On Wednesday a walkway leading into the General Assembly was packed with folks from across the state sporting neon orange hats and shirts, urging legislators to support their hunting dogs.
The group said hunting with dogs has been a part of their life for generations, and House Bill 648 would make it difficult to continue that tradition.
“This is heritage. George Washington was an avid fox hunter, and that’s our forefathers. We’re just carrying on the same heritage as they did,” said Juice Mitchell.
Using dogs for hunting has been part of Mitchell’s family for four generations.
He hunts fox, but he and nearly 100 more folks visiting the General Assembly Wednesday said the bill directed at deer hunting, would eventually affect all hunters who use dogs.
“The bill itself will penalize an innocent, responsible dog hunter,” said Audrie Inscoe.
“A person could potentially be charged with criminal trespass if their dog got in a place where it was not wanted,” said Johnny Morse.
Representative Jay Adams is one of the bill sponsors.
He says there are documented cases of dogs crossing property lines to chase deer.
“Clearly there are conflicts, and that can be found in sheriff and police departments in the various counties where dog hunting is permitted,” said Adams, (R) District 96.
Representative Beverly Boswell is against the bill, saying it’s more than what’s needed to solve whatever issues exist.
“Our hunters are very responsible and respectful people, both to their animals, as well as to their environment,” said Boswell, (R) District 6.
Hunters tracked down Boswell and other representatives all morning long, pleading their case.
“The time that we spend with these dogs on a daily basis and the relationship and the bond that we develop with these dogs, and they are family to us,” Inscoe said.