State dog fighting bill passes committee

Published 12:21 am Thursday, February 1, 2018


NATCHEZ — A much-anticipated dog fighting bill has passed committee and will move to the Mississippi senate floor, but the legislation might have lost its teeth.

Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, said his dog fighting bill has passed out of the agricultural committee, but has sustained several changes to the increased penalties for dog fighting.

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The bill passed Tuesday, with a 12-1 vote in the agricultural committee. Only Sen. Barbara Blackman, D-Jackson, voted against the bill.

Dearing said though he was excited the bill survived committee, he is not happy with the results.

“I’m not happy at all,” Dearing said. “I’m going to try to offer amendments to get the changes revised.”

Dearing’s original bill would increase penalties for individuals convicted of dog fighting.

The current penalty for a felony dog fighting charge is up to three years’ imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.

Dearing’s bill would increase the penalties to include one year of imprisonment and $1,000 for each dog found on the suspected fighter’s property, with a cap at 25 years’ maximum imprisonment.

The revised bill leaving committee would fine a maximum of $10,000 and a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment, regardless of the number of dogs confiscated.

Dearing’s bill also had a provision for restitution money for the care of any confiscated dogs in the time between arrest and conviction.

This amendment, too, was scrapped.

“Which means whoever takes care of the dogs will have to pay for it by themselves, unless they can find a way to raise money,” Dearing said.

The bill will move next to the senate floor, where, if it passes, it will move to a new committee in the House of Representatives.

The bill must then pass through the house and senate without substantive changes in order to be sent to the governor’s office for approval.

“It’s got a long way to go,” Dearing said. “I don’t know if I can (get the changes reversed), but I’m going to try.”