Bill targets spectators of animal fights, increases fines - WKRN News 2

Bill targets spectators of animal fights, increases fines

Posted: Updated: March 18, 2013 05:09 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Animal fighting is a sport conducted out of plain site, but happening all around us.

"Just this weekend, Metro Animal Control assisted in a cock fighting raid in Goodlettesville," said Leighann McCollum, the Tennessee State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Dog fighting and cock fighting are illegal, but McCollum told Nashville's News 2 Tennessee laws are mainly geared to go after the people who own the animals doing the actual fighting.

That's why McCollum said cracking down on spectators is the key to shutting down these fights.

"The spectators at dog fights and cock fights, they are engaged as active participants," said McCollum. "These are the people who finance the events. They're the reason these events continue to happen."

Someone caught watching an animal fight only gets slapped with a misdemeanor charge and a $50 fine.

"Because we don't punish those spectators," added McCollum, "People from other states, where animal fighting is a felony and punishment for spectators is stronger, they actually come to Tennessee to commit their crime."

"The Animal Fighting Enforcement Act," sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron and Representative Jon Lundberg, would increase the fine up to $2,500 and let a judge sentence someone to up to a year in jail.

McCollum told Nashville's News 2, "It's time for Tennessee to start making some reforms in these areas. These are very serious social issues. These aren't just dogs, or aren't just chickens. These are very serious social issues."

The bill would also change the offense structure for cock fighting.

A second offense would be a felony instead of a misdemeanor, bringing cock fighting in line with all other animal abuse laws in the state.

"The Animal Fighting Enforcement Act" is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judicial Committee next week.

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