A bill currently making its way through the Alabama legislature that would increase the penalty for cockfighting is getting support from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, a man who knows the consequences of animal fighting.
Vick, who spent time in prison for illegal dog fighting, urged Alabama lawmakers to strengthen the law, "so that it's now just a slap on the wrist." He called the state's current law the weakest in the country.
The Humane Society of the United States issued a release from Vick Monday in which he called his days as a dogfighter a mistake. Vick said he didn't want others to end up on the same path as he did, calling such sports animal cruelty "whether it is dogs or birds."
Some 40 states charge participants of the violent practice with a felony if they're caught. Alabama's current cockfighting law holds a maximum fine of $50 and hasn't seen an upgrade since the year 1896. The Humane Society of the United States says the fine is "nothing more than the cost of doing business and fails to deter criminal behavior," especially when tens of thousands of dollars can be on the line during a single event.
The bill currently before the Legislature, S.B. 175 would upgrade the penalty for cockfighting to a maximum $6,000 fine, though it would still fall short of a felonious act. Senator Cam Ward's bill would make cockfighting a Class A misdemeanor.
S.B. 175 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it has not been brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
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