(July 24, 2007)—In the wake of the Michael Vick indictment, The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) notes that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio/8th) recently voted against the federal Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. This legislation upgrades penalties for illegal transportation of fighting dogs—one of the crimes Vick has been charged with—from misdemeanor to felony penalties.
Congress passed this law in March and President Bush signed the measure in May—after the crimes set forth in the indictment against Vick and his co-defendants had occurred. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 368 to 39, and then cleared the Senate unanimously.
"The vast majority of members of Congress supported this legislation to put a stop to precisely the type of behavior that Michael Vick was charged with last week—participation in a multi-state network of cruel and degrading dogfighting activities," said Michael Markarian, president of HSLF. "Humane organizations and more than 400 law enforcement agencies supported the federal bill, yet John Boehner showed his true colors by giving dogfighters a free pass."
Federal prosecutors have delivered some felony charges against Vick by invoking the federal Travel Act and conspiracy in their first charge. But Vick escaped the imposition of even more felony penalties because the animal fighting allegations against him preceded the new federal law. The second and third charges in the indictment are misdemeanor charges relating to the federal animal fighting law.
The newly enacted federal law makes interstate transport of animals for fighting purposes a felony offense, with penalties up to three years in prison for each violation. It also bans the interstate and foreign commerce in cockfighting weapons. Currently, 48 states have felony dogfighting laws, and 35 states have felony cockfighting laws.
Dogfighting is a felony in Ohio, while cockfighting is a misdemeanor.
Media contact: Heather Sullivan: 301-548-7778, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at www.hslf.org.
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