Michigan cracks down on dogfighting

After a year of high profile dogfighting busts in cities like Detroit, Flint, and Kalamazoo, the state of Michigan is ready to turn the tables in 2013. As of December 12, the Great Lakes State enacted what might be the toughest anti-dogfighting legislation in the nation.

Under the law, people convicted of dogfighting could face 20 years in prison. (Photo Credit: Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press)

A state once considered an epicenter for brutal animal fighting operations is now going to set the bar for animal fighting legislation in other parts of the country.

“Michigan is not a good place to bring dogfighting,” said State Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), one of the sponsors of the new legislation.

Under the new law, people convicted of dogfighting or cockfighting in the state of Michigan could face as much as $100,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. Previously animal fighting only carried a prison sentence of up to four years in prison and maximum fine of $50,000 with most offenders paying the bare minimum of $1,000 to $5,000, according to Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Raj Prasad.

“It enables us to go after the more long-term breeders and fighters,” Prasad told the Lansing State Journal. “These laws are designed to go after the bigger operations that have a lot more invested in dogfighting [and] cockfighting.”

Prasad also points out that dogfights are often venues for other illegal acts.

“They’re hotbeds of criminal activity beyond the fighting—gambling, narcotics, guns,” the Assistant Prosecutor said. Illegal contraband and unregistered weapons are often found at locations where animal fighting has taken place, Prasad explained.

Offenders practicing these cruel blood sports could also lose their property under the new legislation, which will grant police the power to seize homes, barns, sheds, vehicles, and other venues associated with animal fighting. These new measures will put these cruel crimes in the same category as racketeering, large scale drug operations and prostitution rings.

“[It is] a welcome punishment for those who are caught,” said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. “If you’re going to profit from this, we’re going to take your profit from you.”

“It’s sweeping legislation that has been noticed nationwide as a real example of getting tough on a terrible blood sport,” Jones said proudly.

Midwest State Director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Vicki Deisner agrees that Michigan’s anti-dogfighting measures set a new national precedent.

“Michigan is out ahead on this one,” Deisner told USA Today.

Sources: USA Today, Lansing State Journal