Louisiana lawmaker seeks to end automatic euthanization for dogs found at dog fighting events

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Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, is seeking to end a state law that requires dogs to be killed automatically if they are found at a dog fighting event. The state currently requires law enforcement to euthanize the dogs, even if they are not involved in the fighting.

Under Marcelle’s legislation, dogs seized at a dog fighting event will have to be evaluated by a veterinarian to see if they can be safely placed in a home. The new owner would have to be informed that the dog had been found at a dog fighting event prior to the adoption. They would also have to agree to pay for the dog to be sterilized and microchipped, according to the bill.

“It’s a pretty simple bill. It actually gives dogs due process,” Marcelle told lawmakers.

Lobbyist Rodney Braxton, who is advocating for the bill on behalf of a national anti-animal cruelty organization, said Louisiana is one of only a handful of states that still requires all dogs found at a dog fighting event to be fully euthanized.

The law isn’t always enforced. Braxton said local veterinarians have told him that it’s rare for all dogs connected to a dog fighting event to be euthanized, but he said there have been recent events where all dogs have been killed, including a dog fight held in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2017.

Rep Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, also has legislation to prevent animal cruelty. His bill updates what is considered “proper shelter” for a dog. Currently, a dog’s required “proper shelter” is defined as any shelter that prevents suffering from weather elements.

Williard’s bill would require that shelter to have a roof, floor and opening for the dog. It would also have to be big enough to allow the animal to stand up, turn around and make normal postures. It would also have to be free of standing water. It could not be a dog crate — or other type of structure only meant to hold a dog temporarily.

The House Committee on the Administration of Justice approved both bills easily. They are both been sent to the full Louisiana House for consideration.