Kentucky legislature introduces bill expanding penalties for dog fighting

The Kentucky Coalition to End Dogfighting is a staunch supporter of HB 154. (Photo Credit: Kentucky Coalition to End Dogfighting Facebook)

According to Kentucky’s House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D), his state has one of the weakest laws against dog fighting. Stumbo is hoping to change that by introducing House Bill 154, which would expand Kentucky’s Class D felony against dog fighting.

Stumbo told fellow members of the House, “There’s big money in dog fighting.” He added that since penalties against dog fighting are so lax, his state has seen an increase in breeding and training of fighting dogs.

HB 154 would toughen felony charges for gambling, owning, possessing, keeping, training, selling, or transferring four-legged animals for fighting purposes. Stumbo was questioned by fellow committee members that his bill doesn’t address similar provisions to protect two-legged animals — specifically chickens used in cockfighting.

Stumbo, who said he had no problem adding two-legged animals to his proposal, explained that the last federal farm bill strengthened laws against cockfighting. Currently, people in Kentucky who attend cockfighting and dog-fighting events can be punished by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The law is harsher if someone brings a minor to either fight: In that case the crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

House Bill 154 addresses four-legged animals because Stumbo said he heard of dogs fighting hogs and bears. A number of Republican committee members said HB 154 is too broad and should only address dog fighting, but Kentucky’s Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul says he supports the measure.

In a report issued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Kentucky ranked last (50th) for its animal protection laws in 2014.

Sources: Lexington Herald-Leader