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Legislators View Video of Dog Fight

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Sheriff B.J. Barnes
RALEIGH — Some North Carolina law enforcers say dogfighting is out of control in the state. The way to stop it, they say, isto make penalties tougher.

Law enforcement officers from Guilford, Durham and Mecklenburg Counties refer to the practice as organized crime and Tuesday, they took their case to the legislature. Their presentationincluded a graphic video tape of an actual dog fight that had somelawmakers turning away from the screen.

That was the impact the presenters said they needed to make.

Animal control officers say the practice is far more common than anyoneknows. Dog fighting in N.C. is secretive and lucrative for the peopleinvolved in it. Legislators are discussing a bill to strengthen penaltiesfor dog fighting by changing it from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes says such a step is really necessaryand that people come here from other states because the penalties are solow.

Rep. John Weatherly, (R) Cleveland, is the sponsor of the bill. He sayscurrent penalties for dog fighting are viewed as a joke by those whopractice the crime.

The committee currently reviewing the bill is considering sending it to asubcommittee where penalties might be toughened even more than the billnow proposes.

It will probably be several weeks before a final decision is reached.

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