New IL Animal Fighting Law

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed H.B. 5790 into law. "There is never a reason to torture an animal, especially for entertainment or monetary gain," said Governor Quinn. "This new law will further deter people from getting involved with dog fighting and hastily injuring or killing innocent animals, especially where children are present."

Under the new law, the penalty for a person found guilty of bringing a child under 13 years to a dog fighting show or related activity will be a Class 3 felony for the first violation and a Class 2 felony for subsequent violations. Anyone found guilty of holding a dog fighting show within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, playground, or other facility that provides programs or services to children under 18 years old will now be punished with a Class 3 felony for a first violation and a Class 2 felony for a subsequent violation.

The new law also increases the penalty for anyone found guilty of tying or attaching a live animal to a propel-powered machine or device with the intention that the animal will be pursued by one or more dogs. The law makes this offense punishable with a Class 4 felony for a first violation and a Class 3 felony for subsequent violations, and may be fined up to $50,000.


TN Bans Violent Felons from Having Vicious or Potentially Vicious Dogs

criminalsThe Tennessee House of Representatives has by a vote of 88-4 concurred in a Senate amendment to H.B. 238. Under the amended version, it is a Class A misdemeanor for a person convicted of a violent felony to own, possess, or have custody or control of a vicious dog or a potentially vicious dog.

The bill now goes to Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen for his approval. 

Under the final version "vicious dog" is defined to mean any dog that without provocation and off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog, has caused death or serious bodily injury to a person. The bill defines "potentially vicious dog" to mean a dog that may reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by any of the following behaviors:

(1) When unprovoked and off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog, inflicts a bite causing bodily injury to a person or domestic animal; or
(2) When unprovoked and off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog, on two or more separate occasions, chases, menaces or approaches a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner or apparent attitude of attack.

This bill also states that a person will be able to raise an affirmative defense to a charge of having a dog that is not properly microchipped by presenting competent veterinary evidence that the dog was microchipped. This bill increases the time within which a person who is charged with having an un-spayed, un-neutered or un-microchipped dog may show compliance, 7 to 30 days from the date of the charge.

The provisions limiting ownership or possession of vicious or potentially vicious dogs by violent felons are modeled on a 2006 Illinois law. The idea is dogs may be less likely to be used and abused by fighters or others involved in criminal activity. Also, the new law, if approved by the governor, will give law enforcement tools to investigate criminal activity. A suspect with a history of violent crime who has a dog deemed to be vicious or potentially vicious in violation of this new law, gives police and prosecutors probable cause for searches or other investigation that can aid in efforts to stop animal fighting or abuse and other associated crimes such as illegal weapons and drugs. 

The Real Work of Stopping Animal Fighting

Update: The MO bill, H.B. 1689, died at the end of the legislative session.  

Original report: The effort to strengthen animal fighting laws, to give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools to go after those who would so cruelly torture dogs and other animals, continues in the 2010 legislative session.

Find information at these links about animal fighting bills in Michigan, Illinois, and New Jersey (also here for another New Jersey animal fighting bill).

And, a Missouri legislator, state Rep. Paul LeVota, has introduced a bill that would make possession of dog fighting paraphernalia a crime. The bill, H.B. 1689, would also increase penalties for dog fighting crimes on subsequent offenses. While a first offense is a Class D felony, subsequent offenses would be Class C felonies. Spectators and others who are simply present at dog fights would be charged with a misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for subsequent offenses.  

Efforts to end animal fighting stepped up dramatically with the arrest and conviction of football star, Michael Vick, in 2007 on federal charges related to dog fighting.  Since then numerous states have strengthened animal fighting laws.

In 2008 and 2009 a record number of dog fighting laws were passed. Find more here!

Cock fighting and animal fighting generally were the focus of a number of bills passed in 2009 and some 2009 bills remained pending in 2010.

Michael Vick

Go here for more information about the Vick case and here for more on the outrage that Vick has been allowed to return to professional football and a life of fame and luxury despite the fact he has failed to demonstrate any heartfelt remorse for forcing dogs to fight, torturing them, hanging and beating dogs to death, and watching dogs struggle in fear and panic as he drowned them.


What Happened to “Genuine Remorse”?

Update Aug. 14: The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a one year contract for $1.6 million with an option for a 2nd year for $5.2 million.

The deal really belies the claim by Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, that Vick must show "genine remorse"before he can be fully reinstated and play for the entire regular season. It seems unlikely the Eagles would have signed Vick to such a contract if there was any concern Goodell might not reinstate him fully. So what about the "genuine remorse" Goodell has insisted Vick must show to be fully reinstated in the NFL? (See ideas below)

Other than a couple of meetings arranged by the Humane Society of the United States with some inner city youth, we haven’t seen any remorse. Not a word. Not a gesture. Nothing. 

