General Assembly passes strong anti-animal fighting measure

Story by Chris Graham
sportsdom@ntelos.net

Listen to today’s “SportsDominion Show,” featuring an interview with John Goodwin of The Humane Society of the United States. Show Length: 11:12.

law-clipart.jpgIt’s not often that you see legislation once viewed as highly controversial make it through a legislative session almost intact from the day it was introduced and passed with near-unanimity.

Then again, it’s not often that a celebrity like Michael Vick brings a crush of media attention to your issue, either.

“At one point, Virginia had one of the worst animal-fighting laws in the nation, the second worst as pertains to cockfighting specifically. But now Virginia is going to have one of the toughest laws on cockfighting and dogfighting in the United States. And I think it’s going to push some of the people involved in this activity in Virginia out of business,” said John Goodwin, the manager of animal-fighting issues at The Humane Society of the United States, speaking on the passage of legislation in the Virginia General Assembly that will effectively make all animal-fighting activities in the Commonwealth a felony.

The legislation, HB 656, introduced by House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, will among other things make organized cockfighting a Class 6 felony, make attendance at an organized animal fight a Class 6 felony and make allowing a minor to attend or participate in an animal fight a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The House of Delegates and Senate have both passed the measure. It now awaits the signature of Gov. Tim Kaine to go into law.

It is hard to overestimate the impact that the law will have, Goodwin said in an interview for today’s “SportsDominion Show.”

“We have about 30 cockfighting pits in this state – freestanding facilities, bleacher seating, some of them with concession stands, where people fight these roosters on weekends. And just so people know what we’re talking about, we’re not talking about a couple of roosters pecking each other. They’re strapping knives or these icepick-like instruments called gasts to their heels. So they’re slashing each other to pieces,” Goodwin said.

“There are about 30 of these facilities operating quasi-openly. And they’re not going to be able to now, because this is going to be a felony. This is going to make a huge difference,” Goodwin said.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.


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