Stricter Animal Fighting Laws

By: Mary Pulley Email
By: Mary Pulley Email

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell released a proposal Tuesday to make animal fighting laws more strict. If this initiative passes in the General Assembly session that started Wednesday, it can go into affect July 1, 2008.

Some people in the Valley say its a step in the right direction.

"We are certainly in support of this proposal," says Anne Anderson, executive director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County SPCA.

She says not only is dog fighting wrong, but it could lead to other things.

"Dogfighting is a very cruel and barbaric sport that's purely for entertainment, and not only that, it has a trickle down affect," says Anderson.

She's talking partly about cruelty to bait animals, like smaller dogs or cats, that suffer a bloody death after they are used to entice dogs to fight.

McDonnell says, "The goal is to make sure that anyone that has culpability for promoting, financing, producing, or watching an animal fight for sport will have some criminal responsibility."

In the proposal, just watching an animal fight would mean a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Other forms of animal fights, such as cockfighting, would become a Class 6 Felony.

With all of animal fighting controversies in 2007, members of local law enforcement aren't surprised about the proposal.

"Unfortunately, much of that attention comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia. So I'm sure that's part of the reason why he's initiated these changes," says Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter.

Carter has not seen any animal fighting is his county, but looks forward to the stricter laws, just in case

He says, "It would make the penalties more stiffer, so there would be more leverage as far as prosecution."

There should have an answer as to whether or not this bill has passed on March 10 after the General Assembly adjourns. If passed, it will then go to Governor Time Kaine for final approval.


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