Local News

Statewide Taskforce Wants To Put More Bite Into Dogfighting Laws

Posted January 27, 2003 6:15 a.m. EST

— A Knightdale man was sentenced Monday in Wake County for running a dogfighting ring. Because it was his second offense, his penalty was harsher than most. People who engage in this activity usually get a slap on the wrist, but a statewide taskforce is trying to change the law.

Under the current law, first offenders get no jail time. Second-time-offender

Sampson Pruitt

was arrested in November 2001 after 81 pit bulls were discovered on his Wake County property. He was sentenced Monday to 82 days in jail and three years probation during which he cannot own dogs.

"I thought this was a very fair and a strong penalty and will hopefully send a message to those who are still engaged in fighting of dogs or cruelty to animals here," assistant district attorney Shelley Desvousges said.

Officials claim when dogs involved in dogfights come into a shelter, they take up the kennel space of dogs which could be adoptable. The dogs also tax the resources of the shelter, the county and taxpayers. Officials say it cost the Wake County Animal Shelter $27,000 to house Pruitt's dogs until they were put to sleep.

"You don't want to put a fight dog back out into the public for the fear it might bite a dog, a neighbor's dog, or it might kill a child," said Nancy Clemmons, manager of the shelter.

The taskforce's legislative committee is submitting a bill to toughen animal protection laws in the upcoming session of the Legislature. The main focus is to get people charged with dogfighting to forfeit their rights to the dogs while they await trial. In turn, it gives counties the option to euthanize or adopt out the dogs rather than paying to house them.

Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states. It is a felony in North Carolina as well as 46 other states. Forty-two states prohibit the possession of dogs for fighting. Hawaii is the only state where it is legal to watch dogfights.