Support Tougher Dogfighting Laws for Criminals Like Michael VickPosted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on May 27, 2009
Michael Vick, ex-quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was released from prison on May 20 after serving 23 months for financing "Bad Newz Kennels," his dogfighting operation, and viciously killing dogs that his kennel used in fights. Vick is returning to his home in Hampton, Virginia, to begin a period of supervised home confinement.
The Michael Vick case made headlines around the nation – and around the globe – but as we know from the number of cases reported to ALDF week after week, dogfighting is a national epidemic. Sadly, unlike the high-profile Michael Vick case, most cases of dogfighting go unnoticed by the media, and find dogfighters receiving weak sentences if convicted.
In 2008, the governor of Virginia signed into law a bill written by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and patroned by state Senator W. Roscoe Reynolds that adds organized dogfighting to the list of crimes that may be prosecuted under the state’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) laws. Applied to animal fighting, RICO – which was originally designed to be a weapon against a wide variety of organized criminal efforts, including drug dealing and gambling – would give prosecutors increased muscle in seeking justice for abused animals. While dogfighting was already illegal in Virginia, the ability to bring a state RICO case now provides specific advantages to law enforcement overseeing dogfighting investigations in Virginia including longer sentences and larger fines.
Take action by writing to your state legislators today about enacting or enhancing your state’s RICO law. ALDF can provide our model law that was enacted in Virginia. We can also provide your legislators with a detailed legislative analysis of your state’s laws to provide customized solutions for your state.