NEW YORK–The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauded Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan legislators for enacting three key pieces of animal welfare legislation. The new laws strengthen the existing penalties for those who participate in animal fighting, by allowing for the seizure of assets in cases involving animal fighting and granting law enforcement the authority to shut down any venue found to be associated with dog or cock fighting.
The following three bills were signed into law and increase the range of legal tools available to Michigan officials in combating all forms of animal fighting:
- SB 356 – Sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), allows local authorities to seize homes and automobiles associated with animal fighting.
- SB 358 – Sponsored by Sen. Steven Bieda (D-Warren), adds animal fighting, shooting and baiting to the list of racketeering crimes.
- HB 5789 – Sponsored by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus), gives law enforcement the ability to shut down any venue found to be associated with animal fighting and declare it a nuisance.
"We thank Governor Snyder for signing these critical measures to improve upon the existing law, making Michigan one of the toughest states on animal fighting," said Vicki Deisner, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. "The enforcement of these new regulations will ensure that anyone involved in animal fighting will face harsher punishments, which will hopefully deter them from engaging in this barbaric activity."
Dog fighting is widespread in parts of Michigan, and experts have identified regions of the state as national hotbeds for animal fighting. Animal fighting is classified as a felony in Michigan, punishable by up to four years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines, and the current law includes a spectator provision, which also yields a felony charge.
"Michigan lawmakers have made it clear that animal fighting is not to be tolerated," said Deisner. "Animal fighting is an extremely cruel, but lucrative, underground business often associated with a host of other dangerous and illegal activity, and we hope other states will follow Michigan's lead and enact stronger laws to further discourage this grisly bloodsport."
In 2010, the ASPCA established its Blood Sports unit to train law enforcement and investigate dog fighting and cock fighting across the country. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.