NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — Tougher penalties are being proposed for people involved in dog fighting in Mississippi.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez says he is already receiving bipartisan support for a bill he will sponsor in 2018.
The Natchez Democrat reports that Dearing explained his proposal during a public hearing Monday, weeks after local authorities broke up a dog fighting operation.
Dearing's bill would punish the fight organizers with a fine of $1,000 per dog and a one-year prison sentence per dog up, for to 25 years.
It also would strengthen penalties for people attending dog fights to a minimum $1,000 fine and up to two years' imprisonment.
It includes provisions for a person convicted of dog fighting to pay restitution for care and housing of the animals between confiscation and conviction.
Republican Sens. Dean Kirby of Pearl and Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg and Democratic Sen. Juan Barnett of Heidelberg, are asking to be co-authors of the bill, Dearing said.
"It's a non-partisan bill already," Dearing said. "Hudson said he wanted this bill to be the strongest bill in the country. He didn't want anything left unturned. He didn't want the people who promote dog fighting to think that Mississippi was the place to come anymore."
Dearing said some senators have declined to co-author the bill because of the 25-year upper cap on imprisonment for offenders. He said some senators believe that to be too long a prison term.
"I told them, 'There are folks back home who would like it to be 56 years' imprisonment," Dearing said. "Comparing our bill with other states, we're pretty much in line with the prison term."