Five years ago, NFL superstar Michael Vick admitted to running a dogfighting operation. Media accounts detailed the hanging, drowning, electrocution and shooting of dogs. Vick served less than two years in prison and has spent time since his prison release working with the Humane Society to speak out against dogfighting. Two months ago, Vick even got a dog for his family. Vick’s high profile case influenced how dogfighting is treated by the law, according to Rebecca Huss, the Guardian/Special Master in the Vick/Bad Newz Kennels Case:
The Vick case also influenced law by changing dog fighting penalties. Following the case, the maximum imprisonment time for violations of the Animal Welfare Act animal fighting prohibition increased from one to three years, pursuant to the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. In 2008, the passage of the Food Conservation and Energy Act increased the maximum time for imprisonment for dog fighting ventures to five years. Furthermore, dog fighting became a felony in all fifty states in 2008, with Idaho and Wyoming being the last states to pass laws making it a felony.
Nevertheless, dogfighting persists across America. The cruel blood sport continues to leave a trail of violence and criminality across the country. According to stopdogfighting.net:
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are at least 40,000 dogfighters in America, though that number seems to underestimate the epidemic of street fighting in urban areas. In 2003, the city of Chicago alone recorded and responded to 1093 animal fighting complaints. Virtually all children in high crime urban areas are exposed to dogfighting in their own neighborhoods while American hip/hop culture glorifies the blood sport.
The Chicago Tribune also reports a high correlation between dogfighting and gang membership: