In keeping with this week’s theme of showcasing our hands-on work and our video resources, I want to direct you to The Final Round, an HSUS video on the ugly world of animal fighting (warning: video contains graphic footage). The HSUS devotes major resources to investigating illegal animal fighting activities, training law enforcement, and upgrading laws so that animal fighters do not merely get a slap on the wrist.
Two weeks ago, we increased our standard reward to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any illegal animal fighter. Today, a Louisiana law to ban gambling at cockfights that The HSUS worked to pass—an antecedent to a full-out ban on cockfighting to take effect next year—goes into force. We’ll be doing our best to work with law enforcement and the citizens of Louisiana to see that this law is enforced. Our reward fund applies here, too. And of course, we remain fixed on the Michael Vick case.
Last night, I appeared on CNN’s Nancy Grace show as a result of the news that two of Vick’s co-defendants are expected to plead guilty to charges related to dogfighting later this week. One other co-defendant did so a couple of weeks ago. So Michael Vick may soon stand alone. If he doesn’t plead, there are reports that the feds will bring superceding charges against him. And then his legal exposure becomes even more significant.
Whatever the legal outcome with Vick, the prime target for The HSUS is the entire world of organized animal fighting. We’ll hope that this case has brought to light the surprising prevalence of this activity; that it results in stronger state and federal laws against animal fighting; that police and prosecutors crack down on these perpetrators; and that it results in citizens reporting illegal animal fighting activities to law enforcement.
Take this case example. Last week in New Jersey, a landlord was taking a look at one of his buildings, and he noticed dogfighting paraphernalia on the premises that he had learned about while watching recent television coverage of the Michael Vick case. He said all he could think about was last month’s indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick on dogfighting charges. He reported the circumstances to police, they investigated, and the people involved with an alleged dogfighting operation were arrested.
Hats off to this hero. It’s because of such behavior that we have a civil society. And it offers us hope in stamping out cruelty.