Domestic violence, drug use associated with animal cruelty - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Domestic violence, drug use associated with animal cruelty, expert says

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FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - Law enforcement agencies across the state of South Carolina are linking drug use and domestic violence with animal cruelty.

On Wednesday, more than 19 law enforcement agencies across South Carolina attended a conference to be educated on crimes associated with animal cruelty. According to members of The Humane Society of the United States, people who participate in criminal activity much like dog and cock fighting, often use drugs like cocaine and meth to enhance their animal's chances of winning.

"Domestic violence...illegal gambling is extraordinarily high incentive for animal fighting at enterprises, Illegal drugs, illegal guns - all these crimes are often affiliated," said Kimberly Kelly.

In an effort to crack down on these crimes, officers were shown some of the signs to look for in any case that would lead to the exposure of animal cruelty and drug crimes. Items such as bite sticks and deer antlers are two common tools used during dog fights.

"We want officers to recognize that animal cruelty comes in many forms and is prevalent in South Carolina - cruelty and fighting," Kelly said. "A lot of these crimes are associated with other crimes as well, so when they're doing these investigations especially with drugs and illegal weapons and gangs, if animal cruelty is involved, they can get them on those charges as well."

Currently, dog fighting in South Carolina carries a felony charge. Cock fighting is punishable by a misdemeanor. A member of The Humane Society said there is legislation on the floor to stiffen cock fighting laws in South Carolina.

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