By ALECIA WARREN/Staff writer | 1 comment

A legislative bill to make animal cruelty a felony includes language that would reduce dog fighting from a felony to a misdemeanor crime, a North Idaho activist pointed out this week.

SB1303, which passed the Senate last week, includes an amendment that would make third violations of any provision in Idaho’s animal care statute – except for animal cruelty – a misdemeanor, noted Tony Mangan, president of Panhandle Equine Rescue, Inc.

Dog fighting is included in that blanket misdemeanor penalty.

“They did not exempt it from the bill,” said Mangan, a Spirit Lake resident and also co-founder of Idaho 1 Of 3. “That puts (the Legislature) in a unique position.”

He worries that if dog fighting is no longer a felony, it would become more common in the region. It would also be a black eye for the state, he said, as Idaho was one of the last two states to make dog fighting a felony four years ago.

“A lot of things go on around that kind of behavior, like the killing of dogs afterward,” Mangan said.

His group, 1 Of 3, has also been fighting the bill because of its lack of mandatory sentencing. Prior to the Legislature authoring SB1303, the group has been collecting signatures to put its own initiative on the ballot to make animal cruelty a felony.

Karen Williams, Kootenai County animal control officer, said she would not support a reduced penalty for dog fighting.

“Because of the horrific nature of it,” she said. “That’s a horrible thing to do.”

via Animal cruelty bill may lack bite – Coeur d’Alene Press: Political.