"There's big money in dog fighting," House Speaker Greg Stumbo told his colleagues in the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee.
Stumbo urged them to approve HB 154, his proposal to expand the state's Class D felony against dog fighting for gambling to include owning, possessing, keeping, training, selling or transferring "four-legged animals" for fighting purposes, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
“Kentucky is the only state without such a law, and that has spurred an increase in breeding and training of fighting dogs in the state, particularly near the West Virginia and Tennessee state lines,” he explained.
Under current law, offenders have to be “caught in the act” of dog fighting, said Stumbo.
“That’s almost impossible to do because they work in the shadowy world of having their fights not well-publicized and … they move from location to location,” he told River City News reporters.
The bill does not clarify that a four-legged animal is a canine because some fighting addressed by the bill is between dogs and hogs, the Speaker said. In “hog-dog fighting,” a dog is made to fight a wild or domesticated hog, said Stumbo.
ADVOCATES AGAINST DOG FIGHTING PUSH FOR STRICTER LAWS
House Bill 154 was scheduled to go before the full State House on Monday, Feb. 10, but that didn’t happen, and legislators now have up to a week to decide what action they want to take, according to WLKY News.
Advocates are urging quick action because dog fighting is a very real issue across the state and especially in Louisville, which is the largest city in Kentucky. The majority of the dogs at Louisville Metro Animal Services, as in most public animal shelters across the U.S., are pit bulls, the breed of choice for dog fighting.
"In fact probably a little bit over 80 percent of our animals are of the pit bull breed, and we do see a lot of them that have injuries and wounds that are suspicious that could be from dogfighting," said Stephanie Moore, Assistant Director of Operations.
"It is a blood sport, it is evil. It is fighting to the death and it goes on for hours," added Rebecca Eaves who heads the Arrow Fund, an animal-protection organization “targeting animal cruelty,” according to their logo.
A pit bull named Frodo is the face of the advocacy campaign to pass HB 154. In July 2013, officers spotted him at an abandoned home in Louisville. He had more than 100 puncture wounds; duct tape held his broken muzzle in place and his leg was dangling from his body.
Now healed but with one leg amputated, through the efforts of the Arrow Fund, Frodo goes before lawmakers to push for stronger dog fighting laws in Kentucky, WLKY News tells us.
John Goodwin, Director of Animal Cruelty Policy for the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) Animal Cruelty & Fighting Campaign, states:
“Kentucky is the only state in the nation that has not yet outlawed the possession of a dog with the intent to fight—where it is not a crime to own, keep, breed or train dogs for dog fighting. It is time to bring Kentucky law in line with rest of the country so their state does not become a refuge for this awful form of animal cruelty.”
KENTUCKY HOUNDSMEN ASSOCIATION IS FIGHTING THE BILL:
The Kentucky Houndsmen Association is opposing the bill even though hunting with dogs is exempt, says the Kentucky Coalition to End Dogfighting.
The following was posted on the Coalition’s Facebook page by Kentucky Houndsmen Assoc:
“In response to HB 154:
“The Professional Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, and American Kennel Club all have regulations that scratch dogs for fighting. The Kentucky Houndsmen Association does not advocate dog fighting. We do advocate the interaction of dogs with game. The right to hunt with dogs is our number one priority and we will always defend that right.
“HB 154 could in-fringe on our rights as Houndsmen. The Kentucky Houndsmen Association OPPOSE HB 154.
THE KENTUCKY COALITION TO END DOGFIGHTING URGES:
When you call your legislators to VOTE YES on HB 154 WITH NO AMENDMENTS, remind them that the hunting groups have been and continue to be exempt from this statute.
Please continue to call in 1-800-372-7181 and urge your legislature to support HB 154 with no amendments.
Photo Credit: Screenshot, lifewithdogs.tv