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November 27, 2012

The HSUS and Michigan Humane Society Applaud Michigan House of Representatives for Passage of Three Strong Animal Fighting Laws

Two bills go to the Governor, one to the Senate

The Humane Society of the United States and the Michigan Humane Society praised the Michigan House of Representatives for passing a package of bills that provide a range of solutions for communities plagued by illegal animal fighting. S.B. 356 and S.B. 358 originated in the Senate and now go to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. A third bill, H.B. 5789, will go to the Senate, which passed similar legislation last year. 

“While dogfighting is widespread in parts of Michigan, it is clear that the state legislature 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. “Creative efforts like this will go a long way toward ending dogfighting and cockfighting in our state.” 

Animal fighting experts recognize regions of Michigan as national hotbeds for dogfighting. This group of bills would position the state as the national leader cracking down on all forms of animal fighting. 

  • S.B. 356, authored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, 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 measure offsets that incentive.

  • S.B. 358, legislation by Sen. Steven Bieda, D-Warren adds animal fighting to Michigan’s racketeering statute. This would allow for enhanced penalties for organized dogfighting rings.

  • H.B. 5789 by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Twp., 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. 

“We are one step closer to the enactment 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 40 and a misdemeanor in the rest.

  • In August, The HSUS assisted Kalamazoo Animal Control in rescuing more than 50 dogs from three different dogfighting operations in Kalamazoo resulting in the arrest of three individuals for numerous felony offenses related to dogfighting and animal cruelty. On two of the properties were areas found showing staged fights had been taking place.

  • An alleged dogfighter from Kalamazoo was apprehended in Georgia after fleeing Michigan when charged with felonies for murder and dogfighting.  He was extradited back to Michigan and is being held pending trial.

  • 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. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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