Michael Vick continued his anti-dogfighting message by addressing Congress this week, urging lawmakers to support H.R. 2492 which would increase penalties for people who knowingly attend animal fights and bring children to such events.
The bipartisan bill called the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was introduced by Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Betty Sutton, D-Ohio and Jim Moran, D-Va. Michael Vick and Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States spoke before Congress and held a Capitol Hill press conference.
Vick spent 21 months in prison for his role in an illegal dogfighting ring in 2007. Since his release, the NFL football player has been speaking against animal fighting to kids at churches and schools.
“Too many kids get involved in dogfighting, and it’s time to break this cycle. Animal fighting is a dead-end road for the young men, and there’s nothing but terrible outcomes for the dogs placed in a pit to fight,” Vick said in an HSUS interview.
Currently it is illegal in 49 states to attend an organized dogfight or cockfight, but only 28 of those states consider the offense to be a felony crime. The sponsors of H.R. 2492 say their bill will crackdown on penalties and close loopholes that are in present laws.
H.R. 2492 would impose up to a one year sentence in prison for spectators and up to three years in prison, plus fines for people who “bring or allow a minor to attend” such an event.
According to HSUS, “Spectators at animal fights don’t just accidentally happen upon a fight—they seek out the criminal activity at secret locations, often need passwords to enter, and pay hefty admission fees for the opportunity to watch and gamble on the fights.”
During the press conference Pacelle referred to those attending animal fights as “accomplices who enable the crime of animal fighting.”
He added, “Animal fighting is an inhumane and cruel activity involving the deliberate pitting of animals against each other to fight, often for lengthy contests that end in death, for the sole purpose of gambling and entertainment of spectators. Animals used for fighting are often drugged to heighten their aggression and forced to keep fighting even after they’ve suffered grievous injuries such as broken bones, deep gashes, punctured lungs, and pierced eyes. Young children are often brought to these events and exposed to the gruesome spectacle as acceptable entertainment.”
Rep. Marino said in an ESPN interview, “As a former state and federal prosecutor, I’ve seen first-hand the criminal culture that surrounds animal fighting events and the damaging influence this environment has on our children.”
“I introduced this legislation to make sure that law enforcement has all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers and profiteers of these horrific events from receiving the support they need to continue this activity.”
Related Stories: Pennsylvania Officials Bust Huge Dogfighting Ring
Photo from audreyjm529 via flickr.