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May 21, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: Dogs deserve better...

Ohlone Humane Society: Dogs deserve better...

By Nancy Lyon

Because of the celebrity status, the highly publicized Michael Vick dog fighting and killing trial and conviction focused national attention on a barbarous and inhumane practice. The Vick indictment and the resulting public outrage against the act of incredible animal cruelty for profit and "sport" have had far reaching effects. Yet it is not an isolated incident.
Across the country in deserted places hidden from view, this horror is happening in my community and your community. It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 professional dogfighters nationally, a staggering number that affect our communities in many ways.
It's a criminal network of local dog fighters that nationally involves not only extreme animal cruelty but illegal drug trafficking, gambling with thousands of dollars passing hands, illegal firearms and violence to people.
In the dark underworld of dog fighting, in a typical fight, dogs are drugged to heighten aggression, and forced to keep fighting after suffering broken limbs, serious wounds, dehydration, severe blood loss, and shock - all for the amusement and illegal wagering of handlers and spectators...often with children present..
The Humane Society of the United States and In Defense of Animals report that the criminal web is extensive and huge amounts of money are illegally generated. Not only from high stakes gambling but from the sale and breeding of winning dogs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars, traffic in specialized equipment to train and house fighting dogs, handling, training and transporting fighting dog to fights, often interstate.
Companion animals who mysteriously disappear from unattended yards and parked cars are often stolen for bait dogs used to help fighting dogs hone their skills. These "muscle dogs" are sometimes allowed to roam freely in neighborhoods endangering people and animals alike. The dogs are victims themselves, you can find them in just about any animal shelter with cropped ears cut back to the head, bloodied and scarred from past abuse and misuse. Many have been discarded when they are no longer winning or able to produce pups with money-making fighting potential. Dogs that are confiscated in dog fighting raids or show evidence of a history of fighting are deemed a public hazard and routinely killed in shelters. There is little hope of redemption from the lingering effects of this example of human barbarism.
Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states but most laws are not strong enough. It is a felony in 48 states but only a misdemeanor in Idaho and Wyoming. In some states while fighting is illegal, possession of fighting dogs is not, and. being a spectator is not against the law, or it is a misdemeanor, with it being a felony in others. Obviously, a federal law that would correct these in consistencies and crack down on dog fighting, possession and spectators needs to be enacted to help law enforcement put an end to this horror.
Because of the documented nationwide scope of dog fighting activities, and the barbarity of the activity as pointed up by the Michael Vick case, solutions are being considered on both the federal and state level. The U.S. Congress has before it three proposed laws that would give greater ability to law enforcement and levy heavier penalties against promoters and spectators.
On the federal level;
H.R. 3219 would amend the Animal Welfare Act. It would make unlawful to knowingly sponsor or exhibit an animal in, or knowingly attend, a dog fighting venture; knowingly sell, buy, posses, train, transport, receive or receive for the purpose of transportation any dog or animal, or off-spring of the dog or other animal participate in a dog fighting venture. It provides up to five years imprisonment for violations.
H.R.3327 and S. 1880 make all participation in dog fighting, including being a spectator at a dog fight and possessing dogs for the purpose of fighting a federal felony, and would increase the maximum penalty from three to five years in prison.
On the state level in California:
Assembly Bill 2281 authored by Assembly member Pedro Nava would have changed California's existing law regarding spectators at dog fights from a misdemeanor to a felony. It stated that any person who was intentionally present, as a spectator, at any place, building, or tenement where preparations are being made for a dog fight would be guilty of a felony.
Unfortunately, this bill received a thumbs down by the majority of the Assembly Appropriations Committee because, as written, costs incurred by local governments would not be refundable by the state and thought to be too costly. It has been placed in the committee suspense file for reconsideration - the graveyard of legislation.

Dogs deserve better treatment and Man's Best Friend needs your help.
We urge you to contact your U.S. Senator and U.S. House of Representatives member and request that they co-sponsor H.R. 3219; H.R.3327 and S.1880. You can reach your members of Congress through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown



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