Beginning this month, dogfighting in Michigan will carry much heavier sentences. Dogfighting can be prosecuted and carry sentences of up to 20 years in jail and fines of $100,000. The new legislation is the toughest in the United States and was signed into law in December 2012 by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Vicki Deisner, ASPCA's state director for the Midwest told the Lansing State Journal that "Michigan is out ahead on this one". Prior to the changes, the felony was punishable by up to 4 years in jail and up to $50,000 maximum fine.
With the new laws, police are allowed to seize homes and vehicles associated with animal fighting and to shut down any venue associated with animal fighting. They can also add animal fighting, shooting and baiting as racketeering crimes.
Sen. Rick Jones, a sponsor of the legislation, said the bills send the message that "Michigan is not a good place to bring dogfighting: 20 years in prison, $100,000 fine, lose your house, your barn, your property, cars, anything involved with this crime." He said, "It's sweeping legislation that has been noticed nationwide as a real example of getting tough on a terrible blood sport, where you have dogs torn apart for gambling and profit."
The tougher legislation, in essence, attempts to takes the profit away from those involved in the violent blood sport. It's estimated gambling at a single match can bring in tens of thousands of dollars. Dogfighting also is a magnet for other criminal activity such as illegal gambling, drugs and guns. According to the ASPCA, nationwide dogfighting is a multimillion-dollar "industry" with Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo, being hotbeds for dogfighting. In August last year, 46 dogs were rescued from an operation in Kalamazoo.
Wayne County's assistant prosecutor Raj Prasad said of the legislation, "It enables us to go after the more long-term breeders and fighters. These laws are designed to go after the bigger operations that have a lot more invested in dogfighting, cockfighting."
- Raids on suspected dog fighting operations rescue 46 dogs
- Rap musician faces criminal charges for alleged dog fighting operation
- Michigan proposes animal abuse registry and stiffer penalties for animal abusers
- Pit bulls and beagles rescued from suspected dog fighting operation