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Our Opinion: ‘Hog dogging’ blood sport should be a felony in Az

In Arizona, staging or attending dogfights has been a felony offense for the past 30 years. Cockfighting has been a felony here for 10 years.

Now lawmakers are discussing outlawing another vicious craze – “hog dogging,” in which a pit bull is sicced on a wild boar in an arena with no escape until the porcine victim is dead or completely defenseless.

In working to outlaw the hog fights, lawmakers this time want to cut to the chase and simply criminalize all forms of animal fighting. It’s high time that action was taken in Arizona.

This change in law must be made – not only to deter animal cruelty, but also to ensure public safety.

Cruelty toward animals is a precursor to criminal behavior and psychopathy, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Animal cruelty was the early crime for serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer; Ted Bundy; David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz; and Colorado boys Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who waged the massacre at Columbine High.

Anything that can be done to quell crimes against animals helps the human race as well.

HB 2150, by state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, has won committee approval since being amended to exclude animals protecting livestock.

A Senate version, SB 1115, introduced by Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, has not yet been heard.

We strongly urge the Legislature to support these proposals. A law against animal fighting has been sought since 2004, when a hog-dog fight ring was broken up in Yavapai County. That ring was part of a sprawling operation that included hog-dogging in South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.

Bans on hog-dog fights have been enacted in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Texas’ and Florida’s attorneys general have ruled that such fights violate their cruelty laws.

In Arizona, hog dogging falls only under animal cruelty laws. Those require prosecutors to prove the hogs are property, and the penalties are much less severe than for the felonious dogfighting and cockfighting.

Yet hog dogging is every bit as cruel as the other blood sports. The wild hog’s tusks usually are removed to give the dog an advantage, and the dog often is clad in Kevlar for protection from hog bites.

Under the legislation now proposed, perpetrators would face Class 5 felony charges and up to two years in prison. People attending the fights would face Class 6 felony charges and up to 18 months behind bars.

Although legislators are busy with budget matters, this change is a no-brainer and should be enacted easily.

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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