Dogfighting is now a felony offense in all 50 states. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed legislation March 4 that increased the penalty for participating in dogfighting from a misdemeanor to a felony. Idaho passed similar legislation just a week earlier.
The AVMA praised the measures, and noted that the Association has for years recommended animal fighting be considered a felony offense throughout the country. "The AVMA condemns any and all events involving animals in which injury or death is intended, and we encourage veterinarians to collaborate with law enforcement with respect to recognition, enforcement, and education about dogfighting," said Adrian Hochstadt, assistant director of state legislative and regulatory affairs at the AVMA.
Efforts to make dogfighting a felony offense in Wyoming started in 2006. Supporters of the law say not only will it discourage dogfighting in Wyoming but also, it may affect domestic violence.
"You can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have a safe family life, a safe place to live, and a quality of life, money doesn't really matter much. So it's about these animals that do not have a voice that we're protecting today," explained state Rep. Rosie Berger, who sponsored the bill.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that more than 250,000 dogs are placed in dogfighting pits annually in America. Dogfighting gained national attention in 2007 when Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was arrested and prosecuted for involvement in the blood sport.