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September 7, 2011

The HSUS and Michigan Humane Society Applaud Michigan Senate for Unanimous Passage of Three Strong Animal Fighting Laws

Bills Await Action in House of Representatives

LANSING, Mich. -- The Humane Society of the United States and the Michigan Humane Society praised the Michigan Senate for unanimously passing a package of bills that provide a range of solutions for communities plagued by illegal animal fighting. These bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

“While dogfighting is widespread in parts of Michigan, it is clear that the state Senate and many in law enforcement are dedicated to coming up with solutions to save animals from a cruel death in the fighting pits,” said Jill Fritz, Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “People who care about animals now need to contact their state representatives and ask for rapid passage of these bills in the House.” 

Animal fighting experts recognize regions of Michigan as national hotbeds for dogfighting. Sen. Rick Jones, R-24, Sen. Bert Johnson, D-2, and Sen. Steven Bieda, D-9, are the authors of a package that would position the state as the national leader cracking down on all forms of animal fighting. 

  • S.B. 356 by Sen. Jones would allow for assets gained from illegal animal fighting to be forfeited to local government or the state. Animal fighting is motivated by gambling profits and sales of animals that are the offspring of fight winners. This bill offsets that incentive.
  • S.B. 357 by Sen. Johnson defines animal fighting as a public nuisance. Under this bill, a private citizen or county attorney could bring suit against any individual using a property for an illegal animal fighting operation. This broadens the legal tools that can be used against organized animal fighting. 
  • S.B. 358 by Sen. Bieda adds animal fighting to the states racketeering statute. This would allow for enhanced penalties for organized dogfighting rings. 

“We are one step closer to the passing of additional legislation that will be critical in further curtailing the barbaric and heinous practice of animal fighting” said Cal Morgan, president and CEO of the Michigan Humane Society.  “Our cruelty investigators and local law enforcement are fighting this battle everyday on behalf of the animals and they need more tools to bring these offenders to justice.” 

Facts 

  • Animal fighting is outlawed in all 50 states. Every state punishes dogfighting as a felony while cockfighting is a felony in 39 and a misdemeanor in the rest.
  • A Monroe County dogfighting raid this past March led to the seizure of $40,000, a firearm and cocaine.
  • An underground dogfighting magazine called the Sporting Dog Journal was being published in southeast Michigan. The HSUS worked with the Michigan Humane Society and the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to prosecute principals involved in the publishing of that magazine in 2009.
  • The United States Congress is considering H.R. 2492 which would amend the federal animal fighting law to include spectators. This would allow for cases prosecuted in federal court to include the entire cast of characters who participate in animal fighting ventures.

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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.

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