The House Judiciary Committee of the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill on March 6 that would give law enforcement more leeway and stronger penalties to curb dog fighting.

House Bill 408 is co-sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and would enable law enforcement to charge more individuals involved in dog fighting with animal cruelty in the first degree, which is a felony.

Those who could be charged include:

(1) Dog owners who know, or should know, that their animal is being used to fight other animals for pleasure or profit;

(2) Those who help to organize the fights; and

(3) Those who train, breed, or otherwise keep animals and their offspring for fighting.

Rep. Jenkins explained that HB 408 would allow law enforcement officers to consider dog fighting paraphernalia, such as weights and sticks typically used to train dogs for fighting as evidence in an animal-cruelty case.

Currently, law enforcement can only pursue charges once a dog fight has taken place.

“It’s very secretive,” Jenkins said. “The actual fights are hard to know about and to investigate.”

Note: The legislation would not apply to police dogs, dogs involved in field trials, guard dogs or other working dogs trained to attack under specific circumstances, although some lawmakers indicated they may file floor amendments to clarify that point.

HB 408 now goes to the full House for consideration.

The Legislative Research Commission advises that anyone can visit or call toll-free 1-866-840-2835 for the latest on the status of bills.

To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 1-800-372-7181.

You may write to any legislator by name at Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Ky., 40601.

Source: Kentucky Forward


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