The Humane Society of the United States eagerly awaits Governor Phil Bryant’s signature to a bill which will significantly upgrade the Mississippi dogfighting law after it passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. SB 2934 increases the maximum penalty for dogfighting and related crimes to five years imprisonment and a fine of $3,000 to $5,000. Repeat offenders would face three to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000.
In addition to increasing the penalty for dogfighting, this bill will make it a felony to manufacture, possess, buy or sell animal fighting paraphernalia. Another important addition is the requirement of animal owners to post a bond to pay the cost of caring for their dogs when they are held in criminal cases. Currently, law enforcement agencies, nonprofit groups and taxpayers foot the bill in these cases.
Strong laws against animal fighting are crucial because dogfighters seek out states with the weakest laws to carry out their abusive practices. Investigations have found dogfighting rings to be intricate, illegal gambling and drug trafficking operations run by violent criminals. With dogfighting cases in Mississippi piling up one after the other, Democratic Senator Bob Dearing, who represents Natchez, and a number of other legislators decided to take action and move this common sense legislation forward.
“This law will give law enforcement additional tools to fight criminal activity and the stiffer penalties will go a long way toward ending the scourge of dogfighting in Mississippi,” said Julia Breaux, Mississippi legislative specialist for the Humane Society of the United States. “With this vote, the legislature sent the message that these crimes are serious and will not be tolerated. We urge Gov. Bryant to sign this bill.”
The HSUS thanks the bill sponsor, Senator Dearing, and Speaker of the House-Philip Gunn for guiding this bill to passage. The HSUS also applauds the work of Chief Matt Barnett of Wiggins Police Department and Sheriff Travis Patton of Adams County for their tireless effort to garner support for SB 2934 and bring dogfighting to an end in Mississippi.