For as horrific as the Michael Vick dogfighting debacle was, it had some positive ramifications. The awareness of this bloodsport is now at an all time high and the public as well as lawmakers are demanding changes, higher penalties, stronger prosecution and harsher sentences.
One of the scariest things about dogfighting is that is goes beyond the terrible abuse and cruelty to the dogs. Usually there are drugs, guns, vast quantities of money and gangs involved and all these ingredients add up to make an untenable situation for dogs and people alike.
Five months after Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick was sentenced to prison for his involvement in dog fighting, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed legislation Tuesday stiffening Georgia’s dog-fighting laws.
Georgia has had among the weakest dog-fighting laws in the country, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The new law makes it illegal to train, transport, sell or own a fighting dog. It also will be illegal to promote or advertise a fight and to attend a dog fight.
Involvement in the dog-fighting business will be a felony, while attending a dog fight will be a high and aggravated misdemeanor on the first offense. It will be a felony on a second offense.
Perdue, a veterinarian, called dog fighting a “repulsive, senseless organized crime.
“Over the past year there has been a bright spotlight shining on a sad situation … the bloody, brutal world of dog fighting,” Perdue said. “It’s not a sport, it’s really barbarism.
“This sends a very clear message that it will not be tolerated in Georgia.”
Perdue signed the bill with a couple of K-9 police dogs looking on.
Vick pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge and was sentenced Dec. 10 to 23 months in prison.
Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), who has unsuccessfully sponsored dog-fighting legislation the past few years, said the new law would have passed during the 2008 legislative session even without the Vick case. However, Rogers added, “He certainly helped us push it over the goal line.”
Rep. Bobby Reese (R-Sugar Hill), the House sponsor of the dog-fighting legislation, said, “With the Michael Vick thing, it just educated the public. We were going to get it done this year.” (AJC)