Illinois House Passes Bill to Toughen Penalties for Dog Fighting

Friday, April 1, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute is pleased that the Illinois State House of Representatives passed HB 1907, a bill making dog fighting an offense under the Illinois Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.

AWI Deputy Director of Government and Legal Affairs Chris Heyde praised the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael J. Zalewski (D-21), and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez for initiating this aggressive step to give prosecutors enhanced tools for dealing with dog fighting and, most especially, with the leaders of dog fighting networks. Under RICO, higher fines and stiffer jail sentences are available, the state has more comprehensive investigatory powers, and a longer statute of limitation applies.

Heyde said, “Dog fighting causes immense suffering to countless numbers of innocent animals. It is also often accompanied by other crimes, and its very presence threatens the safety of the entire community. It makes sense to give law enforcement the most powerful tools possible to eradicate it.”

AWI urges the Senate to take swift action on this measure so the Governor can sign this important bill into law as soon as possible.

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Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, AWI, (202) 446-2142