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Va. Sen. Norment and Delegate Griffith Receive Humane Legislator Awards

The Humane Society of the United States

Each year, The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, recognizes state legislators across the country who have initiated path-breaking animal protection legislation and demonstrably advanced reform in the policy-making arena. The HSUS is pleased to announce that Virginia state Sen. Thomas Norment, R-3, and Delegate H. Morgan Griffith, R-8, are Humane State Legislator Award winners for 2008.

Sen. Norment and Delegate Griffith are being recognized for their successful efforts to upgrade the Commonwealth's animal fighting law. SB 592 and HB 656, filed by Norment and Griffith, respectively, toughen Virginia's animal fighting penalties by making organized cockfighting a Class 6 felony, attendance at an organized animal fight a Class 6 felony, and allowing a minor to attend or participate in an animal fight a Class 1 misdemeanor. Previously, the lower penalties for animal fighting spectators created a loophole that made it more difficult for law enforcement officials to effectively prosecute animal fighters.  

"I'm pleased to receive this award from The Humane Society of the United States for my work to strengthen animal fighting laws," said Sen. Norment. "Animal fighting is a senseless and cruel activity practiced by people with no regard for their many hapless victims. I know this new law will help stamp it out in Virginia."

"These bills address serious crimes, and they provide serious penalties for violators," said Delegate Griffith. "I am honored to have received this recognition from The Humane Society of the United States, whose members worked relentlessly to win passage for this legislation. Now, Virginia law accurately reflects the decency and sensibility of its people when it comes to protecting animals and preventing animal fighting."

"Delegate Griffith and Senator Norment are champions of animal protection in the Statehouse and their presence benefits animals and the many people who care deeply for their welfare," said Ann Church, Virginia state director for The HSUS. "They have demonstrated their effectiveness by passing legislation that cracks down on the entire cast of characters involved in this cruelty and making this statute one of the best animal fighting laws in the country. We are pleased to honor them with this award."

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.