MEDIA RELEASE: Disappointment After Mississippi Bill to Strengthen Dogfighting Penalties Dies

MEDIA RELEASE: Disappointment After Mississippi Bill to Strengthen Dogfighting Penalties Dies

JACKSON, Miss. (March 7, 2024)  — In Defense of Animals, which operates Hope Animal Sanctuary in Carroll County and the Justice for Animals campaign in Montgomery County, is disappointed legislation introduced by Sen. Angela Hill that would have amended the state’s racketeering law to include dogfighting has died in committee.  

In 2018, then Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law to strengthen penalties for those involved in dogfighting operations that was introduced by the late Sen. Bob Dearing. Anyone involved in promoting or staging fights, betting on fights, or having a dog with the intent to use them to fight, or owning dogfighting paraphernalia, faces a fine up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison, or both. Repeat offenders face fines of up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison. Spectators could also face felony charges.

The new bill, SB 2136, would have added dogfighting to the state’s list of racketeering activities, giving law enforcement even more leverage to crack down on this bloodsport and send the message that it won’t be tolerated. More than 19,000 people signed In Defense of Animals’ alert urging this change. 

Dogfighting is a felony in every state in the U.S. Not only does it cause immense suffering and death, it’s also been linked to other forms of violence and criminal activities, such as illegal gambling. However, it still persists and those involved must face higher penalties.  

The recent bust of a dogfighting ring in Panola County where 29 dogs were seized in December 2023 highlights the need for further and immediate action in Mississippi.

“Mississippians who value the lives of their animal companions owe much to Senator Angela Hill for her steadfast determination to protect dogs and cats from cruel treatment,” said In Defense of Animals Senior Campaigner Doll Stanley. ”It’s disappointing this important bill to protect dogs and hold abusers accountable has not moved forward, but we’ll continue to support this bill’s reintroduction.” 

In Defense of Animals has served in Mississippi for 30 years. The cruelty cases our Justice for Animals campaign has engaged in have led to the enactment of Mississippi state statutes and regulations as we advocated for tougher animal protection laws. We have served to educate and assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in areas of animal law and cruelty investigation, in addition to connecting them with the resources to aid with or prevent cruelty cases.

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Contact: Doll Stanley,, (662) 809-4483 

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of defending animals, their advocates, and the environment, through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, California, and rural Mississippi. 

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