Iowa Lawmakers Target Fans of Dog Fighting
Des Moines, IW - Iowa lawmakers are cracking down on dog fighting by targeting spectators. A new plan designed to help law enforcement officials shut down illegal dog fighting rings could be voted on by a House committee this week.
The bill, proposed by state Rep. Jim Lykam, D-Davenport, would ratchet up the charges that illegal animal fight spectators could face. It would enable law enforcement officers to charge audience members with a Class D felony, making them eligible for up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine.
Under existing Iowa law, spectators at an illegal animal fight can be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, making them eligible for up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Lykam hopes that by lifting this penalty to a felony charge, fewer spectators will risk attending the fights. Lykam comments:
"Without spectators who wager on the fights, the illegal rings would cease to exist. If the spectator does go away, then the so-called sport goes away because there’s no one to bet."
He adds that in exchange for leniency from the felony charges, spectators may be more willing to help officials shut down the dog-fighting circuits. “I think it will give prosecutors more bargaining (power)," he said. "Not so much to go after the spectator, but maybe to get the spectator to give the names of these dog-fighting rings."