Animal welfare groups and the Humane Society of the United States are working overtime to convince Iowa lawmakers to upgrade the state's laws to combat dog fighting before the end of this legislative session.
Legislation to increase penalties for being a spectator at a dogfight-S.F. 2203 by Sen. Joe Seng and H.F. 2381 by Jim Lykam-has passed the Senate by unanimous vote, and is waiting for the Iowa House to take action. Dog fighting, and possession of fighting dogs are both felony offences in our state, but it is only a misdemeanor to be a spectator at a dog fight. Animal fighting is violent, inhumane, and is usually associated with other illegal activities, as was recently uncovered in the recent publicized Michael Vick case. Dogs are forced into a small arena to fight simply for the entertainment and gambling of spectators. We learned that Vick's animals were put through a sadistic training regimen and often starved or beaten if they didn't want to fight. The dogs suffered broken bones and other serious injuries. Losing dogs were shot, electrocuted, hanged or abandoned to die slowly from their injuries. We were outraged. We should be outraged that the same thing is going on in Iowa! Tom Colvin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, "We cannot let dog fighting enthusiasts get away with a slap on the wrist here in our state. The people who presently fuel this criminal industry by attending dog fights generate the bulk of the revenue for this illegal enterprise and they need to be punished. With this new legislation, we could finally provide a meaningful deterrent to stop people from participating in these cruel and degrading spectacles." Dog fighting thrives only because people spend money on it. Spectators don't just stumble across dog fights accidentally. They seek out the criminal activity which is held at secret locations, where the organizers are always on guard for the first sign of a police raid. Michael Markarian, an executive with the HSUS confirms that "this is a despicable, indefensible practice, and Iowa's present law is deficient in handling the people who cheer and finance this cruelty. Lawmakers must enact laws that will crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in dog fighting." We encourage animal lovers to contact the Iowa House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. You may call the Iowa Capitol Switchboard at 515-281-3221 and ask for Representative McCarthy to urge him to bring this issue up before the session ends. Get involved-it's the right thing to do!