Dogfighting bills contested

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In today’s BG Daily News article “Dogfighting bills contested,” Jackson French focuses on the ongoing struggle between hunters’ rights groups and (as French incorrectly calls animal advocacy groups) “the humane society.”

For those of us who’ve been following the contentious evolution of Kentucky’s anti-dogfighting law, two obvious distortions leap from the page. The first comes from Kentucky Houndsmen Association president Doug Morgan, who told French that SB 14 “was written with input from members of the Houndsmen and HSUS, meaning ‘everybody got their chance.'” No word on whether Mr. Morgan’s nose grew measurably longer when he said that. The fact of the matter is the Senate Ag Committee chair met secretly with hunting lobby representatives to add “primary purpose” language and “nationally accredited organizations” exemptions in SB 14. Not only was HSUS excluded from this meeting, so were the other animal advocacy groups who were working with Senate leadership on SB 14. And worst of all, criminal prosecutors weren’t welcome either — which resulted in a committee sub that would effectively make dogfighting impossible to punish under Kentucky law.

The second fabrication is from none other than Kentucky Senator Robin Webb, who despite all evidence to the contrary insists that the Humane Society of the United States plans to outlaw hunting in Kentucky. “Their agenda to end hunting is well known,” she said. “It’s no secret.”

Just one problem, Senator: it’s widely known that HSUS has neither the desire nor the means to ban hunting in Kentucky. But let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that there really is some “well known” (yet covert) plot within the Humane Society to lock up millions of Kentucky hunters. Not only would HSUS have to somehow overturn Kentucky’s constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to hunt; it would also have to get real anti-hunting bills past the General Assembly — a legislative body made up of more than a handful of hunting enthusiasts.

Sean Pronay
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Sean Pronay

Owner at Sean Prónay Photography
I'm an American storyteller, and they named me Sean. My unquenchable love for adventure has led me throughout my careers in music, in television advertising, in photography and in media consulting. Predictably, the greatest adventure of my life is fatherhood. My beautiful wife and I are raising three amazing children in our Northern Kentucky home, and every day is something new for us.
Sean Pronay
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4 Responses

  1. Janet Rowland says:

    Sean,
    Thanks for your excellent critique of this piece. There are far too many factual errors in the piece to address them all, so I’ll focus my comments on just one of the more glaring.

    First, Doug Morgan and others opposing the commonsense legislation to stop the breeding, training and selling of dogs for dog-fighting in KY always use the limp excuse that HSUS is pushing this legislation. Most Kentuckians are smart enough to recognize that as nothing more than a straw man. When you can’t argue the facts, you set up a phony argument and pretend you are.

    I’m sure HSUS wants KY to join every other state in the country to criminalize this inhumane activity. However, there is no mention of the other KY based groups, organizations, businesses and thousands of Kentuckians all across our state who have been working day and night to get effective legislation passed to stop this in our state. Kentuckians don’t want our state to be known as the dog-fighting state. Kentuckians don’t want dogs to be bred, trained or sold in our state for dog-fighting. And, we don’t want the crime, (drugs, illegal firearms and gambling, human trafficking and others) that accompanies this barbaric activity. We want it stopped! This has nothing to do with hunting or farming. Every other state in the country has passed this legislation….and, believe it or not…hunting and farming still exist in those states.

    We had a Bill that would do what it needed to do – SB14. All sides agreed. Then Mr. Morgan and others from the hunting organizations, decided they didn’t like it. So they contacted our legislators and apparently bullied them into adding additional language to SB14. This became the Agriculture Committee Substitute to SB14 (SCSSB14). SCSSB14 effectively gutted the original intent. Instead of a clean SB14, SCSSB14 makes it even more difficult to apprehend and prosecute the people involved in this unbelievably cruel activity. Additionally, they added language that would swing open KY’s door and lay out a welcome mat to the very people and organizations who engage in the activity.

    Mr. Morgan and representatives of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association and other hunting groups say, they’re just trying to protect hunting rights…and, some our legislators went along with them. What about the rights of the rest of Kentuckians to be safe in their communities? Why is hunting more important than putting individual citizens and communities at risk from this horrible activity? Make no mistake – dog-fighting and the activities that surround it is violent crime and brings some of the most violent people in society to our communities. Kentuckians have a right to expect our legislators to pass legislation that protects them. And, we demand that they do so.

    HB428 would help stop the breeding, training and selling of dogs for dog-fighting by giving our law-enforcement and justice system some of the tools they need to prosecute these violent criminals. HB428 does not infringe on hunting.HB428 contains the following language to protect hunting rights in our state:

    ‘… the term “dog fighting” shall not be deemed to include any activity the purpose of which involves the use of one (1) or more dogs in hunting another animal.’
    .(2)
    ‘Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, dog training, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and WildlifeResources shall not constitute a violation of this section. .’

  2. DC says:

    Thank you Sean & Janet! I copied the language to protect hunting rights in our state (which is already protected by the KY Constitution) and pasted it to Rep Robin Webb’s FB page, asking her what small changes she would like to make in order to be able to support it. Unlike other questions I posed, there has been no answer as of yet. This article is an insightful look at the shenanigans taking place. Rep Webb admitted to supporting spay/neuter (just one of many successful HSUS initiatives), so I pointed out that she has already proven that one can support common-sense initiatives supported by an organization (or party), while still disagreeing with the organization on other issues. Crickets….. They are resting on the false premise that all things supported by the ‘evil’ HSUS are evil, simply because they disagree with them on some issues (soring, for example, in Rep Webb’s case). Theirs is, indeed, an easily exposed Straw Man argument. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • Sean Pronay Sean Pronay says:

      Thank you, DC! Political and personal obligations can compel seemingly intelligent legislators like Sen. Webb to cling desperately to untenable positions like opposing HB 428. That’s why it is so important that we persist in challenging those baseless claims, and we do it through civil discourse that reflects our love and respect for all living beings. Worth noting that “all living beings” means not just helpless animals, but powerful people, too. I value the way you persist in advocating for worthy causes while resisting the temptation to engage in demagoguery or personal attacks, even when your counterpart might not return the courtesy. If every anti-dogfighting activist were to emulate your manners when communicating with legislators, we would have more productive relationships with reps and senators and might even get the reforms we want sooner rather than later. I don’t often see or hear animal advocates speaking abusively to — or about — Kentucky legislators, but a little bit of that goes a very long way. Just one insult is all it takes to alienate the entire General Assembly. I wish more of us understood that.