Hillsborough county commission going after animal cruelty felons - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough county commission going after animal cruelty felons

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In November, a father and son were arrested for operating a dog fighting operation in Seffner. Seven dogs were saved. More than one hundred dead dogs were found buried on the property.

Then, last week, Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies broke up a cockfighting ring in Plant City. Eleven people were detained and several others jumped fences and escaped.

Now, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says something needs to be done.

"Some [cases] are so disturbing that I find myself turning away," said Hagan.

"As members of this board it is our responsibility to take appropriate action when it's uncovered here in our community."

Hagan's proposal is to hit the criminals hard by taking their property by using the state's contraband forfeiture statute.

That law allows the state to seize property that was used knowingly in a crime. It was designed to go after criminals like drug dealers.

Commissioner Victor Crist says he is concerned that attaching animal cruelty to the law might undo what he says was difficult to pass.

"What I am afraid of is this may be the nose of the camel that reopens the debate on that statute in Tallahassee and could be the death of it."

Commissioner Hagan then made a second motion to send a local delegation to Tallahassee to pursue a new statute for animal cruelty that would parallel the forfeiture law. Hagan also suggested that the law allow investigative departments, like animal services, to get the recovered assets to help with the cost of the case.

Both motions passed the board with a seven to zero vote. 

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