This drama played out over the last few months seems to have been nothing more than a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign with the goal of reinstating Vick in the NFL. The tough talk from Goodell has been nothing more than that….part of the PR to satisfy a public that has roundly condemned Vick and his use of dogs for fighting and his abuse and torture of them in ways no good person can begin to understand. 

By failing to follow through on the requirement Vick show "genuine remorse", Goodell and the NFL and their advertising sponsors have signaled to young people that his crimes weren’t that bad, just don’t make his mistake of getting caught. 

Original report: The National Football League has conditionally reinstated Michael Vick. Conditionally because he cannot play at least until the 6th game of the season, and he must demonstrate "genuine remorse" before he can do so.  Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, has long said Vick must demonstrate "genuine remorse" for his crimes before he can play professional football once again.

Vick just completed house arrest on July 20, 2009, the end of a 23 month sentence for a guilty plea and conviction on federal charges of conspiracy to engage in gambling and dog fighting in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 USC §2156.

Many in professional football, including sports writers and fans, are eager for Vick’s return, insisting he has "suffered" enough of an "ordeal" for dog fighting. There has even been talk of a reality show starring Vick, maybe a book.

The implication from Vick’s supporters is always that he was caught doing something akin to having an affair or smoking pot. Something that shows a lapse in judgment, yes, but not even as serious as driving under the influence or domestic violence or worse.  Their implication is that, after all, these were just animals. They roll their eyes at the thought that the "animal rights people" could keep this former football superstar from returning to the game.  The game, the celebrity, the money, that is what is important.  Don’t go too far with this "animal rights stuff".

As for Vick himself, any "genuine remorse" he may feel is not apparent.  He has said almost nothing about the cruelty, the torture he inflicted on dogs that trusted him, dogs which by his own admission, he beat, strangled, drowned, hanged and slammed to the ground to kill them when they didn’t prove to be good enough fighters. He has not so much as mentioned, let alone demonstrated, remorse for the torture and abuse these dogs endured as Vick trained and forced them to fight.  

It bears repeating that in the April 25, 2007 raid carried out by the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force (VAFTF) along with the Virginia State Police and Drug Task Force on Vick’s Surry County, Virginia property, authorities found:  54 dogs, some of which were chained to car axles buried in the ground; rape stands used to force fighting dogs to breed by restraining an aggressive female,  "break" or "parting" stick used to pry open fighting dogs’ mouths during fights; treadmills and "slat mills" used to train dogs for fighting; steroids and controlled substances as well as vitamins, dietary and red blood cell supplements administered to fighting dogs, bloody strips of carpeting often found in dog fighting pits, a scale with a hook on it to weigh dogs; and a diuretic to stimulate urination after a fight. Sources report there was a great deal of blood in the attic of the house.  

Vick initially denied knowing anything about any of this.

What should be expected? Many of the millions of Americans who love and respect animals, law enforcement, animal control, prosecutors, pet owners, teachers, students, children and animal welfare advocates believed Michael Vick should not return to the glamour and privilege of professional sports. They believed that like Pete Rose, he should pay this price for these monstrous crimes and fade from public view. They believed that then people would know that animals’ lives matter, that animal fighting and cruelty won’t be tolerated.

LucasBut Goodell and the NFL have decided Vick likely will regain the fame, fortune and life of privilege he once knew.  

It would have been preferable if Goodell had not reinstated Vick or first demanded a demonstration of "genuine remorse".  We don’t know if Goodell’s words are simply tough talk.

But let’s find out. Here is a list of ideas for Vick to demonstrate genuine remorse:

  1. Fund education programs to teach youth about the cruelty of dog and all animal fighting and urge them to stop or avoid it and responsible pet ownership;
  2. Talk to youth about the cruelty of dog and animal fighting and urge them to avoid it;
  3. Demand all sports leagues have a zero tolerance policy against animal fighting and abuse;
  4. Offer assistance including funding to law enforcement in investigating and busting animal fighting operations;
  5. Testify in support of stronger animal fighting and animal cruelty laws;
  6. Make PSAs or commercials or take out ads or billboards that discuss the cruelty of dog and all animal fighting;
  7. Set up a foundation to pay for the care and placement of dogs he formerly owned that are now in sanctuaries or homes and also for dogs seized in future animal fighting busts.

Send these along with your own positive ideas to Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, or National Football League
280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, or call him at (212) 450-2000 or (212) 450-2027.


Go here and here for more information on the great strides that have been made in stopping animal fighting even since Vick’s arrest.

Go here for more information about the Vick case.