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Stricter penalties proposed for dog fighting in Mississippi

NATCHEZ, Miss. — A Mississippi senator will soon be proposing tougher penalties for people involved in dog fighting in the Magnolia state.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez said recently he has already received bipartisan support for a bill he will sponsor in 2018.

The Natchez Democrat reported that Dearing explained his proposal would punish the fight organizers with a fine of $1,000 per dog and a one-year prison sentence per dog up, for up to 25 years.

But the organizers won’t be the only ones to face charges. Those attending dog fights could face a minimum $1,000 fine and up to two years imprisonment.

It also includes provisions for a person convicted of dog fighting to pay restitution for care and housing of the animals between confiscation and conviction.

Republican Senators Dean Kirby of Pearl and Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg and Democratic Senator Juan Barnett of Heidelberg, are asking to be co-authors of the bill, Dearing said.

“It’s a non-partisan bill already,” Dearing said. “Hudson said he wanted this bill to be the strongest bill in the country. He didn’t want anything left unturned. He didn’t want the people who promote dog fighting to think that Mississippi was the place to come anymore.”

Dearing said some senators have declined to co-author the bill because of the 25-year upper cap on imprisonment for offenders. He said some senators believe that to be too long a prison term.

“I told them, ‘There are folks back home who would like it to be 56 years’ imprisonment,” Dearing said. “Comparing our bill with other states, we’re pretty much in line with the prison term.”