Dogfighters and spectators can be prosecuted under new state law
Local residents are reminded that dog fighting is now a felony in Georgia.
"Dog fighting is an activity that we will not tolerate here in Georgia," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "The new law makes dogfighting the felony it deserves to be, while ensuring that we do not confuse the individuals involved in these illegal activities with those who are lawfully training dogs for hunting, agricultural, and enforcement purposes."
The legislation enacts tough penalties for any person convicted of activities related to dogfighting: owning, possessing, transporting, or selling any dog with the intent to do so for the purpose of dogfighting. In addition, the law covers those who bet on or advertise and promote events that include dogfights. It also makes attending a dogfighting event a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
"We will be actively pursuing any leads we get on dogfighting in Lincoln County," said Sheriff Gerald Lawson. "It's cruel, and it's against the law."
In his comments, State Senator Chip Rogers said, "Georgia's new dogfighting law sends a loud message to those who would torture man's best friend for their own sick enjoyment.
Dogfighters will be prosecuted and those taking part in this heinous act can expect to go to jail. No longer will Georgia be a haven for these depraved dogfighters."
According to Gloria Wheatley, director of the Washington-Wilkes Animal Shelter, there are cash rewards being used as incentives for citizens to turn in those who violate the dogfighting laws. "The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $5,000 reward, while the Georgia Sheriff's Association is posting a $2,500 reward," she said.
In the past, the Humane Society of the United States has ranked Georgia 49th in the nation because the state did not have laws against owning dogs for fighting or attending a dogfight as a spectator.
A spokesman for the humane society defined dogfighting as "a sadistic 'contest' in which two dogs - specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight - are placed in a pit to fight each other for the spectators' entertainment.
"Fights average nearly an hour in length and often last more than two hours. Dogfights end when the dogs will not or cannot continue."
Illegal gambling is standard at dogfights, with spectators and dog owners wagering thousands of dollars on their favorites.
The spokesman for the humane society went on to add, "The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are frequently severe, even fatal.
"American pit bull terriers, used in the majority of these fights, have been specifically bred and trained for fighting and are unrelenting in their attempts to overcome their opponents.
With their extremely powerful jaws, they are able to inflict severe bruising, deep puncture wounds, and broken bones.
"Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight," he continued.
"Other animals are often sacrificed as well. Some owners train their dogs for fights using smaller animals such as cats, rabbits, or small dogs. In many cases, these 'bait' animals are stolen pets or animals obtained through 'free to good home' advertisements."
Additional facts about dogfighting include:
.. The presence of trained fighting dogs in a community increases the risk of attacks, not only on other animals but also on people. A child is es- pecially at risk, because his small size may cause a fighting dog to perceive him as another animal.
.. Those involved in dogfighting go to extensive lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement, so investigations can be difficult, dangerous, and expensive.
.. Dogfighting is not a spur-of-themoment act; it is a premeditated and cruel practice.
.. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with dogfighting. They do not merely happen on a fight; they seek it out. These individuals are willing participants, who support a criminal activity through their paid admission and attendance.
Anyone with any knowledge of dogfighting in Lincoln County is asked to call the sheriff's office at 706-359-7320. Confidentiality will be maintained.
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Bless the Bullys