The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), which strengthens penalties against spectators attending animal fights. Senate Bill 2366 makes it a Class A misdemeanor offense to be a spectator at any animal fight with a minimum fine of $500.
Ketron said the intent of the bill is to provide punishment stiff enough to deter attendance and put a dent in the pocketbook of criminals who organize these events.
“Animal fighting exists primarily because of the spectators,” said Ketron. “They seek out the illegal activity, promote the event by word of mouth, pay admission fees to organizers and then gamble on the fights. They are entertained by and profit from the socially and morally reprehensible crime of watching animals which have no choice but to fight to the death.”
It is illegal to own, possess or train an animal for the purpose of fighting them in Tennessee. Current law also prescribes a Class B misdemeanor to be a spectator at a dog fight with a maximum fine of $500 and a Class C misdemeanor to attend a cockfight with a maximum fine of $50.
“Children are routinely in attendance at these events where they are exposed to a host of criminal activities and animal cruelty,” said Senator Ketron. “Cockfighting attracts such criminal elements as the Mexican drug cartel who ran multi-ton quantities of meth and heroin through cockfighting pits in our state. Federal investigations have revealed intricate gambling operations with millions of dollars changing hands illegally,” he concluded.
Senate Republican Press Secretary