Update April 1, 2010: The Hawaii and Massachusetts bills did not pass.Â Â
Update:Â Since the decision of a Wilkes County, North Carolina judge that 127Â dogs including puppies must be euthanized, there has beenÂ increasing outrage in the animal welfare community.Â
Most of that anger has been directed at the Humane Society of the United States because its employees offeredÂ opinions at a court hearing held to determine the fate of the dogs, that these were champion fighters, dangerous,Â and even the puppies showedÂ aggression. HSUS told the court the dogs had been bred for aggression.
The fight to stop animal fighting continues in 2009. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill that increases penalties for spectators at animal fights from one month in jail and a $250 fine to 2 Â½ years in the house of correction or 5 years in the state prison or a $1000 fine or both a fine and prison term. ALM GL ch. 272, Â§95
Texas authorities announced last week they had broken up what was described as "one of the largest dogfighting rings" in the United States.Â
Following a seventeen month long investigation a grand jury returned indictments against 55 people.Â
Animal fighting was on the agenda of many state legislatures this year.Â No doubt thanks to the publicity surrounding Michael Vick's notorious dog fighting ring that brought to light the horrendous cruelty and violence of this blood sport that is also characterized by gambling, weapons, illegal drugs, and prostitution.
Update: These bills have died.
The Missouri legislature is considering changes to the state's dog fighting laws. One change would make it a Class D felony instead of a misdemeanor on a second and subsequent offense of being present for a dog fight including preparations leading up to it.
Update: The Iowa House passed this bill to make attendance at an animal fight a felony, and it is now the law!
Original report: The Iowa Senate has passed a bill, S.F. 2203 that would increase the penalty for being a spectator at an animal fight from an aggravated misdemeanor to a Class D felony. The bill is now pending in the Iowa House as H.F. 2381.
Update Dec., 2008: This bill, H.B. 415, did not pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session. But H.B. 71 (scroll down) was signed into law!
Update May, 2008: The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee heard compelling testimony in support of the Animal Fighting bill, H.B. 415. The committee passed the bill, and just days later the full House of Representatives voted to pass the bill.