JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A bill imposing stricter penalties for dogfighting passed both houses of the Mississippi legislature and is now headed to the governor for approval.
Under the new law, dogfighting would be punishable by a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 or one to five years in prison on first offense. Second offenders would face fines from $5,000 to $10,000 and three to 10 years in prison. Spectators could also face charges under the law.
"It's very bittersweet," said Heather Williams, who is the director of Southern Cross Animal Rescue in Jones County. "As an animal activists, any progress is good. And we are excited that it's made its way to the governor's desk, but it did get watered down along the way. We're glad to see that something was passed. It is just missing a lot of the meat that it had when it started out."
Williams wished penalties for first-time offenders were stricter under the bill.
"The tougher penalties for the second and third offenses are definitely going to be helpful, but we were hoping that the first offense would really have enough penalty to scare folks away from it," Williams said.
Williams said it is still important for people to speak up if they see dogfighting.
"If they don't speak up and let their local law-enforcement know and give some tips, if they don't speak up, the penalties mean nothing."