Animal abuse is on the radar for legislature

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

Animal abuse has long been a topic for lawmakers within Mississippi.

More and more legislators are saying that current laws against animal abuse need to be more strictly enforced and others are calling for stiffer penalties.

Seldom discussed is the underground, and illegal, act of dog fighting.

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Even though it’s spoken of only in secret, state legislators know it exists and occurs across the state.

And one state senator, Bob Dearing, is seeking support to pass a bill he plans to introduce next year that would increase or establish penalties to not just the organizers of dog fights, but attendees as well.

According to coverage by the Associated Press, Dearing hopes to pass a bill that would mandate that organizers of the dog fights pay a fine of $1,000 and serve a year in prison per dog, or up to 25 years.

Attendees would also face a minimum fine of $1,000 with the possibility of spending up to two years in jail.

The cost to care for the dogs between the time the defendant is arrested and convicted would also be covered by fines levied against the person convicted of dog fighting. The story states that there is some opposition to his proposals, mostly about the 25-year sentence.

We agree stiffer penalties are needed for any form of animal abuse, dog fighting included. Adding penalties to those who attend the fights is a good idea as well. If people know that they could be arrested and fined for attending the illegal events, the demand for them would hopefully decline.

But, as the next legislative session gets underway next year, we also hope that our lawmakers won’t forget about the other forms of animal abuse, such as how dogs are treated in puppy mills, how they starve to death due to neglect and how they are maimed by the physical abuse they sometimes endure by less than loving owners.