Abuse animals, lose your land - FOX 13 News

Abuse animals, lose your land

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The head of the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners says he's seen enough stories about dog fighting, cockfighting and people torturing animals.

He now wants to toughen up the penalties for those convicted.

Commission Chairman Ken Hagan believes it's time to get tough on animal torturers by taking away their stuff.

It's a law already on the books that allows law enforcement to seize the assets of convicted felons. It is most often used on drug traffickers.

But in what would be a first for the state of Florida, Hagan wants to apply that to those convicted of felony animal cruelty, such as last month's bust of a dog fighting ring in Seffner.

Investigators say one of the men bragged that they'd been fighting dogs on that property for 20 years, and that they were walking on a "dog graveyard."

There was also a cockfighting ring that deputies busted on New Year's Day -- while the fight was going on.

Animal services raided the same house for cockfighting in 2009.

Hagan says it's time for animal fighters to know if they're convicted, they could lose a lot -- even their land.

"Essentially, what we want to do is to get county staff working with law enforcement, and the state attorney's office to utilize that statute to go after these criminal enterprises that are making money on the senseless cruelty and torture of animals," Hagan said.

Hagan is bringing it up for a vote Wednesday at the Hillsborough County Commission meeting.

He says once someone is convicted and actually loses property, and possibly money, it could be just the deterrent they've been looking for.

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