Animal advocates are hoping public outrage over dogfighting and puppy mill scandals in Virginia will force lawmakers nationwide to pass tougher animal abuse laws.
First, a gruesome dogfighting operation run by Michael Vick and friends was uncovered in rural Virginia. That was followed by a study showing that the majority of puppies sold in the state come from puppy mills run by unlicensed breeders who churn out pets like livestock.
Advocates are hoping the pressure will lead to greater protection for animals. But sportsmen are warning that the emotionally charged debate will result in laws that will affect more than just dogfighters and overly zealous breeders.
The Humane Society of the United States expects about 25 states to consider legislation strengthening dogfighting laws in 2008. It and other animal advocacy groups also hope to see changes in federal laws to make it easier to prosecute dogfighters.