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West Virginia Legislature Votes to Strengthen Animal Fighting Penalties

With a vote of 31-2, the West Virginia Senate has passed legislation to upgrade the state’s law on dogfighting and cockfighting. HB 4201 significantly increases fines for participating in or attending an animal fight, and enacts felony-level penalties for repeat offenders. The bill also prohibits gambling on an animal fight, bringing a minor to a fight, and possessing or training an animal for fighting. The House of Delegates previously passed the bill on Feb. 26.

Strong laws are crucial because cockfighters and dogfighters seek out states with the weakest laws to carry out their abusive practices.

Heather Severt, West Virginia state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Stiffer penalties will go a long way toward keeping the scourge of animal fighting out of West Virginia. With this vote, our legislature has sent the message that these crimes are serious and will not be tolerated. We now urge the governor to quickly sign this bill to protect animals and communities from this barbaric activity.”

The HSUS thanks the bill sponsor, Delegate John Overington, and Chairman John Shott for guiding this bill to passage.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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