Among the bills that will be taken up by lawmakers during the coming session of the General Assembly is one dealing with dog fighting. Senator Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) has pre-filed legislation that aims to crack down on repeat offenders and to more quickly deal with the surviving animals.
“What it does is just strengthen the penalties on those that are repeat spectators at a dog fight,” said Rupp in an interview with the Missourinet. “Also, it allows a quick disposition hearing for the animals so they’re not just languishing in a shelter somewhere, racking up bills and things for months as these court proceedings drag on. So, it’s kind of a humane thing for the animal, but also a stricter crackdown on repeat offenders.”
Under the current law a spectator could be charged with a misdemeanor.
“The second offense would ratchet it to a Class D felony, which is the smallest felony you can do,” said Rupp.
Rupp says there is a good reason to go after spectators at these exhibitions.
“If you’re a spectator you’re part of a network because you know about it – especially if you’re a repeat offender,” said Rupp. “You’re plugged into the whole illegal network of dog fighting.”
Rupp says dog fighting in Missouri is more widespread than many people might imagine.
“If you just do a quick Google search you’ll see of numerous dog fighting rings, in Missouri, that have been busted up in the last couple of years,” said Rupp.
Similar legislation has been put forward in recent years but has failed to clear the General Assembly.