Democrat, dogs were found with gashes so deep that tendons were exposed, and one dog was missing half its jaw. Several dogs had to be humanely euthanized because of the severity of their injuries. Dog skulls were also found on the property.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez is the primary author of SB 2934. Mississippi's current dogfighting laws are some of the weakest in the country, he said, with sentences of one to three years in prison and between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines.

In border cities like Natchez, just across the Mississippi River from Louisiana, Dearing said it's easy for fighters to bring dogs from other states into Mississippi to fight where penalties are laxer.

The original language in Dearing's bill was even tougher, imposing felony charges and fines of $1,000 per dog for sponsors and promoters of dogfights, along with one year in prison per dog involved, up to 25 years. Being a spectator would have been punishable by two-year prison sentences and up to $5,000 in fines.

The sanctions were softened as the bill moved through the Senate and House. Dearing called it a good first step, but he intends to bring another bill next year to seek harsher punishment for dogfighters.

The bill has garnered the support of animal rights activists, including the Humane Society of the United States. In a Wednesday statement, the group urged Bryant to sign the bill.

"This law will give law enforcement additional tools to fight criminal activity and the stiffer penalties will go a long way toward ending the scourge of dogfighting in Mississippi," said Julia Breaux, the group's legislative specialist in Mississippi. "With this vote, the Legislature sent the message that these crimes are serious and will not be tolerated."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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