Animal-Fighting Bills Flood the Assembly


RICHMOND A surge of animal-fighting bills were filed during the 2008 General Assembly in a possible response to public outcry over the Michael Vick dog-fighting case.

I think a lot of the bills that increase the penalties for animal fighting were spurred by the Michael Vick case, no question about it, said Delegate James M. Scott, D-Merrifield.

Scott proposed House Bill 1057, which addresses the issue of cockfighting.
I felt that the whole issue of animal fighting was a terrible problem for the commonwealth, and I was asked to do so by the humane society, Scott said.

Delegate Kenneth C. Alexander, D-Norfolk, as well as Delegate Riley E. Ingram, R-Hopewell, each proposed a bill against animal fighting. Both have asked that the bills be stricken.

I have learned a lot about the chicken fighting and even though I dont really agree with it, I do understand some of the concerns. I understand that for a lot of people it is a sport, Ingram said.

Alexander is sponsoring House Bill 673, addressing the welfare of animals and provisions for adequate drinking water, shelter and space.

It (the bill) gives the animal control officer just another tool to strengthen or reiterate some statutes that are already on the books, Alexander said. A lot of times it is not that the owner has done anything neglectful. It is just they may not know.

Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond, is sponsoring House Bill 334, making the theft of a cat a Class 5 felony.

McClellan says other animals protected by the original statute included dogs, horses, cows, mules, sheep, goats and chickens, but not cats.

Typically, if you look at why cats are stolen, they are stolen to use as bait for dog fights — to train a dog first to fight and kill a cat, and then the other dog, McClellan said. And theyre (cats) also used for illicit medical research. So, theyre not being stolen by children as pranks.

Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr., R-Thornburg, introduced House Bill 5, requiring all counties use lethal injection as the method of euthanasia instead of the gas chamber.

Orrock said all but one county are now using lethal injection and the bill is intended to ensure no county returns to the old system.

Now that nobody has to use the gas chambers, were not going to go backwards here. Well draw the line here, Dickson said. And when medical technologies change and become something better than lethal injection, we will enter that stage.