Local News

Local Group Wants To Put More Bite In Dogfighting Laws

Posted January 11, 2002 4:47 a.m. EST

— Dogfighting is a big problem in North Carolina. Despite laws touted as having a lot of teeth, they are not tough enough to keep people in jail and dogs out of fighting rings. On Friday in Lee County, a new group looked for solutions to end the fighting for good.

Hillsborough investigators seized 12 pit bulls in a suspected dogfighting ring. A similar bust netted 100 animals in Wake County. Lee County deputies discovered a dogfighting farm with 150 pit bulls. The Humane Society claims this cruel, underground sport has become hard to ignore.

"North Carolina, which is not something to be proud of, is one of the leading states as far as animal fighting activity," said Phil Snyder, regional director of the U.S. Humane Society.

One of the most powerful ideas from a new task force to abolish animal fighting is a law requiring someone jailed for dogfighting to pay for their animals' care while they await trial. Otherwise, the dogs will be given away or destroyed.

The burden of watching dozens of vicious dogs has often proved a dogfighters' best defense.

"It's a huge problem. It's either a deterrent to prosecution or the county may not be able to afford to take care of those animals," said Barbara Cassidy, Forsyth County Animal Control director.

Cassidy explained her community already has this anti-dogfighting law. She said it puts dogfighters on the defensive, even though many are well-schooled on how to slow down their cases.

"What it would also do is discourage the frivolous appeals where they drag it on forever in court," she said. "If they're paying for that animal's care on a day-to-day basis, they are going to want to get it in front of a judge and settle it as quick as possible."

A few states have similar laws targeting dogfighting, but none in this part of the country.

"I think North Carolina has the chance to set an example," Snyder said.

In Forsyth County, if an accused dogfighter is found not guilty and the animals have already been destroyed, Cassidy said the county would just repay the person for the dogs if a claim was filed.