Local News

Dog Fighting Soon to Become Felony

Posted September 19, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Many of the laws we create protect people. But North Carolina legislators have authored a new law that protects animals, ones used for fighting. The Tar Heel State is about to join the ranks of other states cracking down on dog fighting.

Dog fighting is cruel and illegal, but in North Carolina the penalties are minor. Animal control administrator Stan Bragg believes people move to the state knowing that if they're caught, it will only be a misdemeanor slap on the wrist.

In fact, all the states bordering North Carolina have felony dog fighting laws. Here, it's still a misdemeanor, but that's about to change. In December a new law goes into effect making dog fighting a felony.

"Making it a felony will heighten awareness," says Amanda Graham, of the Orange County Animal Protection Society. "It's a statement that the people of North Carolina don't want to be a dumping ground for dog fighting which is what we've been for years and we're not going to tolerate it."

Right now, there are 27 pit bulls including puppies being held in Orange County. They're evidence in a dog fighting case set to go to trial in about a week. Graham says the kind of time and expense it takes to prosecute misdemeanor dog fighting cases makes law enforcers think twice.

"It's very expensive and when the worse that can happen is a class two misdemeanor, you're looking at a maximum with prior convictions of like sixty days possible time."

Three weeks ago, a group of dogs were seized in an animal cruelty case. Animal control officers suspect they were used for fighting. With the new felony law, officers say it will be eaiser to prosecute and may drive dog fighting promoters out of North Carolina.

Bragg expects "you're gonna have regular law enforcement taking it more seriously and resources are going to be opened up more."

The New North Carolina law is designed to protect all animals from this kind of fighting, though there still is some debate if cock fights fall under the same rules.