Kerry Bill Bans Dogfighting
Sen. John Kerry today announced that he is introduced legislation to finally eliminate dogfighting, which has been targeted by federal and state laws but by all accounts is more popular than ever. The ban would address all participants in the ugly sport - spectators, people who train and sell the dogs, people who buy them and people who transport them to attend fights. The bill expands the scope of federal legislation and removes the existing requirement that requires prosecutors to prove that dogs crossed state lines to fight. The legislation comes after Kerry spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week to express his strong support for the suspension of Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick, who has been indicted on dogfighting charges. Sen. Barbara Boxer is co-sponsoring the bill with Kerry.
"Dogfighting is simply barbaric and inhumane, and it is unacceptable that this cruel so-called sport' still exists," Kerry said. "There is no place for dogfighting in our civilized society, and we must outlaw it. It is time for us to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves. I'm pleased to have the support of the Humane Society on this effort, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation passed."
Boxer said, "This federal ban on dogfighting is long overdue. There is no redeeming value in watching animals tear each other apart. In fact, it is a blight on our society."
A copy of the bill can be found here.
Kerry's bill would amendment the Animal Welfare Act in four ways to upgrade existing federal dog fighting laws:
First, it removes the existing requirement for prosecutors and agents to prove that one of the dogs crossed state lines to attend the fight.
Second, the Kerry amendment makes it a federal offense to be a spectator at a dogfight. This change is necessary because dogfighters too often get away with their crimes simply by claiming that the dogs are not theirs when agents raid a dogfighting compound. And without spectators paying entry fees and making side bets - as described in the Michael Vick indictment - there is much less of a financial incentive to fight dogs.
Third, the Kerry amendment also cracks down on the commercial aspects of dogfighting that make it so lucrative - by making it a crime to buy, sell, transport, train or possess fighting dogs. Dogfighters obtain a premium price for dogs that have killed other dogs. The more dogs killed, the more money the handlers and trainers make - as evidenced in the Vick indictment. This amendment will eliminate these lucrative commercial opportunities.
Fourth, the Kerry amendment enhances the penalty for dogfighting from a maximum three-year prison sentence to a five-year prison sentence.