Dogfighting bill passes Senate

Published 12:42 am Saturday, February 10, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Natchez-based dogfighting bill passed the Mississippi Senate this week and will head to the House for consideration.The bill created by Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, was originally passed on Thursday with seven senators dissenting. The bill was brought back up again after a motion to reconsider was made.

When the bill was brought up again, it was passed unanimously.

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“I’m excited, but we still have a long way to go,” Dearing said.

Dearing’s original bill was revised in committee to include a fine maximum of $10,000 and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, regardless of the number of dogs confiscated.

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

Dearing said he introduced an amendment to restore his bill to its original penalties of 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 and no cap on the fine.

Dearing’s amendment was voted down.

Dearing’s original bill also included a provision for restitution money to be paid to the person or entity that cared for the dogs in the time between confiscation and conviction.

Though this provision, too, is now out, Dearing said he believes a restitution can still be enacted.

“Sen. (Briggs) Hopson told me a judge can ask for restitution without it being in the bill,” Dearing said. “So, I think we can still have that happen.”

The legislation will now be transferred to the House of Representatives, where the bill will be assigned to committee again.

If the bill passes committee and the house without any changes, the legislation will be sent to the governor’s office for approval.

Dearing said he has received much positive feedback from residents of Adams County on Facebook.

“Everybody’s been thanking me on Facebook,” Dearing said. “They need thank Sen. Hopson, too.”