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Furry Felonies: South Carolina’s Animal Fighting & Baiting Act

Encouraging animals to fight each other for sport has been illegal for many years, and comes with very serious penalties. Those who engage in this activity, whether as the owner of an animal, a trainer, property owner, or anyone present where the fighting occurs, can be found guilty of violating Title 16, Chapter 27 of South Carolina’s Code of Laws. This law is more commonly known as the Animal Fighting & Baiting Act, and those accused of violating it face serious consequences.
What Constitutes Fighting or Baiting
Anyone accused of fighting animals under this law must be able to be shown to have had one or more vertebrate animals (domestic or wild) engaging in violence with either another animal or a human. Bating is also illegal, and involves the provocation or harassment of animals with the intent of either training an animal for fights, or to get an animal to engage in a fight. These definitions are fairly vague, which is intentional as it allows prosecutors to have more flexibility when pressing charges.
Punishments for Animal Fighting & Baiting
The specific punishments that one will receive for animal fighting or baiting will depend on their role in the activity, and any history of violating these laws. Those convicted of having an active role in the fighting (ownership of the animals or property) can be punished by a fine of $5000 or 5 years’ imprisonment, or both. The property and possessions that are involved in the animal fighting can also be seized by law enforcement. If there is any gambling going on related to the animal fighting, all forms of currency used in the activity can also be seized.
Others who are present at the fighting or baiting, but did not organize or own the animals or property, will typically be charged with a misdemeanor on their first or second offense. This charge comes with a penalty of a fine of $500 and/or imprisonment of up to six months for the first offense, and a fine of $1000 and up to 1 year in prison for the second offense.
Exceptions to the Law
It is important to note that this law does not apply to the use of hunting dogs in most situations. Hunters are permitted to use their dogs in normal hunting as long as it is done in line with all applicable hunting laws and regulations in place from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Contact Us
As you can see, the state of South Carolina takes animal fighting and baiting very seriously. If you have been arrested for animal fighting, it is important to have an attorney with experience in this area who can help protect your rights. Contact our Complete Legal Defense Team right away. We work hard to craft an effective defense, and protect your rights.

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