House panel approves bill to crack down on dogfighting

FRANKFORT— A bill that would outlaw the possession, training, breeding, and selling of dogs for the purpose of dog fighting has passed the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 428, which advanced out of committee on Wednesday, would make it a Class D felony in the first degree to knowingly own, possess, keep, breed, train, sell or otherwise transfer a canine for the purpose of dog fighting.

A Class D felony is punishable with a fine and a sentence of one to five years in prison.

Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, the bill’s primary sponsor, cited Kentucky’s stature as the last remaining state to not pass this type of legislation.

“You hate for Kentucky to be last in any particular thing but this is certainly an area where we don’t want to be last,” he said.

Testifying in support of the bill, Louisville Metro Police Officer Lisa Nagle, a nine-year veteran of the force, said that in her experience those involved in the bloodsport also tend to be involved in drug trafficking and other illicit activities.

It’s also more prevalent than we’d like to think, she added, calling dogfighting “a huge problem” and “an epidemic in Kentucky.”

After passing today with 13 yes-votes, HB428 heads to a vote in front of the full chamber.

HB 428 is similar, but not identical, to a bill the Senate passed in February that would make the owning, possessing, breeding, training, selling or transferring of dogs intended for use in fighting a felony. That legislation, Senate Bill 14, is co-sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

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