While Michael Vick has committed a terrible crime, he did bring the horrors of dogfighting into the public’s eye and we hopefully won’t soon forget what happened to the dogs at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels anytime soon.
Unfortunately, Vick’s case was only one of many that occur undetected where dogs are severely injured and killed.
While dogfighting is illegal in 50 states, the laws aren’t severe enough to deter people from committing the crime, or repeating it. Even fines for dogfighting can be shrugged off as a mere business expense.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund drafted a bill that would include dogfighting under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) laws, which include other organized crimes such as gambling. Last year this bill was made into a law in Virginia.
According to ALDF, the intention of including dogfighting under RICO laws is to give prosecutors more power in attempts to stop dogfighting, in addition to posing longer sentences and heftier fines.
Additionally, under RICO there would be:
- More comprehensive investigatory powers
- Extended statutes of limitations
- Longer sentences (in terms of both actual incarceration and the length of post-prison supervision)
- Larger fines
- Pre-conviction “seize and freeze” of a defendant’s assets
- Forfeiture of the assets used in, and gains generated from, the dogfighting activities