FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 6, 2014) — The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would give law enforcement more leeway to curb dog fighting in the commonwealth.
House Bill 408, co-sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, 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 dog owners who know, or should know, that their animal is being used to fight other animals for pleasure or profit, those who help to organize the fights, and those who train, breed, or otherwise keep animals and their offspring for fighting.
Jenkins explained that HB 408 would allow law enforcement officers to consider dog fighting paraphernalia, such as weights and sticks typically used for dogs trained to fight, as evidence in an animal cruelty cases. Now, according to committee testimony, 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.”
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.