Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Shameful outcome on dog fighting bill

As both a former public school educator and Girl Scout professional, I offer kudos to the Cadette Girl Scouts of Lone Rock School Troop 3756 for traveling to Helena to testify for exploited dogs. In what should have been a slam-dunk for good public policy and against animal abuse and crime, Republican legislators on the House Agriculture Committee instead voted to enable dog fighting in Montana. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, but in only one – Montana – is attending a dogfight legal. Another fine distinction for the Treasure State: we rank dead last in state dog fighting laws.
House Bill 279 was intended to repair that loophole in state statute by making attendance at dogfights a misdemeanor after attempts to make it a felony in 2011 failed.
At the hearing for HB 279, 14 proponents stood to speak. They included a representative of the Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association (it’s a public safety issue, he emphasized); a Yellowstone County prosecutor; animal control officers–including a cruelty investigator; a Montana Veterinary Medical Association representative; and the three Cadettes. “We teach our Scouts to speak out and take action when they see something that needs to be changed,” said their leader.
Testimony frequently focused on the criminal elements–drugs, weapons, and gambling–that accompany dog fighting. Fight organizers “hide” behind spectators when fights are raided, making prosecutions difficult. “Without spectators,” testified one officer, “there would be no sport.” Spectators bring children along, asserted another.
Although not a single citizen stood to oppose the bill, the committee, in later action on a motion by Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel), voted 10-7 to table it. All six Democrats were joined by one Republican to oppose tabling.
“This is the first step down a very slippery slope,” Kerns instructed. “If you just try to argue, uh, the grey area of animals used for fighting or animals suffering, uh, let’s say in a rodeo event, uh, we’re there. We’re there. So I think this is a dangerous direction we don’t want to go…” Understand this: Rep. Kerns is willing to accept criminal brutality and death for fighting dogs just to ensure that calves can be snapped by the neck in rodeo roping events. To add insult to injury, Kerns is a veterinarian.
I’d like to send Rep. Kerns and the other nine Republican legislators responsible for suppressing this common sense bill a one-way ticket to the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C., where an exhibit on dog fighting – “The Voiceless Victims” – is on display. I’d like our illustrious state legislators to see the tools of the violent, criminal trade they enabled in Montana–including a “rape stand used to immobilize female dogs for breeding purposes; (and) an electrocution device used to kill dogs who lost a fight or failed to show sufficient aggression…” I’d like to show them videos of dogs rescued from fighting rings so they can see the suffering. If they don’t care about suffering (and I suspect they don’t), I’d like to ask them how hard they think it is to conduct similar criminal operations in Montana’s vast, rural spaces.
Most of all, I want these 10 legislators held fully accountable before the Cadette Scouts from Troop 3756–girls who were horrified to learn about dog fighting and the lack of consequences for spectators in Montana; young women who felt so strongly that they traveled 150 miles to advocate for exploited dogs in the halls of their state government. I want to hear these public servants admit why they chose to accommodate felons and abandon heinously abused dogs: to ensure that business-as-usual animal cruelty continues unimpeded in Montana.
Kathleen Stachowski

5 Responses to Shameful outcome on dog fighting bill
  1. Mauve Sunrise
    April 8, 2013 | 8:15 am

    Well sounds more to m like montana politicians like to watch dog fights and they dont want to criminalize something they like doing

  2. Richard
    April 5, 2013 | 2:16 pm

    Rep. Krayton Kerns idiocy and desire to protect criminals and others like him are one of the main reasons I am no longer a Republican. Repubtards are just the dumbest most corrupt bunch out there. When Alabama has a felony animal cruelty law, South Carolina has cracked down big-time on dog fighting and cock fighting, and yet Montana politicians are defending it-that speaks volumes about the kind of state Montana is.

  3. Kathleen
    March 7, 2013 | 12:18 am

    Dee, thank you for your insightful comment. I shared it with the House Ag Committee. Good luck in your neighborhood struggle against dogfighting.

  4. dee green
    March 5, 2013 | 2:47 am

    I have a dream. Battles are being fought all over the U.S. to halt dog fighting. I have tried, in vain, in the South to get dog fighting stopped in a neighborhood for over 2 years with no interest in doing such by the local city management and law enforcement; The dream is, that since MONTANA wants dog fighting, why not the other 49 States round up all their dog fighters and spectators and FORCE them to move to MONTANA, taking with them all their tons of drugs, all their tons of guns, all their prostitutes and all their organized crime. Republicans in Montana want dog fighting, let them have it all and the problems that go along with it…including needing something else to do once all the Montana folks get finished making wolves extinct there again because of their pleasure for killing them. Dog fighting, wolf killing just to kill…BOTH CRUELTY. PACK UM UP, MOVE UP TO MONTANA, and then we can stop the BSL that is in the other 49 States and left Montana deal with what they have created. Only fair, wouldn’t you say?

  5. Kathleen
    February 28, 2013 | 4:06 pm

    Readers who want to learn more will find links to the Crime Museum and aforementioned videos in a longer version of this piece here

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