Politics

A bill that would forbid owning, training or selling a dog to be used for dogfighting has passed a House committee.

Kentucky already outlaws dogfighting, a class D felony. The House legislation would also make it a class D felony to own, train or sell a dog for dogfighting.

Jefferson County prosecutor Susan Jones said the current state law isn’t effective enough.

“Without eyewitness testimony or a confession, it’s very difficult to actually prove that the animals were being fought,” Jones said.

The legislation differs from a Senate anti-dogfighting bill — supported by hunters organizations — that would require prosecutors to prove that a dog’s “primary purpose” was for dogfighting.

Prosecutors and animal rights activists say the Senate version of the bill creates loopholes that would allow dogfighters to go free.

The Senate version, which that chamber approved unanimously, would exempt owners with dogs engaged in hunting and activities sanctioned by any national accredited organization.

Prosecutors also say it would be difficult to prove that a dog’s “primary purpose” was for dogfighting.

Lisa Nagle, an officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department, said the House version of the bill would adequately protect hunters.

“As law enforcement, if you’re hunting dogs, I’m not going to pay attention to you,” Nagle said. “It’s the dogfighters that we’re focused on. There’s a huge distinction.”

Doug Morgan, president of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association, said he fears the House version of the bill would criminalize people who use dogs to hunt.

“If you get caught fighting dogs, you should go to jail,” he said. “But that’s what this is about. This is about training and owning them to fight. And we came up with language to stop that, but it protected the sportsmen.”

 

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.